Friday, 31 August 2012

Can I have another piece of chocolate cake? by Karen Varga

 It’s Friday evening and I head round to my mates to watch a movie.  They order pizza for dinner, and the beers have already been cracked open.  Hmm, simple carbs, starch, melted cheese and saturated fat.  The little goodness my pizza does offer, in the way of 4 thin slices of green pepper and olives, has been grilled to a crisp and soaked in melted cheese.   Everybody digs into their pizza with great gusto and I wonder if I’m the only person in the room thinking these thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a treat like pizza, fish ‘n chips and Ben & Jerry’s every now and again, but the point is that it is a treat, and when I have it I am conscious of the little good it’s doing my body.  It’s not even about keeping trim, although that does play a part, but mostly about giving my body the right things it needs to keep it healthy and happy.  

I recently read a book called “Foods That Fight Cancer”, and besides teaching me about the way in which some foods, or the particular molecules and substances in the foods, can actually help to prevent or halt the progression of certain cancers, it enlightened me as to the value of good food.  When we’re kids we were told “eat your carrots, they help you to see in the dark”, but as adults we almost seem to have forgotten those lessons, or think they don’t apply to us anymore.  There is a lot of focus on vitamins and minerals, and so many of us take substitute pills for these and feel that we’ve ticked all the right boxes.  But there is so much more that fruit and vegetables provide that a pill cannot.  

My new mindset is along the eastern attitude to eating which is that you eat for health, opposed to the western approach of eating purely for pleasure and fuel.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t have the occasional naughty McDs or a fat slice of chocolate cake, but I’ve changed my diet to include so many more vegetables and fruit, complex carbs (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potato) and good fats (e.g. nuts, olive oil, avocado).  

An Olympic athlete takes their diet seriously, they ensure that before, during and after a training session they are giving their body everything it needs to recover, adapt and be ready for the next training session.  However the general mentalities of climbers tends to be quite the opposite – push your body to great limits, but eat whatever you can get your chalky hands on.  We expect so much from our bodies, and complain volubly when things go wrong, but we don’t think about giving back to our bodies!

It often comes down to education and advertising, for instance the belief that a bowl of pasta is a healthy meal.  Sorry to be a bubble burster, but unfortunately the pasta we buy in the supermarket today contains little in the way of health – it’s predominantly made up of refined white flour that contains almost no dietary goodness; it’s high GI, which results in a steep rise in insulin with the ultimate effect of increased fat storage.  A much better alternative would be brown rice, or if you really love your pasta then at least get brown pasta.  

The main point I’m making is that considering how much we push and demand performance from our bodies, it’s worth making the effort to ensure that you’re putting the right things back in!
So on that note, here’s an awesome banana loaf recipe that I’ve come up with, taking bits from a number of different recipes and changing the ingredients to suit what I wanted.  It’s mostly made of bananas, got no added fat or sugar, but to give it that little something special I add dark chocolate chips (60% cocoa).  It’s super easy to make, and I have a number of friends who can vouch for its extreme deliciousness!

Karen’s Super Banana Loaf

  • 6 medium / 5 large bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon bicarb of soda
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Mash the bananas.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it up.  Grease your banana loaf dish and pour the mixture in.  Bake at 160° Celsius for 80 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Karen, totally with you on advocating good food, partly for general health and partly to replenish your body after training. You should try making chocolate and beetroot cake - maybe not quite as healthy as your banana loaf but you barely need any fat cos the beetroot gives it a really delish fudgyness and it just tastes amazing! Bit sugary but perfect for a mid-climb blood-sugar boost!

    Nice work.
    Mike G