All About the Whale Trail

I was fortunate enough to do one of the best hiking trails South Africa has to offer!

If you love hiking and appreciate the outdoors, then the Whale trail is a MUST. It is a five day, 56km slack-packing trail through the De Hoop Nature Reserve that introduces you to some of the most beautiful scenery along the Western Cape coastline. The route from Potberg mountain to Koppie Alleen includes five overnight stops. The distance to each overnight cabin differs each day from easy to strenuous and takes approximately 4-8 hours of hiking per day.

What added to the atmosphere was the fact that this hike could cater for up to 12 people sharing. I met some amazing people who joined me on this incredible experience. Knowing this, I would suggest if you planning on going, you need to book in advanced because of the space limitation.

In order to enjoy the full extend of this amazing adventure, one needs to take the true sense of mother nature into consideration! In saying that, you should not be squeamish when it comes to mice or crickets or other bugs, as you would expect being out in the wild! Being in the nature reserve, we had to adhere to letting them roam as free as they like without harming them, and leave the food pyramid to its own devices. Snakes were pretty common too, as we saw the infamous Cape Cobra as well as the Berg Adder which was both scary and amazing at the same time! At one point, I had a meeting with the one Cape Cobra as it decided it wanted to introduce itself across my path. Bird life is incredible, having had an opportunity to see the Fish eagle and our countries National bird. Overall, you can expect to be greeted with a vast range of wild life. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales, as whale season ended in August/October.

What to eat

What made this hike even more enjoyable was that your food and clothes were transported to each hut which made exploring nature just that much easier and exciting as you only carry your day pack. When it comes to food, avoid things that needs refrigeration, so preparation is key, as only the first hut had a fridge available.

Make sure you carefully plan your meals and snacks, these are essential for keeping your energy levels up while hiking.

Snacks

I wanted quick and easy snacks to keep me going throughout the hike which included:

  • A energy bar e.g. fututrelife lite – make sure that the sugar content is low
  • Nut butter/ nuts/ trail mix
  • 1-2 fruits (I always had fruit in my bag, I love my fruit and would always start off with a fruit)
  • Handful of mints
  • Biltong

Breakfast

  • Keep breakfast simple, you could have eggs, however I preferred a bowl of cooked oats topped with dried cranberries. This breakfast was quick, easy and kept me going for a couple hours.

Lunch/Dinner

  • I decided that the easiest thing to do was braai and have leftovers for lunch, which worked out quite well and saved a lot of time, this included:
    • Boiled baby potatoes and corn on the cob
    • Salad that was easy to travel with e.g. cucumber, cherry tomatoes, gherkins and onion etc.
    • And a variation of protein e.g. mostly chicken and some red meat, I prepacked the protein into vacuum sealed bags (this is key as your meat can go off by day 4-5) and kept it frozen in a mini cooler box that fitted in our portage.

I love my beans and fish, so it was a bit of a struggle having chicken and red meat everyday, so I quickly started craving fish. I promised myself to enjoy some lovely sashimi after and I have been eating fish everyday since!

What to pack

I found a check list to be quite helpful, as space is limited and you don’t want to forget your most important items:

  • Bed sheet
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Binoculars
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Matches
  • Torch
  • Hats
  • Sandals
  • Washing liquid and dish clothes + cutlery (it was provided
    but I packed in just in case)
  • Mosquito repellent or cream
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper (this was provided)
  • Small medical kit
  • Water boots
  • Clothes
  • Sunscreen (preferably higher than SPF 20)

MORE TIPS…

1.Use Ziplock bags

Pack dry food, like oats or trail mix, into ziplock bags. Ziplock bags work well and can double up as trash bags afterwards.2. Wear a hat

2. Wear a hat

It is important to bring a hat to keep your ears and face protected from the sun. The tops of your ears and back of your neck are highly susceptible to getting burned while on the trail, so either get some sunscreen and or wear a hat that keeps them covered, I used both.

