salmon-leek-bake-whole

Sugar-free breakfast: Salmon & leek bake recipe

Have you ever got something out of the freezer, let it defrost and then realise you don’t need it for whatever reason?

I did this last week with two salmon fillets and so I decided to create a new recipe that would allow me to eat them for breakfast instead. The result is this delicious, easy and very practical breakfast bake. I had an insanely early start last week, travelling up to Preston on the 5:30am train from Euston (which required a 4:40am taxi!). This bake saved me from having to make do with a panini or instant porridge pot from the Virgin train cafe.

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With the good omega-3 fats, a serious amount of protein and the fibre from the vegetables, this is a superb #happysugarhabit breakfast that is mega tasty, easily transported and will keep hunger at bay about 10x better than a bowl of Shreddies!

It will set you up in the morning with a tasty savoury flavour and get your body burning fat and protein over a sustained period of time rather than an insulin-spiking quick release carbohydrate or sugary breakfast likely to have you starving for lunch…or even worse, craving sugary things at 11am! Another recipe similar to this is the feta & leek breakfast casserole.

Efficient cooking

I’ve tried to write the recipe instructions in a way that helps you cook this in the quickest time possible – telling you what to do and when, to ensure you’re as time efficient as possible. This is just me being process geeky (I used to be a process consultant) but it’s to help you when that ‘I haven’t got time’ excuse starts to come up.

If you find it helpful to follow such detailed instructions and cooking times then please leave a comment below and I will try to write more recipes with specific instructions of this nature. I will also time them accurately so I can add how long each will take (& if you can have a shower/feed the kids in the middle somewhere!).

So here’s the recipe….enjoy!

Salmon & leek breakfast bake

Makes 5-6 portions

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 small-med leek, 1 cm sliced
  • 1 small courgette, grated
  • 2 tbls cottage cheese (optional)
  • 2 tbls milk (again use almond if you want to be dairy free)
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 knob butter

Method

Heat the grill to medium, line a tray with foil and add the salmon fillets, seasoning with salt & pepper & a squeeze of lemon juice. Grill until cooked through (3-4 minutes on each side).

In the meantime, heat the butter in a pan at low-medium heat whilst you chop the vegetables. Add the leeks and courgette and slowly fry to soften for 5-10mins, stirring occasionally whilst you do the other bits.

Grease a baking dish with butter.

Remove the cooked salmon from the grill and turn the grill off. Put the oven on at 180C to preheat. Remove the skin from the salmon and roughly break up/chop.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, parsley, milk & cottage cheese together in a large bowl. By now your vegetables should have softened.

Drain the leeks and courgettes.  Add the drained leeks, courgette and chopped salmon to your egg mix. Combine well & season with extra salt & pepper to taste.  Pour into the greased dish, scatter with a little more dried parsley.

Bake in the oven for 40mins until cooked through (test with a knife in the middle). If it doubt, give it another 5 minutes.

Serve with a side of your choice e.g. spinach or avocado goes well. Alternatively just wrap portions in foil and use for breakfast/lunch/dinner on the hoof when you know you won’t have time to eat properly.

Can you see yourself eating salmon for breakfast and enjoying it? Are time saving process instructions helpful to you? Would love to know so please leave a comment below or ask me a question :)

Laura xx

The kindest sugar detox ever!

If you’re feeling like you might be ready to experiment with a structured sugar detox programme to help you develop a healthier relationship with sweet (& yourself in the process) then don’t forget to make sure you’re at the front of the queue to hear the latest around Mentor Me Off Sugar come the new year. This programme positively changes lives, attitudes and habits – I would love it to help you too!

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Sugar-free chocolate chip spiced pumpkin cookies

As I’ve mentioned before, some days I still crave cake. I don’t crave the sugar as much, it’s the real ‘cake’ texture with a cup of tea that I occasionally fancy. So I seek to develop recipes that can hit that spot without being overly sweet. My tried and trusted favourite to date is my sweet potato and walnut cake.

This recipe also hits the spot pretty well, but as with my recipes like this I will warn you that it is really low sugar.  Your carrot cake loving friend may not be falling over themselves to have another and likewise because they aren’t too sweet, you’re unlikely to eat more than 1-2 at a time.

