Get rid of some superfoods put them in a traditional Australian biscuit

Today is ANZAC day. With ANZAC day, comes ANZAC biscuits, among other things.

Read about the other things here, they are important (but not to this recipe).

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Fig. 1. Fresh out of the oven.

The ANZAC biscuit I remember was rock hard and sweet. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There is a long tradition associated with the humble ANZAC. Wives and girlfriends made these biscuits to send to them to their loved ones in WWI, they needed to be rock hard and full of sugar to withstand the long transportation times.

I made ANZAC biscuits today, not because I’m a wife or girlfriend of a soldier. But because I felt unusually patriotic…And had some random amounts superfoods to get rid of, oats and chia.

These days, we don’t need to send them anywhere, so they don’t have to be full of sugar, or rock hard. You can adapt the traditional recipe, make it however you like.

I like mine, not like they’ll last 100 years, and a little more nutritionally acceptable than the traditional kind. You can make them vegan, low-fat, low sugar, gluten-free, add ingredients, subtract ingredients and make them as hipster as you like.
Hipster ANZAC biscuits

Start here by getting together your ingredients.

90-100g low-fat faux butter. I used nuttalex.
3 huge tbs blobs of golden syrup. In Woolworths it is located in the baking isle…and apparently not the same as Maple Syrup.
3/4 tea spoon of bicarb soda
1 tbs hot water. Nan tells me hot water works best
1 cup rolled oats. Gluten free option use quinoa flakes (credit: Jo Hogan, Healthy Cyclist)
1/4 cup chia seeds – or there abouts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, loose

Make them by:

Weighing the faux fat out and place it in a something that will allow you to melt the fat. I got some radiation poisoning and put mine in the microwave. But before you turn iridescent green, blob the golden syrup into chosen receptacle. Microwave till it is runny. Get the sugar and add it. Get the water and bicarb and put it together in something so that it is dissolved. Add it to the radiating sugar – fat mixture.

Get all the dry ingredients and put it in a mixing bowl. Mix together. Get your sugar – fat mix and add it to the dry. Mix. Put the oven on to 180 degrees.

Once combined, get the dough and spoon out balls and put them on a lined baking tray. Lined because you don’t want the biscuits to stick. But if you would rather save a tree, just lightly oil a tray – like I do.

Biscuits now go in the oven. I don’t know for how long, just check them every now and again (refer Fig. 1.). If they’re black, you’ve gone too long. If you are bad at baking, like me. Stay next to the oven. Don’t go and clean your bike. Because charcoal, although good for cleaning teeth, also gives you cancer. Not great.

Turn the kettle on, get a tea bag put it in a cup. Or get your moka, fill it with coffee and put it on the stovetop.

Brown? Get them out, wait for them to cool, or don’t.

Put the water from the kettle into the cup. Steep. Make it how you like. Or do your coffee thing…see Fig. 2.

Get a biscuit or two and eat it, it will change your life.  Enjoy the superfoood benefits of Omega 3, cholesterol lowering fibre and protein, your body will thank you for sure. And your hipster friends will be impressed with your mad baking skills, if you choose to share them.

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Fig. 2. Serving suggestion.

So, was it the juice?

Beetroot face

As I’ve mentioned earlier (here) BRJ is known to reduce the oxygen cost of excercise and improve high-intensity excercise tolerance – perfect for cyclists, particularly climbers or TT’s.

One body of research says that dietary supplementation with a single 0.5-L dose of nitrate-rich BRJ improved 4- and 16.1-km TT performance in trained cyclists. 2.8% improvement in 4km TT and 2.7% improvement in 16.1km TT, 7-11% improvement in power output with no increase in oxygen cost of excercise, which means an increase in oxygen economy. Plasma nitrite was significantly increased 2.5 h after BRJ supplementation, and blood pressure was reduced, consistent with an increased nitrate bioavailability within the blood.

Blah blah…The results indicate that acute dietary nitrate supplementation with beetroot juice may lead to a significant and practically meaningful enhancement of 4- and 16.1-km TT performance in subelite cyclists (Lansley et al 2011).

So…In the lead up to the Mansfield Crit and Mt Buller Road Race I was suffering from accute Beeturia. No, nothing was wrong with me! Beeturia is a symptom of eating a lot of beetroot, it turns your pee red or pink. Hence beet-uria.

Why… Because I had started some serous beetrootdoping. All in an attempt to get those 2% increases in my own cycling performance (what a wank) #beetrootbonanza. I was going to test it for myself, or try to.

