Low Fat Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

To spice things up in the kitchen lately, I had been looking around for some easy to cook vegan pre-made foods. But to no avail…

In all honesty, after being away from the kitchen for so long, I have lost my drive and spirit in the kitchen. Especially when it comes to whipping up a big fancy (complicated) meal. Meals have just been mostly the same thing everyday; anything quick and easy, salads, oats or potatoes. On the other hand, despite the very boring meals, I still find myself eating at home most of the time. (Partly because I am just too lazy to dress up and go out.)

However, my quest and lazy man’s way out to spice things up led to a dead end.  I could not find anything with a decent ingredient list. Almost everything pre-made is loaded with junk – oils, fats, salts, flavourings and preservatives So I passed on the whole idea and decided to settle with my plain boring meals… well, at least until my cooking mojo comes back.

Or so I thought… until I came across Mekhala Living, a wholesome, Thai based company that sells vegan, all natural sauces and marinades!

Mekhala Living Sauces

And yes, it has met all of my unbelievably pretentious criteria for all things food and cosmetics: It is vegan, 100% natural and contains no weird chemicals or preservatives. I have to say… as a vegan health freak, this might just be the highest point of my plant based journey… I am sure that doesn’t make me look as pathetic as I think it does… right?

They company itself is pretty amazing. Based in Chang Mai, Thailand, Mekhala started off as a retreat centre, serving all natural, wholesome food to their guests. The kind people of Mekhala had good sense to bottle the delicious goodness they were serving and start selling them as well.

I have tried 3 of their sauces and dressing: Pad Thai sauce, Red Curry Paste and Black Pepper Pumpkin Dressing. I made a low fat vegan Sweet Potato Red Curry (recipe below) that is completely oil-free and it was probably the most guilt-free curry I have ever made. And that pumpkin dressing! It is so good, I swear I was drinking it by the spoonful.

Oh! This is such a delight to all us health nuts, vegan freaks and lazy bums out there!

Low Fat Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry
Low Fat Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

vegan, oil-free, low fat

This red curry made with Mekhala Living’s Red Curry paste might just be the most guilt-free curry ever. It has no coconut milk so the fat content is minimal. The sweetness of the sweet potatoes marries perfectly with the spiciness of the curry, and the zesty lemon juice at the end brings everything together.

2 medium sweet potatoes, in 1″ cubes

1 large thumb sized ginger, finely chopped

1 small red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

20 – 25 fresh curry leaves

1/2 – 1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

400g cooked chickpeas

2 – 2 1/2 tbsp Mekhala Living Red Curry Paste

600 ml water

1/2 – 1 lemon

salt, to taste

coconut milk, to drizzle (optional)

Directions:

1. In a heated non-stick pan, dry sauté the sweet potatoes, garlic and onions. Brown the sweet potatoes on all sides. When the onions turn transparent, add the curry leaves and fry until aromatic.

2. Mix the curry paste to the pan, starting with 2 tbsp or add another 1/2 tbsp if you like the heat (it is spicy!). Add water to the mixture, stirring thoroughly. Then throw in the chickpeas. Let the mixture simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 1/2 the coriander leaves and the juice of 1/2 a lemon to the mixture. Taste and season with salt, add more lemon juice if required. To serve, dish onto a bowl and drizzle with coconut milk (if desired, to bring down the spiciness) and topped off with the remaining coriander.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Save with Jamie

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More on Mekhala Living:
You can find Mekhala Living products online on their website here (Singapore sales) or on Amazon here (they ship internationally on Amazon!).

If you live in Singapore, you can drop by their shop at Pasarbella:

200 Turf Club Road 

Pasarbella@The Grandstand #02-k57

Singapore 287994

http://www.mekhalaliving.com

 

 

Raw till 4 – Transitioning out and getting off (Part 6)

A little heads up: this is going to be a somewhat solemn post.

I know I promised you nothing but good news in my last RT4 update. Unfortunately, I say with a heavy heart that that is not the case. I have recently transitioned out of the RT4 and into a starch based diet. It is still high carb and low fat but with cooked whole grains, and no longer “smashing” in the fruits.

