Over the last few weeks I've had a few friends really struggle with anxiety.
We're all in new territory with the current global situation... add to that some job insecurity, family members being out of reach and rules changing week to week on the way we need to live and it's no wonder people are feeling anxious.
First, it's okay to feel this way. Recognizing how you're feeling is important because then you can do something to help yourself feel better. So what can you do? Here's my top 3 tips:
TIP 1 - GIN. No, not a🍸🤦♀️... GIN = Get In Nature. Studies have shown a decline in anxiety levels of participants after exposure to nature. Lifting your mood and lowering anxiety are two ways being outdoors may be good for mental health. Memory improves, as does the ability to focus. Some people also experience a boost in creativity after being in nature.
TIP 2 - Speak to someone. If you don't have a friend, partner or family member you can safely vent to, call Beyond Blue 1800 512 348 (they have a dedicated Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service) or go to your GP for a mental health plan - 6x 50% subsidized (through Medicare) sessions with a psychologist. While we're on it, let's remove the stigma around seeing a psychologist - it doesn't say anything about you other than the fact you care about your mental health. I've seen one myself in the past and it helped me immensely.
TIP 3 - Less 🍷🍺🍹 🖥📱, more 🥑🍎🥦🥪🏃♀️🌳.
I'm not saying pour your Moet down the sink and disconnect all your devices... just a little less of the stuff that makes you feel like crap and a little more of the stuff that makes your body more fun to live in. 💜
These are SO delicious - and the kids won't even notice the hidden green veggies!
2 cups zucchini, grated (not tightly packed)
1 large egg
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (measure when melted)
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cacao powder (you can use cocoa powder but note it is more processed than cacao)
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 cup sprouted pea protein powder (I haven't tried but you can probably use any protein powder? If you don't want any protein powder then skip this and just do 1 cup wholemeal flour instead)
Place grated zucchini in a colander while you are getting the other ingredients ready.
Preheat the oven to 190c and line 20cm x 20cm baking dish with unbleached baking paper.
In a large bowl add egg, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract; whisk to combine.
Add cacao powder, baking soda and salt; whisk until well mixed.
Give zucchini a gentle squeeze but do not ring out completely, add to a bowl and stir.
Add flour and protein powder and mix gently until combined.
Transfer batter into prepared baking dish and level with spatula.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the centre is barely jiggly. If you over-bake the brownies will have more of a cake consistency (which still tasted good, but might not be what you're looking for). A toothpick inserted has to come out somewhat not clean. If the centre is too jiggly, bake a bit more – ovens vary.
Remove from the oven and let cool for about an hour in the tin. Lift by the baking paper flaps and transfer to a cooling rack to cool off completely.
Cut into 16 squares.
Sprouted lentils are incredibly nutritious and you don't have to pay swanky health food store prices for them - make your own at home!
It's as simple as soaking, draining, rinsing and letting them sit. Green, black, and de Puy lentils work best. Over time (I used green lentils and these ones took 4 days to sprout) this repeated rinsing and draining jump-starts the germination process, and sprouts begin to form.
Usually you'd cook lentils prior to eating so they're easily digested, but sprouting neutralizes the phytic acid which means more vitamins and minerals can be absorbed by your body as they're digested. It also helps break down the sugars which are the cause for forming intestinal gas ;)
Sprouted lentils are crunchy, refreshing, and filling. Use them in salads, lentil burgers, or corn fritters!
Sprouted Lentil Corn Fritters
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1 x 420g can corn kernels, drained
1 cup sprouted lentils
olive oil for frying
Place flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Use a fork to whisk eggs and milk in a jug and pour gradually into the flour, stirring gently to combine. Fold in corn and lentils. Don’t over-mix or the fritters will be tough.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat with olive oil. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of mixture into the pan (you’ll have to cook in batches). Cook for about 2-3 mins, until golden brown underneath, then turn and cook the other side. Repeat with the oil and fritter mixture.
Serve fritters with your choice of sides: avocado, rocket, feta cheese, sweet chilli sauce or tomato relish.
A few years ago I went along to a running clinic with my cousin.
I'd been running for years prior to that, but had never really given a lot of thought to my 'technique' - I wasn't particularly trying to smash amazing run times, I was just enjoying being outdoors while I got some exercise, took in the sights and sounds and always felt a million bucks afterwards, endorphins pumping (endorphins = chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain).
However, after trying out a few of these running tips, I found my runs smoother, more relaxing on days where my body was tight and another nice side effect, I got a bit quicker :)
The tip that worked best for me: instead of putting effort into lifting up the knee on your leading leg to propel you forward as you run, try lifting the heel of that front leg up to your butt - your knee will automatically project up and forwards, propelling you forward without the drag of pulling up your leg. I couldn't believe how much lighter my leg felt when I did this.
Other tips you might like to try:
lift your chest - this will pull your shoulders back and stop you rounding forward - also makes it easier to breathe!
tuck your chin slightly - your head weights a fair bit, so if your chin is lifted too high it can put strain on your neck.
breathe rhythmically - if you find you get the stitch a lot, this can help. Intentionally breathe in through your nose as you inhale, run a certain amount of steps (say 3) then exhale through your nose or mouth (for another number of steps). Make sure when you exhale that you let all that breath out before you inhale again.
New to running and looking for more tips? Why not join our beginner's running group - jump on our facebook page to be alerted when the next group is starting up 🖤
The simplest cookie you'll ever make!
