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30 low sugar recipes to tame your sweet tooth

When it comes down to it, it’s what you eat day in day out that will drive how much of a preference you have to sweetness.

The eating psychology, emotional and mindset side of things when shifting around sugar are of course NOT to be underestimated in any sense. However, learning to make, love and habitually eat lower sugar food at least 80% of the time will keep you in that zone where you really can taste stuff that is too sweet being too sweet.

That’s a powerful place because you build trust in yourself, you self regulate around sugar better, you use less willpower and you eat lower sugar without thinking and without it being a ‘diet’ (which can backfire anyway).

In a weird way it lets you eat sugar when you want it more freely.

So to help you get this lower sugar regularity into your life, I’ve compiled 50 ‘properly’* sugar-free recipes that will do this – decrease your preference to sweetness with repeated use.

*When I say ‘properly’, I mean no medjool dates overload or made sweet with a large portion of a sugar substitute like honey or stevia. Some of them might use a little of a sugar substitute or dark chocolate here or there but I’ve checked it’s small enough to keep these in the less sweet category. I haven’t bothered putting too many mains or salads in here because most of the time they are low sugar anyway.

This list is a mixture of my own and from other great websites and I’ve added some helpful notes around each. ENJOY!!

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1. Lemon cashew melts

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A great recipe for those post meal sweet cravings. These can keep for a long time and be eaten straight from the freezer. They are super easy to make and packed full of satiating healthy fat where you’re using coconut oil and cashew butter. The lemon twist makes them totally delicious.

Get the recipe here.

2. Coconut vanilla ice cream

COconut-ICe-Cream

Completely sugar-free and with just two ingredients this recipe is crazy simple. Thanks to Sonnet over on In Sonnet’s Kitchen it’s the completely sugar-free answer to a Bounty ice cream. Make sure you use quality full fat coconut milk and a fresh vanilla pod to really get the maximum flavor. Add your own fresh fruit as optional and enjoy as a delightful dessert.

Get the recipe here

3. Rosemary & walnut granola

rosemary-walnut-granola-spoon

We always think of granola having to be sweet but have you ever considered a savoury option instead? Rosemary is an incredibly flavoursome herb that will tantalise your tastebuds so much you’ll forget sugar ever exists!

Get the recipe here

4. Sweet potato smoothie

sweet-potato-smoothie

Smoothies are usually packed with fruit, which whilst healthy, can be a fair load of sugars in one hit. For a less sweet smoothie fix, why not try this unusual sweet potato smoothie which uses just ½ a banana, a sweet potato and desiccated coconut to sweeten. It’s thick, creamy, filling and delicious.

Get the recipe here

5. Warrior banana protein loaf

Warrior-Loaf-750x488

Love banana bread? This is an amazing lower sugar alternative where just a few bananas nicely sweeten a whole 8 portion loaf. Matt and Keris from Fitter Food have also managed to pack loads of protein and superfoods into it so it’s super filling and packs a nutrient punch 10x better than conventional banana bread.

Get the recipe here

6. Maca almond coconut fudge

macafudgeside

Sugar and butter are usually the main two ingredients of fudge, however this recipe magically has neither. Using almond butter, coconut oil, desiccated coconut and adding flavour with a superfood powder, this is fudge of the healthiest variety.

Get the recipe here

7. Crunchy harissa chickpeas

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You don’t want nuts but you want something crunchy and satisfying that’s a transportable sugar-free snack? Enter in these tasty roasted chickpeas by Amelia Freer which make an ideal snack and are super simple to make with just a few ingredients.

Get the recipe here

8. Savoury olive and almond flapjacks

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Traditional flapjacks are usually packed with sugar, golden syrup and dried fruit. Why not turn sweet flapjacks on their head and try a super tasty savoury version. These are great to make on the weekend and keep handy around the house or can be a great thing to bake for guests or friends who want something a bit unusual.

Get the recipe here

9. Cashew & vanilla butter

cashewvanillabutter

Nut butters in general are a great lower sugar staple but if you fancy one with just an extra bit of sweetness and an unusual twist, this fantastically simple vanilla cashew combination by Deliciously Ella could be one to try. Use it as a sugar-free porridge topping, mixed in with natural yoghurt or on a slice of toast instead of jam. Yum!

Get the recipe here

10. Quinoa, courgette & spinach bake

spinach-quinoa-bake

Making a big breakfast bake for the week is a low sugar lifestyle winner for sure. You’re able to get vegetables and protein in whilst saving yourself masses of time. If you’re still wanting a bit of a substance, this quinoa based bake is perfect and super satisfying

Get the recipe here

11. Buckwheat & oat bread

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I know eggs for breakfast aren’t always the most practical which is why I would encourage making a savoury loaf instead to keep handy as a quick grab. Also a great addition to salads at lunch time. This super seedy grain packed one by Madeleine Shaw is the perfect sugar-free, high in protein packed goodness to do the job.

Get the recipe here

12. Cardamon & buckwheat no bake bars

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Sometimes a delicate flavour can add a slight sweetness to a recipe that reduces the need for an excess of sickly syrup or dates. Cardamon is one of those that can work some serious sugar-free magic. There’s a smidgen of rice malt syrup used in this recipe to help them stick together but the simple flavours and textures combine to make these satisfying and sweetish without being an overload.

Get the recipe here

13. Quinoa sushi

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It hurt me too when I found out, but yes sushi rice unfortunately does usually contain sugar. Now I usually have it out only once in a while so I’m not bothered for those few occasions when I do fancy it, but if you do decide you want sushi in your life more often, you could be really clever and make this sugar-free quinoa variety by the Sugar-free fairy.