Langsat Fruit

11 Months in and Realising it Wasn’t Working Out

It has been 11 months now since I first started the Raw Till 4 diet. To date, I have not see any significant results. Since my last update until 2 weeks ago, I was still eating very, very well. Again – high raw, high carb, low fat, low salt… you probably know the drill by now. I was being more active than I have been in the last 11 months – I started the Insanity workout program again (my second time now).

The first time I did Insanity was early last year, way before I started RT4. I saw amazing results then – the program made me stronger, toned and slimmer, within a few weeks. By the end of the program, I was just about the best I had ever looked. In addition to the positive results I saw from Insanity, I actually loved and enjoyed the challenging 2 month program.

However, unlike my first very positive experience with Insanity workout, this time instead of seeing any weight loss, I actually still put on even more weight! Sure, yes, I probably put on a slight bit of muscle. But my arms, abdominals and thighs were getting rounder and rounder, and the biggest (read, round and chubby not bulky and muscular) they have ever been. EVER. I stopped wearing pants completely because my hips could no longer fit. And for the same reason, I had to stopped wearing many of my already snug dresses too. At this point, my closet choice is limited to just a few pieces of loose fitting dresses (of which I had to borrow from my sister).

I was seriously shocked and disappointed altogether. What was I doing wrong? I was eating right. I was exercising and keeping active. Perhaps I was not exercising enough before, which explained the previous weight gain. Perhaps, my metabolism was “still recovering”, which is probably what most RT4-er would say. But even with a good amount of exercise, not only did I not lose any of the weight I had gained on the diet, I was still putting on even more weight. (I also noticed this and mentioned in my previous post, where I was travelling and walked a good 10km a day for 2 weeks  and was putting on weight.)

Perhaps… it was time for me to throw in the towel and admit that this was not working out for me.

Cambodian Custard Apple

Transitioning Out and Into Cooked Starches

Truth be told, it was hella scary transitioning out of RT4.

The first time I had oats in almost a year. Man, it tasted so friggin’ good. I had completely forgotten how much I loved a good bowl of oats. And yet, I felt like I was being naughty at the same time. Or, the first time I didn’t have fresh fruits for breakfast. Something inside of me squirmed a little and just felt somewhat wrong.

Having imposed such harsh restrictions on my diet for the past 11 months or so has made my concept of eating all warped and distorted. It felt wrong to be eating “normally”.

I won’t lie to you, the first two days off the diet, I missed my fruit.

I found myself thinking a couple of times, “damn, I could really use a banana right now!”

But after that first two days, all is well. I settled nicely back into a high carb diet, a hybrid of the Starch Solution plan by Dr. McDougall and my favourite, Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman. Both diets are low fat vegan diets, with an emphasis on starches in the prior and greens in the latter.

And it feels so damn good be to eating “normal” again.

Cooked starches

So what is my diet right now?

Whole foods. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, grains and vegetables make up the bulk of it. And on the occasion, beans. I still have my fruit daily, but it varies from 1-3 servings a day. The whole experience of “smashing it in” has made me a little wary of fruits, but I still consumer them. In moderate amounts.

The End of My High Raw RT4 Journey

First and foremost, I apologise to you guys out there who have been following me on my journey. I feel like I have let you guys down. I know that I may have disappointed you in calling it quits and failing to show any substantial results. However, I can honestly say that I put in all of my effort in this. And as much as I wanted it to work, it just wasn’t working out for me.

I came into RT4 knowing it would be experimental and with a time line of 1 year. I may have come off short a little, but in all, I am pretty glad to be off the diet and back into normalcy.

I hope any of you who on the RT4 are seeing more success and progress than I have. I wish you all the best in your journey and I love to hear your experiences on RT4. Has it been working out well for you? Has your journey been a little shaky? Or are you still on the fence on the diet? 

