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One of the best ways to get a really chewy muesli bar is to use a no-bake recipe. All you need is a bowl and a spoon to mix everything together, then it sets in the freezer. Easy!

The recipe is a variation of my No-Bake Chewy Muesli Bars. Instead of using currants, nuts and spices, for this recipe I added dark chocolate chips, dried apricots and a hint of vanilla. The tart and tangy dried apricots work really well with dark chocolate. But feel free to change things up if you prefer.

Chopped dried figs or dried cranberries would be delicious in place of the dried apricot. Or if you want to keep the sugar content very low, you could leave out the dried fruit and just add some raw cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips for an intense chocolate hit.

No-Bake Choc Chip Apricot Muesli BarsGluten freeDairy freeNut freeVegan

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats*
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 x 20ml tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup (or honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Line a 22 x 11 cm loaf tin with baking paper or cling film.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until everything is well combined. Tip the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Press the mixture firmly into the tin using the back of a spoon or the flat base of a glass. Transfer to the freezer for 1 - 2 hours to set.
  3. Once set, remove from the freezer and cut into bars. Store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 12 bars.

* Oats naturally don't contain gluten, but as they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat, they can have traces of gluten. If you're strictly gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free oats.

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Growing up in Australia, chocolate crackles were a regular fixture at kids’ birthday parties. I personally loved them in all their sugary glory. But it’s actually pretty easy to whip up a healthier version.

Instead of using hydrogenated fats, table sugar and processed cocoa powder as per the typical recipe, you can easily use raw extra virgin coconut oil, a less refined sweetener and raw cacao powder instead. I love to use raw cacao powder. It gives such an intense chocolatey flavour and a nice hit of antioxidants. For sweetener, pure maple syrup, rice malt syrup or honey will all work.

I also use puffed brown rice in the recipe. You can buy puffed brown rice from health food shops or in the health food section at many supermarkets. It does have a slightly earthier flavour, but I personally like it. You could use puffed white rice if you prefer.

Clean Chocolate CracklesGluten freeVegan

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 20ml tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, softened
  • 2 x 20ml tablespoons pure maple syrup (or rice malt syrup or honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder (I used Bare Blends Raw Peruvian Cacao)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup puffed rice

Preparation:

  1. Mix the coconut oil, rice malt syrup, vanilla extract, cacao powder and salt in a bowl until smooth. All the puffed rice and stir until the rice is well coated in the chocolate mixture.
  2. Place 8 mini muffin cases on a tray. Spoon the mixture into the cases and leave in the fridge to set.
  3. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 8 mini crackles.

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We all know that animal products like meat, fish and eggs provide protein. But what about vegetables and other plant foods?

Protein powders can be a handy way to increase your protein intake. I use protein powders from time to time to help promote muscle recovery after training. But wherever possible, if I can get my protein from whole food sources during my meals, even better.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a vegetarian or vegan. However, I tend to mostly eat plant foods with some meat and fish here and there. It’s a common misconception that you have to eat a lot of meat to get enough protein in your diet. If you’re looking to increase your intake of plant foods, such as vegetables, you may be interested to find out how much protein they actually contain.

Spinach

100g of cooked spinach, which is about half a cup, has approximately 3 grams of protein and only 97 kilojoules. Not to mention a host of other nutrients. If you add some spinach into each meal, the protein will start to add up.

Almonds

100g of raw almonds has approximately 19.5 grams of protein. A typical serve of about one handful weighs about 30 grams, giving you 6 grams of protein.

Peanut Butter

100g of natural peanut butter, made with peanuts only and perhaps a bit of salt, has approximately 27.7g protein. A 30 gram serve thus gives you just over 8 grams of protein.

White Beans

100g of white beans, or cannellini beans, has approximately 8.3 grams of protein and only 454 kilojoules.

Lentils

100g of cooked lentils, which is about half a cup, has approximately 6.8 grams of protein and only 325 kilojoules.

Oats

100g of rolled oats, which is just under one cup, has approximately 11 grams of protein.

These calculations were made using the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Nutrition Panel Calculator, available here.

So you can see that including a range of the above foods over the course of day can add up to give you a good dose of protein. You may actually be eating more protein than you think!

