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Efficient meal planning & a spicy bean egg bake recipe

Last week I wrote a very long post on where I’m at, so this week I’d thought I’d give you some time back posting a recipe that is quick, easy and suitable for vegetarians. This dish is super efficient and simple to cook. If you’ve got a busy life going on but want to eat filling wholesome home cooked food, then try making a batch of this and see how you go.

I’ve already written about my experiments with a low-sugar vegetarian diet previously, and these days I still try to have the odd week or few days where I eat more vegetarian. This recipe also came about when I got back from being away for a while. I had just a few limited ingredients that needed to suffice until I did a bigger food shop and I needed to ease myself back into cooking more regularly again.

Fair to say, I always keep a couple of cans of tinned tomatoes and pulses in my cupboards ready for recipes like this.

Spicy bean egg bake

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Gluten free & sugar free

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can borlotti beans
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbls cooking fat (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder (or a bit more depending on your spice preference)
  • 4 eggs (1 for each portion on the day you eat a serving)
  • ½ block of feta cheese
  • Fresh parsley (can substitute dried)
  • ½ lemon (for a squeeze of juice)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  • Heat the fat and fry the onion and the garlic for a few minutes until softened
  • Add the red pepper & fry for a few more minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, curry powder, chilli powder & seasoning to taste and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the 2 cans of pre-cooked beans and simmer at a low heat for 10 minutes.
  • If serving four, make four holes and crack an egg into each then cook over the hob (& finish under the grill) until the eggs are cooked then complete the last two steps.
  • If serving in single portions, divide the mixture into 4 portion sizes and put this portion into a small baking dish, then add the egg in the middle and bake in the oven at 180C.
  • Cook the dish in the oven until the egg is set (about 20 minutes).
  • Sprinkle with feta cheese and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley and add a squeeze of lemon juice to serve.

You can serve with an extra portion of green vegetables (like I did) or with some bread if you prefer.

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Using later in the week

I kept two portions in the fridge and froze another. To cook from the fridge, I came home, put the oven on 180, and put the basic bean mix in the microwave for 3 minutes. I then cracked the egg in the middle and put in the oven for 25 minutes, then added the feta cheese and cooked for another 5 before serving with the parsley and lemon. The frozen one, I just took out of the freezer 12 hours before I wanted to eat it the following week, then followed the above process to cook.

Efficient meal planning

This recipe is a prime example of efficient simple and very healthy cooking. A really geeky part of me loves making healthy cooking fast, easy and simple (but still delicious). I think it’s a freak combination of my process consulting experience combined with my love of healthy eating. This recipe was an absolute winner and when I know I’ve got a busy week ahead, I’ll be repeating it.

If you think you’d find weekly meal plans, shopping lists and full ‘what to do when’ notes helpful then have a look at my (just launched this week!) Mentor Me Off Sugar programmes. Now this is a bit of a plug, but I’ve created 6-weeks worth of very carefully thought-out meal plans & organisation for the programme.

To get everything nutritionally balanced (& of course all sugar-free), make efficient use of all the weekly ingredients, consider cost and make sure the plan keeps one sustained throughout the day was not a straightforward task!

It took time and was in places quite complicated (trust me, it really hurt my head on occasion!). The good thing is though, I’ve done that thinking for you now and I believe by following the meal plans, you’ll not only eat healthy, detox off sugar and the rest of it, you’ll also get loads of ideas on how to save time that will serve you forever (& save you hours).

If you don’t follow things exactly (I’m one of those too) then it will certainly give you a wealth of ideas to piece together your own weekly meal plans that suit your lifestyle. So check out Mentor Me Off Sugar for more details & comment if you’d be interested in getting the meal plans separate to the detox programme (as this is something I’m currently considering).

Anyway, what do you think? Do you find meal planning easy or hard? What do you do? Any good strategies that you use? I am loving your comments at the moment so please share :)

 

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Parmesan seeded biscuits

Who says you can’t eat biscuits when you’re off sugar, eh? You just need to go for tasty savoury options like cheese or seeds…

This recipe is for my Mum. She has always really liked cheesy oatcakes and moreish biscuit type things. Of course, they are a great sugar-friendly alternative snack to a chocolate digestive or hobnob. I also just think they’re nice if you fancy baking. I decided to cook these for her when she came to visit a few weeks ago as I knew she would particularly appreciate them.