Get the recipe here

14. Butternut squash and coconut soup

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Butternut squash soup of the shop bought variety usually has sugar or something sweet added to it which is a shame as it’s a warming winter staple. Making your own and usuing the creamy richness of coconut milk will bring out the same natural sweetness of the recipe sans the sugar.

Get the recipe here

15. Roasted tomato & quinoa soup

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Again tomato soup is a sugar culprit. Shop bought varieties and even restaurant ones tend to have quite a bit of sugar in them – more than other soups do. This tomato soup recipe from Laura Agar Wilson of Wholeheartedly Healthy has naturally sweetened this soup through roasting the tomatoes. She’s also added quinoa and avocado to the recipe that adds a bit more substance through protein and fat to make the soup into more of a meal.

Get the recipe here

16. Salmon & leek bake

salmon-leek-bake

Getting some oily fish in your breakfast kicks you off with super healthy protein and fat that set your tastebuds on the healthy low sugar train for the rest of the day. If you’re a salmon fan, this bake suffices as a totally delicious breakfast that will nourish and make you forget cereal ever existed.

Get the recipe here

17. Basil & spinach pesto

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You can really tantilise your tastebuds and make your food taste incredible with other flavour combinations that don’t go anywhere near sugar. Pesto is one of those wonder ingredients that can be combined with chicken, vegetables or eggs to add instant flavour that will make you literally fall in love with savoury food over and over again. This classic recipe from I Quit Sugar is just one of a number of great variations they have on their great sugar-friendly recipe website.

Get the recipe here

18. Completely sugar-free muesli

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Whilst many muesli’s can be added sugar free, they can still be packed with dried fruit and drive your cravings up if you’re not careful. It can be a much better idea to make your own dried-fruit free base and then add a fresh fruit like a few berries to naturally sweeten. This is a basic sugar-free muesli base recipe that is a low sugar stock cupboard staple once you make it up.

Get the recipe here

19. Courgette, mint & feta frittas

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Another way to have a savoury breakfast that feels fun and indulgent. Cheesy courgette frittas don’t seem healthy but if you fry them in a healthy oil then they can be. You can make a big batch of these ones from We Heart Living to carry as a sugar-free breakfast or keep as a nice snack in the fridge. Add greek yoghurt, a salsa or sour cream to serve

Get the recipe here

20. Creamed coconut sweet potato balls

coconut-sweet-potatoballs

Energy type snack balls are usually packed with dates which although healthy are still pretty sweet. Why not try a truly sugar-free option with these sweet potato and creamed coconut balls. They are filling and satisfying whilst just being slightly sweet.

Get the recipe here

21. Sugar-free tomato sauce

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It’s a staple yet most shop bought tomato sauces do nearly always contain sugar so having a sugar-free recipe in tow is essential. Although it’s an effort to make your own, you realise that it can taste so much more delicious and fresh. I love Deliciously Ella’s vegan recipe and in addition to all the traditional uses, my favourite is sugar-free tomato sauce slathered on a slice of rye bread with sliced avocado and maybe an egg for breakfast.

Get the recipe here

22. Sugar-free BBQ sauce

BBQ-sauce

BBQ sauce is a favourite for some but another sugar laden condiment that does the rounds. Thanks to Alex at Spoonfulofsugarfree.com you can have some fun recreating your own sugar-free version to impress your BBQ guests. Thanks Alex!

Get the recipe here

23. Smokey vegetable fried eggs

smokey-veg-fried-eggs

Sometimes keeping it simple is best. Fried eggs are simple, quick and easy and will always be a low sugar breakfast winner in whatever form. It’s best to add some colourful vegetables if you can so try this smokey vegetable fried eggs option as the perfect brunch option.

Get the recipe here

24. Cauliflower & coconut tart

 coconutcourgettetart

It’s important to feel like you can still indulge and eat super delicious things without the need for sugar. Rich creamy recipes are especially great for this and this cauliflower and coconut tart from Honestly Healthy fits that bill perfectly with lots of vegetables mixed in. It’s also efficient where it could easily be cooked on go and eaten for dinner, lunch with a salad or even for breakfast.

Get the recipe here

25. Berry & avocado smoothie

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Smoothies can be either pretty high in sugar or much lower depending on the amount of fruit and sugar substitutes you put in them. Whilst always healthy, lower sugar smoothies will keep you more sensitive to sweet. Filling out your smoothie or a creamy component like avocado or natural yoghurt can help you keep them tasty and lower on the sugar side of things and this recipe does exactly that.

Get the recipe here

26. Dark chocolate avocado truffles

 chocavotruffles

Some days, only chocolate will do. It’s good to have some options and even though these truffles have a little sugar, they are extremely low sugar in comparison to a Lindt truffle ball. They also pack in the nutrition and healthy fat from avocado and are super fun to make.

Get the recipe here

27. Sweet Potato & Walnut cake

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Craving cake or carbohydrates but don’t want the sugar? Whilst this isn’t low carbohydrate, it really can curb a full on cake craving and you can keep portions in the freezer that can be microwaved into a instant sugar-free cake deterrent. It has no sugar substitute whatsoever where it’s sweetened with only coconut and sweet potato. I personally have used this recipe a lot and it’s the most popular one on my website.

Get the recipe here.

