Author Archives: AnnabelBoys

Maple glazed pecan nuts (great for Halloween!)

Halloween has become a sugar-fest that can be hard to survive if you’re trying to stick to a way of eating that is gentle on your blood sugar. But rather than just throwing in the towel and using it as an excuse to binge (and feel horrible after), there is always the option of finding something yummy to make that doesn’t give you quite such a crazy sugar rush. I reckon these maple glazed pecans are the perfect answer – full of protein and healthy fat (to help balance the effects of the carbs from the maple syrup), and utterly delicious too. I’m definitely whipping up a batch before the ghosts and ghouls come out on Saturday night!

maple pecans

Ingredients

30 ml (2 tbsp) coconut oil

45 ml (3 tbsp) pure maple syrup (NB. “maple flavoured syrup” is NOT the same thing!

pinch of sea salt

2 cups pecan nuts

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 200’C.
  2. Spread pecan nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the maple syrup and salt, stirring continuously.
  4. Bring the maple glaze mixture to a gentle simmer and then add the toasted nuts, still stirring all the time.
  5. Make sure the nuts are well coated in the glaze, continue to simmer (stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
  6. Tip the pecan nuts onto a piece of waxed paper or baking parchment paper to cool.

 

The alternative to dieting

My tip today is “Ditch the diet”!

How many diets have you tried during your lifetime so far? How many days have you woken up thinking “Today’s the day the new diet starts!”? How many days have you found yourself making excuses to delay it, or let yourself ‘be naughty’ (it’s your Mum’s birthday afterall), or just that you can’t be bothered?

Well let me let you into a secret – Diets Don’t Work!!!!

Plenty of research studies have found that while you might lose weight in the short term by ‘dieting’, over a five year period people who diet are likely to pile the weight back on AND THEN SOME (when compared with people who didn’t diet).

My life totally changed when I realised this – ditching the dieting mentality is probably THE MOST powerful thing you can do for your body and your PCOS. Unconvinced? Read on…

Although the research studies refer to eating a ‘low GI diet’ as an effective way to help manage your PCOS symtoms, I want to encourage you to reframe how you think about this …. in my head I never ‘diet’, but I AM committed to the ‘low GI way of life’. For me, the word ‘diet’ conjures up a picture of something temporary (you too?). People are either ON or OFF a diet … but PCOS-friendly eating has to be different.

You need to commit to doing this for yourself INDEFINITELY, because PCOS doesn’t just go away. You need to make PCOS-friendly eating your ‘NEW NORMAL’. End of story.

 That’s why it is SO important to work out how to make this way of eating work for you and your lifestyle. If you feel you have to be ‘good’ and use willpower, then the chances are that will-power will fail you at some point and you’ll feel like you’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’. This often results in a binge … and then a long struggle to get back on track. I’ve seen and heard about this pattern again and again – it really isnt’ helpful.

One of the best things you can do for your body (and your PCOS) is to banish this ‘dieting mentality’.

Get out of the the mindset of ‘being good’ and obsessing about calorie counting. We’ve become so brain-washed into weight loss as the be-all and end-all goal. But this actually misses the point! Weight loss is a SIDE EFFECT of eating well.

A happy body will naturally find its best healthy weight.

By obsessing over the numbers on the scale and how to shift them downwards, there is a tendency to get too focused on the amount of energy in food (ie. the calories) and you are at risk of totally  ignoring the stuff that’s good and useful!

Instead, I recommend adopting what some people call a  “Nutritarian” approach to eating: look for the choices that are going to give you the best value in terms of nutrients rather than for things claiming to be ‘low calorie’ or ‘low fat’. These are just clever marketing messages designed to keep you trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting. Look for real, simple whole foods. Real food doesn’t need fancy packaging or wiley marketing messages to sell it. Don’t be a victim to advertising.

If you get into the habit of focusing on nutrients you will automatically eat more healthily (most nutrient-dense foods are plants). So if you fancy eating rice, by choosing brown rice or wild rice instead of polished white rice, you will give your body a whole package of extra vitamins and minerals along with the basic carbohydrate that gives you the calories.

By adopting this approach to food, you’ll begin to learn to listen to what your body needs.