I’ve used brown rice syrup but I also tried this recipe with a 50:50 blend of brown rice syrup and stevia (I used Natvia) which worked just as well. If you do want them sweeter, you can probably use the same quantity of a healthier higher fructose sugar substitute like coconut sugar, date sugar or raw honey. However they obviously won’t be as ‘fructose-free’ of low sugar.

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This recipe uses up any leftover pumpkin you have around but works just as well with butternut squash. I quite often roast two halves of a butternut squash and keep them in the fridge ready to use during the week. If I have any left over, I mash and freeze it in ice cube trays to use in recipes like this or, if I fancy it, in pumpkin/butternut squash porridge.

Because I made these more to my low sugar palate, I froze most of them so that I have a quick microwavable cake fix at home that won’t result in later sugar cravings. If you’re a cake fan, it’s a good strategy to try and it can help you break down your cravings i.e. work out if it’s a texture craving or a sugar/fructose craving.

Anyway, enough of my rambling…here’s the recipe…enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments below – would love to know how you go with these.

Sugar-free chocolate chip spiced pumpkin cookies

Makes 12 large cookies

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Ingredients

  • 125g butter (softened)
  • 190g rye or wholemeal flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tbls brown rice syrup (or Natvia or a mix of both)
  • 125g pumpkin mash (or butternut squash mash)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp all spice
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (I used freshly grated)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped(I used Green & Blacks 85%)

 Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Line two baking trays with parchment paper
  • Combine the butter with brown rice syrup (or/and Natvia) in a large bowl. You may need to melt the butter slightly if not soft enough. Do this by placing in a glass bowl and put in the heating oven for a few minutes to do so
  • Add the vanilla essence and whisk together
  • Add the egg and whisk until combined
  • Add the pumpkin mash, and whisk until combined
  • Combine the flour, spices, baking powder together in a bowl
  • Fold 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time into the wet mixture until all combined
  • Add the chocolate chunks or chips
  • Spoon 6 large tablespoons of the mixture onto each baking tray
  • Place in the oven for 20 minutes until slightly brown

Best served when warm straight out of the oven with a glass of cold milk or a cup of tea!

Also a quick note..

Want to adjust your palate low sugar style so you need less sweet to satisfy? Mentor Me Off Sugar is unfortunately now closed for new enrolments but you can get to the front of the queue for the next kick off after Christmas 2014. Click here to get yourself on my priority radar and enter your details into the form.

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Loaf vintage

Spinach, olive & feta loaf

So on Friday I made a savoury loaf to fix a need for something bread-like with a cake texture. It came out beautifully and I have to share the recipe with you. I’ve had a slice with mashed avocado for breakfast this morning and it was a delightfully indulgent lazy sunday breakfast.

At first I was like olives at breakfast…can I do this!? However, I successfully broke down my olive-breakfast barrier going to new savoury heights. Try it! There are only a few and they just add something to this recipe. You can also freeze slices and either toast at home (make them thin for this) or defrost on the way to work.

Unfortunately I just didn’t take too many great pictures but the recipe will make up for it….

Loaf original

Spinach, olive & feta loaf

Recipe adapted from Sarah Wilson’s Paleo inside out bread from her I Quit Sugar for Life book.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour (swap for 3/4 cup arrowroot for gluten free)
  • 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
  • 10 black pitted olives
  • 25g feta cheese
  • 25g parmesan cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • large handful spinach
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method

  • Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to 160C
  • Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ground almonds in a big bowl
  • Whisk the eggs lightly and add the apple cider vinegar
  • Wilt the spinach in a pan with a little water or in the microwave for about 90 seconds. Drain and add to the egg mixture making sure it doesn’t all clump together.
  • Add the olives, cheeses, parsley & stir
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-50 minutes

Loaf close up

As you can see, I’m not strictly gluten-free. I naturally don’t eat much gluten as I don’t eat much bread, pasta or other wheat products that often (stick to a very wholefoods diet). However, sometimes I do like a nice cake like bake where I tend to use a slightly healthier flour like Rye.

If you do want to make this gluten free you can replace the flour with half the quantity of arrowroot but for this exact recipe I haven’t tried it myself. I may experiment with gluten-free more in the future but for now, I am just content being low sugar, in control and enjoying savoury breakfast experimenting!

Do let me know if you try this recipe or if you have any other great savoury loaf recipes you love?