28. Salt & vinegar nuts

salt & vinegar nuts

Nuts are like a staple low sugar snack that you may find yourself frequently using but they can get a bit boring if you’ve been using them regularly. It’s really important you keep things interesting so you don’t go nuts on nuts! There are some fab recipes out there to jazz up your nuts but this salt ‘n’ vinegar one from Fitter Food is a good one to try and might starve off crisp cravings at the same time!

Get the recipe here

29. Kale & avocado porridge

kaleavocado porridge

Think porridge always means sweet? Think again! I never got around to getting a truly savoury porridge or oatmeal recipe up on to the blog but I want to show that it’s possible. Shape.com have some great starter recipes – particularly they kale and avocado porridge topping with cacao nibs! If you try please report back to me!

Get the recipe here

30. Sweet potato & coconut bake

sweet-potato-breakfast-bake

Want what feels like a dessert for breakfast? This naturally sweet tasting coconut and sweet potato bake feels decadently indulgent and is completely sugar-free. Add some cream or full fat natural yoghurt to really compliment the textures. It bears some similarity to traditionally sweet bread and butter pudding but without the sugar.

Get the recipe here

So now I am completely exhausted from putting this together and want to eat everything! If this has been helpful then please do share. All these amazing other individuals that I’ve mentioned – health gurus, chefs and photographers do amazing work and there’s plenty of low sugar foodie love to share.

Any more great ones you’d like to add in a comment below please do!

Laura xx

smokey-veg-fried-eggs

Recipe: Smokey vegetable eggs

So I’m sharing a few recipes at the moment and thought this Smokey veg fried eggs one could be handy as this time of year even if it’s not the usual flavours we are accustomed to.

If you’re eating out often, it can be a bit harder to get your vegetable quota in during the day. Eating vegetables for breakfast, and a colourful variety of them is a great way to pack in the nutrients first thing and if you love BBQ smokey flavour then this recipe is for you – I love it!

smokey-veg-fried-eggs1

This is a great breakfast or brunch for the weekend – it’s super easy and simple too. It takes a little time but if you could up double on a Sunday, you can enjoy the leftovers on Monday morning to save you valuable time (that you could use to get the Christmas cards out!).

Also works as a quick lunch or dinner. If you’re not a spicy hot fan then just tone down the spices a little to your preference.

Smokey vegetable eggs

smokey-veg-fried-eggs

Serves 2 (or serves one and makes a meal for another day)

Ingredients

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp butter/ghee/coconut oil

Method

  • Heat the fat on a low-med heat in a large pan (use a medium pan if just serving 1) and meanwhile chop the green pepper & sweet potato into 1 cm cubes.
  • Add to the pan with the the chipotle, coriander and season with salt and pepper. Mix and fry for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile chop the courgette into 1cm cubes and then add to the pan to fry.
  • Turn on the grill to a medium heat.
  • Continue to fry the vegetables until the sweet potato is cooked to your liking. I like mine not too soft and a little crunchy (about 5 mins cooking time)
  • Create a well in the middle, add a smidge more cooking fat and break the eggs into the pan.
  • Cook over the hob heat for 1 ½ minutes and then transfer to the grill. Grill for another 2 ½ minutes and then serve.

Try this

  • Serve with fresh coriander and ¼ of an avocado.
  • If serving just one, siphon off half of the vegetables in another dish after cooking. Let them cool and to store in the fridge. You could also pre-boil 2 of the eggs to have with them.
  • Like it less spicy? Swap the chipolte for cumin powder.
  • All coloured peppers, carrots and onion can also work well in this recipe.

Any questions about the recipe? Fancy trying it? Eggs and veggies with some avocado and you can’t go wrong!

Time to change around sugar?

Love this recipe but feel like you are not sure where to start with recalibrating your tastebuds, dealing with emotional eating, changing habits etc? Then check out my free 4-video training course which describes my four pillars to embrace a low sugar lifestyle and sends you LOADS of other helpful resources to get started.

 

 

thai-pork-burgers-corner

Thai sesame pork burgers

Unfortunately Thai food can often equal sugar. Most bought stir-fry sauces will have a sugar of some form and many recipes online will call for you to add some.

However do you LOVE Asian flavours? What to do if you’re trying to shift to a lower sugar diet and lifestyle?

My love of Asian flavours

I had this dilemma for a while because I absolutely love Asian food and flavours. I practically lived off Thai green curry when backpacking around Thailand a few years ago and I used to often cook stir-frys because they could be super low fat, quick, easy and healthy (or so I thought). I would always use a bought sauce and hence be consuming hidden sugar.

However, since going low sugar and becoming aware of the sweetened nature of sauces, I have to say I moved away from stir-frys as a regular weekly meal – they became more one-off and I’d attempt at making a sauce DIY (please comment below if you use or know of any great sugar-free stir-fry recipes).

I decided to get Asian flavour in through other means and so here’s a recipe for Thai sesame pork burgers that gets some Asian flavour in without the need for sugar. I’ve also got an Asian dressing recipe that does the same.

Thai sesame pork burgers

thai-pork-burgers-corner

Recipe adapted from Fitter Food

Makes 6 burgers

Ingredients

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (about a thumb sized piece)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander
  • 1 fresh green chilli, chopped
  • 1 egg

thai-pork-burgers

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark and line a tray with baking parchment.
  • Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and with clean hands, mix everything together thoroughly.
  • Shape the mixture into 6 size burgers and place on the lined tray
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes

Note: You may notice a layer of fat that lines the tray after baking – don’t worry this is normal!

