Forceful Delight – guest post by Charby Ibrahim, The Ancestral Body

Today’s guest post, by Charby Ibrahim of The Ancestral Body is a great read!  For those of us who try and eat well, sometimes it’s those awkward social situations that let us down, and not necessarily by choice.  Please read and enjoy, and be sure to check out his website The Ancestral Body.  Charby’s story is inspirational and you will really enjoy reading his posts.  He has some great workouts and recipes on there too!

(PS – If  after reading Charby’s story you are looking for some healthier cake options – I have a few on my website.  You might like to try my quick and easy carrot cake here, my apple and zucchini loaf heremy vanilla cupcakes here or my chocolate protein balls here.  You don’t need refined sugar and grains to enjoy a sweet snack!  Enjoy!)

Forceful Delight

By Charby Ibrahim, The Ancestral Body

An overly firm handshake, a boisterous greeting, a forceful slap on the shoulder, a little banter. Ok, where’s this going? He may as well have lifted his leg and used me as a lamp-post. Yup – Awkward. Even when he makes fun of my shirt, questioning my sexuality, I smile and nod… compliment his ‘lovely’ house. Clare, his wife, shoots me an apologetic glance, served up with a warm hug. I remember why I’m here. We’re old friends; great friends! Geoff comes with the package these days though. I can handle that. “9 beers in, mate!” Geoff announces, interrupting the embrace. “You’ve got some catching up to do, CH-arbs!” A harsh CH- sound, and we’re in nickname territory. I don’t correct him. It’s a different story in my head, a few expletives added. SH-arby! “I’m ok, Geoff. Maybe I’ll grab a glass of red wine in a minute,” I reply. Clare, as though reading my mind, steps in. A brief reprieve – “Speech time guys. The cake is ready!” Time for Geoff to shine. His 15 minutes of fame. Laden with slurring jagged tangents, and anecdotes from his ‘playing days’ – Aussie Rules Football, that is. His son, whose birthday it is, gets the odd mention too. Made in the image of his mother, the kid smiles bashfully between sips of the black fizzy stuff.

Flash forward – “Just eat the f@#king cake, mate!” Two tiny balls of spit fly in my direction. They’re homing in… one lands on the already infamous piece of sweet spongy cream, and the other assaults my left cheek. I wipe it away with an exaggerated gesture… I’m not sure why. Actually, yes I am. I want him to know that he’s out of control, that there’s a strong chance he’ll regret this tomorrow. I even throw him a cheeky smirk. So often I’m the mediator, keeping the peace, politely navigating my way through awkward situations. Not today – I’m not about to be bullied by a man taking umbrage over a piece of bloody cake. Geoff fires up again – “So what… You think you’re pretty good ay? Standing around judging us all. It’s my son’s birthday. It’s my son’s birthday cake! What’s a bloody Health Coach do anyway? Please!” The plate, and a smear of pink cream, now pressed up against my chest. “No thanks, Geoff.” He holds it there firmly, glaring through me. The pointed edge of the square plate digging in hard now. Still, I don’t flinch. Instead, I take a slow sip of my wine, breathing in through my nose. My first glass. I must be miles behind now.

The birthday boy is wrapped around Geoff’s leg, and I spot Clare’s look of concern over Geoff’s broad shoulder. She’s been here before. “Eat. The. F@#king. CAKE!” he thumps. The room falls silent. A pause in the music. An audience to boot. Growing up as a Lebanese kid, I was no stranger to having food forced on me – and even more recently, I know I’ve rubbed the odd host up the wrong way with my ‘peculiar’ food choices. Most of the time though, they could care less. I tend to load up before arrival, pick at what takes my fancy, and we get on with the party. This time it’s different. I’ve been drawn into a one-sided cock-fight, and folks seem more interested in the spectacle than dragging this bloodied rooster away.