 

A little lost on what I am talking about? Check out my previous posts on my Raw till 4 journey:

Part 1:  Getting Started 

Part 2: Doing it Wrong

Part 3: Weight Gain and Social Situations

Part 4: My Experience Travelling Raw til 4

Part 5: The Dieting Mentality, Weight Loss and My Story

For daily updates and see what I eat, follow me on Instagram: thewhollyfreak

Gluten Free Alternatives At Your Asian Grocer

Gluten free seems to be all the rage now. Everyone seems to be avoiding gluten like a plague, when just a couple of years before, most have never heard of it. And admittedly, I fall into this category as well.

Now, I don’t go out of my way to avoid gluten. I still love my thin crust wood fire pizzas every now and then. But while I don’t suffer from celiac disease or have an insufferable intolerance to gluten, but I do notice a difference in my system whenever I have gluten.  (However, I would not be crass and openly discuss it in public. I’ll leave it up to your imagination)

Whatever your reason is, going gluten free doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Before you grab that bag of over priced bag of gluten-free pasta, you might want to pop by your local Asian grocery store first. With the exclusion of the somewhat recent introduction of wheat products to the Asian diet, most Asian foods are naturally gluten free. Visit any Asian grocery store and you would find countless of gluten free products – you just need to know what to look out for (without the marketing gimmick “gluten free” being plastered in your face).

Cauliflower Fettuccine Gluten Free PastaHere is a list of gluten free alternatives you can find at the Asian store:

This list is intended for people looking to avoid gluten, but may not be suitable for people suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance. These products may contain traces of gluten, depending on the facilities they were produced in. Always check the product ingredient list, as wheat is a sneaky ingredient and the ingredients list may vary with brands.

Pasta/Noodles

Spaghetti 

Gluten free alternativesLaksa Noodles – Made out of rice flour, tapioca and sago starch. It is whitish in colour and like spaghetti, it is long and cylindrical. It has an al dente texture and neutral tasting. Usually sold fresh. (See picture above when cooked and below, uncooked)

Fettuccine/Ribbon cut Pasta

Pho Noodles (Bánh phở) – Usually made out of rice flour and water. It is white, flat and medium-thin in width. It has about the same thickness as linguine. When cooked, it has a slightly softer texture than al dente pasta and is neutral tasting. Usually sold dried.

Gluten free noodle alternativeRice Noodle, He Fen, Hor Fun河粉 or Kway Teow 粿條 – They all refer to the same rice noodles. Made out of rice flour and water, Hor Fun is white and flat, and broad. The broadness varies, similar to fettuccine and pappardelle pasta. Kway Teow also usually contains vegetable oil and salt, it has a slightly softer texture than al dente pasta and has a slight distinct taste. A stronger tasting sauce would do the trick in covering the slight distinct taste. Usually sold fresh and refrigerated. (See first picture for when cooked as fettuccine and picture above uncooked)

Gluten free noodle alternative

Capellini

Rice Vermicelli, Mee Hun or Bi Hun 米粉 – They all refer to the same rice noodles. Made out of rice flour and water, Bi Hun is white and very fine and thin. Most comparable to capellini pasta. A brown rice alternative is also available now. Usually sold dried.

Other noodles

Shirataki Noodles – A Japanese low calorie noodles made of Konjac root starch and water. Shirataki noodles is usually off-white or grey and has a slight chewy and slightly firm texture. It is sold in a packet, submerged in a somewhat ‘fishy’ water base and is refrigerated. Excellent in broths and soups, usually served in Sukiyaki. (See my post on Shirataki here and recipe here)

Gluten free noodle alternative

Sweet Potato Starch Noodles – A Korean variety of cellophane/glass noodles, made out of sweet potato starch and water. It is translucent and is chewy and slightly firm in texture. Excellent in stir fries and usually served as Jap Chae. Usually sold dried.

Gluten free noodle alternative

 

Mung Bean Noodle, Tang Hoon 冬粉 – A Chinese and Vietnamese variety of cellophane/glass noodles, made out of mung bean starch and water. It is translucent and is slightly chewy  and soft in texture.Excellent in stir fries or in soups. Usually sold dried.

(Note: For RT4, mung bean noodle is almost 100% carb as it is made out of mung bean starch)

Arrowroot Noodle – Another variety of cellophane/glass noodles, made out of arrowroot starch and water. It is translucent and is slightly chewy in texture, but firmer than mung bean noodles. Usually sold dried. Excellent in stir fries or in soups.

