Admitting to having the ‘world’s biggest sweet tooth’, Umhlanga fit foodie Jo Hill is using her various online platforms to show people how it is possible to ‘have your cake and eat it’!
“Ithink I may just have the world’s largest sweet tooth…which doesn’t normally go hand in hand with someone who loves fitness as much as I do. But I really believe that living a healthy lifestyle can be fun and filled with tasty food (and not just dry tuna and boiled broccoli),” says Jo.
Despite coming from a sporty family, 30-year-old Jo says it was really only in her second year of university that she realised how much she loved being fit and healthy.
“We always ate relatively healthily as a family – but we all have a major sweet tooth! This caught up with me during my first year of university when exercise was replaced with late nights and partying.”
While attempting to lose weight Jo says she tried every diet under the sun before finally joining a gym. She fell in love with training, but found herself eating healthy during the week and then binging on cake, tubs of ice cream and slabs of chocolate on weekends, thus undoing everything she had achieved during the week. Something had to give.
“I started listening to my cravings and coming up with healthier alternatives. Then I started sharing pictures of what I was creating on my personal Facebook page and began getting requests to share my recipes. I decided to create a separate page where I could share recipes to my heart’s content and that’s when ‘Pull ups and Peanut Butter’ (which comprises a website, blog, newsletter and Instagram page) was born. It’s an online space where I share my recipes . . . and my personal journey.”
Jo discusses health and fitness topics and also shares things she’s learnt, in the hopes that she will help others learn from her mistakes. Jo initially worked only recipes for things she was craving, but then started experimenting with healthier ingredients. She has also since started studying personal training and nutrition, using what she learns to help with recipes.
“Most of my recipes are high in protein, unrefined and sugar free (and can be made gluten free and dairy free). I get my inspiration from the amazing people who follow me. For me, there’s nothing better than spending a few hours in the kitchen coming up with ideas – time honestly just flies by!”
Despite never actually intending that her brand be anything more than a Facebook page for her family and friends, Jo has now helped create three recipe books (with her own recipe book in the works), has baked at The Good Food and Wine Show, been a guest speaker at women’s workshops and more recently made the top five at the Women’s Health Next Fit Foodie competition.
“I believe that sustainability is key. If you can find a way of eating that is sustainable, you are going to succeed! For me this means allowing myself to have some cake, waffles and ice cream every day. The cake, waffles and ice cream, however, have been made by myself, usually in just five minutes, and are made from ingredients that are healthy and jam-packed with goodness.”
When Jo isn’t working on Pull ups and Peanut Butter, she is at her day job, as a remedial teacher. “Helping others is definitely what motivates me. Being able to teach others how easy and fun eating and living healthily can be is a huge goal of mine. I hope to teach others from my own mistakes, and I would love nothing more than to show more and more people how it is possible to have your cake and eat it!”
Brownies (with hidden veggies)
This will make 9 brownies
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (about a 450 gram bag)
2 large baby marrow
¼ cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
3 TBS unsweetened almond milk
1 TBS vanilla essence
1 cup oat flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb
A pinch of himilayan salt
Optional: A few blocks of dark chocolate or sugar free chocolate to decorate.
- Preheat oven to 180’ and line a square baking tray with some tinfoil, shiny side down. Set aside.
- Steam the sweet potato until soft and add to a food process or blender.
- Blend the sweet potato until smooth.
- Grate the baby marrow in a separate bowl and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (This step is very important). Set aside.
- Add the eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla essence to the sweet potato in the food processor and blend again.
- Add the oat flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt to the food processor and blend.
- Fold in the grated baby marrow.
- Pour into the prepared baking tray and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Allow the brownies to cool fully before slicing.
- Melt the optional dark chocolate and drizzle over the sliced brownies.
- To be on the safe side, spray the tin foiled tray with some cooking spray prior to pouring the batter into the tray. I suggest lining a baking tray with tinfoil when baking brownies as the heat oven heats up the tinfoil, shortening cooking time and ensuring that the bottom of the brownie is cooked, while the middle remains soft and fudgy.
- You can make your own own flour by blitzing oats in a food processor until fine.
- These brownies will keep for 7 days in the fridge or 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport | Photographs: Traci Lee Photography