Sugar-Free Challenge

As you know, I had a bit of a pause from my sugar-free challenge. We went on holiday and I simply wanted to have some sweets there. To my surprise, I was not as attracted to cakes and sweet pastry as I expected myself to be, but I still had some cakes and enjoyed their pancakes. On the other hand, I was very much surprised I did not crave chocolate, chocolate bars. To be honest, when I saw some cakes on holiday or in restaurants being back from holiday, I had this weird feeling of “that’s way too sweet for me”, telling me that I knew I could have it, but I would not have enjoyed it.

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Having come back from holiday, I consciously decided to still have some sugar. So, over the last three weeks, including the holiday, I had a few cakes, ice-cream and even some soda drinks. I enjoyed it, I did not feel guilty eating it, yet I could feel the effect sugar had on my body.

Eating refined sugar, I had headaches, my skin got worse and I felt bloated. All these symptoms and my long-term goals for a healthy lifestyle led to my decision to go back to my personal sugar-free challenge.

My sugar-free is not 100% refined sugar-free as I still eat pastry and I do eat out, and as much as I try to make as healthy choices as possible while eating out, sometimes you may get a bit of sugar in pasta sauces etc. But I am sure that my daily sugar intake is within 2 teaspoons of sugar. Mostly even less or none at all. And I do not consume artificial sweeteners, those are a big No-No for me. If you want to learn more about sugar and sweeteners, check my blog post It’s all about the sugar.

So, what to eat when avoiding added sugar? Here is an example of what I eat in a day:

37812876_2225100121043490_3684150378741366784_nBreakfast: My breakfast always consists of hemp protein powder with almond or soya milk, occasionally with some fruits or spinach.

Morning snack: I would usually have some fruits in the morning, especially when at work as we get fruits in the office every Monday and Wednesday. (Yes, I know I work in a cool office 😀 )

39017497_2244268942459941_4649032266599628800_nLunch: Lunch would either be some leftovers from home, but that is rare as I do not cook much these days, or occasionally I would eat in a restaurant with my colleagues, I can recall I recently had Safran risotto. Mostly I would grab soup in one of the nearby restaurants.

Afternoon snack: When at work I am usually busy in the afternoon so I simply forget to snack, when at home I might have some nuts. During the weekend, it might be post workout pancakes as an afternoon snack or even lunch.

38862595_2242243945995774_3014138126265221120_nDinner: First of all, I would have a drop of my CBD hemp oil 30 mins before a meal. My dinners usually are scrambled eggs/salad with pastry, or we would go to eat out – Chinese, vegan, Italian etc. When I decided to really cook, I might cook something like my favorite Creamy tomato Gnocchi – click here to check the recipe. 

And of course, it is also very important to think about what you drink. I do not drink soda drinks, I do drink plenty of water which I think is the main reason why my body managed to deal with the sugar easily when I happened to had eaten sugar past three weeks.

What does your meal routine look like? Looking forward to hearing from you! Please comment below.

Vegetarian Creamy Gnocchi

I have to admit I have not been cooking much recently. It is too hot to spend time by the stove in this weather. We have mainly just been making shakes or cooking scrambled eggs. I think not cooking is nothing to be ashamed of, who says that we have to cook all the time, especially us, women? Luckily Prague offers so many healthy food choices, and sometimes I really enjoy eating out much more than cooking at home. And sometimes I enjoy cooking. Like this time when I cooked these vegetarian creamy gnocchi.

Btw, I am not a vegetarian, I occasionally have chicken and fish, but I love vegan and vegetarian food and I see the logic behind being vegan.

Anyway, this is a very simple recipe that anyone can make, because it is so simple. And I believe that you can easily turn it into a vegan meal as well as a meal with meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of gnocchi (I admit I buy them in a shop, I do not make them at home)
  • 1 can of peeled canned tomatoes (you can also use fresh tomatoes)
  • 200 g of cream for cooking (I use cream base I buy in Czech called “Smetanový základ”)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 medium red paprika
  • 1 natural tofu
  • Salt, pepper, hot paprika, soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Chop the onion and the paprika and put them on a pen with olive oil.
  2. Fry it and add a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and 1/2 tsp hot paprika.
  3. Once nice and soft, add a can of peeled tomatoes and add a glass of water and stir.
  4. Let cook for 5 mins.
  5. Add cream, stir and let cook for 10mins.
  6. And the gnocchi and cook for 5 mins till soft.
  7. Meanwhile cut the tofu into small cubes and sprinkle with soy sauce.
  8. Once gnocchi are soft, add tofu. Switch of the stove and let it rest for 5 mins.
  9. You can serve it with some fresh spinach for decoration.