3. Sunscreen

If it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely burned.  Get yourself some waterproof sunscreen (I recommend SPF 50) to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.

4. Sunglasses

Sunglasses is a MUST, I used polarized sunglasses.

5. Cellphone

I would suggest you pack your phone away and enjoy nature, there is limited reception throughout the trail, so all we used our phones for was taking beautiful pictures of the scenery, also there is limited space to charge your phone at each hut depending on your group size. I would suggest bringing along a power bank if you have one.

6. Keep hydrated

Always make sure you are keeping well hydrated, we went through 2-3L water while hiking, we were lucky to have great sunny weather but you sweat a lot in this warm weather. Its a good idea to add re-hydrate to one of your water bottles to replenish your electrolytes.

Skinny Legs café – yes please!

I’m sure by now you have noticed that we have been on some what of a hunt to find delicious (and healthy) spots in the City Bowl area. Well… delicious we have found. Skinny Legs cafe – a luxury cafe and we know why. This gem in lower Loop Street opens at 7 am making it the perfect pit stop on the way to work. What had us coming back for more you ask?

Make everyday great with one of these dishes:

  • Coconut Quinoa – there is already a dish called ‘Porridge of the Gods’ but this one has to be a close second. Vegan and gluten free!
  • Buckwheat pancakes – another gluten free treasure with minted pea puree, creamed feta and rose harisa.
  • Gluten Free Lentil Salad with smoked trout, a poached egg and saffron aioli. A high protein and omega 3 powerhouse.

The sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere makes you want to linger just a little longer every time. Boost your breakfast or lunch by adding a freshly squeezed juice or green smoothie. View their menu here or have a look at their magnificent Instagram page: skinnylegscafe

 

Nutrition Week 2017 #RethinkYourDrink

The theme for Nutrition Week 2017 is # Rethinkyourdrink – choose water! Sounds so simple, so easy. It is. Water is a crucial part of overall health and most people don’t get in enough on a daily basis. Instead, everyone is opting for ice teas, carbonated drinks, alcohol or warm delights like tea and coffee.

The concept for this years theme is to make you more aware of what you are actually drinking. So not to scare you off, but I have listed a couple of facts that might make you #Rethinkyourdrink now!

The number of teaspoons of sugar in 500ml of:

  • Carbonated drinks – 15 teaspoons (58.8g)
  • Energy drinks – 14 teaspoons (56g)
  • Fruit juice – 13 teaspoons (53.8g)
  • Sweetened flavoured milk drinks – 10 teaspoons (41.8g)
  • Sweetened ice tea – 9 teaspoons (37.8g)
  • Sports drinks – 7 teaspoons (27.1g)
  • Flavoured water – 6 teaspoons (24g)

The high sugar content is something to fear. Studies have shown that adults who drink two or more sugary drinks a day increased the risk of developing diabetes by at least 24%.

5 Tips to increase water intake:

  1. Always keep a water bottle with you
  2. Drink a glass of water before you brush your teeth in the morning and evening
  3. Create habits, for example, drink a glass of water with every meal
  4. Flavour your water with mint, lemon, rosemary, strawberries or cucumber
  5. Set reminders on your phone to drink water every 2 hours throughout the day

Equip yourself with knowledge. Read food labels to identify the amount of sugar in your drinks. Look for various forms of added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar and sucrose.

A good goal heading into the Summer months: #Rethinkyourdrink and remember that water is a scarce resource, be careful not to waste.

 

Fill up at Hungry Herbivore

Vegetarian? Vegan? Super health conscious?

We are well aware that around every street corner there is a new cafe or restaurant flaunting their freshly baked sourdough and croissants. It can be enticing and simply turning in the opposite direction isn’t always the easiest. To all our hungry clients in and around the Bree street area, we’d like to introduce you to – if you haven’t already heard of them – Hungry Herbivore.

We decided to give it a try and let’s just say that smashed avo on toast has never tasted so good! The menu offers everything from all-day breakie (always a plus in my books) to protein deluxe bowls and an array of nutritious smoothies.

