Finding your food “why”

Often in fitness you hear about trainers telling their clients to find their “why?”.
This means, find the reason why you started/wanted to get fitter because this will be what powers you through those last few difficult reps or will be what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and do a workout even when you don’t want to.

I think this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard and I wanted to turn it to food as well and share my whys with people in the hope that it inspires others to choose a homemade, more nutritious option over the easier, heavily processed version.

Finding your food "why" Advice Health

My whys
Firstly, let me explain that my biggest why is because when I don’t eat well I feel like crap and tend to suffer for it due to digestive and stomach issues. I’d also like to get stronger and put on some muscle which leads most people to believe that as long as I’m getting the calories to do so, that I should just eat whatever I want, however I don’t do this because:

Abakus Jujube snack review

A jujube. They’re like the dates cousin. They’re a soft, sweet fruit that originated from Asia. One difference I’ve noticed is that they’re not as sticky as other dried fruit which is actually a nice surprise because then you’re not scraping them off your teeth for an hour afterwards.

Abakus Jujube snack review Desserts Health

The jujube fruit is a rich source of Vit C and also contains small amounts of manganese, calcium and iron. It’s also packed with fibre, antioxidants and flavonoids such as quercetin and epicatechin (also found in green tea). Therefore they have traditionally been used to help keep a healthy immune system, provide energy and maintain a healthy digestive system, some compounds in the jujube can have a mild sedative action which explains why they’re also used as a night time tea.
These snacks have no added sugar, no chemical additives, are gluten and dairy-free, paleo, sulphite-free, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Abakus Jujube snack review Desserts Health


Too much superfood?

Any food or drink when consumed in excess can lead to detrimental effects but these are a few which I feel can be easily overdone without even realising it, after all, if some is good, then more is better, right?
Not necessarily, so I felt it would be a good post to help explain why you should try to monitor your intake of these foods, meaning you can still enjoy them and their benefits without suffering unwanted effects.

Please don’t let this put you off food or make you feel it’s too hard to be healthy, it is meant to empower you, not discourage you.

Brazil nuts: selenium is a powerful antioxidant and is great for your thyroid and immune system but too much can result in brittle nails/hair, nausea and more severe symptoms.
Brazil nuts are the most dense source of selenium so 1 or 2 a day depending on your weight & gender will provide more than the RDI for selenium so there really is no need to go over board and remember that you can also get selenium from other foods too (meat, seafood, dairy). Therefore if you feel you haven’t consumed enough from your diet over the past few days then popping a brazil into your smoothie or yogurt is great for rectifying this, just don’t go regularly eating a whole bag of chocolate covered brazil nuts!

Too much superfood? Advice Health

Seafood: Depending on where it’s from and how it’s sourced certain fish e.g. farmed salmon, most tuna and the big predators such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel etc usually contain high levels of mercury so eating these kinds isn’t recommended. Instead, stick to 1 or 2 portions of fish a week, with at least 1 portion being oily and opt for wild caught Alaskan salmon (or check with the fish monger about their mercury/growing conditions), sardines, hake, cod, small Atlantic mackerel (not king mackerel) and you can occasionally have skipjack tuna.
For good infographics, see here.

Too much superfood? Advice Health

There are other choices, so do some research to find ones that are accessible to you and with the lowest levels.
This information is especially important for kids/petite women/those trying to get pregnant.


Easy homemade cheap coconut milk

I’ve been making a lot of my own milks recently and thought I’d share one of my favourites to show people just how easy making your own actually is. Not to mention how much cheaper it is as well, pretty much everyone will have some desiccated coconut in their cupboard for baking purposes and it’s quite cheap to get these days. When you consider how much that entire bag costs and how much milk you can get out of it, it works out to be soooo much cheaper, so if you often feel a bit ripped off buying pre made milks then I highly recommend giving this a go. It’s also great to have the know how incase you find yourself needing plant based milk but don’t have any in the fridge and can’t get to the shops.

Easy homemade cheap coconut milk Advice Grainfree Health

Another benefit of homemade is that it’s free from any emulsifiers/thickeners which some people may be allergic to or can’t have due to dietary lifestyles. There are brands out there that make milks without anything added which you can get if you needed to, one of my favourites is the Oatly organic version which is simply, oats, water and a pinch of salt.