Try this

  • Sautee some pak choi in coconut oil or sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Add cold to a salad for a serious protein boost
  • Slice some cucumber and chop some red pepper on the side and add some sesame oil or Asian style salad dressing

pork-burgers-salad thai-pork-bugers-side

What do you do when it comes to Asian food and sugar? Any recipes or stir-fry sauces you’ve found that help? Share the love in a comment below or let me know how you go with this recipe.

 

 

spinach-quinoa-bake

Quinoa, courgette & spinach bake

The mornings can be a rush can’t they? You’re trying to kick off with your tasks and responsibilities. Get to work, sort the kids, respond to emails, social messages, organise your diary…. the list goes on. I commend all the Mum’s out there as I know you have it particularly tough.

The last thing you want is to have to spend longer than you want on a healthy breakfast.

So many people say to me, I don’t have time to make eggs each morning and I completely understand. Whilst my self-employed lifestyle is different these days, I did use to travel a lot with my job at IBM and on many days I had to leave at 6:30am to get a train somewhere.

Cooking scrambled eggs at that time was not really an option if I wanted to have a decent amount of sleep and look half respectable!

Egg type bakes and efficient cooking habits absolutely were the cornerstone to my low sugar success. They stopped me from grabbing sugary things from train stations and they saved me quite a bit of money too.

So here’s a easily transportable and reheatable spinach, courgette quinoa bake recipe that packs in super protein nutrition and gets those valuable greens in first thing.

spinach-quinoa-bake-close

I’m on a mission to ban ‘no time for healthy breakfast’ excuses if it’s the last thing I do!

This recipe is relatively easy and is a protein packed substantial breakfast-snack-lunch that packs in nutritious green vegetables and amino acid busting quinoa. It’s gluten-free but feels a little bit like a savoury flapjack of sorts.

Quinoa, courgette & spinach bake

spinach-quinoa-bake

Serves 9 small portions as a snack or 6 larger breakfast portions

Ingredients

  • 200g or 4-5 large handfuls of spinach (washed)
  • 1 courgette, make 9 slices and dice the rest.
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 knob butter & some extra for greasing
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary (you can use fresh if you want)
  • 200g dried quinoa (1 cup) made according to packet directions
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk (I used almond milk in this case)
  • 25g grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

spinach-quinoa-bake-corner

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Method

  • Grease an 8inch glass baking dish with butter and pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Cook the quinoa according to the packet
  • Prepare a big bowl of water with ice cubes in it
  • Cook (blanche) the spinach by bringing a pot of large water to boil and placing the spinach in it. Cook for 1 minute until the spinach goes dark green.
  • Drain in a sieve and quickly put into the iced water. This helps keep the nutrients.
  • Once cooled, remove the spinach from the iced bowl and squeeze out the excess water. Place in a bowl on the side for later.
  • Heat the knob of butter in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the onion, garlic for a few minutes.
  • Add the diced courgette, rosemary and season with salt and pepper
  • Cook until the onion is translucent and the courgette soft
  • Add all the ingredients (quinoa, onion courgette mix, spinach, cheese, eggs) together in a bowl and mix together.
  • Spoon into the glass dish and push down evenly
  • Add the courgette slices, some extra grated parmesan and black pepper to the top
  • Cook in the oven for 60-70 minutes until golden on top
  • Leave to cool & then slice up into portions & keep in the fridge

Try this

  • Ok I know there’s garlic in this, but honestly it’s good enough to eat for breakfast!
  • Use as a carry around sugar-free snack or substantial protein-healthy carbohydrate addition to a lunchtime salad.
  • Use a sneaky way to get nutrient packed spinach into children’s diets or grown ups who don’t like green vegetables!

Do you struggle with finding the time to have a healthy protein packed breakfast in the morning?

green-bowl-corner

Rosemary walnut granola & broccoli mash

Like crunchy stuff in the morning but don’t want sugar?

Do you LOVE granola but are conscious that even the healthier sweeter ones still put that sweet in your mouth?

Granola is just moorish, satisfying and well of course, sweet isn’t it.

I used to be hooked on sugary granola, like snacking on it out of the box throughout the day and using it as my more healthy sugar fix that really wasn’t that healthy. You may know that yellow-orange box Dorset Cereal honey one? Fair to say I was rather out of control with that stuff for a period of time. The lowest sugar granola on the market I’ve found since is Lizi’s Granola which I’ve reviewed here.

To put each into comparison, the Dorset Cereal honey one is 15% sugar where as Lizi’s is just 4%. Quite a difference.

granolanuts

Anyway, if you’ve a serious granola weakness like me, say big hello to this savoury rosemary and walnut variation. This recipe is super simple and requires NO sweetening with sugar, date syrup, rice syrup or anything else. You can get a granola hit whilst your dialling down your palate to sweetness. The rosemary and the natural sweetness from the roasting of the nuts and seeds makes this tasty and satisfying.

Warning: It’s so nice, it’s very moorish but in a savoury salty way that is a little more controllable than with a sugary one.

I’ve made this recipe nut and seed heavy over the oats. This makes it a great fat and protein topping for soups, salads and dips where it’s lower on the carbohydrate count. You can adjust these proportions if you wish e.g add more oats or remove them completely.