Enjoy!

Sugar free peach jam

Last week I made raw peach jam – a non-cooked version. Since the weather is nice and cool today, pleasant weather to cook, I decided to make the cooked version and see the difference.

When you cook the jam, some water vaporizes, which already makes the jam thicker. And also the taste of the jam is a bit sweeter as the natural sugars are more dense.

I like both jams, they both taste great, and I very much appreciate the simplicity of these jams. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 peaches
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp date syrup (or any other natural sweetener of your choice)

Directions:

  1. Remove pits from the peaches.
  2. Blend peaches in a blender.
  3. Pour the mixture in a pan and add date syrup.
  4. Stir and let shimmer on medium heat.
  5. Let it cook for 5-10mins.
  6. Switch off the stove and let it cool off a little for 10 mins.
  7. Stir in the chia seeds and let it cool a bit longer.
  8. Once cold, put the jam in a container and place it in a fridge.
  9. Let it rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before eating.

Enjoy!

Sugar is Addictive

Here we go again, another topic that I am very passionate about – sugar.

We all know that smoking is addictive and it has bad effect on our health. Well, sugar is addictive and it has negative impact on our health. So, why do we see those ugly pictures on cigarettes packs, but we do not see picture of obese people, or people with cancer on sweets packets?

Excess intake of sugar in your diet leads to extra pounds, obesity, cardiovascular or pancreatic diseases. Sugar makes your body environment acidic, meaning your body is more likely to develop cancer, it’s like a welcoming ground for cancer cells.

When we feel down, we eat ice cream, when we are celebrating, we eat cake. Even when we are bored our brain demands sugar. When sugar enters our body, it triggers chemicals that affect the pleasure part of our brain and it makes us feel good, and on top of it we get blood sugar spike and we feel great, till we experience that blood sugar level drop.

The recommended dose of sugar should be no more than 6 teaspoons per day. And imagine how much sugar you eat only in things like pastry, juices, yogurt, and then you add some cereals, cakes etc. So, how many tea spoons of sugar do you actually eat? Or do you measure it more in table spoons?

If you are craving something sweet, you are better of with fruits, or perhaps try to have a glass of water or actual food. Your sugar craving can be caused by blood sugar level drops which can be a result of bad diet. So, rather then giving in, think about the origin of those symptoms you are experiencing.

In general, think twice before having processed sugar or sweeteners, rather go for natural sugars 😉

You know I had a nice 4 months sugar free detox (only had sugar in salty pastry like bread), and past two weeks I have been having actual processed sugar and I can feel and see its effect – cravings, my skin etc. I am going to start sugar free again soon. Should you wish to join my sugar free challenge, let me know. 

 

Are Hemp Products just for people with “alternative” lifestyle?

As I said, you will hear a lot about hemp from me in the days to come. I will still occasionally add some yummy recipes and maybe even a blog post about exercise. But let’s talk about hemp today, again 🙂

I heard about hemp products many times over the past few years, but never really wanted to learn more about as for some reason I thought hemp products were either for junkies or for people with alternative lifestyle, you know, those kind of people who wear clothes that they probably made themselves, they are vegan and their children are not vaccinated.

Well, lot has changed since I was that judgmental over others – I respect vegans and I love vegan food, I am not planning to vaccinate my child, but those are big topics on their own, lets get back to hemp. The point is that hemp literally fascinates me now and I think hemp should be mainstream. Why is it normal to do your regular shopping in a pharmacy, for pharmacies to show adverts for discounts on telly, yet it is still not normal for people to use natural supplements to take care of their help. I really do believe that “Prevention is better than cure”.

If you come to my house you will not find any pills or pharmaceutical products, only natural food supplements – Cordyceps capsules for immunity, Chitosan capsules for digestion, CDB hemp oil for immunity. Anyway, let’s get back to hemp.

