The Gap Between My Legs is Closing – A Poem.

the Gap between my legs is closing

                                                                      and with it- the gap between my eyes and my size. I know-

most-

…some

of the time

that I Look:

                STRONG

                HEALTHY

                WELL

                HAPPY

I Am:

                STRONG

                HEALTHY

                WELL

                HAPPY

 

but

sometimes

my eyes still glaze and the haze of “flashback fog” takes me back to no rack-
ed plates on barbells
and jutting collar-
ed shirts that don’t swell
and space between thighs
and try as I might

the head doesn’t always win over the ghosts of ill fitting sizes of obsession

 

BUT

it’s worth it when it does because my cheeks are flush
and my hair is –annoying!— but lush
and I can sit without pain and I can
lift without shame
and I can run without needing to
and I can rest without feeling…                                                                                                                                                                                                                               too
lazy.

And I can take my own advice
to “look after yourself”
instead of shelving it on the “not for me” shelf”

… most… some… Sundays.

And I move ‘cause it feels good
and I eat not just because I should
and I eat well not just because I said I would
I want to, I want to, I want to and it’s just
the best.
And I don’t fear anything…

most… some… meal times.

                                                                                       and the gap between my legs is closing
and with it, the gap between what I say and what I write and what I think when I look in the mirror

is,

slowly, most times, sometimes…

closing too.

//

This is a hard one to press publish on. For all sorts of reasons. It speaks of my no.1 biggest sin- my need to control my life instead of giving everything over to God. It speaks of my no.2 biggest sin- finding my identity in things other. But it also speaks of a struggle for so many women and girls and boys and men. It speaks of this need to be thinner or leaner or whatever and that anything that gets you there is worth it and that lean = the best when actually, lean doesn’t necessarily equal healthy or even that fit. It also speaks a little to comparison and the way we distort ourselves when we look through a warped mirror like that of social media, or even the people around us. This isn’t an issue for everyone but I know that I can very easily fall into the comparison trap and it plays into my natural competitiveness. But I need to reject that and focus on what’s important in my life:

My God
My health
My purpose

And all of these things point to the same ultimate conclusion: stop looking at yourself. I was going to say “stop looking at yourself through a distorted lens” but I think it’s more poignant (for me) to simply stop being so concerned with the perception of ME and instead be focusing on what God’s doing through me, what I’m doing to help others, what my gifts and talents are and instead of focusing on something so fleeting as my physical appearance, instead be focusing on things of a more lasting and even eternal nature. I am still always going to care about my health and my fitness which will be reflected in my body, but it shouldn’t be my number one priority. My priorities should be my relationship with God, my relationship with others and my relationship with the world around me. And in each of these priorities my love of fitness and love of healthy food plays a part.

Let me explain, if I truly value my relationship with God, I truly value every gift he has given me- including my body- and I believe He wants me to be physically fit and strong to do what he has designed me to do. I know I couldn’t have lost the weight I did, the way I did, with the ease I did, without Him. I not only lost weight but other things in my life which had a hold on me were shed too. I also think He took me down in order to demonstrate the hold control had over my life, even when I didn’t realise it. He continues to work on me in this area and I know fitness is somewhere in this plan. 

Secondly, my relationships with others have developed and grown and my fitness has played a part in that. I’ve been told countless times that I inspire people and that I spur people on. I like to think I’m encouraging and a good friend. I hope I am and that my love of fitness can help others come to a similar place. I also think my “journey” has enabled me to better understand people who are coming from a similar place at both ends of the scale. While I was never a full blown victim of an ED, my thinking around food, exercise and my body was not healthy and I think I can relate to people better for it.

Thirdly, my relationship with the world around me. There is so much to be done. So much to get passionate about and to change. Today is National Sorry Day. We continue to reject refugees and asylum seekers. Racism and sexism is rife. People live in fear. I want to be a part of this change and community engagement is part of that. Food is part of that. Fitness can be a part of that. I believe my purpose is to use my passions- writing, food, fitness, education, social justice, faith… to affect some of this social change- even if on a small scale. I want to make my students think about their words. I want them to think about their vote. I want them to think about their voice. I want my students to make ethical choices. I don’t want them to buy into the economy of fear. I don’t want my students to hate themselves. I don’t want them to make others hate themselves. I don’t want my students to compare themselves to others. I don’t want my students to live unhealthy lives. If I can be a role model- I can change lives… I hope. 

So… even though posting this was scary, I hope it did something for someone. 