Let me know what you think and enjoy

Sugar-free rosemary & walnut granola

rosemary-walnut-granola-spoon

Makes a batch that serves about 10-12 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups (150g) walnut halves (ideally activated to make them easier on your digestion)
  • 1 cup (130g) cashew nuts
  • 1 cup (140g) mixed seeds (I did 50:50 sunflower & pumpkin)
  • ½ cup (60g) rolled oats (use gluten free buckwheat or quinoa flakes if you like)
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary (or use fresh if you like)
  • ½ tsp coarse black pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp melted unflavoured coconut oil (you can substitute olive oil if you want)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

rosemary-walnut-granola-tray

rosemary-walnut-granola-masonjar

 Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Chop all the nuts roughly
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and make sure all is coated with the oil. If you need add a little more up to 1 more tablespoon
  • Line a baking tray with parchment and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until starting to go golden
  • Remove and let cool thoroughly before keeping in an airtight container
  • Serve as a topping, eat as a snack or have for breakfast with milk/yoghurt of your choice

What did I do with mine?

I was replenishing after an indulgent wedding weekend so I whipped together this super green vegan veggie bowl with kale, avocado, spinach, tahini and the granola.

green-bowl

green-bowl-side

One day I also made some broccoli & basil mash and had it on top for a light lunch. It was nutritious, full of texture, unusual and mighty delicious! I kept leftovers in the fridge and I even had this with the granola on top for breakfast the next day. Who said eating lower sugar was boring!?!

Broccoli mash

broccoli-basil-mash-granola

Makes 2-3 portions of mash

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • handful fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (ideally odourless like this one)
  • 1-2 tbsp of the water the broccoli cooks in
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  • Steam the the broccoli in a pan with a little boiling water until soft
  • Reserve the water and cool in a colander under some cold water
  • Add everything to a food processor and blend
  • You can re-heat the mash in the microwave or eat cold (I loved it cold especially on a hot day)

Are you a fan of granola? Have you ever thought of or tried savoury? Fancy trying this? Do you know that yellow-orange Dorset Cereal stuff I’m talking about!!??

Maca-almond-fudge

Maca almond coconut fudge (no sugar or sugar substitutes!)

This recipe came about because I wanted to play. I’ve not been at home in my kitchen for three months and I didn’t realise how much I missed combining random sugar-free ingredients!

macafudgebite

 

These are little satisfying bites you can keep in the freezer to help curb a post meal ‘something’ fix or a sugar craving. They’re also full of goodness to boost the nutrition density of your day!

Maca almond coconut fudge

Makes 6-8 pieces

macaalmondcoconutfudgetop

Ingredients

  • 1 tbls melted coconut oil
  • 3 tbls almond butter
  • 3 tbls desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbls maca powder (omit if you want, see notes below)
  • Cacao nibs for topping

Method

  • Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Put into ice cube trays, top with cacao nibs and freeze for 2 hours.
  • The combination of ingredients means these don’t go too hard and so can be eaten straight from the freezer in fudge like fashion!

macafudgeside 

Why use maca powder?

I’ve taken interest in maca powder in the last 6 months and decided to try it.  Maca is a root which is traditionally grown in Peru and is usually found in powder or capsule forms. It’s known for being an aphrodisiac and has a growing reputation as being effective for hormonal balance – something that I was working on myself towards the end of last and start of this year (more on this to come).

Looking at the science, the strongest evidence on maca is around it increasing libido, however preliminary research suggests maca can help protect the brain, improve bone health and even improve cognitive ability in healthy people. The science on its hormonal effects isn’t there but there are professionals who swear by it.

Science and others’ options aside, I like to give these things a go myself!

I purchased both some Creative Nature maca powder and some capsules to try as a supplement. Now after taking the supplements for two weeks my hormonal issue (I was suffering from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea which you can read lots of helpful information about here), seemed to be relieved and has since not returned. However I was doing lots of other things to help with this (more rest, weight gain, reducing stress etc.) so I’m not really clear what worked. I was just happy that something had finally sorted it and continued to use the maca powder, more than anything these days because I do really like the taste and texture of it.

Hence why I decided to beef up the nutrition of this fudge with the maca addition. You can include or omit it from the recipe quite easily.

Have you been curious about maca powder? Do you use it as supplement at all? Let me know what you think of the recipe.

alchemysalad

Living lower sugar…in Bali

In this article today I want to give you a bit of a guide and lowdown to how I’ve been living a lower sugar diet in Bali and the practicalities of this.

If you ever come on holiday or to work here, this may be helpful. However, it’s also likely to show you general principles, tips and tricks for keeping a practical healthy when you’re away and reassure you that life can still be lived without overdoing it on sweetness.

Why am I in Bali?

Just quickly I’ll explain this. I’m not on one big holiday as it seems. I’m actually here to focus and get clarity on where, how and what I want to do with Happy Sugar Habits going forward (exciting things in the making!). I’m in a place called Ubud – which is also renowned for it’s yoga and health scene but also now a supportive business community. It’s inspiration on steroids, seriously.

There is a co-working space called Hubud (with a raw food café!), a network of support and a vibrant expat community. I’ve continued to blog, work on projects and coach over Skype much the same as I would in the UK (my clients just see a lot of bamboo in the background!)

You can read more about where I am in this Telegraph article that was published last weekend all about it.

So what’s the deal with the sugar and food out here…

I’m eating out 90% of the time

I don’t really have a fully functional kitchen here so I eat out most of the time. It’s affordable and social. I miss my kitchen and the process of cooking somewhat, and obviously I’m not overseeing what exactly goes in the food, how it’s cooked etc. I know to some this sounds like a dream (no cooking hassle) and to others it sounds like a nightmare (loss of control). I’d be interested to know what your personal thoughts would be if you were to switch to this for a period of time? I have to say I’m really enjoying it, especially now I know where I can get quality goodness at a good price.

