I'M PREGNANT...CAN I STILL HAVE MY DAILY DOSE OF CAFFEINE?

When you are pregnant there is so much advice that people are willing to give you, some of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Whether it be about parenting methods, birthing interventions, sleeping arrangements or what food and drinks you should or shouldn’t be consuming, everyone has (and is entitled to) their opinion.

When it comes to food and drinks there are some recommendations from well-recognized bodies in terms of foods and beverages that should be avoided for a number of reasons to protect the health of both you and your baby. No doubt you will each know someone that went through their pregnancy who avoided everything from any form of deli meat, soft cheese and seafood to those that just couldn’t quite give up their Sunday morning runny eggs or weren’t bothered about washing every single salad item before it went into their mouth.

When it comes to beverages we all know that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as there is no safe limit. However, what about caffeine; how will it affect your morning cuppa when you are carrying a little one and what effect does caffeine have on the development of your baby?  When looking at caffeine and pregnancy there is a little more research within this area. Studies have reported that caffeine intake has been reported to be associated with a reduction in birth weight, however the exact level is still unknown. One study with more the 2500 women in the UK confirmed that a maternal intake of more than 300mg per day was associated with low birth weight or foetal growth restriction (300mg per day is about 3-4 cups of coffee using the instant variety).  It also found that an average caffeine intake of greater than 100mg per day was associated with a reduction in birth weight in the third trimester. Although the threshold for which the risk of foetal growth restriction and lower birth weights increases, it concluded that the risk was reduced in those women consuming less than 100mg per day (approximately one coffee per day). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia pledged to determine a recommended intake of caffeine for pregnant women within Australia following the publication of these findings.

So what’s the recommendation?

Australian guidelines recommend you limit your intake to less than 200 mg per day, so that's about one to two instant coffees a day and two to three cups of tea. Be mindful that your favorite barista coffee will contain more caffeine than your home instants.

It is advised that to be particularly mindful of your caffeine intake during your first trimester due to that time period being the greatest risk for miscarriage. However if you love your daily dose of coffee and have multiple cups per day, reducing your intake when pregnant may be something that you struggle with. You may also be more likely to experience the nasty withdrawal symptoms such as persistent headaches and further feelings of fatigue, which is just what you need when you are already feeling that way through growing a human within you.

It is important to consider other sources on top of your standard coffee also as caffeine isn't just found in your tea and coffee. If you’ve been indulging in some chocolate with your coffee or enjoy a soft drink with lunch these count towards your daily intake also. You need to be aware that the amount of caffeine is not adding up from other sources, for example one serve of the following equates to the listed amount of caffeine:

  • Serve of instant coffee: 80-100mg
  • Serve of filter coffee: 140mg
  • Black tea: 20 - 70mg
  • Green tea: ~20 - 40mg
  • Coke 355ml: 20-35mg
  • Diet Coke 355ml: 20-50mg
  • Pepsi 350ml: 40mg
  • Red Bull 260ml: 77mg
  • 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: ~ 50mg
  • 50g bar of milk chocolate: ~ 25mg.

If the thought of giving up your daily dose of caffeine or missing out on that warm cuppa, especially with winter coming, why not try having a cup of warm lemon water (great for your digestive system and immunity) or caffeine free teas whether loose leaf or in bags. There are so many different flavours to select from chamomile, peppermint, apple & ginger. Alternatively if you prefer to stick to your barista brewed coffee you could opt for decaf or a single shot only.

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to give up your morning latte or regular shot of espresso (if you can – great!). Ensure you stick below the Australian guidelines of 200mg/day or speak to your doctor if you are concerned.

Brooke x

QUICK & EASY CHOC PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

Bliss balls, protein balls, energy balls, whatever you may call them their are so many variations out there, yet it can be hard to find one that is both tasty and ticks all the nutrient boxes.

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When it comes to recipe creating I'm all about quick, easy and nutritious. These choc peanut butter balls are all of that plus are family friendly so are perfect for my little two year old and a great snack to support me through my pregnancy and those busy days.

What you need:

  • 12 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 2 cups almond meal / or whole almonds (ground)
  • 2 tbsp True Protein Raw Cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup True Protein MCT oil or organic coconut oil 
  • 2 tbsp True Protein Peanut Butter powder 

Method:

  • Add all ingredients to a high powered food processor.
  • Blend on high speed until well combined, scrape down the sides as you go to ensure even mixing.
  • Use a teaspoon to help keep mixture even and roll into bite sized balls using the palms of your hands.
  • Place the tray in the freezer for 2 hours.
  • Once the mixture has hardened it can be kept in the freezer for longer shelf life, or store in the fridge for immediate enjoyment. 