(Note: For RT4, arrowroot noodle is almost 100% carb as it is made out of arrowroot starch)

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Crackers and Tidbits

Gluten free alternative - rice crackers

Rice crackers – Various types of rice crackers can be found in the asian grocery store; roasted, puffed, sweetened, fried or baked. There are a lot of Japanese and Chinese varieties of rice crackers. Keep an eye out for the ingredient labels, that it is 100% rice and no wheat.

Most labelling may be unclear how it’s made, fried or baked. If you are looking for a 100% baked rice crackers that taste great, I recommend Fantastic or Sakata brand if you can find it. (Ironically, they are an Australian brand. Go for the original flavour if you are vegan.)

Tapioca or cassava chips – Made out of tapioca or cassava, these are an Asian version of potato chips, usually fried. These usually taste great plainly salted, no wacky flavours here.

Gluten free cakes

Cakes

Kuih or Kueh – a traditional South East Asian dessert. Kuih is a catch-all phrase for cakes, cookies, puddings. Usually made out of rice, glutinous rice, tapioca or sweet potato, coconut milk and palm sugar. Kuehs are usually steamed, making it dense and sticky in texture, very different to Western baked desserts. A good number of kuehs are vegan, but most contain egg. They may look unappetising, strange and foreign, but they taste quite delicious. Double check and ask for the ingredients to be sure.

(If you are wondering what the strange orange and white stuff are, it is sweetened and unsweetened grated coconut)

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Flours/Starches

Flours – rice flour, glutinous rice flours (also known as sweet rice flour and contrary to its name does not contain gluten)

Starches – corn starch (or corn flour), sweet potato starch, potato starch, tapioca starch

Others

Carrot Cake or Turnip Cake – a savoury dim sum dish, made out of white rice, water and grated daikons. Carrot cake has no relation to the western dessert or carrots at all. Usually served cubed and pan fried with eggs and pickled radish, with a delicious dark sauce. A vegan version can also be made without the eggs. Sold fresh, as a white block, refrigerated.

(Call me crazy, but it just hit me that carrot cake might possibly be a workable gnocchi alternative. I have to give it a try)

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What are your experiences shopping at your local Asian grocer? What are the most interesting products you have come across?

Raw till 4 – The Dieting Mentality, Weight loss and My story (Part 5)

This post is for a reader, Ana, and for anyone else who is thinking of going Raw Till 4 or struggling with the lifestyle.

I hope you might be able to relate to my story and maybe learn from my mistakes, and use it well on your own journeys to health and wellness.

Nice Cream

My background before and coming into RT4

I have always been a healthy weight for most of my life, to put a number to it, a healthy BMI of 20-21. I first lost weight doing the Insanity workouts and eating a ‘clean’ vegan diet (this is where my profile picture on the right was taken. Again, to put a number to put, BMI 18.5) I felt great about myself and I kept receiving compliments on how great I looked. One person in particular kept harping on how “fat” I was before (I wasn’t) compared to the current “gorgeous” me.

But once I stopped exercising regularly, the weight slowly crept back up and I started restricting my diet instead to maintain my new weight. I was constantly thinking about food and wasn’t happy. That is when I turned to RT4 as a way out of the vicious cycle of dieting.

However, the weight continued to creep back up on RT4. I became quite self-conscious with the weight gain. I was embarrassed by it, really. I kept thinking back to the people who once complimented me. How they must be thinking I’m “fat” once again (I’m not. BMI back to 20-21). Hence, I was fixated with weight loss being my ultimate goal and I still hung onto the “dieting mentality” that I had before. I scrutinized what I ate and obsessed over my meals on RT4.

Sure, I was eating more than ever – but I was still very much “dieting”.

Thoughts like, “Oh no, I can’t have 2 meals of cooked food in a day” or “I can’t eat that since it is high in fat and salt. I’ll just eat plain rice with a bit of that instead”, were common. I felt guilty whenever I ate something higher in fat/sodium.