The first picture below is a raw food avocado sandwich from Living Food Lab and the second is a DIY salad from Alchemy.

rawlunch

alchemysalad

Experimental vs. home comfort

When looking through my pictures of food I realise I don’t have as many of real local food as I would like. You’re really spoilt for choice in Ubud and can get a very wide range of healthy and international cuisines. One minute I’ll eat really local but the next I’ll just find a feta cheese salad or something. This comes with being away for longer than a month. Sometimes I just want to know what I’m getting and that it’s going to have enough vegetables to make me happy and not too much suspect oil that makes me feel unwell.

I keep largely to the basic principles of eating lots of veg, ensuring some healthy fat (usually avocado, olive oil dressing, nuts or seeds) and some protein (usually eggs, tempeh, tofu, tuna or chicken).

gadogado2

Breakfast

Eggs are in abundance here. Breakfast I’m often having eggs with sides or just some local fruit (banana, mangosteen) with nuts or seeds if I’m not that hungry. One time I ate an avocado and some coconut flakes which was a bit random. Over the past few months I’ve started eating avocado like a fruit (technically it is one anyway).

breakfast

In my homestay where I stayed early on I would have poached eggs, tomato and a watermelon juice plus some nuts I bought myself on the side for healthy fat.

eggsandtomato

The pictures below are breakfasts I’ve had at Clear Café Ubud and Atman Kafe – two places that are more touristy/expat centred but have understood well what the health conscious yogi’s here want.

clearcafeeggsbreakfast

scrambledvegeggs

On the cheaper side, most local warungs (restaurants) you can get a load of greens & a few boiled eggs for less than £1. I’ve also tried some interesting savoury breakfasts like the rice, ginger, peanut and green bean dish in the picture.

savourygingerbreakfast

Pancakes are a common breakfast option here I’ve seen many have. I’ve had a couple – one being at 2am before I climbed a mountain. They are usually dripping in honey and have sugar added to the pancake mix so are obviously not the best regular breakfast to have. Note that day I also had warm banana sandwiches and boiled eggs cooked by the steam at the top. Flipping cool that I had to share!

mountaineggsbanana

Vegetarian focus (Ubud)

I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve been eating a lot more vegetarian. Ubud is this super health conscious bubble in Bali and there’s a big vegan and vegetarian scene. Generally I like this a lot as it means an abundance of vegetables, however sometimes I do find I’m craving more fat and sometimes more protein. Ordering a side of avocado or maybe some tuna helps with this.

The picture below is a tempeh lasagne I had. It was amazing but I was starving after a hardcore yoga vinyassa class and found I was still a bit hungry afterwards – needed more satiating fat!

tempehlasagne

One of my favourite Indonesian vegetarian dishes here is Gado Gado – boiled vegetables, egg, tofu, tempeh and peanut sauce. I’m not sure exactly what they put in the peanut sauce from place to place – but I know it most (if not all) of the time contains two ingredients I’m not a massive fan of – sugar and vegetable oil. Both of these are not ideal but I let them slide as generally Gado Gado is a healthy, cheap local option and I now ask for the peanut sauce on the side so I can dip at my leisure (I once ordered it and it was like a few vegetables in peanut sauce soup!).

gadogado

Sugar on the side

Juices, teas and coffees you usually get a shot of sugar or sugar syrup on the side here. I quite like the concept of this as it gives people the option to add sweetness according to their own taste preference (where I can opt to add none). Wouldn’t it be great if everything had this option?

However sometimes they do automatically add sugar to something like a watermelon juice or iced coffee so I’ve got into the habit of just saying ‘no sugar’ or ‘sugar on side’ when I order. It’s quite widely accepted as a request here – so much so that some places they even ask me before I say it. The picture below is an organic red rice tea I tried – naturally sweet from the rice and no sugar needed (well for me anyway).

ricetea

Drinks

I find in hot countries drinks are tricky because you can crave something more than just water. I written about this here and some tips you can use.

One amazing thing over here is the abundance of limes and coconuts. As an alternative to good old water, my low sugar drinks of choice to quench thirst are fresh lime juice (no sugar added) and young coconut water. Both are low in fructose and super refreshing when cold. You can also get lime and mint blends, water with cucumber and coconut water that’s infused with cinnamon. All totally sugar-free.

limejuice

When I get home, I’m going to make a big bottle of lime infused water and keep in my fridge for the summer! For anyone that complains just water is boring or is still tempted by fizzy drinks, this is a great one to try.

I do also have the occasional watermelon juice. It’s got a high water content and so is really refreshing without being too sweet (just check they don’t add the sugar).

Green juices are all around here. I tend to drink them for added nutrition rather than to quench or satisfy thirst. I also double check how much % fruit they are but I have to say the green juices here are veggie hardcore compared to the 60% apple juice type you get a lot of places at home in the UK.

Watching out for natural sugars

Because of the thriving health scene here, there are lots of ‘healthy’ sweet treats made with healthier alternatives to refined white sugar. Whilst this is great, I recognise this as a potential danger zone for me. You’ll find it hard to get hooked on white ‘sugar’ here but you’ll find it very easy to build up a fructose preference if you’re not careful.

