Molten Chocolate Protein Lava Cake

Who doesn’t love chocolate?! This molten chocolate lava cake tastes so indulgent, but is so low calorie, 2 portions are definitely acceptable! The cooking times may vary, depending on your microwave and the protein powder you use. I have used whey isolate, which is not very ‘forgiving’ when cooked, but is ‘cleaner’ than a whey/casein blend. If you are looking for a great protein powder to cook with, then definitely a protein powder that is a blend would be easier. I have yet to find a chocolate protein blend that tastes as good as this whey isolate though!

choc cake with sauce

Macros: 165kcal; 31g protein, 4.3g carbs, 1.3g fat

Ingredients

  • 32g (1 scoop) Dymatize double fudge brownie whey isolate
  • 5g cacao powder (you could use cocoa powder)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 tbsp (approx 1) egg white
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Optional extra for a chocolate peanut butter cake: 5g powdered peanut butter. (Note, macros will change).

choc cake raw ing

Method

  1. In a small, microwave safe bowl, weigh out the dry ingredients. Combine well with a teaspoon to ensure that there are no lumps!
  2. Add in the wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
  3. Microwave for between 25 and 50 seconds, depending on desired consistency. From my experience:
    • 25 – 35 seconds = a hot chocolate sauce.
    • 35 – 40 seconds = molten chocolate lava cake (some parts cooked like a cake, other parts are a hot chocolate sauce).
    • 40 – 50 seconds = a fully cooked cake.
  4. Enjoy as it is or, my recommendations for toppings are berries, nut butter or Halo Top ice-cream. In the picture below, I have added toffee Epic Spreads nut butter.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

choc cake with peanut butter

 

Shredded chicken in a garlic and red pepper sauce with pearled farro

I first discovered farro when exploring the ‘healthy’ menu at the Cheesecake Factory. It is a great carbohydrate that is lower in carbs than rice. Each grain is quite ‘thick’ and crunchy and it is becoming more common in salads, soups and as a side too. It adds a great comparative texture to the shredded chicken here, and when calories are lower, I have found that different texture combinations are important to my levels of content!

Farro dish

Macros per portion (based on 5 servings, with the addition of steamed broccoli): 193kcal; 23g protein, 23.6g carbs, 1.3g fat

Ingredients

  • 375g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 200g (approx 1 whole) red bell pepper
  • 300g (approx 1 can) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 30g red onion
  • 2 tsp cayenne chilli pepper
  • 50g mushrooms
  • 110g pearled farro (feel free to add more farro, my macros limited how much farro I could use, but 1 serving is 45g dry).

Method

  1. Thoroughly rinse the farro. Bring a medium pan of water to the boil and add the farro. When the water starts to bubble, reduce the heat and cook for 25 minutes. (Keep checking the water levels as the farro absorbs water similar to quinoa).Add more water if necessary. Allow to cool.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350f. Season the chicken with the fajita seasoning and cover in foil. Bake in the centre of your oven for 30 minutes. Cooking in the foil will help to keep the chicken moist and juicy!
  3. Roughly chop the red onion, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms and chilli. Add to a small pan, along with the chopped tomatoes and cayenne pepper (this can be omitted if you don’t like spice!). Cook for approximately 10 minutes over a medium heat until the vegetables start to soften.
  4. Allow the sauce to cool. When the sauce has cooled, blend in a Nutribullet/blender (may have to do in a couple of batches) to create a thick sauce.
  5. When the chicken has cooked, transfer to a large bowl. Using two forks, ‘pull’ the chicken apart to shred it. Top the chicken with the sauce and combine well.
  6. Portion out the farro and chicken for easy lunches for the week. I steamed some broccoli to accompany, but would work well with corn, asparagus or peas too!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

2 Weeks Out: A Calorie Deficit is a Calorie Deficit

2 weeks left to go, 14 days….how has this happened?! Gosh! This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with yesterday morning being the low! But, I started my new role at work, so that probably weighed on my week! At the end of the day, a substantial deficit is always going to affect you, whether you are on a strict meal plan or follow flexible dieting. Cravings 0. Desire for more food…definitely!
Weight loss: 1.5lbs. Much better than last week! Carbs have been dropped, but my work routine has gone from being really active 3 days a week, to having a sedentary desk job 5 days a week. I have been walking at lunchtime as Floridian weather at the moment is amazing! When it gets hotter outside, I will definitely have to find a different outlet to get some movement in!

Cardio: 2 x 11 HIIT intervals and 2 x 20 min LISS. Kept HIIT to the bike.

Calories: 2 x refeed days a week (carbohydrates increase to 190g, fats and protein remain the same). Regular days my carbohydrates are at 125g.

Dieting approach: flexible dieting. Check out my Instagram to see what I have been eating.