I didn’t restrict my calories, but instead I had restricted my diet in other ways.

Spelt Flatbread with Homemade tomato sauce, garlic mayo, pico de gallo , guacamole and crispy tofu

9 months in and losing the “dieting mentality”

On a superficial level, I was doing everything right and according to the RT4 plan. I ate high raw, low salt/fat, no cheat meals, etc. However, on a psychological level, I was still very much stuck in my “dieting mentality”.

This is hard for me to admit, and the first time I am admitting it, but I probably had a mild case of eating disorder. I have never been anorexic, nor have I been bulimic, but I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food and my body.

As I mentioned in my last update, after 8 months in, I realized that stress and my mentality had a large part to do with my weight gain on RT4. I started reading more into it.

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The more I read, the more I learn to control what I thought about myself. How I looked at myself. Once I started genuinely loving what I saw in the mirror, the “diet mentality” and negative thoughts about myself gradually faded away. I stopped letting food takeover my life and stopped obsessing over my meals.

I am more flexible with what I eat now.

I still eat vegan high raw, high carbs, low fat most of the time. However, I no longer stuff myself to hit a minimum amount of calories; I may eat less than 2000kcal on some days and more than 2500kcal on others, I don’t know and I really don’t bother myself with it. Instead, I eat when I am hungry and stop when I feel full. No recording. No calorie counting.

And when it is not possible to eat a high carb low fat meal, I eat it without any guilt. No small voice at the back of my head, scrutinizing the dishes. Simply enjoy a meal, as how a meal should be.

High carb, High Fat - no guilt

And the journey continues…

So far, things have been looking really positive. Coming to terms with the weight gain, I feel so much happier. And it looks like the weight is gradually falling off. The fact that my favourite pants fitting again is a good sign.

As this is still an “in-the-process” journey that I am sharing you guys, I am not sure where this path will lead; it is a never-ending learning experience for me. At the moment, things are looking up and I will keep updating you guys (for more frequent updates, find me on instagram: freakinthefruitshop).

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So what I’m trying to say here is, if you are new coming into RT4:

  1. Lose the dieting mentality first
  2. Then use RT4 as a supplement to achieve a healthy weight 

RT4 is supposed to be a lifestyle, not a diet. Do not obsess over it and overtake your life. If you still cling onto the dieting mentality, you probably would not be happy on the RT4 either and will continue to put on weight. Trust me, the process will be much easier without all that negativity.

 

And that is my story so far. What about you? I would love to hear your experiences on RT4. How is the journey coming along so far and have you learnt anything about yourselves on it?

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 Note: I am rolling my eyes as I wrote about my dieting mentality. Say whaaat? In what world and by what rule does it say I can’t possibly eat two cooked meals a day. Or dare I even say three. (And I am pretty sure those thoughts are not uncommon amongst new comers to the RT4 lifestyle.)

And I just have to squeeze in a short story on my mum: We have a very sweet tooth in my household, which my siblings and I get from my dear mum. She would eat desserts and all things chocolate without a care in the world. And she would say to herself (and us), “eat and be happy!” Which aptly is now the title of my sister’s baking blog and the advice I should have heeded all along.

So take it from my mum… eat and be happy, everyone!

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A little lost on what I am talking about? Check out my previous posts on my Raw till 4 journey:

Part 1:  Getting Started 

Part 2: Doing it Wrong

Part 3: Weight Gain and Social Situations

Part 4: My Experience Travelling Raw til 4

For daily updates and see what I eat, follow me on Instagram: thewhollyfreak

Daily updates on Instagram (freakinthefruitshop)!

Hi all,

As my updates on my Raw Till 4 journey are trimonthly, for daily updates, you can follow me on my RT4 Instagram account, username: freakinthefruitshop.

(You can read that as: freakin’ the fruit shop, or, freak in the fruit shop)

I will be updating there more regularly, on what I eat, my meals and my thoughts on the RT4 journey.

See you guys on Instagram! ;)

Raw till 4 – My Experience Travelling Raw til 4 (part 4)

My experience travelling on the Raw til 4 lifestyle. 