There are loads of bliss type balls made with dates, cakes made with coconut sugar, blended iced drinks sweetened with honey etc. I’ve had a few as a treat here and there because largely I can trust myself more with sweet food, however there are days when I notice cravings creeping up if I go too much on these so I’m still careful. Luckily on the whole my body does tell me when I’ve had enough.

blissball

Sometimes I buy something and just test it out with my own tastebuds to gauge the fructose. For example I found these low sugar biscuits at a place Dayu’s Warung that are sweetened more heavily with coconut. I also found some bliss bars that again use goji berries and coconut rather than dates to sweeten which suffices for less of a fructose hit.

Finally…chocolate banana pizza!

I know this isn’t healthy but I found it amusing. There is a popular pizza joint here and they serve a chocolate and banana pizza. Some of my friends go crazy for it. I would have previously gone crazy for it but actually it makes me feel a bit sick now (I did try one slice of a friends and confirmed this).

chocolatepizza

 

I think it’s a good litmus test to help you determine where you are with sugar. Do you want to eat the entire chocolate pizza? Are you just curious to try a slice? Or does it really not appeal to you for various reasons? I would love to hear in a comment below!

The final message

I know this is a random lot of info but I just wanted to share honestly that I’m not eating super super healthy all of the time but I am still eating a lower sugar lifestyle whilst enjoying myself, being social, doing everything I want to etc. I hope it helps you do two things 1) learn some tips and tricks to use when away 2) know that wherever you are in moving towards a life less sugar, it’s really not a life sentence and can be practically managed.

Any thoughts or questions? Could you eat that PIZZA!!?? LOL

P.S if you like this article then let me know as I’ve got enough material to write a Part II!

P.P.S If you’ve enjoyed these pictures then follow me on Instagram for more and say hello…

@happysugarhabits (lower sugar lifestyle tips and inspiration

@lauraj_thomas (my personal account – food, sunsets and cute stuff)

 

 

sugar-free-muesli

Fructose-free muesli base recipe

Muesli was one of my favourite sugar-filled foods but even when labelled sugar-free, it can still be packed to the nines with dried fruit.

Make this basic muesli base and you can call the shots on the sugar in your muesli bowl by either having it plain or by adding a little fruit sweetness to your own taste depending on where you are with your sweet cravings.

Fructose-free muesli base

sugar-free-muesli

Makes 8-10 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups mixed nuts (I use hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts but any mix will do)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup flaxseed powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • ½ cup chia seeds (optional)
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds

Method

  • Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
  • Pour into an airtight container
  • Serve with your choice of cold milk, yoghurt or extras

sugarfree-muesli

Try this

  • If you’re in a super low fructose period, try mixing with some full fat yoghurt and topping with coconut flakes and raw cacao nibs.
  • For a low fructose twist add either some fresh raspberries, a chopped kiwi fruit or some blueberries.
  • Ultimately as you grow more confident with sweet, add whichever fruit you like best – I personally love either chopped apple, peach or goji berries with cacao nibs
  • Activating or soaking your nuts will make them easier to digest

Do you make your own muesli? Have you found any that are particularly low sugar that you would be willing to share?

Time to change around sugar?

Love this recipe but feel like you are not sure where to start with recalibrating your tastebuds, dealing with emotional eating, changing habits etc? Then check out my free 4-video training course which describes my four pillars to embrace a low sugar lifestyle and sends you LOADS of other helpful resources to get started.

 

sweet-potato-smoothie

Low sugar sweet potato smoothie recipe

When you’re first transitioning to lower sugar life, I’ll always recommend you start with a hearty egg-based breakfast of sorts to get you into the savoury groove.

However I know with summer months on their way and the fun of a blender, smoothies are quite desirable and I’m a fan.

They are something to experiment with when you really notice your tastebuds have become more sensitive to sweet food because you’ll appreciate them and will be able to use just a small bit of fruit to make them slightly sweet.

I’ve already written quite a lot on smoothies from a low sugar standpoint that should help you:

Today I have an awesome recipe to share…a low sugar sweet potato smoothie!! This was delicious. I’m writing this now and I want some again.

It is a great recipe for kids who don’t like the look of green smoothie and prefer orange. It packs in the fantastic nutrition of a sweet potato at breakfast and is nicely balanced with protein, healthy fat & carbohydrate. Also because the sweet potato has a naturally sweet flavour, you only need a little banana and coconut to make this palatable. I’ve noted the base recipe here, but as with all smoothies, you can add whole load of extras if you wish.

Sweet potato smoothie

sweet-potato-smoothie

 

Makes 2 portions

Ingredients

½ frozen banana (in slices or chunks) or ½ banana plus a few ice cubes
1 large sweet potato
5 tbsp full fat Greek yoghurt
300ml milk of choice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
2 tbsp flaxseed powder (optional)
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Coconut flakes, chia seeds & cinnamon to top

Optional Extras

2 tbsp nut butter
2 tbsp sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp maca powder
Chopped nuts or seeds (topping)
Cacao nibs (topping)

Method

Cook the sweet potato in the microwave for 7-9 minutes until soft and cooked through. (You could also bake it the night before and refrigerate of course)
Peel the skin off and mash onto a plate to cool a little. If you have time let it cool for 10 mins.
Add all the other ingredients to your blender.
Finally add the sweet potato and blend together.
Divide into two glasses and add toppings.

Notes:

Cook once eat twice: Cover one smoothie portion with cling film & have the next day.
If your smoothie isn’t cold enough, add an ice cube or two.
Swap in coconut milk and yoghurt/cream to make this dairy free.
Use Greek yoghurt to maximise the protein but natural yoghurt will work fine.