Embracing Winter… Beetroot, Carrot and Ginger Soup

I don’t like the cold. I never have and when I lost weight, I started feeling it a hell of a lot more than I used to.

There was a point (when I was unhealthily obsessed with exercise and eating clean) when I was 8% body fat. This is not a good place for someone who is not training to be a fitness model or a marathon runner to be. I had no fat on me to keep me warm, my hair was super thin, my nails were brittle, my skin was drier than normal (I have naturally dry skin) and I looked gaunt around my face… and I still didn’t have a perfectly flat tummy. SO unfair.

Now, I exercise and eat healthily because I love it and the way it makes me feel. I love vegetables and fruit. I love nuts and avocado. I love seedy, wholegrain bread. I love honey and dried fruit. I genuinely prefer whole, natural foods that taste like their ingredients to overly fatty, deep fried, sugar laden foods. I know what foods fuel my body and I’m learning to listen to my hunger cues- although, this is hard especially after a period of eating to gain weight and eating (healthy foods!) when I wasn’t hungry. IT creates habits which are hard to break. But I know it’s worth it.

While my size 6 clothes and even some of my size 8 clothes don’t fit anymore, my face is full, my hair is thick and my muscles are strong. I’m extremely fit. I train hard. I’m no longer afraid of certain foods and I’m secure enough in myself to be both able to say NO if I don’t want to eat something that I wouldn’t usually (like Domino’s Pizza or KFC, both things which I’ve had to justify choosing not to eat because a] ew and b] it’s bad for me)  and able to enjoy things which I wouldn’t usually eat but want to at that time (like icecream from Il Melograno) without fearing the perceived judgment of those around me.

Winter is one of those seasons where food fears and body shaming arises. People talk about how they’re putting on layers of clothing and along with it, layers of fat. People start glorifying hot chocolates by the fire and then guiltily slapping themselves on the wrist. Ads start appearing on TV claiming that losing weight will help you “Be You” during these cold months. People start spitting vitriol about “crap excuses” like the cold and wet weather keeping people away from training.

It can be hard if you’re only starting out, if you’re coming back to training or even for those of us who train consistently and regularly.

And it isn’t ok. Winter is a hard time for fitness sometimes. It can be cold and wet. It can lead us to want to just cuddle up in front of the fire. And that’s fine! It’s about balance.

Instead of going for an outside run, do a Fitness Blender workout at home or go to the gym and use a treadmill if you’re really into running. Invest in some good quality winter gear if you really want to run outside.

Get an accountability partner who will be expecting you at the gym so you feel like you can’t let them down. If you feel really unsafe driving on wet roads etc, you could even get them to pick you up or you could suggest doing an at home work out while on skype or something similar.

You could also try winter sports to keep you fit during this time of chilly winds and icy rain. Try something like RockUp Netball, for instance!

And if you’re worried about hearty comfort foods, just remember that we’re now in SOUP season. Soup is delicious, can be super (heh) healthy and is easy to make. It can simmer all day in a slow cooker or you can whip one up in  20 mins. It’s warming, soul enriching and just all round, awesome.

I made a seriously incredible batch of soup today to take around to a friend’s place for lunch. It’s only got a handful of ingredients and it was a total case of set and forget.

Roasted Beetroot, Carrot and Ginger Soup

2 large beetroots
6 small-medium carrots
1 medium onion
A chunk of ginger
6 cloves of garlic
Vegetable Stock
Mixed herbs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) spray

Chop the first 4 ingredients into similar sized chunks, separate the cloves of garlic, sprinkle with the herbs and spray with EVOO spray.

Roast until the vegetables are cooked but toothsome. Remove the skin of the garlic. Tip the veggies into a pot and cover with the stock and blend using an immersion blender until you get to your desired texture. 

Done.

If you want, serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some greens stirred through your soup. Crusty bread is a (non) optional extra too.

Seriously. How easy is that? It’s also exceptionally delicious. And very healthy.

So, basically, even though winter is hard sometimes, it passes like all other things in life. I encourage you to embrace it with both arms, a bowl and a pair of super fluffy socks which you can hide under your runners. No judgement.

 

Hot Cross Buns- Two Ways!

I love Easter. It’s unpredictable, sneaks up on you (not unlike a bunny!) and it commemorates the most important part of my faith- the death and resurrection of my Christ. I know that many of our Easter traditions are rooted in pagan festivals and others are adapted from Jewish passover traditions, but I don’t think that devalues them at all. I love the symbolism of rising loaves and the empty egg- trite as they may be. If the heart and the message behind them is true and well intentioned, then what harm do they bring? I also acknowledge that many do not believe in Christ and while it saddens me that they will never know the true joy of Easter until they do, I see nothing wrong with those traditions being adopted by people from all walks of life, all creeds, all religions.