Til 3 weeks ago, I was still doing things I mentioned in my last update (click here to read it); eating high raw, high carb low fat and trying to eat a minimum of 2500kcal a day.

Paris - Eiffel Tower and River Seine

(Paris – Eiffel Tower, Pont Alexandre III and River Seine)

During this time, I went on a 2 and a half week holiday to London/Paris in late April and I followed RT4 quite diligently.  I was very proud of myself for not straying from the diet once at all on the trip. In fact, I thought I had fared better than I usually did, and ate a higher proportion of raw food on the trip.  I drank juice when fresh fruit was not available to meet the 2500kcal minimum.

I also walked at least 15km everyday, as walking was our mode of transport.

Everything had set out to be promising, but sad to say, it subconsciously took a toll on my stress levels – not just by trying to find fresh produce while travelling and sight seeing with the family, but also by trying to exceed the 2500kcal on high raw.

Alas, instead of coming to you with good news of weight loss, it is quite the opposite. Judging by the fit (or rather, misfit) of my clothes, I had put on additional weight on the trip. I could no longer fit into my usual jeans or shorts. I am not clear on the exact figure as the weighing scales and myself have long parted ways since my last update, but I reckon it was one or two additional kilos.

It puzzled me – my weight had come to a plateau before the trip, I was eating better than ever and my body was kept active (I swear, I have never walked so much in my entire life!) and yet I had put on more weight. A small part of me blame the juice. But I know better, it was the stress. The stress that I had placed on myself.

Demoralised, and yet still optimistic for the lifestyle to work, I persisted on…

London

(Beautiful flowers I came across in London; the city is just magical!)

… until 3 weeks ago, when I came across a book called The Gabriel Method, which explains why sometimes your body holds onto fat even when you are doing all the things right. And how your body reacts to non-diet factors, beyond calorie in/out, and may even keep the fat when it thinks its the safest route to take. One example, if you had restricted your calorie before, your body may hold onto fat when you increase your calorie intake – he explains, your body has a primal instinct to hold onto the fat, to survive should there be another “famine” in the future. And unless your body feels safe, it would continue to hold onto to it.

While I read the book with a large grain of salt, it opened my eyes to a whole new level and made me more aware of the stress I had unnecessarily placed on myself. It sparked an interest in me on looking at the mind and how it affects our body. I started reading other books and have since changed my take on the “Raw til 4′ lifestyle, which I will elaborate in my next post (it is on a happier note, so keep a lookout for it!)

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A little lost on what I am talking about? Check out my other posts on the Raw till 4 journey here:

Part 1: Getting Started 

Part 2: Doing it Wrong

Part 3: Weight Gain and Social Situations

Part 4: My Experiences Travelling Raw Till 4

Part 5: The Dieting Mentality, Weight Loss and My Story

For daily updates on what I eat, follow me on instagram thewhollyfreak

Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream.

It’s vegan, it’s sugar free and it’s ridiculously easy to make. Everyone in the vegan blogosphere has probably heard of Banana Ice Cream at one point or another. And if you haven’t given it a try, it is really worth all the hype it has been getting. One try might leave you wondering why dairy ice cream even exists at all.

But here’s an idea – instead of making it as and when, in single serve portions, why not take one step further and make it in bulk?

You get:

-  a healthy treat or emergency ice cream ready in your freezer (or a back up raw meal)

- to save those over ripening bananas before they past their prime (especially if you buy in bulk as I do)

- to save on the washing up

Banana Ice Cream

You need:

- lots of ripened bananas

- trays or freezer bags

- a freezer safe container

- a fair amount of freezer space

 

To make, simply:

1. Cut the bananas into chunks, laying it flat on a tray or freezer bag. Let freeze overnight.

2. Using a food processor, process the bananas in small batches until light and creamy. This might take a good few minutes depending on your food processor. It should have the consistency of ice cream.