“This is my house!” he declares proudly, staring me down. Judging by the football trophies lining the walls of his ‘man-cave’, he isn’t lying. It’s definitely his house. Confirmed. Team photos from 1995 through to 2003. His face growing sterner, tougher, as the years progress. He was promised a long career, but it just didn’t eventuate. One can’t help but wonder if the subtle limp he carries around has anything to do with it. I figure it’s best not to ask at this juncture. A big frame, strong, towering over me, taking up space; much like the houses he grudgingly builds these days. A solid bulging barrel chest, and a round belly way out in the front cabin- not in any of the photos, but a new addition – not quite lived in. “It’s OUR house!” Clare promptly reminds him, “…and you’re being a dick… AGAIN!” They lock eyes for a few seconds, and I’m almost relieved that the attention has shifted, and the pressure eases off my sternum. A new feeling of unease though; the fight response kicks in. What might transpire between the happy couple when the crowd disperses eventually?

Clare’s stare is harsh and piercing. She wears him down. Geoff’s hand forgets that it’s holding the plate. Slowly falls limp. His body folds into itself, starting at the navel. He just about disappears – The cake is sliding slowly off the plate. I watch it with gleeful anticipation, instead trying to stop it. SPLAT! He wears it well down the length of his left leg and shiny shoes. Time for this guy to exit stage door left. I finish the last sip of my wine, grab for my coat, and I get the proverbial truck out of there.

All this talk of cake has my sweet tooth crying out. As soon as I arrive home I snap into action; a fresh batch of gluten free, honey sweetened, dark cacao brownies. Down the hatch with a very generous serve of raw cream, and a handful of mixed berries. You might be asking ‘why’ then? Why didn’t you just eat the damn cake, Charby? The truth is, I really do love a sweet treat, but the refined sugar and the gluten really punish me these days… AND I have an aversion to being bullied. We are social creatures though, and even I turn a blind eye to food quality when I’m out at restaurants, BBQs, functions, and parties in the name getting along. I don’t want to know what kind of oil they’re using, whether the veggies are organic, and what kind of life the animal on my plate lived. I might never leave the house otherwise. So, I compromise. There are some non-negotiables though, and sometimes I say ‘NO’… kindly. A three day gluten hangover just ain’t worth it for this sensitive little monkey. So, I’m making a stand here and now. I’m saying NO to forcing cake on unsuspecting guests. Just say NO… thanks!

PS – The very next morning I received the loveliest apology… from Clare.

Disclaimer- In order to protect the people mentioned in this story, I have changed their names. In order to protect the integrity of the cake, I changed its colour.

About the author:

Charby Ibrahim is the man behind ‘The Ancestral Body’ – Nutritional Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Teacher, Speaker, and Writer. A graduate of The University of Melbourne, The Institute For Integrative Nutrition, and The Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, he has written countless articles for prominent online publications and blogs, is a proud member of Physical Activity Australia, and engages in education programs at both local schools and The Royal Children’s Hospital. Charby’s journey has been a personal one from the outset. He went back to ‘Eating Real Food’, lost a stack of fat, got fit, and is now using his own life skills and experience, on-top of over a decade in education, to help others find the combination of lifestyle factors that best suit their needs. Charby is also a co-host of The Primal Shift, one of Australia’s most popular health podcast shows.

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Salmon with Pesto Zucchini ‘Noodles’

Salmon with Pesto Zucchini ‘Noodles’

This dish was seriously tasty and super quick and easy.  I’d been craving pesto spaghetti and this really did the trick without the refined carbs.  My pesto recipe uses lemon juice so the tangy flavour works brilliantly with the salmon, although if you didn’t want the fish you could have a bowl of the Pesto Zucchini noodles on their own too!

I have tried many spiralisers to make vegetable ‘noodles’ and the GEFU Spiral Slicer Spiral Fix is by far the easiest and most effective I’ve used.

Salmon with Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Serves 2

What you will need:

2 Salmon fillets

About 1 cup of the Shrinking Hubby’s Pesto (link here or see below) (you may wish to use more or less depending on your taste)

4 Zucchinis (courgettes) topped and tailed

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Lemon wedges (if using) to serve

How to bring it together

Create the zucchini noodles using a vegetable spiraliser.  Place noodles in a colander, sprinkle liberally with good quality sea salt and drizzle with a splash of olive oil.  Toss and let sit for about 30 minutes.

