There is a lot in the media at the moment about our diets; low fat vs. low sugar,should we be eating 5/7/10/13 (delete as appropriate) pieces of fruit a day, low carb diets are good for us, low carb diets are bad for us, fasting is a good thing, should we eat like a caveman…. the list is extremely confusing and seemingly endless! Obviously my world is heavily focused on the sweeter side of things but what really is the nutritional advice when it comes to our sponge based friends?
I turned to a personal trainer for some help and try an unravel this mystery a little… Malachi is a personal trainer based in Bath. His mission statement is to keep fitness and health as simple and as fun as possible… and always with a smile on his face!
“When you think of cake, you tend to think of an indulgent snack (some people even think meal!). Your first thought is probably the soft moist red velvet cake smothered in a creamy, silky icing. I know that’s definitely mine! But what about the health aspect? I mean, everything that tastes good is bad for me, right?!
“The first thing that you need to be aware off is that when something is marketed or labelled as healthy, it really might not be. You need to check out the ingredients list.
So what things should I be looking for? If you can’t pronounce something, run the other way and if it’s something that is unfamiliar to you, then be cautious. If it is food, and delicious, have at it (in moderation). Some recipes try to use coconut oil instead of butter, which is simply the healthiest oil to cook with. The good fats it contains are less easily oxidised (messed-up!), meaning you end up with healthier end product. Not that there is anything wrong with butter. In fact, butter is amazing, and is less processed than margarine. Natural, non-roasted nuts are always a great addition – full of micro-nutrients and fat soluble vitamins, they are a great addition to any cake or diet. Dried fruit are another thing that would make any baked good much more agreeable with your waste and mood. Just be careful that they haven’t added any added sugar or salt!
“You see, sweet treats are not a problem if part of a healthy diet – I love a good cake (can you tell?!). Here’s a great tip though… when I’m hungry, the first thing I do is to reach for some healthy, usually more savoury food. Then, by the time I get to cake, I just want something that will leave a sweet taste in my mouth, rather than wanting to devour the whole cake.”
Obviously the above is just a tiny snippet of Malachi’s great wealth of knowledge on this subject. To check out more about what Malachi does or to follow his words of wisdom on all things health and fitness, then check out his website www.dingisfitness.com or like his facebook page www.facebook.com/dingis.fitness.
If all this talk of fruit and nuts has got you salivating then check out this granola bar recipe. This recipe is full of lots of yummy nuts and dried cherries but you can substitute the nuts and fruit I have used with whatever tickles your fancy – just keep the weights the same and it shouldn’t affect the end bars.
Almond, Coconut and Dried Cherry Granola Bars.
- 2 cups oats
- 1/2 cup flaked almonds
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup agave syrup (can replace this with honey or maple syrup )
- 4 tbsp coconut oil (can be replaced with butter)
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- a small lump of marzipan
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) or gas 5. Line an 8″ square tin.
Combine the oats, almonds and coconut flakes into a pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until the nuts are slightly browned. In a saucepan, melt together the coconut oil, syrup, cinnamon and salt and take off the heat. Once the oats and nuts have browned, tip into melted mixture and stir well together. Add the cherries. Take the marzipan and roll into lots of tiny balls (the size of small peas) and gently stir through the mixture. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and squash down. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until golden on the top. It will feel soft to the touch but will harden as it cools.
The most frustrating part of this recipe is waiting the hour or two for it to cool before you cut and scoff. Makes between 10 and 15 bars depending on how small you cut them.