3. Spoon the mixture into a container and place it in the freezer. (Or you can stop here serve the ice cream immediately)

4. Repeat steps 2-3 until all the bananas are used up.

5. Serve the ice cream, it scoops out like a regular dairy ice cream. Add toppings like nuts, cocoa powder, if desired.

Note: You can also make flavoured variations of this – peanut butter, chocolate, mixed berries, etc. I always have a pint of Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana ice cream on hand for Non Wholly Dude and plain ones for myself. It comes in handy especially during our movie date nights at home.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

 

Raw til 4 – Weight Gain and Social Situations (part 3)

I have not updated my progress on my raw diet of late as things has been rather stagnant and ‘blah’, and I to be honest, I didn’t think anyone would be interested. But I have been asked to do an update on my progress thus far. So… here goes nothing!

I am coming to a close of 4 months  on Raw til 4 now, with the exception over the Christmas holidays and travelling. Since my last Raw til 4 post and especially in the last month, I have made quite a bit of changes, which I will talk about later in this post and more about in my next post.

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Here is a quick lowdown on the last 4 months:

- I gained 3-4kg / 7-9lbs (hold your horses, I can hear you gasping from here!)

- higher energy levels, I am up from 7am – 1am without caffeine and still full of energy at the end of the day

- I picked up long distance running in the last 2 months, running 1 hour long, 4-5 times a week

- I increased my calorie intake from 2000kcal to 2500kcal within the last month

raw til 4

(Grilled vegetables and potatoes on-the-go as a pre-dinner snack)

Weight Gain

As expected, since I have significantly increased my calorie intake, there has been some noticeable weight gain.

It is not a big deal, but there were more than a few moments when I look into the mirror and let the weight gain get the better of me.

I find myself thinking, “Ugh, heck with this, I’m going back”.

But then, I think again, “Go back? Go back to where?”

Calorie counting, limiting my portions and being unhappy? Meh. No thanks, I’ll pass.

I seriously contemplated dropping the whole lifestyle, but time after time, I revert and continue on with the raw til 4 lifestyle. Besides the weight gain, I am truly loving this lifestyle – I am loving my meals and what I eat, I know everything I put into my body is full of nutrients. I am filled with so much energy, I have been going on 10km runs and signed up for a half marathon, a feat considering 4 km was the furtherest I have ever ran before. And most importantly, I feel pretty healthy and content.

What is a little weight gain compared to all that?

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A Relaxed Approach

In the last month, I found the key to having this lifestyle work for me is to have a more relaxed approach – moving away from the ‘Raw til 4′ concept and into sustainable ‘high raw, high carb, low fat’ lifestyle.

Instead of stressing to stay raw and having to excuse myself from social situations as I did in the beginning, I am more flexible with what I eat now.  When a social situation arises such that I am not able to get a raw lunch, I still join in the meal, staying as high carb as possible. This means even if the meal is not ideally low in fat (this usually happens less than once or twice a week).

As much as I hate to admit it, but being so caught up in staying raw or even fussing about eating healthy, had an effect on my relationships.

My partner, aka Non Wholly Dude, being the dear that he is, never once complained. But meal times with him became a recurring scene of me watching while he quickly chows down on his meal. When it came to eating with friends, I would bring my fruits or excuse myself from any eating situations when possible. And I don’t know about you, but dinner conversations and bonding aren’t quite the same when I don’t share or enjoy the meal together.

So… yeahhhh.

I was not exactly the best dinner companion anyone could think of. Being a plant based vegan had already imposed some limits, and transitioning to a raw vegan took it to a whole other level.

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In a nutshell, I have put on some weight on this lifestyle but I am still very optimistic about it. I also made some fine tunings in my diet in the last month which I would talk about in my next post. So stay tune for it!

A little lost on what I am talking about? Check out my first two blog post on the Raw till 4 journey here:

30 Bananas a Day/Raw til 4 – Getting Started  (part 1)

30 Bananas a Day/Raw til 4 – Doing it Wrong (part 2)

Raw til 4 – Weight Gain and Social Situations (part 3)

Raw till 4 – My Experience Travelling Raw til 4 (part 4)

Raw till 4 – The Dieting Mentality, Weight Loss and My Story (part 5)

For daily updates and my daily meals, follow me on Instagram: thewhollyfreak

Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

Ever since following a more fruitarian diet, there is always an abundance of bananas in the house at any point. Buying my bananas in bulk means that more than often, 1/3 of my freezer is filled with bananas. Not that I’m complaining though.