Remember we are all different – we are different shapes, sizes and have differing body types. Do you have a fast or slow metabolism? Do you tend to use up the food you eat quickly (and get hungry quickly)? Or are you a bit of a ‘camel’ – can go for hours without needing anything? Do you feel better when you eat a diet that is higher in carbs or one with more protein? (You may find these questions tricky and could benefit from some one-to-one support or group coaching to help you to get clear about these).

 

So rather than today being the day that the new ‘diet’ starts, make today the day that you commit 100% to finding a PCOS-friendly lifestyle that works for you.

It won’t happen overnight – just make a start – start taking baby steps in the right direction. Find ways of eating good, healthy, whole-foods that you genuinely enjoy (this might take a bit of time and effort but is well worth it). Stop the excuses and the procrastination and start moving in the right direction towards a PCOS-friendly way of eating and living that WORKS for you. That you stick to because you actually enjoy it and you like how it makes you feel …. and not just because you’re being ‘good’. You can do this!!

 

This blog is based on an excerpt from my ebook “PCOS-friendly Eating – The Ultimate Do’s and Don’ts”. Get your free copy here.


Struggling to make PCOS-friendly eating habits stick? My online “PCOS-friendly Eating Kickstart programme” could be the answer … spots are limited – sign up here to hear when registration opens.

Don’t assume low sugar foods are always healthier!

This is a trap that it is easy to fall into. You must have been asleep if you haven’t yet got the message that sugar is BAD for you … and right on cue, those clever food marketing people have seen this as an easy bandwagon to jump onto. Suddenly our supermarkets are brimming with products shouting that they are ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low-sugar’.

However, just because something is marketed as “Low Sugar” it doesn’t automatically mean that it is the healthy option. As I’ve said before (and I really can’t stress this enough)- READ THE LABEL!!!

‘Low sugar’ may just mean that a product is full of artificial sweeteners which have been linked with spikes in insulin and blood sugar as well as disruption to the hormonal signals that tell you when you’re full (read this). If you are trying to eat in a way that is PCOS-friendly then this is NOT helpful – particularly as balancing your blood sugar levels is key to keeping your hormones happy.

So when eating ‘low GI’ and looking for alternatives to refined sugar, I strongly advise you to steer clear of the artificial stuff and stick to natural alternatives such as honey, maple syrup or stevia.

Delicious raw chocolate brownies that are good for you!

 

TRY THIS – if you need a sweet treat then take a look at my favourite recipe for raw chocolate brownies that are delicious, indulgent AND positively ‘good for you’!

 

 

WHAT NEXT? If you are ready to take PCOS-friendly eating to the next level check out my 30 day PCOS-friendly eating kickstart programme. You’ll learn how to make the BEST choices for your PCOS without having to stick to a boring, rigid diet. Click here for more info.

Gluten-free seeded super-bread

This recipe has been quite literally life-changing. I was really missing eating bread (have you SEEN what is in shop-bought gluten-free stuff?) and so this recipe has fulfilled a real ’need’.

It’s really versatile – can be savoury or sweet and behaves like ‘proper’ bread so I don’t feel deprived or annoyed that I’m not eating a crusty granary loaf from the village shop. What’s more, the gluten-eaters in the family also love it so we don’t end up having to bake twice.

Its really easy to make – just four simple steps (mix all the dry ingredients together, add water, leave to absorb it for about an hour and then bake). I’ve been enjoying playing around with the ingredients a bit – it seems to work well with different types of nuts and seeds. I think my favourite version so far is walnut and sunflower seed. I’ve also found that using a self-raising gluten-free flour (or adding some baking powder) really helps to lift it a little, otherwise it can be a little ‘dense’.

Recipe – Gluten-free, Seeded Super-bread.

(Based on a recipe from the Deliciously Ella blog (which was in turn based on a number of other recipes from around the internet)).

 

1-superseed-bread2

 

200g gluten-free flour or brown rice flour

350g seeds (pumpkin and sunflower work well)

200g nuts (I like almonds and walnuts)

3tbsp psyllium husk powder (this is essential to bind the bread)

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

500-600ml cold water

Seasoning

Herbs (optional)

 

1. Grind the nuts and seeds finely in a food processor (you can leave a couple of handfuls out so that the bread has some whole seeds in it too).

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together and season.