These parmesan seeded biscuits are pretty simple but you do ideally need a food processor. You might even want to serve them with some extra cheese after a meal or just keep some to hand as an emergency snack. You can probably use buckwheat flour if you wanted a gluten-free variety.

Parmesan seeded biscuits

Makes 18 thickish round biscuits

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Ingredients

  • 250g rye flour (you could probably substitute most other flours in here)
  • 100g cold butter, chopped
  • 50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbls milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbls of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds (or whichever you have around)

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Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, butter, parmesan cheese, baking powder and salt into a food processor and blend together.
  • Add the milk (with the motor still running) and blend again for a minute or two until the mixture starts to stick.
  • Tip into a large bowl and roll into a dough ball with your hands (takes some elbow grease!)
  • Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for 20-30 mins.
  • Remove from the fridge, unwrap and make 18 sized golf balls.
  • Squash each golf ball round of dough down to a rough round biscuit shape about a 1cm think round.
  • Sprinkle with seeds and press them into the dough.
  • Place them onto the baking trays and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly brown.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container.

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Have you tried cooking savoury biscuits before? Any good recipes you’ve found?

sugar-free pancakes

Sugar-free pancake day: Your comprehensive guide

Ok, so it’s nearly pancake day (Shrove Tuesday). One of my health coaching clients has already asked me for some options, so I’d thought I’d present a comprehensive guide around the strategies and options available. This is an area that can be a bit tricky, especially if you fondly remember eating a dozen lemon-sugar pancakes in one night (like I used to!).

This year, I’m actually going to be in New York for pancake day (let’s see how I handle that one!). I’m also having a mini celebration at home with some friends a little earlier before I go. I am likely to of course be in charge of the savoury options…

So the first sugar-free strategy I would recommend is to fill up on delicious savoury options as much as you can. There’s an incredible amount of choice out there on the savoury front and you can hike up the nutrition count with the addition of vegetables.

Here’s a round-up of some of my internet faves that I’ve vetted and collected. All are made with good healthy ingredients, many have some form of vegetable included and there are even gluten-free and egg-free options to suit other dietary needs:

Savoury pancakes

Sweeter pancakes – your sugar-friendly options

Now, if you’re not full from savoury wonders or you’re just still wanting sweet, you have a few ‘better’ options. Whip up a basic unsweetened wholemeal savoury crepe mix and fill with healthier ‘natural’ or lower sugar options:

  • Opt for lower fructose fruit like berries or warm them up in a pan to make a berry compote.
  • Swap a maple syrup for a brown rice syrup (lower fructose alternative).
  • Melt and drizzle a little dark chocolate (at least 85%) instead of the popular Nutella.
  • Make an thicker unsweetened apple sauce-based pancake using your own homemade unsweetened apple sauce (try this recipe).
  • Although a banana is higher fructose, a few slices in your pancake with some full fat natural greek yoghurt and chopped hazelnuts could satisfy the sweet spot in a more natural way than say banana ice cream!
  • Again, make a sweeter ‘base’ pancake using banana. Here’s a gluten-free almond butter based one.

Lemon and sugar

It’s the classic, I used to eat these every year. Not one, but probably about 12 of them. My mum would keep going until me and my brother could eat no more. I estimate about 10-15 teaspoons of sugar were consumed in one of these  pancake evenings…yikes!

If you still really really want your lemon and sugar, start looking at your portion size. Can you stick with just one or two? You could look to try some other more nutritionally charged sugar options like a date sugar or coconut sugar. There are also some more natural brands of stevia out there (like Natvia) that are granulated and can be used 1:1 like sugar if you want to experiment. For my approach on sweeteners in general read why I don’t stand by one single sugar substitute.