We love our bananas. And both Non Wholly Dude and I love our frozen bananas that much more. Oh, glorious banana ice cream. I could live on that stuff.

While I can live on just frozen banana ice cream for the rest of my life, Non Wholly Dude prefers a bit of variation in his choice of desserts. And it just so happens that his favourite cake is… lo and behold… a banana bread!

Not much of a variation there (heh.)

Banana Nut Bread

So here is the banana bread recipe that I make for him. As opposed to my usual recipes, this contain processed flours – white plain flour. However, it is still much healthier than most banana bread recipes. (It is also is much simpler recipe!)

Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread Muffins

A classic banana bread with swirls of crushed nuts mixed in. This banana nut bread muffin recipe is fast and simple. All you need is a food processor and 15 minutes to put everything together and it’s ready to go in the oven. As simple as that. This also makes a nice plain banana bread that goes well with spreads or jams. Omit the ground nuts for a plain banana bread.

Serves 9

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5  over-ripe bananas, peeled (450g peeled)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar*

1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup

2 cups (240 g) plain flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (30g) ground peanuts

1 tsp brown sugar, to lightly sprinkle (optional)**

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Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius (350F).

2. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

3. Using a food processor, add 3 peeled bananas, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Process until smooth and pureed, for about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 peeled bananas and pulse for about 5 times until the bananas are still quite chunky.

4. Add the flour mixture a third at a time to the food processor. Allow the mixture to just combine each time. Remove the food processor from its base. Add the ground peanuts to the mixture and give it one quick stir using a spoon. (Resist the urge to further stir in the nuts, to create a ‘swirl’ mixed in effect).

5. Spoon the mixture into 9 muffin cups and sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool before serving.

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*You can replace apple cider vinegar with 2 tbsp of lemon juice if you don’t have it on hand.

** The brown sugar is optional and can be omitted, but it gives the muffins a lovely crisp and lightly sweet crust. Such that it is just ever so lightly sweet for that first couple of bites.

Black Sesame Chocolate Truffles

My apologies on my sudden disappearing act. It has been a long 3 months away.  Going on a mostly fruitarian diet meant that cooking was kept to a minimal and after that I just got plain lazy. No excuses here.

For that, I come bearing a chocolate recipe as peace offering. I am hoping that all is forgiven with chocolate… For no one can say no to chocolate, right?

Black Sesame Truffles

The idea of using black sesame in chocolate came about as Non Wholly Dude recently lamented about his ever increasing white hairs. He jokingly added that he should increase his intake of black sesame. It is an old Chinese folk remedy that consuming black sesame is the key to naturally maintaining a full head of black hair.

Following up on his comment, I hurried to the kitchen and busied myself for the rest of the day. However, being the big black sesame fan that I am, the first few batches of these black sesame babies never got to live past 10 minutes in my hands.

So whether you are looking to darken your white hairs with black sesame or just a black sesame fan, this chocolate truffles might just be up your alley. (Plus Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!)

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Black Sesame Chocolate Truffles

Makes 8 truffles. Raw, vegan

This truffle is a combination of sweet, lightly bitter, nutty and slightly salty, all at the same time. It is strong on the black sesame note, while the cocoa takes a step down.

80g dates, pitted

1 tbsp (15ml) water

3 tbsp black sesame, toasted if preferred

1 tbsp + 1 tbsp cacao powder

a good pinch of sea salt (approx. 1/16 tsp)

1. Place the pitted dates and 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl. Allow the dates to soak for a few minutes.

2. Using a food processor, process the black sesame until fine. Add 1 tbsp of cacao powder and sea salt. Then add soaked dates, reserving the liquids for later use. Process the mixture until a paste forms, scrapping down the processor if needed. Add the remaining liquids from the soaked dates if the mixture is too thick.

3. In a small dish, place the remaining 1 tbsp of cacao powder. Spilt the mixture into 8 portions, using your hands to roll them into balls. Roll the balls in the cacao powder to give a generous coat. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer.