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
Talk to yourself like you would someone you love ❤
Would you say to a loved one: "you have the smallest boobs ever", "you'll never be good at that", "your freckles are ugly", "you're pathetic", "you're so fat", "I hate you".
Of course not!!! So don't let any of that negativity float your way either.
There will never be another you. And you have complete power to do as much or as little with this life as you choose. Don't waste it being hard on yourself.
Too many people overvalue the things they perceive to be bad about themselves and undervalue the good. Ask a loved one what they like about you; you might be surprised.
“You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.” - Yogi Bhajan
Hill sprints weren't always my thing. I used to love a good long (flat thanks) run on a Sunday morning. But since becoming a mum, the need for super quick fat burning workouts has risen exponentially. Who has time for long slow (and let's face it, boring if you're on a treadmill!) cardio these days?
Not only will hill sprints give you great legs, they are super effective at helping you develop a strong, flat and toned tummy! Boost your metabolism and say goodbye to the muffin top.
Top 3 reasons to add hill sprints into your training:
1- Gets your workout done quicker
Your time is valuable! You can get an awesome fat burning workout done in 10-15 minutes of sprint training, so why put up with long boring cardio slog sessions? You only need 60 seconds of intense exercise (i.e. sprint) to start burning fat!
2- It's fun (no, really!)
Do you remember the last time you ran as fast as you could? It's like being a kid again! Try adding some sprints the next time you're out for a walk - pick a spot up ahead and don't stop until you get there!
3- Improves your distance running
Do you have a running event coming up? Maybe a half marathon, marathon or even a 5km run? Start adding sprint training now! Sprinting naturally increases the body’s endurance strength, making longer cardio sessions easier. Through sprint workouts, you teach your body to increase its ability to store oxygen, which helps the muscles function in all forms of exercise, especially endurance events like running races.
WITH OUR demanding work schedules, health issues, family obligations, worrying about the kids and paying the bills, it's impossible to avoid stress. But how well is your body coping with that stress?
Scientists from The University of Basel in Switzerland and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden analysed the fitness levels, cardiovascular risk factors (including blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol) and self-reported stress levels of nearly 200 working people to identify possible links between fitness, health, and stress.
The study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found that those who were stressed out were more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. No surprise there. However, the cardiovascular risk factors were lower in stressed workers who were physically fit.
“Above all, these findings are significant because it is precisely when people are stressed that they tend to engage in physical activity less often,” study co-author Markus Gerber of University of Basel said in a statement.
The physical benefits of exercise — improving physical condition and fighting disease — have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels that impact. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilise mood, improve sleep (which in turn reduces stress) and improve self-esteem. As little as five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Ok, who's up for a workout...?
Warming up before a workout is a must. This ensures your body (and brain) is ready for the workout, meaning you can push yourself harder and won't put yourself at risk of injury.
A light jog is good, as are low level variations of what you'll be doing in your main workout. But sometimes you don't feel like running, or perhaps you're in a small indoor space and don't have the room. So what do you do?
You don't need fancy equipment. In fact, you don't need any. Here are some examples of warm up exercises to get you ready to go. These can also be used as part of your main workout for excellent all-over body conditioning - just do them faster (but maintain good form).
Walkout to Push-up
Warm up tip:
If this is too advanced, lose the push up and walkout to a plank position only, then walk back up to standing. Alternatively you could do the push-up on your knees.
Main workout tip:
Use this in a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout - do as many reps as you can, as fast as you can in 20 seconds. Break for 10 seconds. Repeat x 3. Add intensity by doing more than 1 push-up and/or placing your feet together rather than hip-width apart.
Warm up tip:
If this is too advanced, stay on your heels instead of pushing up onto your toes. You can also do the move slower and just touch the ground with one hand.
Main workout tip:
Use this in a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout - do as many reps as fast as you can in 20 seconds. Break for 10 seconds. Repeat x 3. Add intensity by jumping off the ground instead of pushing up onto toes.
Looking for a light, refreshing salad you can throw together in minutes? This is it!
The great thing about this salad is you can substitue pretty much everything for anything else that's in your fridge/pantry and it still comes out a winner - sub ideas below.
Pop all ingredients into a generous size bowl, find a nice place to sit down and enjoy!
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (any colour). For super easy quinoa cooking instructions, see below
6 fresh mint leaves roughly chopped (or a handful of baby spinach)
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate (or 1/2 a grated fresh apple)
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (or almonds/pine nuts). Take it to another level? Toast the nuts!
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds (any colour)
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
1 teaspoon dried cranberries (or raisins/sultanas)
season with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a few grinds of black pepper
Need more protein? Add a boiled egg or some baked skinless chicken :)
Quinoa cooking instructions for people who can't cook
Yep, I'm not the best cook (probably why I like salads). However, I've found an absolutely fail-safe way to make quinoa perfectly EVERY TIME. No joke. So here it goes:
Measure out 1 cup quinoa (or any amount you want i.e 3/4 cup) into a sieve. Wash quinoa thoroughly under cold water.
Put washed quinoa into saucepan.
Boil jug and measure out amount of boiling water (into the same object you used to measure the quinoa) that is slightly less than the amount of quinoa you used i.e 2 centimetres under the full amount of the 1 cup. Add boiling water to saucepan. Swirl quinoa around so it's not in a clump in the water).
Set heat to High.
Cover quinoa and boiling water with lid immediately.
Once water starts to boil, reduce heat to low (simmer: so you can just see little bubbles). Leave lid on.
In about 5-6 minutes lift up the lid to see how you're going. You want all the water to be evaporated and the quinoa just starting to stick to the base of the saucepan. If you're not there yet, stir the quinoa with a fork and put the lid back on until you're at that stage (probably only a minute or so, happens quickly).
Once all water evaporated, turn off heat, take off lid and stir with a fork. Put lid back on for 1-2 minutes. The longer you leave the lid on, the more cooked the quinoa will be.. so if you like it a bit softer, leave longer, or crunchier, leave shorter.
After 1-2 minutes turn out onto a plate to stop the cooking process. Fluff with a fork. Done :)
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.