My view is that if you’re only having one of these pancakes and you’re not in period of detoxing and feel like you have somewhat got control of sugar, then just try to sprinkle on as little as possible. Half or a quarter teaspoon of refined sugar if you’ve kept things sensible during the rest of the week is a happy moderate amount for an occasion if it’s special to you.

Hopefully there’s an option or recipe for you whatever you’re feeling. As is my general philosophy with annual occasions, if you’re eating less sugar than last year, then you’re making progress. What are you planning on doing this pancake day? Hit me with any other questions in a comment below. Oh and please share it if you think others might find it helpful.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe. I seem to go through phases of deep emotional sugar-related thoughts to a flurry of recipes and then back to the deep stuff. If you like or liked your cake (like me), then this recipe is for you.

In my eyes right now, this sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake is quite simply awesome. It’s authentically, completely sugar-free. That means it has NO sugar substitutes in it. No dates, no coconut sugar, no stevia, nada. It’s naturally sweetened with the sweet potato and dessicated coconut which are both low fructose. It hits my cake texture craving spot perfectly.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

As ‘sugar-free’ starts to go mainstream, I predict you’ll see the ‘sugar-free’ label a lot. You need to watch out because it’s being used all over the shop for things I wouldn’t really consider truly ‘sugar-free’. Just keep your wits about you on this one.

Anyway here’s the recipe…

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Makes about 10 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 ½ cups of flour (I used rye flour)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 tbls coconut oil (could try replacing this with melted butter if you wish)
  • 4 tbls milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup walnut pieces
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C and grease an 18 cm round cake tin or a loaf tin.
  • If the coconut oil is solid, stick it in a little ramekin and place in the oven for a few minutes to melt it.
  • Cook your sweet potato. I tend to put mine whole in the microwave for about 6-7 minutes until very soft and cooked through. Peel, and then roughly chop/semi mash.
  • Place the flour, walnuts, baking powder, bicarb, salt, dessicated coconut, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Whisk the eggs, milk & melted coconut oil together in a smaller bowl
  • Pour these wet ingredients into the larger bowl containing the dry ingredients. Fold the ingredients through (It can get a bit tough and seem like there’s not enough liquid but bear with it.)
  • Mash in the sweet potato until really well combined with the mixture (this takes a bit of elbow grease).
  • Place mixture into the prepared tin and push down with a wooden spoon.
  • Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes then let cool.

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

What to do with your cake?

  • Have a slice as a snack with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
  • Have a slice as a quick grab and go breakfast (much better than a shop bought muffin or those breakfast biscuit things)
  • Cut into portions, wrap in cling film and freeze. You can defrost them instantly in the microwave in 60 seconds…voila!

Now this recipe isn’t gluten free I know. If gluten is an issue for you, you could make it gluten free by using buckwheat or quinoa flour. You could also make it dairy free by using almond milk. But note, I haven’t tried this recipe with either of these options so you’ll be experimenting. Let me know how it goes!

What do you think about ‘sugar-free’ cakes and bakes? Have you found ‘sugar-free’ recipes that you don’t really think qualify? Do you get ‘cake’ texture cravings like me? Have you tried cooking this and if so how did it turn out?

 

chocolate courgette porridge

Chocolate courgette porridge

Ever had chocolate courgette porridge? No, neither had I until I experimented with this little number. I’m pleased to say it worked out well and I’m going to share the recipe with you.

Creating a balanced breakfast

As we roll into a beautiful Autumn-Winter the temperature drops and we crave comforting warm food (I write this after having been for a stunning run amongst colourful Autumn leaves today).

Porridge as a warming breakfast certainly fits the bill here, but it isn’t my ideal everyday breakfast on a low sugar diet. Firstly, because without adding sweet it can taste sometimes bland. Secondly, I find it’s a little trickier to get enough protein and fat into things, which are my ‘keep me really full all morning’ companions. Thirdly, I also find porridge doesn’t lend as well to eating vegetables first thing over fruit – well, until I tried this recipe that is!

I did make a note on how full this breakfast kept me. It actually did pretty well (better than I was expecting). However, when lunch came around I found I was pretty hungry all of a sudden, and it came on quickly rather than being more gradual like it usually is (when I’ve had eggs).

