Willpower is essential when you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet as part of your overall fitness plan, and it’s those who are able to resist the urge to gorge on devilishly calorific snacks that tend to get the best results.
At times it may seem like the whole world is against you. This is especially true at the moment, as the nation has been gripped by ‘Great British Bake Off’ fever, with an astonishing 9.3 million people watching the opening episode of the latest series last week. You don’t need us to tell you that pastries, cakes and biscuits aren’t the best things to eat if you’re trying to boost your fitness.
However, you don’t have to miss out on all the fun. Believe it or not, you can get your bake on without feeling guilty about piling on excess pounds. To prove our point, we asked four bloggers to share their healthy baking recipes with us, and this is what they came up with…
This delectable treat came from the lovely ‘Mrs B’ over at Mind Over Matter. Her secret weapon to make the dish healthy? Sweet potato.
Widely referred to as a superfood, sweet potato is a great source of beta-carotene, which is good for our immune systems. The sweetness of this versatile vegetable means it can work well in desserts - as this recipe demonstrates.
Here’s what you need:
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup melted coconut oil
• 1 cup honey
• 1/4 cup of maple syrup
• 4 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 cup raw cacao powder, sifted
• 4 tbsp coconut flour
• 4 cups grated sweet potato
The beauty of this bake is the sheer simplicity of it. Combine the sweet potato, eggs, vanilla, honey and coconut oil in a bowl and give the mixture a good stir. Throw in the cacao powder and baking powder, and continue to stir. Then you add in your coconut flour, ensuring that you don’t dry out your mixture by tipping in too much.
Put the mixture in a baking tray that has been lined with greased baking paper and bake at 185 degrees C for 30 to 35 minutes. Easy, delicious and no need to feel bad about yourself.
Cinnamon and nutmeg protein loaf
Another easy-to-follow recipe, this cinnamon and nutmeg protein loaf sent to us by Frankie’s Weekend is an absolute winner.
If you’ve had a tough but rewarding gym session, the last thing you want is to get bogged down in a complex baking challenge that leaves you feeling mentally drained. With minimal preparation and baking time required, this low-calorie loaf can be out of the oven and on your plate in no time.
To make 12 generous squares, you’ll need:
• 100g ground almonds
• 100g Impact whey vanilla
• 60g chopped dates
• 30g coconut sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
• 100g Total Greek yoghurt
Mix all of the ingredients together, sling them in a loaf tin and put it in the oven at 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it - nobody wants a soggy bottom! Each chunk contains 11g of protein and just 131 calories, so it makes for a perfect post-gym snack.
Banana, pear and chia seed loaf
Another loaf, but this time a decidedly fruitier affair. A guest post on the fabulous Keep it SimpElle blog, this recipe is ideal for those who are looking for a fun, inventive way of working towards their daily fruit quota.
This is your list of ingredients:
• 1/3 cup coconut oil
• 2 tbsp agave syrup
• 3 eggs at room temperature
• 1tsp vanilla bean paste
• 1 and a 1/2 cups of rice flour
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
• 2 tbsp chia seeds
• 3 ripe bananas
• 1/2 cup of almond milk
• 2 small ripe pears
Again, you don’t need to be Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry to get to grips with this recipe, but the rewards are great nonetheless. The key here is to keep your wet ingredients away from your dry ingredients in the early stages. Once you’ve mixed your dry ingredients, start to fold them in with your syrup, coconut oil, eggs and vanilla. You can also gradually add in your milk at this point. Mash up your bananas and add to the mix.
Pour the lot into your tin, add your whole pears and sprinkle some chia seeds on top before baking for around 20 minutes at 180 degrees C.
Give it a whirl.
Peanut butter brownies
We’ve already seen how you can use sweet potatoes to make beautiful brownies and now, thanks to Fox On The Hunt, we’re going to show you how to make brownies using chickpeas. It sounds bizarre, but trust us, it works a treat!
It’s not just your taste buds that will like this recipe, your personal trainer will give it the thumbs up too. A great source of fibre and protein, chickpeas carry plenty of nutritional benefits, and although we often look upon peanut butter as being a high-calorie luxury, it’s actually packed with nutrients and falls firmly into the “good fats” category.
Here’s what you need to make these brownies:
• 2 cans of chickpeas (600g)
• 1 egg white
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 2/3 cup honey
• 1/3 cup cocoa powder
• 1/3 cup soya milk
• Peanut butter to your taste
Mix your stuff together in a blender, place in a tray, spread your peanut butter on top and put your tray in the oven for around 15 minutes (nobody said this was going to be a difficult bake).
So there you have it. People may tell you that the Great British Bake Off and your health and fitness routine have no business being mentioned in the same breath, but they are wrong. Hopefully we’ve shown you that you don’t have to be a star baker to rustle up some tasty, guilt-free cakes and loaves to sink your teeth into as the latest series of Britain’s most popular kitchen-based reality show progresses over the remaining nine weeks.
Naturally, diet is only one part of your overall fitness journey (a very important part, mind). To make sure you keep moving in the right direction, why not sign up for a membership at your local Fitness First Club?