Our personal favourites?

  • The Zesty Green smoothie – spinach, banana, spirulina, dates, lemon and soy milk (with the option to substitute for almond milk)
  • The Protein Deluxe Bowl – tofu, quinoa, corn, broccoli, beans and avo (uhhm yummy!)
  • Oh -sweet- Kim Burger – sweet potato, quinoa, kimchi and lentil patty

Yes to fermented foods and green smoothie goodness! They also have a secret menu so don’t forget to ask your waitron. Located in Orphan Street, City Centre. Have a look at the menu (beware: salivating may occur)

 

Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring is in the air! Can you feel it?

If Winter did some damage (it happens to the best of us), and your exercise regime is almost non-existent, give these 10 Spring tips a go. No juice cleanses, restrictions or fasts – just good, healthy eating to break those nasty Winter habits so you can get back to feeling energetic and happy.

 

  1. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier – if you managed to wake up at 5am throughout Winter to fit in your 30 minutes of activity for the day, we salute you. For those who woke up when the sun made an appearance, try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier to get into a good routine.
  2. Give caffeine the boot – limit yourself to 2 cups of coffee daily and instead of the 3rd and 4th (and sometimes 5th) cup of coffee, drink a glass of water. If water seems like the most unappetizing drink to opt for, try herbal teas or add cucumber, rosemary and strawberries to your bottle of water for a bit of flavour.
  3. Spruce up your pantry – no need for heavy, hearty meals. Ensure your kitchen is stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains such as oats, bulgar wheat, rice noodles and quinoa, fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat and all the herbs and flavours of spring. We love grapefruit, pineapple, coconut and alllll the greens.
  4. Say no to sugar – it’s time to break the habit of tea and rusks, sugar-laden cereals, pastries and the frequent chocolate. Get in healthy sugars from fruit instead – your gut will thank you.
  5. Put a spring in your step – aim to get in some form of exercise at least 4 times a week. Gym, walking, hiking, or yoga… just get active and moving.
  6. Greens, greens, greens – a change in season usually means a stubborn flu is making the rounds. Load up on all your greens to ensure you are getting in all the immune boosting vitamins and minerals. Spring is also the time to get sprouting. Sprouts (broccoli sprouts specifically) are fantastic in helping your body to naturally detox itself.
  7. Load up on anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods – fighting off infection, eliminating bloating, decreasing oxidative stress. There is no reason to not be getting in these superhero foods. Include in your spring diet: cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, olives, walnuts, almonds, avocados, herbs and spices (turmeric, ginger, rosemary, cayenne pepper), garlic, spinach, kale, bok choy (all collard greens), tomatoes, beetroot, cacao, berries, prunes, raisins, apples, plums, oranges, red grapes, alfafa sprouts, red pepper and aubergine.
  8. Go meat-free Monday – start your week off right by opting for bean, peas, protein-rich grains or an egg-based lunch and dinner. This sets your week off right and gets you going for the week ahead. Try combining different beans, peas and grains to ensure you are getting in all the important amino acids that your body needs.
  9. Be mindful – listen to your body. Some days you need an extra green juice or a power nap. Be in tune with what your body is telling you. Rest when tired. Stop eating when you’re full.
  10. Take in your surroundings – be outside. Go for walks, hikes or picnics. Getting in a healthy dose of Vitamin D will work wonders for your energy levels.

Feel Good this Spring

“Asian inspired beef stirfry with egg noodles”

“Deconstructed Mexican Bowl”

“Chicken meatballs with arrabiata sauce and zucchini noodles”

 

Sound delicious? These recipes are GLUTEN, LACTOSE and SUGAR free, and all feature in Stage 1 of our 4 Week Health Program. Eliminate the toxins and boost your mind and body in 4 weeks starting with ELIMINATION then DETOX, BOOST and lastly INTEGRATION.

