Monday, 16 February 2015

Raw Cacao Bliss Balls & Raw Cacao Brownie

There's a lot of hype around raw chocolate (Cacao) at the moment. So I thought why not give it whirl, as I love chocolate & if I can make a healthier option then why not try!
Ill be honest I bought the cacao powder from Holland & Barrett months ago and its just sat in my cupboard as I wasn't 100% sure what to do with it. Till I finally took to good old trustworthy Google and Pinterest to get some recipe ideas.
First recipe I tried was for the Raw Cacao Bliss Balls, probably the most simple & easiest things I've ever made! So do not ne afraid. They only have 6 ingredients and no baking is involved.
I then made the Raw Cacao Brownie which is even more simple which has all of 4 ingredient and again no baking.
Cacao Benefits:
  1. Can lower blood pressure
  2. Improve digestion
  3. Known to enhance physical & mental well-being
  4. It is a huge antioxidant
  5. Its an aphrodisiac
  6. The best one of all it is pretty much guilt free (in moderation of course)
So there are just a few reasons why Cacao is good for you, with it being raw & completely untouched.

Below are the recipes for both.

Cacao Bliss Balls
  • 1 cup of cashews blended until smooth (or cheat and but cashew nut butter)
  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 8 pitted medjool dates
  • 2 table spoons of raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup of desiccated coconut (for coating)
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts (for coating)  
  • Place all of the ingredients in the blender (except the coconut & chopped nuts) mix well until smooth
  • Use your hands to roll the mixture in to small balls
  • Pour the coconut & chopped nuts on to a chopping board and roll each of the balls until coated
  • place on baking tray and pop in fridge till hard
These will keep for around 2 weeks
Raw Brownie
  • 1 1/3 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • In a food processor, process 1 cup of the walnuts and the almonds until they are nearly at a crumbly consistency.
  • Add in the cacao powder and process till well combined
  • Add the dates a couple at a time and continue to blitz until the mixture is sticky and holds together
  • If the mixture is a little dry or crumbly, add a few tablespoons of water.
  • Press mixture into tin/baking dish lined with baking paper.
  • Chop left over walnuts roughly
  • Place the chopped walnuts on top of the brownie & push them in slightly
  • Place into fridge for 2-3 hours
  • If you cannot wait that long, place into freezer for at least 1 hour.
As you can see, I put dried fruits & desiccated coconut on top of my brownie as well.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Let me know if you try any of these recipes  :)
Enjoy x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Panic Attacks & Anxiety

Well, what a subject this is! I think we either suffer with it, have a family member or friend that suffers. We all know someone these days that suffers with panic attacks or anxiety of any form.

My Story goes,

In 2012 I started suffering for panic attacks, they started off very small when I was in busy environments, like a small feeling in my chest & my heart felt weird, my body felt strange then I would feel okay. I completely ignored this as I wasn't sure what it was. Then later on in the year I was on a motorway and I started to feel very weird, my eyes went funny, heart palpitations, tight chest, felt like I couldn't breath. Which wasn't safe as I was on a busy motorway. Luckily I was with a friend, she managed to keep talking to me and try and keep me calm. We pulled over off the motorway and I had to get my mum and sister to come and meet us and drive my car home. Ever since that day life has never been the same for me. 

The panic attacks got worse where I was having 10-15 panic attacks a day. I got signed off work & eventually had to leave work altogether. I became scared of the outside world & wouldn't leave the house let alone my bed. I was so scared and confused I really didn't understand what was happening to me or what was going on inside my body until I went to the doctor. He diagnosed me with Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia. He also prescribed me with anti-depressants on a high dosage & diazepam. 

Once I had been diagnosed a part of me felt better as I could now research what it was, have more of an understanding & work towards getting better. I took the anti-depressants he prescribed to me, I was so desperate to feel normal again I didn't even research them, I took them & I had the worst side effects for 2 weeks. I felt so incredibly rough, I went back to the doctors and told him what was happening to me, he told me this was normal & just be persistent. The side effects passed in time. I still had such bad anxiety & panic attacks I was getting so frustrated as I thought the tablets were going to stop it all & make life easy again. Turns out they didn't do that.

As time went on, the panic attacks eased up & I wasn't having 15 panic attacks a day any more, I was able to leave the house again. I started to feel a little bit more like me again which was such a nice feeling, Although I couldn't do all the things I could once do like be a normal 22 year old & go out to a bar with my friends or go shopping. Even going to the supermarket was hard for me, I really had to work hard to get my self in to the shops etc.

I started having counselling over the phone (CBT Therapy) I really didn't enjoy that approach. I found it hard to connect with the councillor & in the end I stopped using the service because I just felt it wasn't helpful for me. I then started having face to face counselling. I found this incredibly helpful and I loved the lady I saw! She really put things in to perspective for me & made me realise I'm completely normal and this was just a phase in my life and it wasn't going to be forever. She taught me ways to deal with my anxiety. Techniques and ways of thinking which helped. I would 100% advise anybody to see a councillor panic attacks or no panic attacks!

Its now 2015 & I have my panic attacks and anxiety under much better control. I mean don't get me wrong the anxiety still tries to visit me most days but now I've learnt to shoo it away. I still cant do things like get on a plane etc but I know in time I will be able to. It all takes its time and you have to be patient. I am still on the anti-depressant but 25mg instead of 100mg and slowly but surely I will no longer be on them. I also still have counselling and still find it so helpful.

I wanted to write this post as mental health is such an unspoken about subject and a lot of people just seem to brush it under the rug! I think talk about it, get it out there, engage with others about it. Once one person stands up and speaks, others will & you never know how much you help another person just by being honest & speaking about your own experience.

My family, friends & boyfriend have been absolutely incredible the whole way through. I cannot thank them enough <3