Der­val O’Rourke

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - News -

This stuff is se­ri­ously ad­dic­tive. I love it spread on toast, driz­zled over pan­cakes or eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon.

It’s re­fined su­gar-free, uses only nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents and most im­por­tantly has re­ceived the Dafne (Dose Ad­just­ment For Nor­mal Eat­ing) seal of ap­proval. If my tod­dler will eat this, that means it’s a win­ner. Prep time: 20 min­utes

Serves: Makes one medium jam jar of spread


1 cup hazel­nuts Half cup cashew nuts Half cup al­monds 8 med­jool dates (pit­ted) Half tbsp cin­na­mon Half tbsp raw ca­cao 1 tbsp co­conut oil


Blend the nuts in a food pro­ces­sor for about 5 min­utes un­til al­most com­pletely bro­ken down.

Add the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents and blend for about 15 min­utes un­til com­pletely smooth. You will need to stop from time to time to scrape down the edges.

Store in an air­tight con­tainer (jam­jars are per­fect) in a cool dark place.

This week I’m shar­ing one of my favourite work­outs for core strength. Recipe wise, I’ve got a healthy choco­late spread and my favourite ba­nana bread which is guar­an­teed to sat­isfy any sweet tooth.

I re­ally be­lieve hav­ing a strong core is so much more im­por­tant than hav­ing vis­i­ble abs. As a for­mer pro­fes­sional ath­lete, I was al­ways work­ing on my core, it’s just as im­por­tant now while I’m try­ing to stay strong and healthy as it was when I was try­ing to break records.

Don’t get me wrong — we all love a bit of abs and that’s per­fectly okay but we need to fo­cus more on a strong core over a flat stom­ach for long-term health and well­be­ing.

I have a prob­lem with my back and I find that hav­ing a good core rou­tine re­ally helps to man­age this. I also drive a lot for work and feel that do­ing core work helps with this. A strong core im­proves bal­ance, pos­ture, sta­bil­ity and over­all strength.

Med ball core cir­cuit

Through­out this cir­cuit aim to keep your ribs down, your belly but­ton pulled in to­wards your spine and your chin tucked slightly. This helps to en­sure your core is do­ing the work and not your lower back. Re­mem­ber to keep it slow and con­trolled through­out.

Ex­er­cise 1 Rus­sian twists

Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Hold the med ball in front of you and lean back slightly.

From here, twist your up­per body and core to one side un­til your arms are par­al­lel to the floor.

Re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion and re­peat on the other side.

To progress this ex­er­cise, lift your heels off the floor.

To sim­plify this ex­er­cise, don’t use any added weight.

Do 10 reps of this.

Ex­er­cise 2 - Sit ups

Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Hold the med ball over­head with your arms out­stretched.

En­gage your core and keep lower back in con­tact with the ground through­out.

Raise your up­per back and shoul­ders off the floor (imag­ine slid­ing your ribs down to­wards your pelvis) and bring the medicine ball to­wards the knees, so that it’s hov­er­ing above them.

Lower back down to the start­ing po­si­tion and re­peat.

Do 10 reps of this.

Ex­er­cise 3 Moun­tain climber

Be­gin in a high plank po­si­tion with your hands di­rectly be­neath your shoul­ders.

Bend one leg and bring it for­ward to­wards your el­bow then lower to start­ing po­si­tion.

Re­peat with the other leg mak­ing sure to keep your core en­gaged and back straight.

X10 reps

Aim to re­peat each of these ex­er­cises 10 reps. Re­peat the cir­cuit 3 times.

Take a minute re­cov­ery be­tween each cir­cuit.

Fit­spi­ra­tion: @su­san­janek­itchen

Su­san Jane is a self-con­fessed health geek on a mis­sion to take the “hell out of healthy”. I love her new cook­book The Vir­tu­ous Tart and all the de­li­cious health­ier treats it con­tains. She was one of the first peo­ple I was in­spired by when it came to healthy cook­ing. She has been creat­ing su­per healthy dishes long be­fore it be­came so trendy.

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