Hemp products are a part of a healthy natural life. Hemp has been used all over the world for centuries. Cannadorra hemp products, that I personally use, are 100% natural, they are processed in a cold form and they are ideal for human organism.

Cannabis vs Hemp vs Marijuana, what’s the difference? Cannabis is a plant family that includes many species, such as hemp and marijuana. Hemp contains very low levels of THC or none, and hemp products do not contain any THC at all. However hemp is high in beneficial cannabinoids, such as CBD which promote overall health state. While marijuana, as we all know, is high in THC which is a psychoactive substance, simply makes you high.

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I have set up a Facebook group called Hemp For Health where I would love people to educate each other about hemp, I am still earning, share ideas, recipes and experience. Please join the group by clicking here. 

 

 

 

Hemp goodies

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You might have noticed that I recently started using some hemp products, such as hemp creams and hemp protein powders. This time I ordered some new items together with my regular Hemp Mass Gainer – CBD Hemp Oil and CBD Gel. I am very interested in CBD, so over the next few days I will post more info on CBD and my experience with CBD hemp products.

Btw I get these from Zelená Země for Czech market and Cannadorra for international markets, both are one, Czech based company with high quality hemp products. To get 5% off, use my discount code “annaogunnusi” 😉

However, let me tell you first about health benefits of hemp itself. First of all, let me clarify – hemp does not equal marijuana. I am not talking about products with THC content here, just so we are clear 🙂

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According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon of hemp seeds weighing 30 grams (g) contains: 

  • 166 calories
  • 9.47 g of protein
  • 14.62 g of fat
  • 2.6 g of carbohydrates (including 1.2 g of fiber and 0.45 g of sugar)
  • 21 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 2.38 mg of iron
  • 210 mg of magnesium
  • 495 mg of phosphorus
  • 360 mg of potassium
  • 2.97 mg of zinc
  • 33 micrograms (mcg) of folate

Hemp seeds also provide vitamin C, some B vitamins, and vitamins A and E.

So, hemp is a great source of protein, magnesium and healthy fats. And each hemp product has it’s own health benefits that I will describe in the blogs to come.

What is your experience with hemp products?

(source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com)

Energy protein balls

 

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This is a yummy snack that is easy to make and it is healthy. And it is also highly customisable. I will share my recipe but you can give space to your imagination and use your favorite ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp oats
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour

Directions: 

  1. Mash bananas in a bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix all together. Should the batter not be sticking together add a bit of melted coconut oil.
  3. Make small balls and place it on a plate.
  4. Place in a freezer for 15 – 20 minutes.

Hemp protein pancakes

You know the days when you come home famished and you realize that both your fridge and your pantry are practically empty? I had a day like that when I came home from work and I found only eggs, spinach and tomatoes in my fridge. And since I always keep protein powder at home, my hemp protein pancakes were born.

To get a 5% discount on your help protein powders or other hemp products use the discount code “annaogunnusi” at the checkout at https://www.cannadorra.com/ 

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs (2 for the batter and 2 fried)
  • 3 scoops / tbsp of Cannadorra hemp protein powder
  • 2 hand-fulls of spinach (one for the batter and one for dishing)
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Goji berries
  • Sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Put 2 eggs, 3 scoops of hemp protein powder and a hand-full of spinach in a blender and blend together.
  2. Put a bit of coconut oil in a frying pan and then add the batter. I fit three smaller pancakes in a pan.
  3. Let it fry on one side till the edges turn dark green and then turn.
  4. Once pancakes are ready, fry the eggs.
  5. Then put the cherry tomatoes, goji berries and sesame seeds on a pen.
  6. Lay few pancakes and then an egg. Put the tomatoes, goji berries and sesame seeds on top.

Enjoy!

To get a 5% discount on your help protein powders or other hemp products use the discount code “annaogunnusi” at the checkout at https://www.cannadorra.com/ 

Raw Jam

Are you having too much fruits at home not knowing what to do with it? Or simply looking for a healthier option?

I get plenty of fruits from my family as in Czech it’s very common for people to grow fruits and vegetables at their cabins or garden plots.

I have plenty of plums and peaches in my fridge and there is only that much I can eat. My hubby is not a big fruits fan, unless it’s served on top of his pancakes.