Easter is about Jesus dying to bring people to Him and save us from ourselves, our fate. Who are we to deny anyone entry into that?

On that note, these two recipes are ones which I’ve made this Easter to bless my friends and family with. They’re both significantly healthier than the ones you’ll buy at the shops, and I think, significantly yummier! I hope you enjoy them and they’ll remind you of the love Jesus had for you as he died and was risen to new life.

The first recipe I used as a base is this one from Tales From The Kitchen Shed

Author: Tales From The Kitchen Shed with some adaptations by Amy Carpenter (The Carpenter’s Daughter
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Home Baking
Serves: 16
Ingredients
Dough:
  • Loose leaf chai (I used Hari Hai Chai and Mumbai Maple from T2)
  • 3/4 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 80ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 245g natural yoghurt
  • 1 apple – grated
  • 225g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 275 wholegrain rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1-2 tbsp of Apple Cake Spice Mix (contains cinnamon, cardamom, rosehip, ginger, cassia, nutmeg… lots of yummy things! And no sugar.)
  • 1/2 an apple, cut into match sticks
Instructions
  1. Place the chai and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes to reduce by about half. Add the sultanas (and mixed peel if using) and set to one side.
  2. Warm the buttermilk for one minute on high power in the microwave. Stir in the grated apple and, if desired, sweetener of choice.
  3. Add the flours, yeast, bicarb and cinnamon into a large bowl along with the buttermilk mixture and mix together to form a rough dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively you can use a stand mixer to knead your dough.)
  5. Spread the dough out into a rectangle and sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Bring the dough back together and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  6. Place the dough in a large greased mixing bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, approx 75 to 80 g each. Shape into balls and place on a baking tray fairly close together and flatten each ball a little. Cover with greased cling film and prove for one hour in a warm place.
  8. While your Hot Cross Buns are proving, julienne your apple and place the strips on top of your buns, like a cross..
  9. Preheat your oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  10. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

The other one I made is a GF recipe which I sourced from Gluten Free, Grain Free

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cups arrowroot/tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cups mixed dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carb (baking soda)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of aquafaba
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Chai (see above for the mix)
  • 1 apple

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175C2.
  2. Soak chia seeds and dried fruit in chai tea
  3. Combine dry ingredients together
  4. Add eggs, soaked chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, grated apple & soaked dried fruit.
  5. Combine everything well until there are no lumps (except the bits of fruit)! It will be thickish – don’t be tempted to add any more liquid
  6. I used a silicon muffin tray to cook these. Bake for 25 minutes until the hot cross buns are firm to the touch and bounce back when lightly pressed. The top will be lovely and golden in colour
  7. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack. DEVOUR!

Hope these tickle your fancy!

Belated Make It Monday… Picnic Loaf!

Oops! Yesterday was a bit of a whirlwind (although I did get to spend some time just basking in God’s presence over a tasty and healthy brunch which was a true blessing) which meant that the blog post I had planned didn’t make it to the blog… oops!

I guess that’s what happens when you have a busy weekend with loads of fun things to do… the madness turns into Monday madness without much of a second thought! My weekend involved two (it would have been three but… woops…) birthday parties (one of which was mine!), selling at Camberwell Market, an impromptu visit to the Glenferrie Rd festival, an impromptu bike ride on my newly repaired bicycle- Freddie- plus brunch and workout dates! It’s exhausting just listing it.

The highlight was definitely the picnic which I had to celebrate my 26th birthday- the last of the 4 celebrations I planned (berry picking with the school girls, Moroccan Soup Bar with my bffs, The Independent in Gembrook with the parents and the afore mentioned picnic for everyone!) I just wanted something really relaxed where all my friends, their kids, their partners, their pets, who/whatever were welcome to come, have fun and relax. A picnic seemed like the perfect solution.

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We’re blessed to have plenty of beautiful parks near us and so I decided to hold it at a local park with plenty of open spaces, playgrounds and shady spots to enjoy. Instead of relying on BBQ facilities (which are often claimed VERY early on in the morning and I wasn’t prepared to miss boot camp/ask my parents to get to the park at such an obscene hour and wait around forever), I just asked everyone to bring something to share, whether it be savoury or sweet. I would make a few things, just in case everyone bought cake, cheese or chips (it could definitely happen).