I needed to be at my nitrate prime to fend off fatigue and get my body using oxygen the most efficiently. Remember I’m still frightfully anaemic, so my oxygen is not being transported efficiently to start off with (thats another story)… The weekends racing was going to be hard, energy efficiency key (not solar power) to sprint around a hot-dog-on-roids style crit course and back it up by racing up a mountain, Mt Buller.

So how did I beetrootdope?

Well I almost turned into a beetroot that’s how.

I drank huge amounts of beetroot juice, beetroot shots, cooked it, ate it raw, had it in sandwiches… The more beetroot the more nitrates – the better, the better high-intensity excercise tolerance! I knew I was on the right track when the beeturia set in!

So, the Question: Did beetroot actually improve my cycling performance?

Well judging my results on the weekend, and on face value, I did quite well… and maybe, yes, it did increase my performance?

The results…

The crit = 4th B Grade

Nutrition

Normal day, racing at 3pm. Drank beetroot juice throughout the day.
1 gel, 15 mins before race start

How I felt in the race?
Good 8/10. Was able to keep up with the pace, stick close to the front, bridge gaps when we strung out, sprinted well. My heart-felt good, kept breathing under control and was not panicked. Lost points for not going faster in the bell lap. Was it the legs, bad gearing?

The RR = 1st C Grade

Nutrition
Normal breakfast at 7:30am- banana, muesli and yoghurt, cup of tea, 1/2 cup of beetroot juice with 1/2 cup ginger, orange and apple juice
A couple of Gu Chews on start line (they’re gross, never again), 9:30 ish
1 hr into race, 1 gel guarana-caffinated
Mid Climb 1.5/2 hrs into climb, 1 gel guarana-caffinated

How I felt in the race?

Out 6/10, climb 9/10. Struggled on the way out to the base of buller. Legs were sore, knees were sore, was working really hard. Mind was playing games on me, telling me to give up. I could have been struggling because it was really windy and we as a peloton were really strung out? The climb was good. I kept a constant tempo, was able to accelerate on the false flats, get out of the saddle comfortably. There were a few instances of panic breathing wise, from lack of concentration I think. Was able to get out of the saddle for the last pinchy 500m and accelerate hard.

Now the question is, was it actually the beetroot juice that did it for me?

The realistic answer is probably no. Though I did feel good on the bike the whole weekend.

There were plenty of things wrong with my ad hoc test. This is where my science brain takes over.

So without using a proper method and measured results, who knows? My feeling good means nothing. It could have been environmental factors.

I know better. Did 4 years Batchelor of Science. I know all about proper scientific method for testing: remember BACI from High School science class? Before, After, Control, Impact…blah…snooze…

Did I measure the before? No because I have never done a hot-dog or weird shape crit before, never raced the Mt Buller RR. So I have nothing really to compare my performance too…
Did I measure the after?Yes, 4th and 1st. After is a given…
Did the impact change? It could have, yes, because I won, was top 4… But no comparison…
Did I have a control? No.

Yep well I did not follow any scientific method in my beetroot madness. Something something ANOVA, something something t-test, statistic…. Oh yeah, that old statistics chestnut.

Anyway… I sabotaged my own test from the start… because, I got on the gels as well. Gels work in a slightly different capacity than the idea of building up the bodies nitrates through beetroot doping. But fundamentally gels give the boost of energy required for a short period of time. For example popping a gel 15 mins before the climb would have given me energy for 45mins or so. Then I would pop another to get me through to the end.

Beetroot may have increased my oxygen efficiency, maybe there was a 2% increase in performance. My oxygen was probably transported around more efficiently, my muscles were firing well…

But, who knows. Not being anaemic might help me too. Yeah, better get on to that.

So, it was probably the gels that got me through the weekends racing to be honest. And there is plenty of research on gels to verify…normal ones, caffeinated ones and guarana ones, doubles, triples, sugar free, extra carb…look it up yourself.

Hmm, is there a relationship between nitrates and lactic build up…I better get researching.

So. In conclusion, there is none…

Cram beetroot wherever you can. Beetroot juice goes well mixed with apple, orange and ginger juice (from Safeway). It goes well in salads, roasts, eat like an apple. Have the shots, dilute the shots, put them in a smoothie/juice them, have it, or don’t.

Have some gels too and do some bike riding.

So, was it the juice? I’m undecided … MAYBE IT WAS THE PLACEBO EFFECT?!

Ref: Lansley et al (2011) Lansley KI, Winyard PG, Bailey SJ, Vanhatalo A, Wilkerson DP, Blackwell JR, Gilchrist M, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011 43: 1125-1131.

Refer to my previous post about Beetroot Juice (BRJ) here.