I roll our balls into two sizes; our 'adult' sized balls and then some baby bliss balls suitable for a serve for Byron without overloading him on the natural sugars found in dates.

This recipe has no addd or artificial sugar, high in heart healthy fats and will give you that sweet, chocolatey hit when you most need it.

One the whole family can enjoy! Be sure to tag me in your creations @balancefitnessandnutrition #balancefitnessnutrition #striveforbalance 

Get 10% off all True Protein products by using the code BROOKE10 at checkout - www.trueprotein.com.au

Brooke x

EASY CACAO TOASTED MUESLI

With so many muesli and granola varieties available it can be confusing deciding which one to select, with many high in sugar and energy which can hinder your health goals, so why not make your own? 

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This toasted muesli recipe is both super easy and nourishing, even the most basic baker couldn't stuff this one up. It is low in sugar, full of healthy fats and fibre to help keep you feeling fuller for longer and stabilising your blood sugar levels.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup almonds (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/3 True Protein cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup True Protein MCT Oil (coconut oil)
  • 1/3 cup raw maple syrup
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METHOD

  • Pre heat oven to 160 degrees
  • Combine rolled oats, chia seeds, and chopped almonds into a bowl and mix.
  • In a food processor or over low heat combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and cacao powder until well mixed
  • Coat the dry ingredients with wet mixture and stir well
  • Line a baking tray and spread mixture evenly on the tray
  • Place the muesli mix in the oven, check and stir every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking
  • Cooking time will vary from 25-40 minutes depending on how crunchy you desire your muesli
  • Once cooked, add the cranberries and toasted coconut flakes to the mix
  • Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy with coconut yoghurt, as a smoothie topper or a stand alone crunchy snack. Enjoy 10% off the True Protein range by using BROOKE10 at checkout.

Brooke x

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GREEN BREAKFAST BOWL

Do you get sick of smoothies, or would you prefer to 'eat' a meal rather than 'drink' one? This BFN Green Breakfast Bowl gives you just that, plus a hit of two veg before you've even left the house!

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I'm a huge fan of smoothies. They are a complete meal all in one, convenient, refreshing and a safe fail in our house. Not all smoothies are equal though and are often loaded with sugar, which if you're consuming first thing in the morning will spike you blood sugar levels like crazy, only for you to crash by 10am.

My smoothies always have a combo of veggies and fruit, in this particular smoothie bowl the ratio of veg is on par with or almost higher than the fruit - winning. This bowl contains satiating protein from the vegan protein powder, heart healthy fats (avo, coconut yoghurt & nut butter), fibre, vitamins A, B and D, potassium and so much more! Here's what you need and how to make it.

INGREDIENTS - SMOOTHIE BOWL

  • 1/4-1/2 avocado
  • Large handful of spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut yoghurt (or greek)
  • 1 banana (place 1/2-1/3 in the smoothie mix, the remainder is to top the smoothie bowl)
  • 100ml coconut milk (or fluid of your choice)
  • 1 scoop vanilla plant based protein powder (I use The Healthy Chef)
  • Crushed Ice

METHOD

  • Place all ingredients in a high speed mixer, adding the protein powder last.
  • Blend until well combined, texture should be thicker than your average 'drinking' smoothie.
  • Top with the below toppings and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS - TOPPINGS

  • Remainder of your banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen berries 
  • 2 tbsp Natural granola
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (optional)

This is a hit with Byron also, although he does love drinking his smoothies. I'd love to see your photos trying the smoothie bowl, make sure you tag me @balancefitnessandnutrition and share away.

Enjoy!

Brooke x

PIZZA NIGHT MINUS THE GUILT - CAULIFLOWER PIZZA BASE RECIPE

Who doesn't love a good pizza and movie night? Often though when you are trying to stick to a fitness goal or weight loss plan pizza doesn't always go hand in hand with the two. 

Luckily there are plenty of options out there that are a little more guilt free. They may not be as convenient but are still just as delicious and pack a more nutritious hit than your standard take away or home made pizza.