Easy homemade cheap coconut milk Advice Grainfree Health


How to stop food shaming yourself and others

Have you ever been in the position where you’re at a social event or just out with a friend and you guys decide to grab something to eat, but when you go to order you begin to make excuses for what you want to choose?
“Oh, I did a really hard workout this morning so I’ve earned this bit of toast” or “I haven’t really eaten much today/this week so it’s ok for me to have this scone rather than the green juice”.
Well, you’ve just food shamed yourself, feeling like you shouldn’t have that scone even though you really want it because you’re afraid of what the other person might think or say, after all, you are meant to be the healthy one, right?
Or even more annoying is when someone else does it to you, “oh you’re going to eat that are you, I didn’t think you’d ever eat that?!”
I’ve got this a few times and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear.

How to stop food shaming yourself and others Advice Health

We all have our good days & bad days

Being an honest healthy eater

I feel this is an important topic to share because if people view healthy eating/wellness as something that never involves the occasional indulgence or means never being able to have a slice of toast again it puts people off ever trying in the first place, or worse, it could encourage a very negative, restrictive relationship with food.

How to stop food shaming yourself and others Advice Health
As a person who is passionate about and promotes health and wellness I do try to show people that there is a balance which makes it easier to stick to and to be honest that not all wellness gurus are perfect kale chompers 100% of the time. Furthermore, I feel that for most people it’s nearly impossible to do this, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a restaurant where they don’t do a single wholegrain option and I’m not a big meat eater so it’s either choose some white rice risotto or have nothing but a plate of veggies. Likewise when I’m socialising with friends I’ll loosen the reigns and enjoy the get-together by sharing a few slices of pizza with my friend. (more…)

Belfast’s Co Couture gourmet chocolate shop

UPDATE: Co Couture has now re-opened after being closed for a few months. Hooray!

Belfast chocolate lovers rejoice!

I thought I knew about all of the best spots in Belfast to grab a quality bite to eat/a treat but I only recently discovered the amazing, gourmet, Co Couture chocolate shop that resides beside City hall (left at city hall, past Cafe Nero, down some steps). When you first enter the shop, you’re immediately greeted with the smell of warm, melted chocolate, oh what a greeting it is! I was not the only customer to notice or appreciate this and it’s due to the chocolates being made on site with no door separating the seating area and kitchen, allowing the smells to float through.

Belfast's Co Couture gourmet chocolate shop Advice Desserts Health
The second thing that grabs your attention is the selection of chocolates and cute mini brownies on display. During my visit there were two brownie flavours: classic and salted cashew butter (gluten free). As for the chocolates, there was quite a range (and still more to come), some of which included: orange, hazelnut creme, Japanese cherry sencha (this was my choice) and even Irish whiskey truffle!
You get one of these chocolates with your order of coffee/hot chocolate and the rest are 80p each, which is an absolute bargain when you understand the high quality of these treats, evidence of which could be seen from the many awards that sat upon the shelves.

Belfast's Co Couture gourmet chocolate shop Advice Desserts Health Belfast's Co Couture gourmet chocolate shop Advice Desserts Health

Impressive chocolate flavour

Immediately upon tasting the chocolate you’ll realise that these are very different from your average box of chocs that claim to be “dark” yet are only 40% cocoa solids. These differ not only in terms of darkness (most are 72%) but the flavours as well, which is also extended to their hot chocolate drink.
As the makers have slowly replaced raw unrefined cane sugar with the smallest amounts of honey, this allows the flavours to come through so much more, plus, you aren’t hit with a sugar rush which is why I feel most people would be satisfied and satiated with a small selection as opposed to having that uncontrollable sugar craving that is commonly associated with standard chocolate.

Belfast's Co Couture gourmet chocolate shop Advice Desserts Health


As I’ve just briefly mentioned, one of the key factors behind the rich flavour is that nearly all of them are now refined sugar free with only small amounts of honey being used and a bonus for those who are lactose intolerant/avoiding dairy is that the dark chocolate is dairy free. Furthermore, the base couverture chocolate that is used is organically sourced and originates from Madagascar, which provides a more developed, fruity flavour.

Another major plus which I loved is that because they use couverture chocolate in bar form rather than sourcing and grinding the beans themselves, this provides x4 times the profit for the cocoa farmers meaning that they get a better wage, now if that wasn’t a good enough reason to get you in there then maybe this next point is. The ganache that is made here to create the truffle centre is water based rather than cream, meaning it’s lower in calories but due to the overall rich cocoa content of the chocolate it does not affect the flavour.

Belfast's Co Couture gourmet chocolate shop Advice Desserts Health