Laura x

 

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Feta, pomegranate & mint salad

Lost for salad inspiration? Bored of that tuna number?

You’re in luck, I’ve got a beautifully colourful and nutritious low sugar salad that packs nutritional punch for a small amount of sweetness.

feta-pomegranete-mint-saladNow, you might be wondering why I’m posting a salad recipe which essentially does have some sugar in it, albeit it being natural. The reason is to show you that fruit can be part of healthy low sugar diet and if you particularly like it in salads, there are lower sugar options you can try.

This recipe contains a mere 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds which is roughly about 3g of natural sugar. A totally acceptable amount as part of a healthy low sugar and fructose diet. Other fruity salads I sometimes come across can soon rack up higher sugar amounts due to things like dried cranberries, grapes, raisins or a lot of apple. This one keeps it sensible. I also favour pomegranate seeds in a salad because they’re nutrient dense (packed with antioxidants), rich in deep red colour and they add unusual texture.

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So, if you want to have a go with fruit in a salad, this is one of the lowest sugar and tastiest ones to experiment with. A small portion of pomegranate seeds goes a long way and so this salad is unlikely to drive fructose cravings (although I’d avoid it temporarily if you’re on a period of concentrated fructose detox).

I don’t eat or buy pomegranate regularly but once in a while I like to pick one as a treat to a) keep things interesting (try new recipes) and b) ensure I keep a wide variety of foods in my diet.

If you’re going to let a little natural sugar in your diet, this is a lovely way to do so! Maximum punch for your sugar buck.

Feta, pomegranate & mint salad

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  • Handful of spinach
  • 3 inches of grated courgette
  • 3 inches of chopped cucumber
  • 40g feta cheese
  • Small handful of mint
  • 2 tbls pomegranate seeds

Dressing

  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • ½ tbls lemon juice
  • salt & pepper

What are your thoughts on fruit in salads? Is it something you like or try to avoid on a lower sugar diet?

butternut-squash-coconut-soup

Sugarfree butternut squash and coconut soup recipe

Let me break this to you…Most shop bought butternut squash soup very likely contains added sugar in some form. It’s one of the sweeter soups to be aware of and is a usual culprit. You can avoid this added sugar by making your own with the recipe I’m going to share today.

First, if you are buying this soup…

Either sugar or honey (or sometimes both) are usually to be found on the ingredients list of butternutty squash soups and beware many shop bought ones have very long ingredients lists (which isn’t ideal from a simple and clean eating perspective).

Nevertheless, there is a range between products and you can get lower sugar ones that are better. Tideford Organic Butternut Squash Soup for example comes in low at 2.4% with no visible added sugar whilst this Tesco Butternut Soup is 10% sugar with refined sugar on the ingredients list. Just be aware of the range here and if you are still buying soup, find the best one in your local supermarket.

Note: Not all the sugar listed is necessarily from the refined source (some comes naturally from the vegetables) but it’s still a helpful indicator.

Anyway, save yourself the hassle of ingredient lists and go for maximum satisfaction by making this instead…YUM!

Sugarfree butternut squash and coconut soup

butternut-squash-coconut-soup

Makes 4-5 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)

Optional taste boosters

  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Chilli flakes
  • Seeds of choice

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Method

  • Cut the squash in half, brush over with melted coconut oil and roast for 40-50 minutes at 180C
  • Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes and scoop out the flesh
  • Roughly chop the onion and fry in the other half the coconut oil with the garlic, ginger, curry powder and turmeric until softened
  • Add the butternut squash flesh, coconut milk, coriander and water. Gently heat to a simmer.
  • Blend with a hand blender then add fresh lime and chilli flakes to taste. Serve with pumpkin seeds.

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A few notes:

  • Roasting the butternut squash brings out the natural sweetness in it – there really is no need to add sugar to a butternut squash soup
  • The coconut milk is the healthy filling fat element in this recipe so full fat is preferable
  • I once had no ginger in stock so made this without and it still came out tasty
  • If you like it spicy, you can add chilli or chilli powder with the spices
  • Freeze leftovers for quick grab soup nights

Are you fan of butternut squash soups? Are there any low sugar brands you buy or do you like to make your own? Let me know if you try this recipe.