Training: 6 workouts a week.

How I am feeling: Feeling good (right now!) Felt pretty good all week, except for yesterday morning. I woke up super tired and super sore. I then tried to compensate with extra caffeine, which made me feel horrible. I am so caffeine sensitive and that did nothing for me! However, think it helped me to ‘sweat it out’ and, after a good workout and some sunbathing, I felt a million times better. Plus the high carb refeed definitely helped! I have been refeeding twice per week from the start of prep. To start with, they felt unnecessary, but I soon saw that they were not only helping with satiety and mental toughness, but also helping my metabolism and helping me drop weight. I check in bi-weekly with my coaches, and one of those check-ins is always the day after a refeed. I thought that this would skew my weigh-ins and I would be bloated or holding water from the additional carbs, but this is completely not the case. I have learnt that continuous refeeds has helped my body deal with the carbs properly. When I prepped before, refeeds left me SO bloated and also a lot heavier the day after. So, going forward, trying to focus on sleep this week and not trying to compensate tiredness with additional caffeine!

My nutrition and workouts are programmed by New York Muscle Radio go check these guys out and search for their Podcast on iTunes or YouTube.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Smoky paprika and cracked black pepper ‘French Fries’

Fries get a bad name in the health and fitness world, with the only acceptable alternative seeming to be sweet potato fries. In fact, oven baked fries from the grocery store are a good source of carbohydrates and relatively low in fat, so don’t fear the good old regular chip (in the British sense of the word!) If you would like a lower calorie, fat free, low carb alternative though, then these Fries are your answer! They are super simple, time efficient, versatile and flavoursome…the perfect side dish!

polenta-fries.jpg

Macros per portion (based on 5 servings): 60kcal; 1g protein, 14g carbs, 0g fat

Ingredients

1 pack (500g) cooked polenta

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt (or any salt)

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 350f.

2. On a chopping board, slice the polenta roll in half. Lay the polenta halves with the flat side down on the board.

3. Slice the polenta into strips (about half a centimeter in width). If the strips are too long, then slice in half.

4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and transfer the polenta onto it.

5. Sprinkle the polenta with the salt, crack half the pepper over the top along with half of the paprika. Using a spoon, lightly move the polenta so the seasoned side is face down. Add the remainder of the seasoning and ensure each piece of polenta is covered.

6. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

7. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven. Shake the tray and transfer to the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes (depending on how crispy you like your fries!)

8. Serve immediately! The seasoning is easily substituted for any alternatives. Some suggestions are: mixed herbs and garlic; coconut oil or cinnamon and paprika for a sweet and savory mix.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

How I track macros: Tips to help with the freedom of flexible dieting

From a university binge drinking student, to a Herbalife fanatic, to having a binge/bulimic relationship with food, to a strict clean eater to a flexible dieter… you could say I have done it all! Nothing makes me happier or gets me results like flexible dieting, but, having come from a nutrition background far from flexibility, I am aware of how mystifying the world of flexible dieting can be! The pure freedom can be incredibly overwhelming and tracking macros can also be a steep learning curve! Having flexible dieted for about 18 months, I have compiled my top tips, from my experience, to help you with your flexible dieting journey.

1. Download a macro counting app. I personally use MyFitnessPal and pay for the premium service. The regular MyFitnessPal is good, but the premium allows you to input specific grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat as well as allowing you to have different calorie breakdowns for different days and ‘quick add’ calories. Both versions allow you to search the database for food, scan barcodes and create recipes/group together frequently paired foods. Before you start trying to figure out what macros you should be eating, I would suggest you log a week of food and drink into the app to see roughly how many calories and macros you consume. It will also help with the second step.

2. Hire a coach/seek advice from a qualified person on what macros you should be eating. Inputting information into an online tool only gets you so far. It doesn’t take into account what calories you are currently eating and it has no idea about your current metabolic rate. I prefer my macros to be continually in the hands of New York Muscle Radio, but even just hiring a coach for a couple of months to help you get started will help you no end! They can tweak your macros, depending on how your body responds, and they have a wealth of both qualifications and experience, two things algorithms do not have!

3. Start looking at nutrition labels. Not only will this help you understand what a serving size is,  but it will also help you understand what percentage of your daily calories that food will use up. This will help you make choices!