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Real Food Healthy Body by Lilian Dikmans - 1M ago

I came up with this recipe while staying at the parents’ house after rifling through their cupboards and finding some dark rum. Before anyone freaks out, it’s only a dash of rum for flavour, nothing too crazy. I’m not a big drinker so I rarely have alcohol on hand, but after finding the rum and also having some raisins available, I couldn’t resist making some rum raisin truffles.

If you don’t have any rum, you can use rum extract or even pure vanilla extract for something a little different. The truffles will still be delicious. I added some chocolate whey protein powder for a protein hit, and it also helps to bind the truffle mixture together.

I love how raisins have a slightly tart and tangy flavour, which I think blends so well with chocolate. So the truffles have a good hit of chocolatey raw cacao as well.

Rum Raisin TrufflesGluten free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats *
  • 1/2 cup chocolate whey protein powder (I use Bare Blends Raw Cacao WPI)
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder (I use Bare Blends Raw Peruvian Cacao)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 x 20ml tablespoon dark rum (or 2 teaspoons rum extract or pure vanilla extract)
  • 40g dark chocolate, melted

Preparation:

  1. Process the rolled oats, protein powder and cacao powder in a food processor until combined. Add the raisins, coconut oil and rum or rum extract and process until you get a dough.
  2. Line a tray with baking paper. Roll the mixture into balls and place onto the tray.
  3. Drizzle each ball with the melted chocolate and leave in the fridge to set. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 15 truffles.

* Oats naturally don't contain gluten, but as they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat, they can have traces of gluten. If you're strictly gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free oats.

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We all know that gyms aren’t the most sterile places. Even when a gym invests a lot of time and effort into cleaning, it can be hard to keep up with the sheer volume of sweaty people rolling in and leaving their mark. You may even have a couple of post-training habits that could be described as ‘hygiene mistakes’.

There’s no need to become obsessive germophobes. You’re going to get dirty. But if you find yourself experiencing an unexplained rash, an onset of pimples or catching more colds than usual, there are a few things you could do to clean up your training.

Always bring a clean towel

This is one of the easiest ways to avoid hygiene issues. I previously wrote about the importance of using a clean towel to wipe sweat off your face. If you want to avoid breakouts on your face, this is key. It’s also a good idea to place your towel on the mats before doing core work or stretching. This is good etiquette to keep things clean for the next person about to use the space. Plus, it creates a barrier between your skin and any fluids or bacteria on the surface of the mat.

Cover any cuts or broken skin with a bandage

Basically, other people don’t want to pick up your DNA and you don’t want germs getting in. I had a cut on the bottom of my big toe the first time I trained in Thailand. Every day before training I had to wrap my entire toe in strapping tape to keep the band-aid in place, but it was worth it to avoid infection.

Keep sweaty clothing separate

If you keep throwing sweaty clothing straight into your gym bag, but never wash your gym bag, it can accumulate a lot of bacteria. Instead, you could put your sweaty clothes into a plastic bag or smaller washable bag before throwing into your gym bag.

Air out your gear

Putting on gloves that are still wet inside from yesterday’s training is never that fun. Plus, wet conditions make it easy for bacteria to multiply. Although it’s tempting to keep boxing gloves and shin pads in your car boot, it’s a good idea to leave them somewhere open-air, like a balcony or porch, so they can air out overnight.

Wash your drink bottle

Even if they have just had water in them, drink bottles can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you think about the amount of sweat and other fluids that ends up on them while you train, it makes sense. It’s best to wash your bottle after every session with hot soapy water. Stainless steel or glass water bottles are easiest to clean thoroughly.

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Some mornings I just feel like pancakes. Or evenings as well, if I’m being honest. When I want to keep things nourishing and avoid a sugar crash, I’ve been making these oat bran protein pancakes.

Oat bran is slightly different to normal rolled oats as it’s made just from the bran of the oat. It’s slightly higher in fibre and has a chunkier texture. When mixed with some WPI you get a protein and fibre packed pancake that will keep you feeling full and satisfied.

I use almond milk to make the pancakes, but you can use any milk you like. For toppings, you can get creative with your favourite bits and pieces. I’m loving the combination of blackberries with some coconut yogurt and melted dark chocolate drizzled over. The great thing about the dark chocolate drizzle is that some of it remains melted and the parts that hit the cold yogurt firm up so you get a bit of crunch.