Sweet potato breakfast bake from top

Sweet potato & coconut breakfast bake

Want to keep your breakfasts egg based but fancy something sweet? Look no further I have a sweet potato breakfast bake recipe for you that will fit the bill.

I posted an omelette variation of this recipe over a year ago and it was when I was playing around with Stevia brands (namely PureVia, which for the record, I don’t recommend). I’ve been cooking and refining it ever since and with the help of rich creamed coconut, I’ve found a way to sweeten it naturally.

This recipe makes three portions so you can cook it one morning or weekend and then either eat it cold if you’re in a grab and go rush or just head it in the microwave quickly. It’s really delicious when served with some creamy full fat yoghurt or coconut milk. You could even have it as a dessert if you like!

Sweet potato breakfast bake

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Sugarfree, dairy-free, gluten free
Makes 3 portions
Recipe adapted from www.wholeheartedlyhealthy.com

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted creamed coconut (read about buying and preparing creamed coconut here)
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • Drop of natural vanilla extract
  • 2 small-med sweet potatoes

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Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Prepare the creamed coconut – submerge the sachet in a jug of boiling water to melt for 5 minutes and then empty into a bowl and mix well
  • Cook the sweet potatoes – either bake in the oven or microwave for 5-6 minutes
  • Set aside to cool, then peel and chop into rough chunks
  • Add the eggs, vanilla extract and coconut products together in a pouring jug or bowl
  • Whisk thoroughly – this will make the bake fluffy and light
  • Pour the mix into a medium sized baking dish (I use 10×7 inches). Scatter over the sweet potato.
  • Put into the oven and bake for 30-40mins until puffed up and golden on top.
  • Serve with coconut milk or creamy Greek yoghurt

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Let me know if you give this a go or have you tried a sweet potato egg based breakfast before? Do you like using sweet potato and coconut as a natural sweetener? I think I am a bit obsessed with the combination as quite a few of my recipes contain these!

Spiced veggie burgers above

Spiced veggie burgers with a tahini lime sauce

First…more sugar help coming your way!

Before I share this recipe, I’d thought I’d let you know I’ve decided to start blogging twice a week in the hope that I can bring your more recipes, help & inspiration around everything lower sugar life related.

I used to write this frequently when I first started the blog but in the last year things got a bit crazy with trying to study for my IIN health coach qualification, continue with my other job, develop Mentor Me Off Sugar and start to see 1-2-1 clients. So about a year ago I reverted back to once a week. However, now all my new services are established and I’m getting into the swing of things, I really want to start getting more out to you more frequently and developing my blogging skills (which includes being a bit more open – something I’ve found tricky at times).

I’m also developing a massive backlog of things to share with you all at the moment. The more I write and work and talk to people around sugar, the more ideas I get for articles, recipes and everything else. It floats in my head a lot and I need to get it all out!

What really really helps and inspires me are your emails and comments. Many of your comments and questions inspire future posts and recipes. They help me know what you’re struggling the most with and give me the best ideas to create things to help you. So the most amazing thing you can do is comment and let me know how you’re going or what you’d like me to write about. Helps me help you kinda thing.

For all of you that commented last week to enter the month’s supply of Total yoghurt competition – thank you for some amazing insights and ideas. If you haven’t, you’ve still got to the 19th of September so hit me up with some of your thoughts on Greek yoghurt to win your weight in the stuff.

Anyway, thanks for reading, I really appreciate all of your support and hope you continue to enjoy everything…including the recipe below!

Spiced veggie burgers above

This recipe I whipped up the other week and loved. I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve always liked veggie burgers. I do find they have to be well spiced to avoid that potato blandness that you sometimes get with veggie burgers.

One of my favourite places in London is Borough market and I’ve often opt for this veggie halloumi burgers they do there. I just like the fact with a veggie burger you’re packing in lots of different vegetables in one tasty form. Usually eating out, I find getting vegetables the hardest thing to find in decent supply, which is why occasionally I like veggie burgers – because in essence the vegetables are the base of the meal.

Today I’ve got a recipe for you which makes some very tasty spiced, slightly Moroccan/Asian style veggie burgers with a tahini lime dressing. They’re absolutely delicious and although the ingredient list for this recipe does look long, many of the ingredients are likely to be already in stock if you’ve got the common spices on the rack.