Find out more: http://alexroyaldiet.co.za/eliminate-detox-boost-join-4-week-health-program-now

The 4 Week Health Program is now on SALE for R1199.00

Five uses for your trusty blender

Has your blender made its way to the back of the cupboard because the idea of making a smoothie in this chilly Winter puts you off ? Dust the handy appliance off ASAP. Here are 5 fantastic uses for your trusty blender.

Homemade Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 200g tinned chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (or more)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until combined. If not fully blended, scrape down the sides and blend again. Season to taste.

Thai Green Curry Paste

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 medium green chillies, deseeded
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • 1 lime, grated zest and juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend to make a paste. If not fully blended, scrape down the sides and blend again.

Basil Pesto (or any pesto)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1-2 cups fresh basil, washed
  • 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Place the pine nuts, basil, garlic and parmesan in a blender and process until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin steady stream until well combined.

Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat yoghurt/coconut cream

Method:

  1. Place the halved tomatoes, quartered onions, and garlic cloves into a large bowl and add the oil. Season well with salt and pepper, and stir well to coat. Pour the oiled and seasoned vegetables onto a baking tray, and roast at 180C for about 30 minutes.
  2. Set the roasted vegetables aside for 15 minutes to cool and then place the veggies into your blender.
  3. Once the soup is blended, add the yoghurt/coconut cream and, salt and pepper to taste. If you are serving the soup immediately – pour the soup into a pot and heat on the stove top for 5 minutes.

Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  •  1 cup basil leaves
  •  1 garlic clove, chopped
  •  2 teaspoons capers, drained
  •  1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 lemon, juiced
  •  Salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Place parsley, basil, garlic and capers in a blender. Process until finely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, add oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to parsley mixture. Blend until well combined. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Blenders are so versatile. From the above mentioned recipes to the humble pancake, frothy lattes or simply grinding flaxseeds – there should be no reason to ever push your blender to the back of your cupboard.

 

 

Eliminate. Detox. Boost.

Improve your health, body, work productivity, mood, and energy levels this winter by joining our 4 Week Health Program. Each week marks a different stage that is important for your health:

The 4 Week Health Program includes:

  • A healthy eating program divided into 4 stages.
  • We will see you each week at the start of a new stage
    • An initial consult (body composition assessment and diet explanation)
    • 3 follow up consults
  • Our ‘Dietitian’s Guide to Clean Eating’ e-book for FREE
  • An exercise regime specifically designed for the program incorporating high intensity training, conditioning and yoga*
*The 4 Week Health Program is R1440 (excl supplements and exercise regime)

The low-down on Depression and Diet

April is here and the month of April features not only Easter, but also World Health Day. The theme this year for World Health Day, which falls on Friday the 7th, is Depression. So without dampening the mood of Easter and the hype of long weekends, quality family time and delicious foods, I thought it best to give you the low down on diet and depression.

Depression is a topic most people shy away from but knowing the cold, hard facts can only be beneficial. The more you know, the easier it becomes to understand and once you’ve mastered the skills of understanding depression, you’ll realise in actual fact, it cannot be understood but there are actions we can take to lessen the risk of suffering from depression.

The World Health Organisation has a wonderful factsheet that gives information on the types of depression, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Worth a read.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

I am no expert in the field of depression itself, so I am going to stay within my area of expertise and speak about the relationship between diet and depression. A diet rich in the following nutrients has been proven to decrease the risk of depression.

Anti-oxidants: A good balance between oxidative stress and antioxidants is very important. Inflammation and oxidative stress are major contributors in the pathogenesis of depression. When I refer to anti-oxidants I mean vitamin E, vitamin C, Beta carotene and selenium (amongst others). Foods high in these antioxidants include: Pumpkin, apricots, mangoes, carrots, spinach, parsley, seafood, lean meat, whole grains, oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, peppers, vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Folate (also called 5-MTHF): Folate is crucial to synthesise the neurotransmitters—dopamine, noradrenalin, and serotonin—all of which have antidepressant effects. So, without enough of the 5-MTHF form of folate, serotonin levels decrease in the brain, contributing to depression. Folate-rich foods include: eggs and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D modulates the part of the brain which regulates adrenalin, noradrenaline and dopamine production. Vitamin D protects against the depletion of dopamine and serotonin centrally. Simply speaking, low vitamin D levels can be a contributing factor to depression. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, liver and egg yolks (not forgetting sun exposure).

