After posting my protein slice recipe, it occurred to me that some of the ingredients may be foreign to the average person so here I have explained what they are, the benefits of each ingredient and why it is included in this recipe.
Protein powder – contains essential amino acids for muscle repair and tissue maintenance (post-training) but also required for optimum immune system function, connective tissue and hormonal support. Ladies, it will not bulk you up! But instead supports your metabolism but supporting active tissue in the body, whey protein isolate or pea protein isolate is ideal after weight or resistance training.
Rolled oats – A form of carbohydrate that is high fibre so it is low GI – the carbohydrates are absorbed into the blood at a slow rate, therefore provides sustaining energy. Oats are also a good source of glutamine which is important for intestinal health and a key amino acid for aiding muscle recovery. Beta-glucan is another component of oats which helps to lower cholesterol from the body due to it’s binding action.
Raw nuts – if I spoke about all the benefits of eating nuts, I’d need a few pages! I’ll keep it simple. All nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and help to lubricate the joints of the body as well as support cardiovascular health. They are a good source of minerals for example - zinc, manganese and calcium, good source of vitamin E (especially almonds) and provide some extra amino acids. Nuts can be hard for the body to digest so soaking them in some filtered water, preferably overnight can help to reduce any indigestion and help your body assimilate the nutrients better.
Raw cacao powder – one of my favourite things to have in my cupboard because it is such a yummy super food! Cacao powder is essentially the solid component of the cocoa bean (as opposed to the cacao butter – the fat component of the bean) this is different to the processed, heated and chemical treated cocoa powder from the supermarket. So you’ve heard of why chocolate is ‘good for you’ well the best way to have it is in this raw powdered form. It is rich in minerals such as magnesium which helps muscle tension, spasms and cramps and improves sleep quality. It is also high in flavonoids – which are antioxidant compounds that reduce tissue and DNA damage from oxidative stress by absorbing free radicals. This is especially beneficial for cardiovascular health and raw cacao powder can also assist in lowering blood pressure. It makes a really good hot chocolate! Just hot water, 1 tsp of raw cacao, stevia powder and milk (almond milk works well).
Cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil – coconut oil is again extremely versatile as it can be used in cooking and cosmetically (makes a good body moisturizer). It consists of saturated fats (don’t be afraid – they medium chain triglycerides which are different to animal saturated fats) which are beneficial to the body as they feed our good bacteria in our gut, improve our immune system, help to manage cholesterol and improve metabolism. They are also a great anti-fungal for people who may be suffering from an overload of candida or other detrimental yeasts in the body. The beauty of cooking with coconut oil is that it can withstand high temperatures without changing composition unlike vegetable oils which turn rancid and produce trans-fatty acids once heated. Look for organic oil that is a pure white colour (as opposed to yellow which has been excessively boiled during processing) and from virgin coconuts using a wet method extraction. Loving Earth is a reputable brand that uses appropriate extraction methods.
Rapadura sugar – an unprocessed form of cane sugar containing the molasses before the sugar is refined into a white crystalline structure. It still contains the vitamins and minerals from the cane plant but remember it is still sugar! So use sparingly.
Maple syrup – made from the sap of various trees it is an unrefined form of sugar, but contains minerals such as potassium, calcium and manganese. The darker and good quality varieties such as Adirondak brand contain antioxidant compounds. Again, it is a concentrated form of sugar so only use slight amounts at a time in recipes that contain fibrous ingredients.
Peanut butter – 100% natural means the butter consists of only ground roasted peanuts – no added sugars, salt, preservatives or emulsifiers – read the labels. Go to health food grocers instead of the supermarket as they have a machine that will make it in front of you. It is a good source of protein and minerals but is mainly added to the recipe as flavour and to help set the slice.
Coconut flour – Made from the flesh of the coconut, it is high in fibre and protein, low in fat, gluten-free and gives a subtle coconut flavour and crunchy texture to any recipe. Such an ideal alternative to wheat flour due to the superior nutritional profile and it’s hypoallergenic – good for food sensitive individuals.