I don’t bake, but this is one exception: Beetroot and Chocolate Cake

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Beetroot & Chocolate Cake
– or cupcakes…whatever is easiest to pour your batter into.
(makes one cake or about 24 cupcakes)

So….I hate baking, I really do. I hate catering for dietary requirements, even my own (I’m a no seafood, no fun vego). I hate the mess and the fiddling around with utensils. But I love chocolate. I love beetroot. And I love cleaning obsessively. If I sound like you, then try this cake.

Your hipster or super healthy or dietary restricted friends/colleagues will appreciate that this cake is full of “superfoods” (google them, they’re not surprising), is healthy and is incredibly delicious (I appreciate the deliciousness the most). It is also almost vegan… and dairy free.. and is/can be gluten free (make sure you buy gluten free products – I will not take blame if your gluten free friend/colleague gets sick and die).

So start here.

I don’t have these ingredients laying about – so I drag myself to the market to get almond meal (it’s way cheaper) and beetroots. Drag yourself there, it is so worth saving $2.50.

Cake Ingredients

  • 100g Dark Chocolate. I like Lindt.
  • 3 medium Eggs. Or whatever eggs you have. Flaxseed egg substitute also works- google the recipe I can’t be bothered typing it (it will be another post)…
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 220 ml Olive Oil. Other oils are fine, I’m sure.
  • 300 g Cooked beetroots (see method below for how to cook the beetroots because they are hard to cook)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 30 g ish (1 tbs ish) Cocoa Powder (you can pobably omit this and put in more cholcolate)
  • 300 g Almond meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (or gluten free baking powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (just use salt, don’t waste your 1/4 teaspoon of expensive hymalayan salt, no one will notice/care)

Method

  • Pre heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • To cook the beetroots, peel and place in a pot full of cold water. Bring pot to the boil and cook the beetroots until soft when poked with a knife.
  • When cooked, run the beetroots under cold water in the sink. For cooling reasons.
  • Blend or mash the beetroots until slightly smooth. I use a stick mixer. Messy, but fun. Don’t wear white.
  • Melt the chocolate (100 g) over a double boiler or in microwave.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs (or substitute), sugar and oil.
  • Slowly add the cooked beetroot puree, the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture.
  • Beat just until combined. Don’t over work the mix.
  • Sift the cocoa into the almond meal (or plain flour), baking soda and salt, and then add to the beetroot batter.
  • Fold just until everything is combined. Did I mention not to over mix the batter?
  • Butter/greese or so something to prevent sticking and line a 10 inch cake tin. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin.
  • Bake for approximately 50 minutes. This is just a guide. You might need to poke it a few times.
  • The cake is ready when a tooth pick or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool in the pan.
  • It will be moist. So don’t think you’ve done something wrong. Unless it is runny. Then you have and put it back in the oven.

Make the icing while the cake is in the oven:

Ingredients for the cream cheese icing

Note: To make vegan,  just use plain old boring icing sugar, or use a substitute like Tofuttibetter than cream cheese“, or google a vegan icing recipe. But if you are vegan and reading this you, probably know what you are doing…and don’t need me. I love cheese too much to be vegan, so I make the cream cheese, cheese version

  • 1 cup cream (omit for vegan version, you know, right!)
  • 1 cup of Cream Cheese
  • ½ cup Icing Sugar or honey (they have different textures, so maybe try one once, then one another time and test the best. I prefer icing sugar)
  • 1 plain chocolate bar for chocolate shaving decorations, two if you have the tendency to eat it on the way home from the supermarket.

Method:

  • Place the cream in a bowl and whip to soft peaks.
  • Add the icing sugar and cream cheese and beat until combined (Add more or less sugar as you want, care). Put the icing aside.
  • Using a potato peeler, hold the chocolate bar in one hand and use the peeler to shave off curls of chocolate. The more time you take, the fancier the curls will look. If your hands are hot, the chocolate will melt and you will end up with chocolate on everything!
  • Now ice the cake like a you are a pastry chef, then sprinkle the shavings on top of the cake to make all pro looking.
  • You want the cake to be decorated in a manner that your friends/colleagues will be truly impressed with your magazine quality cake, they’ll think that you put in soooo much effort, and will never ask you to do it again because it looks as if it took 12 hrs.

So, bam! Your cake is done. Clap your hands. Clean your bench and…

Go forth and take photo’s of it for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ (ha yeah right). Share with friends, or simply don’t. Pretend it is your recipe, like I do, (I actually got it from: The Nutrition Guru and the Chef‘s blog), eat it and revel in your excellence.

Fin