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is then converted into serotonin. So, tryptophan and 5-HTP both act as precursors to the production of serotonin in the brain. As you can already tell, it is very important to include this amino acid in your diet. Foods containing tryptophan are: turkey, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Omega 3: People with depression may have low blood levels of brain chemicals called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which play an important role in brain function. Food sources of Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) are: sardines, salmon, herring, trout and tuna.

5 Eating tips to brighten your day

  1. Include folate rich foods daily: foods containing folate are amongst others eggs and leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard etc
  2. Get your dose of vitamin D: monitoring the amount of time you spend outdoors is important, but also make sure to get in enough eggs and fatty fish.
  3. Protein, protein, protein: we already mentioned the very important tryptophan. Aim to have protein at every meal and remember to incorporate plant-based proteins (lentils, beans, quinoa, soya) into your diet too.
  4. Variety is key: eating a variety of foods ensures you are getting in all the very important micronutrients, amino acids and trace minerals.
  5. Enjoy your food: eating can boost your mood, not in the obvious physiological response, but in the enjoyment of taking 30 minutes down time, or enjoying the company of a friend or family member so sit, chew, relax and be grateful for all the positives in your life.

Not quite food related, but advice none-the-less. Remember how important it is to get 7-8 hours of sleep every day, to rest and recuperate on weekends, to spend quality time with loved ones and last but not least, to take some “me-time”.

Raspberry & Lemon Mini Vegan Cheesecakes

Ingredients for the base:

  • 3/4 cups almonds
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/8 cup organic, naturally sweetened dried cranberries* (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1-3 tablespoons of water

Ingredients for the cheesecake filling:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, previously soaked
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • juice of 1 organic lemon + zest**
  • 1/2 cup pure light maple syrup
  • + fresh organic raspberries and extra lemon zest for plating

 

Method:

 

  1. Make the crust first: In a food processor, pulse all the almonds until a fine grind forms. (While it’s mixing you can pick the dates or prepare the other ingredients). Add in the dates and cranberries (if using), and pinch of salt. Continue mixing and check with your fingers if the mixture sticks in your fingers. (Be sure to turn off the mixer each time you check, and always form a habit of scooping with a spoon first!) If it’s too dry, add in water one tablespoon at a time. Mix again, check again. Once it sticks together and still falls off your fingers – it’s perfect.
  1. Using a cupcake pan preferable a silicone one, press the mixture into the bottom evenly and set aside.
  1. To make the filling: Soak the cashews for 1 hour in hot water at room temperature or overnight (6-8 hrs) in the fridge, strain well. Add all the ingredients into a clean food processor again: cashews, warm but not hot coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, water. Mix on high for about 5 minutes until a very smooth mixture forms.
  1. Pour over the bases in the cupcake pan. Tap the pan gently to let it settle. Place straight into the freezer for about 1-2 hours before serving. These defrost in just about 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator, and much faster at room temperature so give them enough time to defrost slightly before serving. Top with fresh raspberries, lemon zest and mint leaves to serve. Enjoy!
  1. (If you want to keep them frozen for longer and just have them ready whenever the occasion calls for a great impromptu dessert. Simply freeze for 1-2 hours, then be sure to wrap the pan with plastic wrap as tight as possible and return to the freezer for up to 1 month.)
  1. If using cranberries, keep an eye on the ingredients as they could be artificially sweetened and coloured and have lots of sulphites. I used organic cranberries that are sweetened with grape juice. I find they compliment the taste of the lemon and raspberries really well. Don’t have them on hand? Simply add 3 extra dates to the base recipe.