grain-free granola…the South African “Banting” way

Banting…a word I haven’t heard uttered once since I arrived back home in the U.S. in March, and yet one that I’d hear at least five times at any gathering in South Africa that involved two or more women. Oh, how I miss that Banting banter.

To put it simply, Banting is a way of eating, one that’s taken South Africa by storm over the past couple of years. I wouldn’t consider it a diet, seeing as you’re meant to adopt this method of eating for life. It was made famous by Tim Noakes, a South African exercise and sports science professor at the University of Cape Town. The man is a bit of a legend…having run over 70 marathons and ultramarathons, he knows his stuff, so when he wrote his most popular book to date, The Real Meal Revolution, people listened. The book hasn’t been published in the U.S. as of yet, but is set to release on July 30, 2015, so make a note in your handy little iCal and plan to that baby.

Banting supports a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet, and is described as “a long-delayed return to the way human beings are supposed to eat” (Source: It gets rid of the myths that fat and cholesterol are detrimental to our health, using solid scientific research and hard evidence to back these claims. You’re allowed meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, butter, nuts – many things that are the first foods to be smacked away by other popular diets.

When I lived in South Africa, I was able to experience firsthand what it meant to say, “Oh, sorry, I can’t have that, I’m Banting.” Everyone immediately knew what you were talking about. No grains or sugar for you! Markets had signs labeling certain foods as “Banting-friendly!” and some restaurants even had separate sections in their menus for “Banters.”

Tim Noakes claims that Banting can help do away with a plethora of health issues, including weight gain, low energy levels, high blood pressure, even certain skin conditions. In The Real Meal Revolution, a good half of the book is dedicated to the science and history supporting this style of eating, with evidence and studies carefully cited. The other half is devoted to some (pretty damn delicious) recipes that are all Banting-friendly.

Without going into the details of my own personal food philosophy, I have to say many aspects of the Banting diet make sense and appealed to me. This is one of my favorite recipes out of the book: a grain-free granola based on nuts and spices (no oats, other grains, cane sugar, nada). And, as a bonus, I knew this granola would immediately propose to my favorite plain full-fat greek yogurt, and a happy breakfast wedding would occur.

The recipe is also incredibly simple, and under 30 minutes from start to finish! Give it a go, and let me know if you come up with any creative uses for this granola. There’s bound to be bunches. Feel free to mix up what nuts and seeds you use!

“Banting” Nut Granola

100 g (~1 cup) walnuts
100 g  sunflower seeds
100 g  hazelnuts
100 g  slivered or chopped almonds
3 tbsp coconut oil (adds some heavenly flavor, but you can also sub olive oil)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger powder (you can also grate fresh ginger, which is what I did)
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Any other nuts/seeds you want to add (pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp honey/agave/maple syrup to sweeten, if you’re into that! It’s not exactly Banting at this point, but it will taste absolutely fabulous.


1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C).

2) Chop the nuts up roughly and mix them all up in a bowl with the seeds.


3) Melt the coconut oil over a medium-low heat in a nice big frying pan, then add all the spices and swirl them around. Be careful not to burn them! If you’re using sweetener or vanilla, add them to the pan at this point.


4) Add the nuts to pan and toss them around until everything is all nice and coated in coconut-y spice-y goodness.



5) Remove from the heat and smooth the nuts out onto a baking tray in an even layer.


6) Pop the tray in the oven and bake for around 10 minutes – just enough to give them a nice little roast. Be warned: it will start to smell like Christmas. Don’t blame me if you get the urge to put on a little Josh Groban Noel. 


All nice and roast-y.

7) After 10 minutes, remove, let the nuts cool to room temperature, and store in a cute little mason jar (or any other container, but I love me some mason).

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8) Eat it however the heck ya want! Top your yogurt, eat it as a snack, mix with some fruit…pick your poison (that’s just an expression, it’ll actually do your body wonders), and enjoy the wonderful effects of a nutritious, full-fat, Banting breakfast. Make note of the fact that you don’t get those annoying cravings mid-morning – no donuts for you. You should feel nice and full right up to lunch time.

