Sundried ambassador Anne Iarchy is a personal trainer and nutritionist. She shares with us her deliciously healthy sugar-free banana loaf recipe.
Truly sugar-free banana cake
A few weeks ago, I was working at the Woburn Tri for Life, and at the end of a very successful day, we had masses of bananas left. After eating a banana a day for a few days, the rest of the bananas I took home were a little too ripe to my taste (I do like them just yellow from green), so I decided to bake a banana loaf.
I have two recipes, one with sugar and butter, one with coconut oil and dates, but I really wanted one with no sugar at all. After all, ripe bananas are very sweet. I did some research on the internet, and I was really surprised to see how many recipes came up “pretending” they were sugar-free, but just swapping the sugar to honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup and other sweeteners.
Although honey is healthier than sugar (and that depends on the amount of processing of the honey), it has the same effect on blood sugar levels and insulin release than sugar.
Here is my truly sugar-free banana loaf recipe which still tastes amazing and is much healthier than any other you will find.
6-7 overripe bananas, previously frozen and defrosted
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups of gluten-free self raising flour (this is what I used but self-raising flour will work fine too)
2/3 cup of walnut pieces
Preheat oven at 190C (Gas Mark 5)
Lightly grease an 8x4" cake tin
In a bowl, mush the bananas, mix the eggs, vanilla and coconut oil, till properly mixed.
Slowly add the flour bit by bit and stir well.
Stir in the walnuts
Pour into the tin, decorate with some walnuts if you want to.
Put in the oven to bake for approx 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
Cool before slicing.
The cake came out moist and it was definitely sweet enough.
A slice of the cake makes a lovely healthy snack.
It keeps well for 4-5 days covered in foil.
Our bodies are designed to move and everyone should try to be active, even if you live an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Make sure you're getting these 5 important foods into your diet whether you're a triathlete, bodybuilder, or weekend warrior.
Top of the list for their many health benefits are eggs. This natural 'super food' sometimes gets a bad rap due to the high cholesterol levels, however a healthy dose of eggs in your daily diet coupled with regular exercise and living a generally healthy lifestyle is nothing bad at all.
Why are eggs good for you?
The reason eggs are so good for building muscle is because they are a 'complete protein' meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids, the ones that the human body can't produce itself, as well as 9 other non-essential amino acids. You can get around 13g of protein by eating two eggs which isn't a huge amount but will still be beneficial for building muscle.
Lean meat like turkey and chicken are fantastic foods for building muscle as they contain a high amount of protein and not much else; they have a very low carb and fat content and no nasties if they are not overly processed.
Why is turkey good for you? Why is turkey healthier than chicken?
Turkey has a marginally higher protein content than chicken – turkey on average has 29g of protein per 100g while chicken has 27g per 100g – and on average has fewer calories and a slightly lower fat content and so this means it is the poultry of choice for many bodybuilders. However, turkey can often be more expensive than chicken so really it's up to you as the differences in nutrition are minimal.
The white meat is lower in calories and fat than the dark meat so it's best to opt for the breast rather than leg if you can.
Grilled turkey breast served with vegetables is the ideal muscle-building meal and will also aid with fat loss as part of an overall healthy diet along with regular exercise.
When we think tuna, most people will think of canned tuna which has suffered a bad reputation n the past due to the fear that the elevated mercury levels can harm your health. However, tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can improve your heart health and strengthen your immune system.
Why is tuna good for you?
Tuna is another food that is very rich in protein, delivering around 30g of protein per 100g which puts it above everything else on this list in terms of protein content. It is also rich in potassium which can lower your blood pressure as well as Vitamin B which strengthens your bones.
Tuna is popular in Asian cuisine and is very healthy and rich in protein.
The 'low fat' movement was hugely debunked by many scientists, bloggers, and anyone interested in being truly healthy. We now know that if a food is being marketed as 'low fat' it's probably high in sugar and/or various other nasty chemicals. However, Greek yogurt will always be a great option that is truly low in fat without any of the compromise.
Why is Greek yogurt good for you?
Greek yogurt is unique because it goes through a straining process to remove the whey which contains lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy. It is the removal of the whey that makes Greek yogurt taste so much sharper than other yogurts but it is also what makes it lower in sugar and therefore better for your health.
Unflavoured Greek yogurt with no added sugar or flavourings contains on average only around 60 calories per 100 g and 10 g of protein, so nearly as much as your two eggs with a tiny fraction of the cholesterol. Greek yogurt is also rich in calcium and potassium, two nutrients which are great for building bone strength and keeping you healthy.
Due to the fact the lactose is strained out of Greek yogurt, it is one of the most easily digestible dairy products and can even be eaten by some people who need to follow a free-from diet.