If you make this recipe, you can keep some of the veggie burgers for your salad or lunch the next day and you can use leftover dressing for a salad later in the week. You can even jazz up a plain omelette with a bit of the sauce and if you were really brave, have one of the burgers for breakfast!

I packed two of the burgers out with me for an early dinner before I went to an evening networking event and saved myself from being starving at it!

Spiced veggie burgers with a tahini lime dressing

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Cooks 6-8 burgers
Recipe inspired by Oh She Glows

Ingredients

For the burgers

  • 1 medium sweet potato (I actually used ⅓ of a courgette that was leftover too)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 thumb piece of fresh ginger (1 cm cubed), peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 heaped tbsp wholemeal flour (I used rye flour)
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • Large pinch of salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric

For the dressing

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 handful fresh coriander
  • 5 tbsp (about ¼ cup) of olive oil
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method

For the burgers

  • Line a tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180C
  • Grate the sweet potato (& courgette if using). You can do this quickly in a food processor with the grater part. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the garlic, coriander, ginger and combine with an ‘S’ blade in the food processor
  • Drain and add the can of chickpeas, blend but keep a little bit of rough texture. Add to the large bowl with grated sweet potato. Mix together.
  • Break and whisk the two eggs into a bowl
  • Add the flour and blend together
  • Add all the spices and seasoning
  • Add the oil and soy sauce. Mix everything together well to form a well combined wet mixture
  • Mix this in with the grated sweet potato and chickpea mix
  • Form into 6-8 burgers
  • Bake for 15 minutes, flip and then bake for another 18-20 minutes

For the dressing

Spiced veggie burgers dressing

Add all the ingredients to the food processor and blend together to form a dressing. Add more water to get your desired consistency if you like.

Serve the burgers with a little salad and with the sauce drizzled on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you so wish and garnish with a few coriander leaves.

Any vegetarians out there? How do you find eating lower sugar as a vegetarian? What would you like me to write about in the future?

Frozen fudge

Quick and easy nutty banana chocolate fudge

One thing I really love about lower sugar life is the fact that a mere banana can provide me with the most delicious indulgent sweet dessert that is completely natural and with not a grain of refined sugar in sight.

I don’t eat a banana everyday simply because I like to keep them as a real treat for things like this. I tend to eat them as and when the occasion presents itself – which this weekend, it did!

Yesterday my flatmate Louise left for a few days and mentioned that she had a few brown bananas in the fridge that she wasn’t going to eat. I really don’t like wasting food and will do anything to eat things up (there are probably some limits with that statement!). Anyway, on a zero banana waste mission, I decided to make this fudge as a spontaneous weekend treat!

Single fudgeNow, it is worth noting that as bananas ripen their sugar content does increase, but this is perfect if you want to make a sweet tasting dessert or bake without the need for any other sugar substitute or refined sugar.

Naturally, this recipe does contain bit of fructose (and thus sugar), but if you’re feeling in control of sugar cravings, a little banana here and there really isn’t a big deal. If you have just a piece or two of this you’re probably eating ¼ to a ½ of a banana at a time, which if you’ve not eaten anything else sweet all day, is a perfectly acceptable amount of natural sugar in your day to day diet (I will reiterate though, this is as long as you feel largely in control of it).

I live what I call ‘laid back low sugar’ these days and I do believe it’s important to keep variety in your diet both from a nutrition standpoint and to just keep things fun and interesting. This banana nutty fudge did it for me this weekend!

Frozen fudgeIf you’re worried about the fructose, just take note of how something like this makes you crave sugar and if you feel in control eating it. I did notice last night I could have eaten the whole slab of this (which is what sugar can do) but I was forced to stop because a) I knew I needed some to take pictures the next day and b) I was actually quite full from my dinner. Simple strategies that worked. Sharing it with others would also stop you from scoffing the lot and make you popular at the same time!

I suspect everyone will like this nutty fudge recipe, even those who don’t eat lower sugar. It tastes sweet and chocolate like but is packed with healthy ingredients and good fats making it supremely more virtuous than a number of other fudges and desserts.

Enjoy!

Nutty chocolate banana fudge

Fudge in a lineMakes 4-6 portions (you can double and triple this recipe to make more but consider your self control as it’s definitely a once in a while treat rather than a daily staple!)

