Evil sugar and “sugar free” bounty bars

20140119-213153.jpgI’m detoxing….uggghh! After 7 days I haven’t reached the I-feel-amazing-state yet. Currently I’m in the I-feel-rotten-please-give-me-some-sugaaaaaaaar state. But I’m not going to let the evil white stuff win. I know that if I just hang in there a couple of more days the sugar will realise that it’s defeated and I will then feel truly good and won’t crave it any longer.

You see sugar is a drug (of sorts) that creates a dependency. The food industry knows this and hence keep on putting lots of sugar or sugar substitutes in their products so we will keep on buying them. And this is the problem these days, even if one doesn’t eat that much obvious sugar (candy, cakes, sugar in coffee or tea etc) it’s everywhere ( bread, yoghurts, pasta sauces, cereals, you name it ) Unless you cook everything from scratch it’s very hard to not eat a fair amount everyday. A 200ml glass of orange juice and a 150ml pot of fruit yoghurt and you have almost reached the recommended daily intake of sugar (50gr for women in the UK) Add a 39gr of sugar can of coke and you have way surpassed the RDI…

Apparently your average 15 year old boy in the UK eats 40kg of sugar a year. And the rest of the world is no better. In my birth country Sweden it’s 43kg per person per year. That’s more than double of what’s recommended

A diet high in sugar is bad for your health, certainly not just for weight gain but for diabetes and apparently cancer and moods. Here’s an interesting story in the Telegraph about a woman giving up sugar in order to fight cancer.

So can I never eat sugar again? No, I believe that I can have a treat every now and again and this is exactly what sugar should be. A treat, not an every day occurrence. When I was a kid I used to get a small amount of money so I could go to the local shop and get a bag of candy and a Donald Duck magazine. But that was it for the week, no sodas, ice-cream or candy during the week. And that’s how I believe it should be but somewhere down the line we lost sight of this (or the food industry started cramming so much sugar into every conceivable product so even if you stuck to a candy only on Saturday approach you still potentially would be consuming lots of sugar everyday)

I’m not going to talk too much about about various sugars and sugar substitutes. It’s confusing. Personally if I want a special treat with some sugar in it my first choice would be raw honey or maple syrup for their nutritional benefits. (Very important that it’s raw honey since processed honey has lost most it’s nutritional benefits) Here’s an article in the guardian about different sugars. Bottom line is whatever you use for your sugar fix, use it sparingly!
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There’s an Australian website called I Quit sugar, they are dedicated to giving up sugar (no shit Sherlock) so check out their site for more info, recipes and if you are really addicted you can join an 8 week program to quit.

If you however have developed a candida overgrowth which I believe I had at one point you have to go on a much stricter diet than the one I quit sugar suggests. Check out mindbodygreen for more info.

Anyway here’s a yummy Saturday night treat recipe slightly adapted from I quit sugar

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Bounty bars

Coconut Filling:
2/3 coconut milk
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups desiccated coconut
Pinch of sea salt

Raw Chocolate Coating:
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
2 tablespoon rice malt syrup
Pinch of sea salt

To make the coconut filling, place the coconut milk, rice malt syrup and coconut oil and salt in a saucepan. Over a low heat, stir the ingredients together until combined. Mix through desiccated coconut.
Line a tray or container with baking paper. No need to use all of the tray, you can just roll up the baking paper on one side if it’s too big. I used a 13cm x 23cm tray. Press the coconut mixture into the pan so that it is about 1.5cm thick. Put in freezer for 20 min or so. It needs to be quite hard but not so hard that you can’t cut it.

Cut the coconut filling into bars, roughly 1cm x 4cm. Cool in the freezer until very cold (this will make the chocolate coating step easier).
For the chocolate: place all ingredients in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

I found that the easiest way to coat the bars with the chocolate was to dip them all individually in the melted chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for 5-10 min. Then dip the chocolate bars for a second coat. Put in fridge for another 10 min before serving.
They can be frozen. The problem with these are that they are so yummy that it’s difficult not to eat all in one go…so if you like me struggle to apply self-control make half a batch and then share with as many people as possible!