I made:

Carrot and Nut Butter Pinwheels
Apple and Coconut Pinwheels
Healthy Almond Butter Brownies
Healthy Oaty PB Biscuits  (based on link with a lot of tinkering…)
Healthy Berry Slice
Golden Latte Slice
Panzanella Salad
Watermelon, Goats Fetta and Basil Salad
The SPECTACULAR WATERMELON BIRTHDAY CAKE! (which I STUPIDLY did not get a photo of)  (similar to this)

and… Picnic Loaf!

Which was such a success I’m making it for my Bible Study tonight.

I got the idea from the amazing Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe whose blog I absolutely devour. She, along with Cindy and Michael from Where’s The Beef are my blogging crushes (how sad am I?) and I find their recipes, reviews and reflections just so well written and interesting. They’re also known to my father as the enablers of my love of Vegetarianism and my recent forays into a plant based lifestyle (#veg4lent2017).

When I saw this loaf I knew I needed to make it for my picnic. So, I roasted up some carrots, sweet potato, capsicum, celery and zucchini all sprinkled with the MacGyver spice blend from Oasis Bakery, made some pesto with some sad looking coriander, almonds, lemon juice and garlic, opened up a jar of grilled eggplant, mangled a can of pickled beetroot (why don’t cans of beetroot have ring pulls- and why do they all contain sugar?!) and layered them in my wholemeal vienna loaf (no non-white cob loaves were to be found- SIGH). I also layered some homemade semi dried tomatoes, leafy mix and some basil leaves.

The loaf was super delicious and everyone who had some enjoyed it immensely! This time, I roasted my own beetroot, swapped the sweet potato for pumpkin, added some finely sliced ricotta stuffed chillies I found in the fridge and used a multigrain sourdough batard.

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I cannot imagine that it won’t be just as delicious!!

Hope you give it a go for your next picnic and that you have just as fun a time as I did!

Happy eating (and picnic-ing!!)

Make It Monday-Healthy Berry Ripe Slice!

I like to stretch out my birthday. It’s in February, the shortest month of the year, which means it’s very easy to justify taking a birthday month. I also have a lot of different groups of friends and sometimes, it’s just easier to see people in an environment where they all know each other. It means I get to enjoy myself and not worry if my different groups of friends are getting along or not. It’s not really an issue anymore- we’re all adults and well and truly capable of mingling, but it’s just a habit from my teenage days. Either way, a birthday is an excellent excuse to catch up with friends.

I’ve always enjoyed planning parties and such things but now, my focus is on ensuring that everyone is able to have a relaxed, chilled time- including myself. That means less obsessive organisation, less meticulous planning and more time surrounded by people on the day.

As such, I’ve organised a pot luck picnic for my birthday this year, where everyone will be bringing something to share. I’ve decided on a few things I’ll bring to cover the bases but it shouldn’t be as much cooking or stress if I was catering for the whole thing myself- which I like!

One of the things I’ll be taking is a healthy take on a Cherry Ripe- one of my childhood favourites.

Image result for cherry ripe lol

I love the flavours of dark chocolate, coconut and cherries (or berries) and so I decided to combine these in their purest form and what a combination it is! It’s so quick and easy to put together and I highly encourage you give it a try!

I sourced the basic recipe from Frankie’s Feast but adapted it slightly to be even easier and even healthier.

Ingredients

Base Layer

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup cacao
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup dates, soaked (if you have time)
  • Unsweetened almond and coconut milk as needed

Berry Layer

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries- I used a mix of cherries, boysenberries and blackberries
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews, soaked for 6 hours or overnight (I didn’t do this and it turned out fine!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh  coconut
  • Sweetener, to taste (I didn’t need to use any)

Topping

  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs
  • 1 tbs dried blueberries/goji berries

Method

Process all the base ingredients until well combined. Add some unsweetened almond coconut milk as needed to moisten the base. Press this mixture into a square pan and put in the freezer to chill while you make the next layer.

Process all ingredients for the middle layer until combined. Add chia seeds and pulse once or twice to stir through. Taste and add sweetener of choice if desired.

Pour this over the top of the base layer and sprinkle the toppings over your slice.

Remove from the freezer when firm and slice into desired size. Store in the freezer and serve straight from the fridge!

Enjoy!!

Make It Monday- Red is my favourite.

Image result for anti valentines day

I hate Valentines Day. I think it’s a day which is designed to make people wallow in discontent. If you’re already single and unhappy then there’s just a load of reminders about how you’re not in a relationship, if you’re single and happy then it’s almost like you’re being manipulated into being SAD about not having a Valentine, if you’re in a relationship then there will always be a bigger gesture, a better gift, a more “special” moment than the one you received.