Happy Banting!




don’t eat this cake if you’re about to be drug-tested

HAH. So we are throwing a party for my mum tomorrow. Happy 60th! I swear, she looks amazing for her age. Must be those Polish genes. They do say, if you want to know what you’ll look like in 20 (or 37…) years, take a look at your mum! I’m a lucky gal. But anyway, in preparation for said party, I am baking her a lemon poppy seed bundt cake. Both of us have always had an affinity for lemon-y desserts. And it just so happens that the addition of poppy seeds makes for an even more oh-my-gosh-I’m-going-to-die-this-is-so-good experience.

So I did some searching for the perfect recipe, and I found one…along with a friendly side note, “Don’t eat this cake if you know you have a drug test coming up! If you eat poppy seeds beforehand, you might test positive for heroin use.” What.  WHAT?! It just so happens I DO have a drug test coming up for my new job. So how unfair is that? I have to beat this butter and this sugar and inhale this lemon and vanilla and I don’t even get to taste the batter? Or the finished product?

Well, good thing I really love my mom.

So I proceeded to make said lemon poppy seed cake. The tantalizing smells performed their amazing aromatic acrobatics around my nostrils, but I stayed strong. For the sake of the drug test, and my future employer…I must stay strong.

The cake turned out beautifully. It was a real win. And sometimes, you just gotta learn to be content with good smells and beautiful sights. Taste buds, you shut up and give the glory to the nose and the eyes for once! It’s not all about you! Selfish.

This party, planned by my lovely father, is to be Disney Frozen themed, which, in my opinion, is absolutely fantastic. So much time to experiment with blue curacao cocktails and play the Frozen soundtrack on repeat without shame. My idea of a perfect day.

So please, by all means, if you’re a lemon dessert fan, I can guarantee that this cake is to die for. I am basing this completely off of the smells and visuals and the fact that I…ahem….was the baker (and my mum taste-tested it!).

So, go ahead and get baking! There is something endearing about lemon and poppyseed together. Reminds me a bit of my youth, when I was obsessed with Costco’s giant lemon poppyseed muffins…this is almost like going back to my childhood when I would wake up to one of those big babies for breakfast. Then I had to leave my teenage years and face the harsh reality that I can’t put just anything down my pie-hole without seeing the lovely consequences jiggling around my hips. UGH, GROWING UP.

So give the recipe a whirl, make your own poppy seed magic, and enjoy the moments in the kitchen and at the table. The recipe is based off of this amazing Tori Avey post!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Glaze

For the cake:
1 cup poppy seeds
1 cup milk (yes, full fat!)
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil (both canola and coconut work well)
1.5 cups sugar
4 eggs separated, room temperature
3 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream (yes, full fat again 🙂
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a nice big Bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix together the poppy seeds, milk, and honey. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let mixture bubble away for one minute, then remove from heat and let stand for around 20 minutes.
  3. Pour the poppy seed mixture into a bowl with the butter, vegetable oil, and sugar. Beat on high until everthing’s nice and mixed, then add the egg yolks and keep beating.
  4. Add the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, and sour cream and beat until well blended.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Now, gradually combine the wet and dry ingredients with the mixer, making sure you scrape the sides of the bowl and ensure everything is incorporated uniformly.
  7. Last bit (and this is the magic part, I swear!). Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, and gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Stir gently!
  8. Now the batter goes right into the greased bundt pan, making sure you don’t fill it past about 3/4 full – it might overflow.
  9. Now bake in the preheated oven for around 55-65 minutes, or until the edges are dark brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan and the cake is evenly browned along the surface. You can always do the trusty ole toothpick test here, too.
  10. Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack (maybe put some wax paper underneath the rack, because it’ll soon be time to ice the cake!).
  11. Then allow the cake to cool completely. To make your icing, just mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice to a nice consistency, not too watery. Think along the lines of the texture of thick honey. Using a spoon for assistance, generously drizzle the frosting along the cake so that it drips prettily down the sides, but doesn’t cover the whole thing.

***Side note after the birthday party: It was a hit at the get-together! Super moist and just the right amount of sweetness. Unless there really is something in those poppy seeds making the people a little crazy, and they were just lying to me….

 Doesn’t my mum look great? Happy birthday!