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 heaped tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 2 tbsp walnuts

For the topping

  • 1 tbsp walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs

Method

  • Add all the ingredients to a blender and mix together
  • Line a small 6×4 inch casserole dish with parchment paper
  • Spoon in the mixture, add the toppings and put in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Remove and slice into portions. You can put some back in the freezer wrapped in cling film to store. When you want to eat a piece, just take out and pop in the fridge for half an hour to soften a little.

Do let me know how you go with this! Tag me on Instagram using @lauraj_thomas

How do you feel about using things like bananas to sweeten recipes? Would you prefer to use a lower fructose substitute like brown rice syrup? I’m thinking of writing a post looking at the two of these side by side so would love to know your thoughts and opinions….

Laura xx

Buckwheat breakfast bars line

Sugarfree cardamom no bake breakfast bars (gluten & fruit free)

Buckwheat breakfast bars plate
Ok so I’m quite excited to share this recipe with you. I’ve just eaten these for breakfast and they’re tasty, but I’m also excited because of the practical implications of this recipe. Read on!

Muesli bars

I written it before, and I’ll write it again. I used to luuuuurrrvee muesli bars and flapjacks. Sticky dried fruit honey concoctions were my seemingly guilt free way of getting my sugar fix everyday for approximately, I dunno, at least 15 years of my life.

When I was travelling, when I was busy with work and when I wanted to grab something on the go, it was my default snack of choice. There’s no doubt about it, they are quick, handy and to be fair there are some better ones out there these days that at least try to use just all fruit e.g. Nakd bars. Yes, they’re better than anything with refined sugar, but they’re not great everyday for keeping control over your sweet cravings or reducing your overall sensitivity to sweet.

A much healthier alternative

I like this recipe because it’s a sugar-free alternative to the dried fruit bomb of a glucose syrup infused shop bought muesli bar and you can make a big batch and store in the fridge or freezer ready for a ‘grab n go’ type breakfast. The cardamon does a mighty fine job of giving flavour without the need for too much sweet (I’m going to comment on this after the recipe so do read to the bottom).

It also uses buckwheat, which is gluten-free, a great source of fibre and a source of other minerals. To add to the nutrients you’ve got the sweet potato, the coconut oil and the nuts & seeds which are all great sources of various things. Too many nutrients and minerals to list – just trust me that it’s all really good for you ok!? Basically, compared to a Special K bar, these cardamon bad boys are in another league.

Sugar-free Cardamom breakfast bars

Makes 8-10 bars. Gluten free, sugar-free, very low fructose

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups (100g) buckwheat groats (soaked in water for at least an hour and then rinsed and dried as much as possible)
  • 1 heaped cup (130g) of almonds or a mix of other nuts if you want
  • ½ cup (85g) mixed sunflower & pumpkin seeds
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 4 tbsp cashew butter (or another sugar-free nut butter like peanut or almond)
  • 15g butter (replace with 2 tbsp coconut oil if you want dairy free)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (replace with another 15g butter if you don’t have this)
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Bake or microwave the sweet potato. I do mine for 6-7mins in the microwave. Cool for a few minutes, remove the skin and mash with a fork.
  • Toast the nuts for 10mins at 180C. Remove from the oven and chop roughly whilst you toast the seeds for 5-10mins. Add to a big bowl with the dried buckwheat groats.
  • Grind the cardamom in a pestle and mortar or chop/crush with a knife and board
  • Warm the coconut oil, butter, brown rice syrup & cashew butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Mix together.
  • Add the cardamom, salt & then the sweet potato. Combine well still over a low heat to help you do this.
  • Add this gloopy mixture to your bowl of dried ingredients and combine well.
  • Take a big sheet of parchment paper and line a rectangular baking tray (approx 28cm x 18cm) so the parchment comes up over the sides. Push the mixture into this and spread out evenly.
  • Place in the freezer for an hour to set and then remove and cut into portion sizes. Re-freeze or refridgerate.

Usage and storage

Buckwheat breakfast bars line
These need to be kept either in the fridge or freezer and should be a bit chewy coming from the fridge. Keep ones you want to eat that week in the fridge. Wrap a few other portions in cling film and freeze them. When you want to eat, just take out, put in the microwave for 60 seconds to soften slightly and eat there and then or take out with you to naturally defrost for an on-the-go breakfast alternative.