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Healthy twists and poached pear with anti-oxidant filled chocolate sauce

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For me healthy eating is not about excluding foods from your diet or depriving yourself from pleasure. I eat anything I like but make sure it is high in nutrition. Sure somethings has to be kept to a minimum, pizza, items high in saturated fats, sugar. You know the ones.

What I do is I always look at how to make ordinary dishes more nutritious. Adding spinach and kale to an ordinary salad, adding turmeric to scrambled eggs, wholewheat or spelt or zucchini pasta instead of white pasta. You get my drift.

On New Year’s Eve for example I cooked a potato gratin but instead of only standard white potatoes I added lots of sweet potatoes. And for dessert I made poached pear with a chocolate sauce, but not any old sugar laden version. A dessert filled with anti-oxidants and no refined sugar. The pears need to be prepared the day before serving.
I served the poached pear with Booja Booja vanilla ice-cream. It’s dairy-free, organic, gluten and soya free and 100% raw. And it taste amazing!

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Poached Pear with chocolate sauce

Serves 4

4 pears
2 1/2 cups of water
3 tablespoons of acacia honey
1 vanilla pod
3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Chocolate sauce ( slightly adapted from a cool blog called Top with Cinnamon)

3 pitted Mejool dates
20 grams of dark chocolate 70% cocoa minimum
1/2 cup almond milk
2 small teaspoons of raw cacao powder ( I use Creative nature superfoods)

Peel the pears and cut of the bottom so it can stand upright. Put pears, water and acacia honey in a pot. Cut the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds into the pot. Add the pods as well. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Transfer liquid, pears and vanilla pods to an airtight container. Pour over the maple syrup ( I don’t cook the maple syrup in order to keep it as nutritious as possible) Put in fridge when it has cooled down.

Cook the chocolate sauce just before you want to serve the pears. Put the dates and almond milk in blender and blend until smooth. Transfer into a pot, add the dark chocolate and cook on low heat for 5-10 min or until it has thickened. Stir continuously. Turn off the heat and and wait until it has cooled down a bit and then stir in the raw cacao powder. ( You want to keep as many anti-oxidants as possible hence not heat the raw cacao powder too much) I have written about the amazing anti-oxidant power of creative natures superfoods cacao powder before.

Put the pears on a paper towel for a couple of minutes in order for the liquid not to run on the plate.

Place the pears on serving plates and pour the chocolate sauce over it.
Serve with a scoop or two of Booja Booja’s vanilla ice-cream and decorate with some more raw cacao powder!

A planned weekend and buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup

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I am currently reading a book called “What the most successful people do before breakfast” by Laura Vanderkam. Yes it’s a self-help book and no I’m not too keen on the title, I don’t exactly think I’m going to get successful by reading this book if you get my drift. However…. this book is different to other self-help books that I have read, the ones when you get inspired but as soon as you have finished the book, it’s completely forgotten and nothing has changed. With this one I can see a couple of changes happening already, small things……It’s just simple advice, easy to implement. Lessons I have taken away from the book so far

a) if you don’t do exercise in the morning chances are…it won’t happen because you have had a hard day, you get lazy, that very tempting after work drink becomes way too tempting or the sofa just looks too cozy! So I have been doing 15 min every morning, for a month on Monday so I guess it’s a habit by now. Not a lot but it helps, and it sets up the day in a very positive way. Now I can step it up one notch, perhaps some additional morning meditation…..

b) even if you want to do NOTHING during your weekend you have to plan it. (This is especially true when you have kids because lets face it, doing nothing rarely exist with little ones) And you don’t have to plan every minute, just some key points. Planning it early in the week also means you have a nice weekend to look forward to, like a mini holiday : )

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So my weekend plan that I have been looking forward to

Watching the last 3 episodes of Breaking Bad with hubby on Friday night

Some me time and some quality time with my son whilst hubby and daughter is in the park.