Do you fancy trying out this smoothie recipe? Have you ever thought of putting sweet potato in a smoothie before?

lemon-almond-cake-sugar-free

The sugar-free recipe you need when only cake will do

So there’s a special or particular social occasion coming up and people are expecting CAKE! It’s like sugar dilemma 101.

Do you make a full sugar cake and just try not to eat too much of it (potential mental torture), or do you try a sugar substitute one (will they like it – risky business!) or do you try and make excuses (risk social isolation or ridicule).

First world problems at their best right?!

So what do you do?!! How do you navigate?

Maybe you’ve been asked to bake something for a charity cake bake or you’ve got people coming around for afternoon tea. It could be the birthday of one of your children or it’s your turn to bring in the office treat.

First of all, ask yourself how often this happens. If this is a frequent occurrence and you want to live a lower sugar lifestyle where cravings haven’t got the better of you, then it may be the case that you do need to manage some expectations and shift your activities. Doing this could be a whole other article in itself so I’m going to assume this is more a one off and focus on what actually to take.

Firstly you could seek a savoury cake or bake alternative. I have a few you can try:

However, I get that your friends or family just might not be overwhelmed with joy if they’re expecting something sweet with their cuppa and you present them with olives & spinach!

If this is the case then you could use this as a good opportunity to experiment with some sugar-free baking.

Savoury over sweet

Now, I don’t have many sweet recipes on this blog, simply because if you’re trying to change your taste buds and take reign over cravings, you need to be getting into the habit of savoury foods the majority of the time. When you do, there’s less need for sweet stuff.

I see sooooo many ‘sugar-free’ blogs that are just packed with sweet recipes and really if you’re successfully ‘low sugar’, you just don’t want to eat that stuff all the time. I do eat some sweet things and I enjoy them, but just not that often. I really don’t go out of my way to make them all the time and would rather get my sugar quota when I’m out socially – which can even occasionally involve eating real sugar!

That said, I’ve wanted one GEM of a sweet cake recipe on the website that you can use for social sugar situations that is relatively healthy.

Baking a communally sweet cake

Sometimes I like cakes and biscuits a lot less sweet than others, and so I appreciate not everyone may like the sweet potato and coconut cake.

When I say baking a communally sweet cake, I mean baking a cake that everyone likes and where they don’t have a clue it’s sugar-free.

If you’re keeping your low sugar efforts low profile then you just keep quiet, or you can wait for ‘this is delicious’ and then spring it on them that it’s sugar-free (maximum social points).

I’ve gone for a classic lemon and almond cake which is even gluten-free too (& you wouldn’t know).

IMG_6489

Now the important question… which sugar substitute did I use?!!

I have a philosophy that there is just not one best sugar substitute out there. I say that because I don’t think it’s a good idea to go hard on one particular thing and if something is labeled as ‘good’ then people can go to town on it i.e. eat it all the time thinking it’s healthy.

Yes brown rice syrup is low in fructose and on the preferred list, but that isn’t a license to over eat on it. I’d also advise you read this article on Authority Nutrition about it.

All sugar substitutes ideally should be consumed in moderation and if you do this, then it’s less significant which one you use (if you get what I mean).

For this cake I’ve used xylitol. I’ve written about xylitol here but I’ve used this sugar substitute because:

  • The cake recipe needed to substitute sugar in 1:1 and xylitol does that
  • I had never tried baking with it and wanted to experiment (I would encourage you to experiment with a variety too)
  • I wanted to share that there are different options and make the above point to you
  • A nice chap called Daniel at Total Sweet sent me some!

I have to say, that after seeing how well this cake came out and how delicately sweet it is without being sickly, I do like xylitol as a sugar substitute for baking. I also know that Total Sweet is quite widely available as I mentioned in my video review of it last week.

Now finally, we get to the cake..

Lemon & almond cake (sweetened with xylitol)

lemon-almond-cake-sugar-free

Recipe adapted from www.simplyrecipes.com

Makes one cake (8 slices)

Note: You do need an electric whisk for this recipe and it’s quite important.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated and at room temperature (see how to separate eggs here )
  • 100g (1 cup) xylitol (I used Total Sweet)
  • 200g (1 ¾ cup) ground almonds
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom (or 3 pods freshly ground)
  • Zest of a lemon (about 1-2 tsp worth or until your arm hurts!)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt

 Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a round 9-inch tine with greased parchment paper (grease both sides with butter or coconut oil)
  2. In a large bowl beat the egg yolks, lemon zest and 1/3 cup (about 30g) of xylitol until smooth with a wooden spoon
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour, cardamom and baking powder. Add this flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon
  4. With an electric whisk, beat the egg whites where you start on a low speed and gradually increase. When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar (this helps maintain the structure of the cake).
  5. When the eggs have a lighter fluffy volume, add in the rest of the xylitol (2/3 cup) and beat again with the whisk, using the gradual speed increase again. Beat until soft peaks form.
  6. Fold these beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large spoonful at a time. The first few you might not think it’s working but as you add more, a light cake batter will form.
  7. Scoop all of the mixture into your prepared tin and place in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes until firm and slightly golden on the surface.
  8. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove from the tin and parchment and let cool for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Serve and impress all of your friends and family!

Have you tried baking with xylitol before? What do you do when you’re asked to bring/bake a cake for a wider group? Has this been a previous dilemma for you?!

Time to change around sugar?

Love this recipe but feel like you are not sure where to start with recalibrating your tastebuds, dealing with emotional eating, changing habits etc? Then check out my free 4-video training course which describes my four pillars to embrace a low sugar lifestyle and sends you LOADS of other helpful resources to get started