Oat Bran Protein PancakesGluten freeLow sugar

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

  • 1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder (I use Bare Blends Vanilla Bean WPI)
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice
  • Coconut oil or butter for frying 

To serve:

  • Natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
  • Handful of berries
  • 20g dark chocolate, melted

Preparation:

  1. Mix the protein powder and oat bran together in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the egg into the well and gradually add the milk while beating everything together.
  2. Heat a fry pan over a medium heat. Add a little coconut oil or butter to the pan then fry the mixture in batches. The pancakes should be ready to flip when little bubbles start to form in the centre. Keeping them smaller makes them easier to flip.
  3. To serve, stack the pancakes up on a plate and top with some yoghurt, berries and melted dark chocolate.

Makes 4 - 6 small pancakes.

* Oats naturally don't contain gluten, but as they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat, they can have traces of gluten. If you're strictly gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free oats.

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Stretching is one of those things that can be a pain and easy to neglect. Before your workout, it’s tempting to turn up and launch straight into it. Afterwards, you just want to go home to shower and eat. But it is essential.

Ever since my ballet days, the importance of stretching has been drummed into me. Not only to prevent injury, but also to improve performance. Whether you want to execute a deep squat or a head kick, good mobility is essential. To achieve optimal mobility, I use three stretching techniques.

Dynamic stretching warm up

When I train, after an initial warm up of running and skipping, I do some dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching usually refers to a series of movements that you perform to activate the muscles that you will use during training. The main ones I do before Muay Thai training are vertical and horizontal arm swings, shoulder rotations, leg swings and hip openers.

Static stretching after training

After training, static stretching is a good way to cool down and ensure your muscles recover nicely. Ideally you want to cover a range of stretches for the entire body. But if I’m short on time, I make sure I at least do a few stretches targeting the hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calves. For me, they are the muscles that I feel need it the most after training. Hip flexors in particular. I aim to hold each stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds. If you hold them for less than 15 seconds, the muscles usually just spring back to being tight.

Deeper stretching with Yin yoga

I previously wrote about why I’m a fan of Yin yoga. With the stretches being held for prolonged periods of time, Yin style yoga gives you a deeper stretching experience that softens not only the muscles, but the connective tissue as well. I make sure it’s part of my routine and aim to do it at least once a week, often at home right before bed.

 
Lilian Dikmans Muay Thai elbow training - YouTube
 

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Real Food Healthy Body by Lilian Dikmans - 3M ago

I would never argue with rocky road in its pure state. But for something a little healthier, what could be better than a cleaner rocky road sitting on top of a chocolate oaty base?

The slice is vegan, using Bare Blends Cacao & Cinnamon Plant Protein in the base and a range of boosters in the rocky road topping. To make the topping I use 85% cocoa dark chocolate to keep the sugar content down, but add a spoonful of rice malt syrup and coconut oil to help the chocolate coating set a little softer.

Feel free to get creative with what you add to the rocky road topping. I like brazil or macadamia nuts with raisins or cranberries and coconut. But you could add any combination of nuts and dried fruits that take your fancy.

Rocky Road SliceGluten freeVegan

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup plant-based protein powder (I used Bare Blends Cacao & Cinnamon Plant Protein)
  • 2 x 20ml tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 x 20ml tablespoons rice malt syrup, pure maple syrup or honey

For the topping:

  • 80g dark (85% cocoa) chocolate
  • 1 x 20ml tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 x 20ml tablespoon rice malt syrup, pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons freeze-dried berry powder (optional) (I used Bare Blends Bare Berries)
  • 1/4 cup brazil or macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 x 20ml tablespoon chia seeds (optional) (I used Bare Blends Organic Chia Seeds)

Preparation:

  1. Line an 8 x 12cm container with baking paper or cling film.
  2. To make the base, process all of the base ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Press the mixture firmly into the lined container and set aside.
  3. To make the topping, melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler. Stir in the coconut oil, rice malt syrup and Bare Berries (if using). Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the nuts, dried fruit, coconut and chia seeds.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the base and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Leave in the fridge for a few hours to set. Once set, remove from the fridge and cut into pieces. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 6 pieces.

* Oats naturally don't contain gluten, but as they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat, they can have traces of gluten. If you're strictly gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free oats.

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