Finish off Christmas decorating ( I love Christmas so it’s not a chore for me, it’s fun )

Christmas party at my sisters on Saturday night

Reflexology session on Sunday afternoon followed by..

Carols by candlelight at St Barnabas church with activities for the kids ( not usually a church goer but Carols, mulled wine and activities for the kids in one of the hidden gems of Hackney…sounds worth checking out)

And one of my favourite weekend breakfasts this morning;

Buckwheat pancakes with bananas, maple syrup and blueberries

Serves 2

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of flaxseed
1 cup of milk of your choice
1 egg
1/2 banana
2 handfuls of organic blueberries
Maple syrup

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I use the Dove farms buckwheat flour and rice flour. It’s both organic and naturally gluten free. Dove farm is a company with great ethical and environmental policies.

Mix together flour, baking powder and flax seed. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and milk. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Prepare the banana, cut in slices. Wash the blueberries.
Pour a little bit of olive oil and then the mixture into a blini pan, plett pan (not too shallow) or non-stick egg rings. As soon as you have poured in the mixture put a couple of banana pieces on top. Cook on a low heat. Once the pancake is bubbling on top turn it over for another minute or two.

Serve with the blueberries and maple syrup

Buckwheat flour is gluten free and comes with lots of benefits. It may lower the chance of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes and also contains a lot of magnesium and anti-oxidants

Macademia nut butter smoothie with mint dark chocolate covered macademia nuts

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It’s been one of those weird weekends. A mixture of good and bad. Lots of really good, positive stuff happening. We started the weekend with some possibly great news, then accidentally found a guy who had performed at the opening ceremony for London Olympics doing bubbles ( that’s right, bubbles) and watching Z1 & Z2 ( our little ones) running after these really truly amazing bubbles was a great experience, then doing Pilates and realising that hey I’m actually stronger than this no muscle woman that I thought I was!

Then on the negative side…..the stupid stupid painful tooth ( or lack thereof ), rain most of the weekend and some stressful things hanging over my head.

Then today I decided to go gluten free for a while ( stomach just ain’t working as it should ) which I’m actually fine about doing. I have been craving bread lately which could be a sign that my body is not dealing with it very well at the moment, i.e I’m intolerant. And it’s not a nice feeling being addicted to something. I will have so much spare time thinking about other stuff now when my brain constantly isn’t screaming bread, bread, bread!

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Anyway so because it’s been these weird good/ bad couple of days I’m in need of some celebration/ comfort treat! So this is what I made for myself tonight. It’s not diet food, it’s high in calories and high in fat. ( unless you’re on some weird LCHF diet but then you need to skip the maple syrup….and the banana) Macademia nut butter is not cheap but you can make your own apparently. But it was oh so comforting and delicious….and it’s full of good stuff instead of the usual crap that comfort/ celebration food is full of.

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Small handful of macadamia nuts
20 gr dark mint chocolate (70% minimum) Fairtrade Divine chocolate is great!
1 frozen banana
10 gr raw chocolate
1 small tablespoon of macadamia nut butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or honey if you can’t find maple syrup)
40 ml coconut milk ( I use Koko dairy free with added calcium and vitamins)
I added some cacao nibs (1 teaspoon) for some extra anti-oxidants but it’s not necessary)

Melt the mint dark chocolate and cover the nuts in the chocolate. Spread them out on a baking paper. ( they don’t really have to be pretty since they will be hidden in the smoothie anyway) Use a spatula and spread out the remainder of melted chocolate (for decoration) on the baking paper and then put it in the fridge. Leave for about 20 min. Blend the rest of the ingredients make sure it doesn’t get to liquidly so add the milk last and not all in one go. Finally add the chocolate covered nuts into the smoothie and serve in a martini glass. Take of some chocolate bits from baking paper and decorate. Eat with a spoon!

Macademia nuts are packed with dietary fibre, protein, antioxidants, vitamins like vitamin E, B1, B2, B5 folate, and minerals such as selenium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.