Why not add a little more natural sweetness?

I’m not going to deny, these bars could be enhanced with some more natural sweetness and some of you with a strong sweet tooth might be crying out for them to taste sweeter. The recipe I was inspired by used honey. I’m sure dates, dried fruit etc. would be nice in these bars and the sugar is natural right?

I’ve kept them super low fructose for a few reasons. The first reason is because I honestly like eating things that taste a lot less sweet these days and I simply don’t want to crave sugar in the same way as I used to.

The day I made these I went into a posh grocers in Wimbledon called Bayley & Sage. Incredible things in there and a very beautiful display of sweet goodies (cookies, flapjacks, muffins etc.). However, I wasn’t really that fussed about anything on it and this still feels weird to me after being an inherent ‘sweet tooth’ for so many years where I would have been drooling excessively. I was more drawn to the cheese counter and the nuts buffet!

I am so much more savoury inclined these days and I like being that way – I feel empowered and I don’t have to use my will power to resist sugar cravings. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate sweeter things when I do have them, but in much much smaller quantities. For that reason I continue to eat lower sugar & lower fructose where I can, getting the sweet in my diet from fresh fruit & sugary special occasions every now and then.

Other reasons why I kept sugar substitutes out of this recipe:

  1. It’s really hard to find recipes for stuff like this that doesn’t go mental on medjool dates, honey or agave etc. so I’m doing my bit to provide something – I see the space in the recipe market!
  2. You could eat these quite happily during a sugar ‘detox’ period.
  3. You could easily add something in if you wanted to e.g. some honey, dates, raisins, extra brown rice syrup and the recipe will probably still work fine and still be relatively healthy i.e. refined sugar free.
  4. I suspect, if these were much sweeter, portion control would get harder i.e. you might want to eat more than one!

What do you think about using natural sweeteners in recipes? Would you like more lower fructose options or would you prefer something to taste a little sweeter with the help of natural things? Would love to hear what you all think on this one as it would really help me with planning future blog posts and recipes. Let me know!

Laura xx

lemon cashew melts stack

Low sugar recipe: Lemon cashew melts

About this time last year I published a very popular recipe for almond & blueberry frozen fudge . Today I have a lovely new summer fudge-like recipe for you to experiment with. Say hello to these lemon cashew melts.

lemon cashew melts bite

I can safely say these are flipping delicious! It’s amazing what a little fresh lemon zest can do to a recipe. It’s especially hot at the moment and so these can be a healthy alternative to ice cream or anything else a bit too sugary you might be craving in the heat.

The coconut oil means they’re full of healthy fats. The cashew butter is a source of protein to keep you fuller for longer and if you add cacao nibs like I did to a few, then you have the health benefits of cacao too. Winning all round. Oh and they’re fun, easy & incredibly quick to make.

I have used brown rice syrup to sweeten these but it’s a very small amount. When you’ve split the mixture up into portions the sugar content is very low and they tasted a nice sweet to me. Watch a helpful video on brown rice syrup vs. barley malt extract here.

Lemon cashew melts

lemon cashew melts stackRecipe adapted from www.detoxinista.com

Fills an 8-10 ice cube tray

Ingredients

  • 3 tbls coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 tbls cashew butter
  • 1 tbls brown rice syrup
  • 2 drops of vanilla extract
  • zest of a lemon (approximately a teaspoons worth)
  • pinch of salt
  • cacao nibs (optional)

lemon cashew melts chocMethod

  • Combine all the ingredients well in a bowl
  • Spoon into the ice cube tray and sprinkle some with cacao nibs (or all if you wish)
  • Freeze and they should be ready to eat in an hour

lemon cashew melts trayBuying cashew butter

I know this recipe has a slightly unusual ingredient but I’d say it’s worth trying. For this recipe I used a cashew butter from www.myprotein.com that I recently reviewed here & I’m still working my way through. However, an oil free one would be preferable. I’ve found a brand called Hognuts that do them but I’ve not tried yet and they have a coconut butter blend which might change the taste of this recipe slightly. You can also get cashew butter on Ocado here or you can likely pick it up in your local specialist health food shop. Comment below if you have other golden cashew butter sources!

Do you like the sound of this recipe? Have you tried anything like this before? Let me know if you’re a fan and I’ll look to post a few more of these types of recipes in the future.