3. Add the water slowly and stir. Leave for about an hour so that the water gets fully absorbed.

4. Place in a bread tin and bake at 200’C (400’F) for about 45 mins (test to see if it is cooked using a clean knife – it should come out of the bread ‘clean’)

I love this bread straight from the oven with butter and honey or marmite, toasted with avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice or with a bowl of veggie soup.

Pecan Pie squares

Here is a lower GI version of a favourite of mine – Pecan Pie. Before I properly committed to being gluten-free and low GI, I used to LOVE getting the pastry versions of this from the supermarket bakery bit as a Saturday treat. However, this version is wheat-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (but uses maple syrup to sweeten both the topping and the base).

NOTE – You can reduce the amount of sweetness even further (and I think it still tastes great!), but its really a matter of preference. If you’re new to low GI you might find it takes a while to re-educate your taste buds not to expect so much sugar in things … but it is WELL worth making the effort to do this.

 

Shortbread Base:

50g sesame flour

100g brown rice flour

60ml (4 tbsp) melted coconut oil

30 ml (2 tbsp) sunflower oil

30ml (2tbsp) maple syrup

small pinch of salt

 

 

Pecan Topping

120g chopped pecans

100ml maple syrup

50ml coconut oil

1 tbsp ground almonds

1/2 tsp arrowroot (or corn-flour) to thicken

30ml (2 tbsp) coconut milk (or whatever kind of milk you want)

Himalayan pink salt

 

For the Shortbread base

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180’C/ 350’F and line an 8×8 inch square tin with baking parchment.
  • Mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl
  • Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin and bake for approximately 15 minutes (it should be just beginning to turn brown). Set aside to cool.

 

For the topping

  • Heat the coconut oil and maple syrup in a small saucepan, stirring frequently. Simmer the mixture for approx. 5 minutes while whisking frequently. (The coconut oil and maple syrup won’t mix well until you add the rest of the ingredients in the next stage).
  • Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Dry roast the pecan nuts in a small pan on a medium heat for about 5 – 8 minutes or until they begin to turn brown. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Himalayan pink salt.
  • Mix together the ground almonds, arrowroot and coconut milk in a small bowl and leave to sit for a few minutes.
  • Whisk the nut milk mixture into the (cool) maple/oil mixture until smooth.
  • Add the chopped pecans and mix again. Pour the topping onto the cooled shortbread base and distribute evenly.
  • Bake at 180’C/ 350’F for 20 minutes (the filling should be beginning to set). Remove from oven and cool.
  • Chill in the fridge before cutting into squares and enjoying!

pecan pie 2

Sweet Potato Fries

If you are committed to making healthy eating a life-style choice rather than something that you have to summon huge amounts of willpower to stick to,  you need to get clever about food swaps. Most foods that we regard as ‘treats’ (which are so often those that are full of empty calories with little nutritional value) can be upgraded in some way so that your body actually gets something USEFUL to work with while you FEEL like you’re indulging.  While you can find some smart food swaps in the ‘PCOS Friendly Eating – The Ultimate Do’s and Don’ts’ eBook, check out this recipe for a nutritious, satisfying alternative to chips.

Did you know that according to NHS guidelines, regular potatoes don’t count towards your 5-a-day? The good news is that sweet potatoes are a delicious alternative that DO count. They are full of carotenoids which can help to strengthen your eyesight as well as boosting  your immune system. Plus, their natural sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream (making them lower GI) without the blood-sugar spikes often associated with weight gain and fatigue.

Try out this tasty side dish for an effortless way to continue your healthy eating.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil
  • Seasonings (optional)

Tip: I’ve used thyme, smoked paprika, black pepper and a pinch of salt (a delicious combination). Some cinnamon works well too.

sweet potato fries image

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200*C
  • Slice a sweet potato into ¼ inch fries (small slices allow the fries to become crispy rather than soggy) and spread evenly into a baking tray.
  • Drizzle the coconut oil over the sweet potato and toss well to evenly distribute the oil. NOTE – in the UK coconut oil is often solid at room temperature so you may need to melt it first.
  • Generously sprinkle the seasonings over the sweet potato and toss well.
  • Place the baking tray in the top half of the oven to ensure your fries get crispy.
  • Bake for around 25-35 minutes. After 15 minutes you can use a fish slice to turn the fries over so that they cook evenly.
  • Enjoy!