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Try this simple cauliflower pizza base recipe next time you feel like pizza but don't want the bloat, calories and discomfort that comes with it. Whilst it is a simple recipe, it does take approximately 20 minutes to prep, then 20-30 minutes to cook the base before you put your toppings on - but it is worth it!

The following mixture will give you 1 pizza base.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Makes 1-2 pizza bases

  • 500g or 1 head of cauliflower (I got mine from Food Fanatics Veggie box)
  • 20g grated parmesan cheese
  • Sprinkle of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Mixed herbs, pepper, garlic/chilli salt (to add flavour to the base)

METHOD:

  • Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and add a pizza stone to the oven to warm up.
  • Chop the cauliflower into chunks and put through a food processor until they resemble bread crumbs. I used my Thermomix, Speed 5 for 6 seconds.
  • Once in fine pieces soften the cauliflower by boiling, microwaving or steaming until it has softened.
    • If using a thermomix for this stage add in 400g of hot water to the mixing bowl, put the cauliflower in the rice basket, set timer for 10 minutes, Temp - Varoma, Speed 1.
  • This is the most important step: Once the cauliflower has softened, use a muslin wrap or light tea towel to squeeze as much moisture out of the cauliflower as possible. Your pizza base will not remain formed if too much moisture is left in the cauliflower, so get squeezing!
  • Once as much moisture has possible has been removed add the cauliflower, eggs, seasoning and cheese to your blender or mixing bowel and combine to resemble a dough. 
    • If using a thermomix - Time 30s, Speed 4.
  • Place baking paper on top of your pizza stone and spray with coconut oil to avoid any sticking (in case you didn't get all of the moisture out).
  • Spread the mixture evenly over your warmed pizza stone to resemble a pizza base
  • Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  • Top with your favourite pizza top pins & put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy!

I generally double or triple the mixture as one pizza isn't enough in our household and use my Thermomix. If I am doubling or tripling the mixture, I process the 500g of cauliflower separately (chop, steam & squeeze). I then combine it all at the end with double or triple the remaining ingredients, blend into one big mix and then divide out onto my pizza stones.

As I said, a simple (somewhat time consuming) pizza base that tastes fantastic and provides an extra nutritional hit packed full of fibre, B, C & K vitamins. Try it on your next pizza night and #balancefitnessnutrition so I can see your delicious creations!

Brooke x

SAVOURY PANCAKE IDEA TO USE UP YOUR EXCESS VEGIES

Have you ever found yourself with some cabbage and stuck for what to do with it? Sure you could make sauerkraut or an asian noodle salad, but heres a little something different. A take on a traditional Japanese savoury pancake dish.

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We regularly enjoy okonomiyaki either for breakfast or dinner. It is super easy, and you can even use the below recipe as a base & add extra veggies if you like. All veggies I used were fresh from my Food Fanatics Keto Box.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup flour (plain flour / spelt flour)
  • 2-3 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1-2 shredded carrots
  • Sat & pepper to season

Sauce (optional but delicious)

  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp sesame oil

METHOD

  • Finely chop the cabbage, grate carrot and add to a bowl
  • Stir through flour
  • Whisk the eggs in a seperate bowl
  • Stir the eggs into the mix until well combined. Batter should be sticky and hold together.
  • Lightly oil a fry pan and place some mixture in, spreading it into a 'pancake' shape.
  • Flip pancake once golden brown
  • Serve with a side of avocado and okonomiyaki sauce.

To serve I love to add some avocado to the side and a dash of the sauce. Both are optional, but help to add an extra nutrient and flavour hit.

Enjoy!

Brooke x

BANANA BREAD - THAT THE WHOLE FAMILY CAN ENJOY

This banana bread recipe is one of my biggest hits, both within my household and with clients. It contains no refined sugars, is gluten free and perfect for that on-the-go snack, to pack in the kids lunch box for school or for that fussy toddler.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 x ripe bananas
  • 6 x eggs
  • 4 x pitted dates (optional)
  • 2 x teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  • Place all ingredients except for coconut flour and chia seeds into a high-speed mixer and blend well.
  • Add in the coconut flour and chia seeds and mix through.
  • Allow the mix to stand for 10-15 minutes to allow for the flour and chia seeds to expand.
  • Place mixture into a lined baking tin and bake in oven for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Allow to cool, serve with butter or almond spread. 

If you make this recipe and you and the family love it, be sure to share it & tag me on Facebook or Instagram @balancefitnessandnutrition. I'm sure you'll make this a baking staple just as I have.

Enjoy! 

Brooke x