I was considering making the cooked version of the refined sugar free jam, but I couldn’t be bothered to put on the stove in this heat so I decided to go for the raw version.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium size peaches
  • 3 tsp date syrup
  • 4 tsp chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Pit the peaches
  2. Blend the peaches with the date syrup
  3. Stir in the chia seeds
  4. Put it in a container in the fridge, ideally overnight

Note: If it stays too thin, add extra tea spoon of chia seeds

4 months sugar-free

The first time I went sugar free was early in 2016 when I bought a lovely wedding dress that I could barely sit in, let alone dance in or eat in. That was in April 2016 and the wedding date was 17th July 2016. I knew I had to take some serious measures. So for 2,5 months I was totally sugar free, and I mean really sugar free. My grocery shopping use to take double the time as I was checking every single food label. And those days I was not even having shakes yet, so every day choices of food were a bit of struggle, but I made it. I went through 3 weeks of sugar withdrawal symptoms which showed me how addicted I was to sugar. But at the end I lost a dress size, my wedding dress fitted perfectly and I felt great. But life happened and I slowly went back to eating sugar on regular basis.

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Over the past two years I tried to do “sugar free” again simple before I knew I felt good doing it and I knew the health benefits. Check my previous blog post called “It’s all about the sugar” to learn more about sugar and sweeteners.

On 3rd April this year I went for it. This time I did not go as OTT (over the top) as the previous time, I was still eating out, so occasional sugar intake was still happening in a form of sauces when eating out (Chinese, Italian etc). Why did I decide to go sugar free this time? In January this year we moved from the UK to Prague. As great as it has been it was also stressful and it took a bit of time settling down again in Czech after 3 years in the UK. And the last few months in the UK were not as joyful as we wished. Therefore the sugar intake at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 was quite high –  emotional binge eating.

Starting sugar free this time was much easier as my body and mind already knew what to expect. What made it easier this time was the food choices you get in Prague – so many healthy places to eat that offer even sugar free cakes. My favorite restaurant is now VegGo that offers variety of vegan food as well as variety of sugar-free cakes – my favorite is a raspberry cheesecake.

From 3rd April till 25th July I had no cakes with refined sugar, no ice cream, no cookies etc, I did not use sugar in the household either. As I said the only occasion I might have had some sugar “unknowingly” was when we were eating out. Because sometimes when you make certain sauces, such as when you cook with tomatoes, you might need to use a bit of sugar to balance out the flavors, so I guess those were few occasions I could have consumed sugar. Actually, there was one more case that I am aware of –  pastry. Czech pastry is so good, so I was still eating pastry such as bread ans baguettes. And pastry does contain a bit of sugar as sugar is needed for the yeast to work in the dough to make it rise.

Almost 4 months sugar free and I felt great. I must say I was as consistent in the gym as I wish I were over those four months, but it did not matter because the effect of sugar free was great. My skin became so smooth, especially on my bum, my bum cellulite reduced big time. My muscle definition got more visible even with reduced amount of exercise.

Sugar free was definitely a great detox for me. I only stopped on 25th July as we went on All inclusive holiday. Do not get me wrong, I am not the kind of person who goes on holiday to over eat, but I simple wanted to try some local sweets etc.

The first two days of holiday I tried some cakes, especially the chocolate ones, but to be honest they were not quite worth it. My favorite “sweet” stuff were their pancakes which became my breakfast choice together with some cinnamon and melon, and occasional evening desert choice with some coffee. As much as I do not usually drink sodas, I had few glasses of lemonade and I enjoyed it. But despite, or perhaps in-spite of all that I always made sure I was drinking plenty of water. We even carried one of our gym bottles with us and constantly kept filling it during the day.

Despite change of diet and increased sugar intake I actually did not put on any weight on holiday, I did not notice any changes in my body. And the secret being that as I detoxed my body before the holiday, my body was able to work with the acidity, also thanks to high water intake.

Having come back from holiday where was no ice cream I actually craved ice cream, so I had ice cream yesterday and I truly enjoyed it.

I definitely see benefit of being totally sugar and sweeteners free all the time – your body functions better, your skin improves, you lose weight etc. However, I think there is no reason to beat yourself up about your food choices. Remember “Eat according to your goals and be ready to deal with the consequences”.

Should you wish to go on “sugar free” journey yourself and get some tips, get in touch!