Greek yogurt is strained to remove the lactose so it is healthier than regular yogurt, but be careful how you eat it as added sugar in toppings could undo its healthiness.
Not many people realise this but a truly healthy diet will feature two portions of fish and/or oily fish per week, of which salmon is a prime example.
Why is salmon good for you?
Oily fish like salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are excellent for heart health and the equally rich protein content will help with your muscle building endeavours. Salmon contains on average 20g of protein per 100g putting in the middle of the range on this list but still putting it in the 'high' category in general.
Do you struggle to get enough protein into your diet? Did you buy an expensive protein powder and have no idea how to introduce it into your diet? Or just looking for a new and healthy breakfast to replace that boring cereal? Protein pancakes are a quick and easy way to have a highly nutritious and tasty breakfast! Here is one of our favourite recipes!
- 1 sachet of Wheybox chocolate orange whey protein
- 50g egg whites
- 1 medium-sized overripe banana
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Use a hand mixer to blend up all the ingredients until well mixed.
- Heat some coconut oil in a pan and tip in your pancake mix, 1 heaped tbsp at a time.
- Leave to cook for a couple of minutes. These pancakes don't use flour so they are slightly more fragile than usual, therefore you should cook the other side by folding them in half into a half moon shape!
- Leave for another couple of minutes then pile on your plate and top with yogurt, nut butter and popcorn!
Thanks to the banana, these pancakes have a soft texture and are naturally quite sweet.
We take a closer look at the popular Whole30 diet which was created by husband and wife team Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. What is it and what can you eat on it? These questions and more answered below.
The Whole30 diet is not primarily a weight loss diet, instead it is an 'elimination' diet which aims to identify 'triggering' foods which may be stopping you from feeling at your best. Is bread making you bloated? Could dairy be the reason you can't sleep at night? The Whole30 diet sets out to answer these questions for you and weight loss and wellness may just be happy side effects.
The bad news is that because of the nature of elimination diets, the Whole30 diet can be tough to follow as it means giving up a lot of your favourite foods. Withdrawal symptoms can become rampant meaning if your willpower isn't strong enough you could cave in and end up binging, which is even more unhealthy than eating your favourite treats in moderation.
The number 30 in the name Whole30 refers to the number of days you are expected to stay true to the diet. This means it is not a complete lifestyle change and is not something you should adopt long-term. You are supposed to slowly re-introduce the potential trigger foods after the 30 days so that you can identify which (if any) are causing you issues. For example, if you eliminate dairy from your diet and for the 30 days you can sleep well and once you re-introduce it you go back to having insomnia, it's a fair sign that dairy doesn't agree with you.
What can you eat on the Whole30 diet?
Eat real food.
You're encouraged to eat meat, seafood, and eggs as these are reliably sources of protein and essential amino acids. You are also encouraged to eat plenty of vegetables as well as some fruit. Plenty of natural fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds, and you're allowed all your favourite herbs and spices.
The point is to stick to 'real' natural foods which don't contain any chemicals or ingredients your can't pronounce, or better yet foods that don't even have a nutrition label because they're whole, non-packaged foods.
No: Avoid for 30 days.
- Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
- Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
- Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
- Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
- Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
- Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
- Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.
Some specific foods that fall under this rule include: pancakes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pizza crust, alternative flour pastas, cereal, or ice cream.
No commercially-prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.) or French fries either. However, this list is not limited strictly to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgement with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings.
Quinoa is a popular grain that is high in fibre and protein and is also gluten-free, making it the perfect carbohydrate alternative for those suffering from Coeliac disease. We explore quinoa's true health benefits and instruct on the best way to cook quinoa.
How do you say quinoa?
First and foremost, it's a good idea to know how to pronounce the word 'quinoa'. Most people who have never heard it said out loud before would think it's pronounce 'kwi-noah' but it's actually pronounced 'kee-nwah'. Now you can ask for it at the supermarket without worrying about saying it wrong!
What are the health benefits of quinoa?
Quinoa is a grain and whole grains are packed with nutrients such as protein, fibre, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Quinoa specifically is healthier than most grains and typically contains 4.4g of protein per 100g. Cooked quinoa is a relatively good source of fibre and contains more than brown rice. Quinoa also contains all essential amino acids which is unusual for a plant-derivative and perfect for those following a vegan or free-from diet.
How to cook quinoa
- First, rinse the dry quinoa in cold water to remove any bitterness.
- Pour boiling water into a saucepan and add a pinch of salt
- Once the water reaches a proper boil, turn down the heat and add the quinoa
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes
- Once the quinoa is cooked, transfer to a bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes so that it become lovely and fluffy
- Fluff it up with a fork and enjoy! Add to salads for a protein kick and extra nutrients.