Such a great one to make with kids because they can easily do everything. Just mash up the bananas, mix in the oats then mix in the choc chips and you're done!
10-15 mins in preheated 180 degree celsius oven. Makes 16 bite size cookies.
2 ripe bananas
1 cup rolled oats
80 grams choc chips (white choc chips work well too... I used a chopped up 80% cocoa lindt bar because that's heat I had in the cupboard #stayhome
If you want to keep the chocolate out you could replace with dried fruit like raisins or medjool dates.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 litre reduced salt vegetable stock
1 head of broccoli including heads and stalks, roughly chopped
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper, to season
a few fresh basil leaves, torn
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep saucepan over a medium - high heat and add in the onion and garlic, cooking for a few minutes, until they start to soften.
2. Add fennel seeds and chopped broccoli and stir for another minute.
3. Add stock and bring to a boil.
4. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the chickpeas. Cook for 5 - 6 minutes until the broccoli is tender but not mushy.
5. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste. If you don't have a stick blender you can wait until it cools a little then pop in a high power blender like a Vitamix.
6. Serve with parmesan cheese, torn basil leaves and squeeze of lemon juice.
Transitioning babies from eating mush to more solid foods can be challenging,
I found this slice makes a lovely texture that my 9 month old found very manageable (and exciting) to eat. Cut the slice into smaller bite size pieces if your baby is just starting out on solids. If you're not making for a baby then season with pepper to your taste.
Turns out this recipe was a winner with the rest of the family too - great midweek dinner, just add a side salad of baby spinach leaves and some diced orange (quinoa too if you're feeling fancy) and you're all set!
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
2 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 small can corn kernels, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 large onion, finely chopped
200g rindless bacon, chopped (replace with 100g ham if making for a baby)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan (replace with cheddar if making for a baby)
2 tbsp olive oil.
Preheat oven to 170C. Fry bacon/ham and onion in oil.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add the flour and beat until smooth, then add zucchini, carrot, corn, onion, bacon, cheese and stir to combine.
Grease and line a quiche pan or 30 x 20cm lamington pan. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through.
The whole family will enjoy 💚
6 tablespoons peanut butter (or almond butter if you prefer)
3 tablespoons coconut oil, liquefied
3 tablespoons honey (rice malt syrup if you prefer)
2 tablespoons cacao powder (*higher nutritional value - see notes below) or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup nuts of your choice, crushed (I used 1/4 cup almonds + 1/4 cup cashews)
Place all ingredients except nuts into a medium sized bowl and mix until it is well combined and gooey. Stir in the nuts. Pour the mixture into a silicone mini muffin tray (should fill around 12 holes). Place in the fridge (or freezer if you want to eat it quick!) to set and store.
You don't have to use a mini muffin tray to set, you could use a standard silicone tray and cut up into slices, but I find the portion control of the mini muffin tray works well.
I like to pop one of these in my kid's lunch every now and then for a treat. I keep some frozen in a snap lock bag and just take one out and put in his lunchbox in the morning - by lunchtime it's still holding it's shape (he has an icepack in his lunchbox).
Cacao powder vs cocoa powder - what's the difference?
It might look the same, but it’s not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.
Health benefits of cacao
Cacao powder is known to have a higher antioxidant content than cocoa. Studies have shown cacao can:
- lower insulin resistance
- protect nervous system
- shield nerve cells from damage
- lower blood pressure
- reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
- guard against toxins
- boost your mood
- provide minerals (magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper & manganese)
500g boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used chicken breast as they're a leaner cut), cut into small pieces
2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa (measured uncooked), cooked
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup basil pesto
1 cup cherry tomatoes (medley colour), halved
1. Prepare quinoa. (1.5 cup boiling water and quinoa in a saucepan. Put lid on and bring to boil then drop to a simmer for 10mins until all water soaked up).
2, While quinoa cooking, heat frypan on medium heat and add olive oil. Add chicken, pinch of salt (optional) and sundried tomatoes and cook 5-10mins until chicken cooked. Transfer chicken and sundried tomatoes to a plate leaving oils in pan.
3. Put asparagus in pan and cook 5-10 mins until desired tenderness. Transfer cooked asparagus to a plate.
4. Put chicken in pan and sundried tomato back into pan and add pesto and cooked quinoa. Once warm, add cherry tomatoes to pan and stir to combine. Leave on heat for a minute or two then take off heat.
5. Enjoy! :)
This is a great little recipe for when you want to whip up some healthy muffins but don't have time to run to the shops - it's quite likely you've got all the ingredients you need in the pantry already!
Great for the school lunchbox or pop one in your handbag and take to work for a healthy snack.
They freeze beautifully, if they make it to the freezer :)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil (I used coconut)
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tray.
2. In a large bowl mix sugar, milk, egg and oil. Then stir in carrot and sultanas.
3. Add flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir until just combined. Don't over mix.
4. Spoon into prepared muffin tray and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes (I did 16 mins in a fan-forced oven).
Tip: instead of carrot & sultanas you can try these other combinations:
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 ripe mashed bananas
- 1 cup grated apples + 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Amanda is a registered personal trainer and certified boxing instructor who specialises in fitness for women. Her goal is to inspire women of all ages to enjoy living an active, healthy life!
As a Mum of an active boy and baby girl and owner of Perth-based personal training company She’s a Knockout, Amanda is dedicated to empowering women to be fit, strong and confident in themselves.