When ready to prepare the meal, you can either barbeque or pan fry the salmon (brush with a little olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper).

Meanwhile heat the pesto in a fry pan or wok, when warm, add the noodles and toss until they are coated and the noodles are heated.

Place the noodles on a plate and top with the salmon.  Sprinkle with some chilli and serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

Enjoy!

The Shrinking Hubby’s Pesto

What you will need:

1/4 cup pine nuts dry roasted (you can do this in the oven on some baking paper or in a non-oiled pan on the stove – keep an eye on them – they can burn quickly!)

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves

2 small garlic cloves (or 2 teaspoons good quality organic minced garlic)

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

How to pull it together:

Place the pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor (I used my Thermomix) and process until finely chopped.  Gradually add the olive oil while the motor is running in a thin stream until well combined.

Tasty Spiced Chicken

Tasty Spiced Chicken

This is a fantastic spice mix and works well on any cut of chicken – I have used it on Chicken Marylands and baked it for a dinner party, you could use a whole chicken cut into pieces or last night we had it on Chicken thigh fillets barbecued with some coconut oil.  I think it would make a delicious whole roast chicken too.  It’s really very versatile (and so ridiculously easy!!)

Tasty Spiced Chicken

Spiced Chicken Mix

In a bowl mix together the following spices:

  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro) seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

spices

How to pull it together:

Put the chicken cuts you are using (I used organic chicken thigh fillets) in a clean plastic bag with the spice mix.  Toss well until Chicken is covered.

Cook to your liking!  We barbecued these in some coconut oil  which added a  delicious flavour, and served with some blanched asparagus for a light yet very tasty meal.

Enjoy XX

Zesty Salsa

Zesty Salsa

It’s so quick and easy to whip up a tasty little salsa and makes such a refreshing change to steamed veggies or a green salad.  Don’t be restricted what I’ve used here – you can use what you’ve got in the fridge, some organic corn kernels would be nice here too.  We enjoyed this with salmon but would be delicious with chicken or steak.  It is the perfect accompaniment to my chicken schnitzel (recipe here).  I had the leftovers with a little bit (1/2 cup) of brown rice and a tin of tuna for lunch the next day – was really yummy!

Zesty Salsa

(serves 2-4 as a side dish)

What you will need:

  • 1 Avocado diced
  • 1 cucumber peeled and diced
  • A handful of button mushrooms diced
  • 1/2 red capsicum diced
  • 1 green chilli (seeded) finely chopped
  • 1 roma tomato or a few cherry tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 red onion finely chopped
  • About a 1/4 cup of fresh Coriander leaves (cilantro)

For the dressing:

  • The juice of 1-2 limes (depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

How to pull it all together:

Shake or whisk all the dressing ingredents together.  Combine the chopped up veggies into a bowl.  Gently toss the veggies with the dressing and serve!

 

 

Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing

Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing

Here is a wonderful light and healthy salad/side dish.  We have had this to accompany a barbecue or alongside a roast chicken instead of the usual roast veggies.  It is simple and quick to prepare, tastes delicious and looks so beautiful!

Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing

(serves 4 as a side dish)

What you will need:

  • 2 eggplants (aubergines)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sumac
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon good quality organic minced garlic)
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper
  • A few handfuls of baby rocket (arugula)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves (I use flat leaf parsley)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (toasted)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • salt and pepper

How to pull it together:

Slice the eggplants lengthwise about 1 cm (1/4 inch) thick.  (I got about 4-5 per eggplant).  Sprinkle liberally with some sea salt and let sit for about 10 minutes.  You will see the salt will draw out the juices from the eggplant.  Wipe the salt and these juices off with a paper towel.

With a sharp knife score the eggplant diagonally.

Mix together the sumac, olive oil, garlic and a little salt and pepper.  Brush over the scored eggplant.  Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

In the meantime, whisk or shake together the ingredients for the dressing.

Once the eggplant is cooked, lay the slices out on your serving platter.  Top with rocket (arugula) and parsley and pour the dressing over.  Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve!

Enjoy X

 

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