Chocolate Polenta Cake

This cake evolved from a Nigella recipe and a rainy afternoon activity with Isaac, who is rather partial to chocolate cake and munching on walnuts while mummy mixes (many batches of banana cake from spotty bananas have meant walnut munching is now a baking staple).

I didn’t intend for it to be a polenta cake but had no ground almonds in (shocker for me) and was amazed by the result. I also didn’t intend it to be dairy free but my butter was in the fridge and I couldn’t be bothered to dirty a pan melting some.

So here it is. I just made a little cake which struggled to make it to day 2!

Naomi was happily sat in her chair watching proceedings so it is fully family proof!

Ingredients:

  • 30g cocoa (I used Green & Blacks)
  • 90 ml freshly boiled water
  • Generous tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g fine polenta (cornmeal) – Nigella’s original recipe uses ground almonds so you could try a mixture
  • 100ml olive oil (light – you could also use sunflower)
  • 1/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 100g coconut sugar (this is what makes it sugar free since coconut sugar is GI neutral but you could use unrefined sugar if you don’t have any)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs

Method:

Combine the boiled water and cocoa in a small boil until they are a cream like consistency.

In a separate bowl mix together the polenta, salt and bicarb.

Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, olive oil and sugar for a couple of minutes until they are really thick and light.

Finally combine all 3 mixtures maintaining as much air as possible

I used an 8″ lined, round sandwich tin.

Cook at Gas Mark 3 (170) for 20-30 minutes or until just coming away from the sides.

Et voila!

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It’s time we stopped ‘using’ Pilates and just did it?

In the world of Pilates we’ve got accustomed to ‘using’ Pilates exercises to help participants back to health following an injury, illness or pregnancy.  But by doing so, have we lost some of the flavour of what Pilates is really about? A workout.

Physiotherapists often refer patients to me to ‘improve core strength’ (that term in itself is fodder for another post).Pilates is fantastic for back health but contrary to popular belief it’s not physiotherapy. It is a workout first and foremost and many of my participants require extra homework dependent on their specific needs. We work through a range of both strengthening and mobility work from a variety of interesting angles! Tight muscles and immobility are greater enemies of back health than muscle weakness. This is something I too am constantly learning about. I’m not saying this to put anyone off. My participants range from early 20s to mid 80s and there are always adaptations or props which make it suitable to all.

Controlology

All my classes are programmed, so we work through a programme over a 6-8 week period with the aim of improving not only strength and mobility but understanding of Pilates and ability to do the moves. I’m doing this myself a lot at the moment since I’m just returning after having my second child, now 4 months!

In my opinion, fitness professionals (myself included) can get so caught up in what’s best for us that we’re in danger of losing sight of the things in life that make us happy. Like chocolate cake! Plus pain can make us afraid of doing certain exercises for fear of making it worse.

One hour of Pilates once a week will not break your back, it’s the remaining hours you spend slumped in a chair, tight with anxiety or sleeping at funny angles that do that for you. So stop being afraid of exercises that seem a little more challenging.

There is a place for Pilates exercises to help get you back to fitness if you begin a little broken and if you just love feeling the burn in your abdominals then abs away but remember your poor old back needs some love too. Let’s just not lose sight of Pilates, the workout. Perhaps it’s time we brought our bodies up to Joseph Pilates’ high standards rather than water Pilates down to suit our broken bodies.

With thanks to Joanne Cobbe of JPilates for inspiring some of the above concepts through ‘The Moves’ Workshop. If you liked this post, check out Jo’s take on the subject: http://jpilatesblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/when-did-pilates-become-the-easy-option/

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com