Why can’t we all just be happy with what we have? I appreciate the idea of a day to demonstrate the love you have for the special people in your life… but surely you can do that any day of the year?

Whatever. It’s not that important in the grand scheme of things and if the world has a little more love in it than it’s not a bad thing.

Speaking of love, I love the colour red as anyone who has seen my a) wardrobe, b) room and c) hair would know, and as Valentines Day seems to conjure up plenty of red, pink and rose coloured merchandise, I figure it’s as good a day as any to jump on the band wagon and create a beautiful RED dessert for the day of discontent- I mean, love.

It’s a red velvet inspired NO BAKE, VEGAN, SUGAR FREE, OIL FREE, GLUTEN FRIENDLY slice.

It’s easy to whip up and it’s super delicious. You can easily sub things in and out and it’s filled with fruit, veggies, seeds, nuts and spices. You can’t go wrong.

Image result for beetroot love

Healthy Red Velvet Slice

Base:

1 cup of oats (GF is necessary)
1 cup of buckwheat groats
2 tbsp of cacao nibs
2 tbsp of homemade apple sauce
2 tbsp of aquafaba
1 tbsp of raw cacao powder
2 tsp of mixed spice
Splash of vanilla extract

Mix all together (legit that easy!), adjust spices and flavours for taste. Add sweetener of choice if necessary.
Press into a glad wrap lined slice container and place in freezer.

Filling:

2 beetroots
1 cup (roughly) raw coconut flesh
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tbsp of  HM apple sauce
1 tbsp of raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of buckwheat groats
2 tsp of cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together until smooth with some crunchy buckwheat pieces still intact (or all smooth if you want! Your circus, your monkeys!) Add sweetener to taste, if desired.

Spread over base

Topping:

Handful of puffed rice
Handful of goji berries
Raw cashews
Dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 a lemon

Soak cashews in boiling water until ready to blend.
Blend cashews with lemon juice until a smooth paste forms.

Sprinkle puffed rice and goji berries over the filling.
Spread cashew layer over top before sprinkling over the cherries and cranberries.

Pop it in the freezer until ready to serve! Remove 30 mins or so before serving to slice into bite sized fudgy pieces!!

Enjoy!! xx

 

 

 

 

Make it Monday! The Cookbook Challenge

I have a lot of cookbooks. When my friends come over to my house, it’s often one of the first things they comment on.

But I can’t help it! My mum and I just… I don’t know. The food styling, the stories, the combinations of flavours… we just go weak and suddenly, the guy at Dymocks is standing there, handing us back our cards, along with a brand new tome of delicious recipes to try.

Of course, despite our best intentions and ooh and aahing, so often these recipes are neglected and we never end up trying to replicate the taste explosions.

There are some exceptions to this rule; cookbooks which I use A LOT but they’re a special case.

So, this year, I decided to remedy this. Every month, I’m choosing two cook books to base our meals on. In January, it was Donna Hay’s Life in Balance and delicious. Superfoods. I’ve had both of these books for a while now and have plenty of recipes bookmarked in them, but hadn’t done much cooking out of them. I chose them based on the variety they offer, the fact that most of the recipes are extremely healthy, and the beautiful food styling which they contain.

The recipes which I chose varied from vegetarian to meat loving, quick and easy to more time consuming. Some of my favourites were the Zucchini Lasagna, Lemongrass Tofu, Barramundi (or in my case, squid) Tacos, the Roast Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini and the Pumpkin, and Brown Rice Balls.

I also used the books as the basis for a dinner party I hosted which was a roaring success. We enjoyed Haloumi and Sage Roasted Broccoli, a Smokey Pumpkin and Spelt Salad and a Spiced Kangaroo Skewers with Beetroot and Tahini Salad. All three dishes were absolutely perfect and were well received by the whole party.

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Pumpkin and Brown Rice Balls with Roasted Carrots
(and a zucchini, watermelon and coriander salad)

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Roasted Zucchini Lasagna

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Chickpea Gnochhi

roasted-eggplant-and-cauliflower
Roast Eggplant and Cauliflower Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

zucch-smoked-trout-and-quinoa-salad
Smoked Trout (DISCLAIMER: NOT HOME SMOKED LOL), Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

friends
Dinner Party Good Times
(they started eating before I could get a picture of the food… DEVO)

January has been a fabulous month of delicious and healthy food and I highly encourage you to check out these two amazing books!!

Happy cooking (and reading!)

Amy xx