4. View your macros with the same approach as planning a vacation. (Hear me out on this one!)  When you start planning a vacation, you may dream of a 5 star Sex and the City style trip to Dubai, but you don’t even look at those vacations because you know they aren’t financially viable. If you do opt for one of those vacations, you know will love it at the time, but be filled with regret later, having to pay for it for weeks afterwards. So, instead you book a lovely 4 star all inclusive holiday, traveling in economy class. You opt for all inclusive so you don’t have to worry about expenses, but plan on going out a couple of times to experience the local nightlife and cuisine. This same thought process you should apply to your macros. While you may want to eat 5000 calories of cheesecake today; if you do, you know you will enjoy it at the time, but feel sick later and then regret it all week. Instead, compromise. Have half a slice of cheesecake, or skip the cheesecake and use the macros for something else, or make a less calorie dense version! As soon as you view your macros as something you can play about with, rather than something restrictive, you will enjoy the process so much more!

5. Decide how frequently you want to eat. Do you like the traditional 3 meals? Or do you like to snack? In MyFitnessPal you can rename each meal to personalize it to suit you (you have to do this from the computer).

6. Consider what you like to eat. Just because I love oats more than horses doesn’t mean you have to eat them for breakfast and dinner! Use your initial week where you logged your food as a starting point and tweak it to suit your accurate macronutrient breakdown. That way, you are not starting from scratch, but are simply adapting your current lifestyle to suit your goals.

7. Don’t feel you need to stick to serving sizes. Serving sizes are great to learn from. They show you both what a portion looks like and also how some companies cleverly market their products to make them seem more low calorie than they actually are! I rarely stick to a serving size of anything. Remember, it is a guide only! For example, on a high carb day, I may eat 2 servings of rice. I also may be cooking a broccoli for the week. On the packet, it says 4 servings, I make it do 5 servings. Also, when it comes to the end of the day, I ‘macro cap’. That is, I play around with whatever carbs, proteins and fats I have left for the day and ‘use them up’. This may mean I have a few grams of cereral, 1 chocolate or a small amount of peanut butter on top of my yoghurt. I either enter it into MyfitnessPal directly (if that food allows you to input by the gram) or I work out the percentage of the serving size I am consuming. This really enables you to have a little bit of what you fancy, without having to have an entire serving. I do this all the time.

8. Enjoy it! Over time, you will learn more and more about what a calorie looks like as well as what you can fit into your day. I cook in bulk on a Sunday and input those meals in for Monday – Friday. For the remainder of the calories on those days, I plan what I am going to eat the day before and log it. Sometimes I alter this on the day, but I predominantly eat whatever I have planned the day before. You will probably go through phases of eating ‘cleaner’ and eating more micronutrient void food and that’s okay! The initial excitement of being able to eat ice cream and candy will probably rule your diet, but this will probably level out. You will learn how you feel after eating different foods and will learn to incorporate being on track with nutrition without sacrificing life!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

3 Weeks Out: What do I do if I’m hungry?

My sister asked me last night, “do you feel different to 3 weeks away from your photoshoot?” I feel COMPLETELY different. Although I know I am in a substantial calorie deficit, and that isn’t healthy to maintain that longterm, I feel healthy. I am able to attack each weights session, do my cardio and get along with my regular day too.
Weight loss: 0. Not ideal at this point in prep to be losing nothing, but it isn’t a gain! Also, I have lost 0.5cm off my waist and 1cm off my glutes (as long as it is fat, I’m okay with a glute shrinkage!) and I feel leaner than this point last week. From experience, I know that the weight you lose in the last week is completely artificial and I also know that sometimes it takes your body a little longer to catch up from a decrease in calories. So not stressed, to be honest, not really bothered, I know I am in safe hands!

Cardio: 2 x 11 HIIT intervals and 2 x 20 min LISS.Changed up my HIIT to using a bike as I hold a lot more fat in my lower body so giving my legs an additional ‘going over’. I have also done LISS on lower body days and HIIT on upper body days so that my legs are as fresh as possible for HIIT. I am hoping then I get more out of the HIIT too, because, let’s be honest, heavy legs session followed by HIIT = death.

Calories: 2 x refeed days a week (carbohydrates increase to 190g, fats have decreased and protein remain the same). Regular days my carbohydrates are at 125g.

Dieting approach: flexible dieting. Check out my Instagram to see what I have been eating.

Training: 6 workouts a week.

How I am feeling: Feeling good! Have been more hungry this week definitely, but there is a definite difference between hunger and starvation. Hunger you learn to deal with pretty quickly, but, knowing what starvation feels like, I am far from that. I am also not lacking in energy either. What do I do to combat hunger? Keep busy, take my mind off it. I also drink more – I am guulty of loving a diet soda or two; but I also drink both hot and cold teas, Crystal Light and BCAAs when I am getting a little tired of water. I don’t tend to chew gum as I don’t want to waste the carbs! The other thing I do is opt for volume in my meals. You can eat a whole bag of lettuce or spinach for less than 10g of carbs and that is A LOT of salad!

My nutrition and workouts are programmed by New York Muscle Radio go check these guys out and search for their Podcast on iTunes or YouTube.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x