Mixing up breakfast

So I mentioned chocolate courgette porridge to a friend and I got the look ‘Laura, you’ve really lost it now’. I’m starting to enjoy surprising people with these weird and wonderful combinations….

If there’s one thing I recommend to those playing with low sugar life, it’s to mix up your breakfast routine and experiment. So many people have really set ways about what they eat in the morning, having the same thing day in day out. For many it can be the most sacred meal of the day which I understand, something maybe they’ve known for years. I know when I’ve worked with individuals, there can be real push back on changing those first thing in the morning rituals. Trust me it’s fun, and slightly addictive. Have fun with this.

chocolate courgette porridge

Sugar-free chocolate courgette porridge

Makes 2 portions (I chilled one, covered with a saucer in the fridge and ate it cold the next day)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup of oats
  • 1 ½ cups of milk (unsweetened almond, semi-skimmed or full fat. I used organic semi-skimmed)
  • ½ grated courgette
  • 1 tbls flaxseed powder
  • 1 tbls cacao powder (optional – I’ve made this recipe without and it turns into a just as nice cinnamon courgette porridge)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

 Method

  • Put the oats & milk into a pan on a low-med heat.
  • In the meantime grate the courgette and add to the pan.
  • Add the flaxseed, salt, spices & cacao powder. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  • Continue to cook on a low-med heat stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes until oats are cooked and porridge is at the desired consistency
  • Add toppings of choice (chia seeds, chopped nuts, seeds, raw cacao nibs).

Note: This obviously looks a lot sweeter than it tastes. Anything with a chocolate colour tends to scream sweet, so dishes like this can be a surprise for taste buds that are still accustomed to lots of sugar. This is basically a savoury porridge dish with a chocolate colour so beware – it doesn’t taste sweet. I absolutely loved it but beware if you’re whipping it up for someone who usually drowns their oats in honey.

Want even more well balanced tried and tested sugar-free recipes?

If you like this recipe and some of my others, then there’s many more coming. I’m currently cooking up a sugar-free storm right now as there’s going to be loads of fabulous recipes with meal plans as part of the soon to be launched and all improved Mentor Me Off Sugar Detox 6-week programme (buy from 21st November 2013, course starts on the 6th Jan 2014) . Make sure you’re on the priority list before the 14th November to get access to the exclusive special offers I’m going to be sending out before hand.

What do you think of savoury courgette porridge? Have I inspired you to give it a try?

 

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Cheese & chive soufflé omelette

More ways with eggs. I know, I know, a lot of my recipes involve eggs, but I can’t help it, I like them. Maybe I should rename my blog Happy Egg Habits (or erm maybe not…). In my defence, I have video blogged about non-egg protein sources you can try instead.

This recipe is a little more time-consuming than I like but it makes you a nice fluffy souffle-type breakfast and it’s worth an experimental try. I do like the light texture of this eggy option as standard eggs can sometimes make you feel a little heavy. Cheese and chives work together – ultimately you could use any strongly flavoured cheese for this recipe but parmesan is my personal favourite.

Give it a go when you’re getting a tad tired of scrambled, poached, boiled etc, but still want to get this protein-rich nutritious food in your body come the morning. Or if you’ve got a visitor and you want to impress!

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Cheese & chive soufflé omelette

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 free-range eggs separated (preferably organic)
  • 3tbsp chopped chives
  • 3tbsp grated parmesan cheese (you could substitute another cheese of your choice in here)
  • 1 tsp butter (preferably grass fed organic)
  • 2tbsp milk
  • sea salt and pepper

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Method

  • Heat up the grill to a medium setting
  • Whisk the egg yolks, milk, salt and pepper together in a small bowl
  • Mix in the majority of chives and cheese leaving a little for adding to the top later
  • Beat the egg whites in a separate large bowl with an electric whisk until soft peaks form
  • Melt the butter in a pan and tilt to coat the sides
  • Fold in the egg whites to the egg yolks and pour into the pan
  • Cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes until you can run a spatula around the edges
  • Sprinkle over leftover cheese and chives on the top
  • Grill until cooked on top and be amazed at the puff factor!

You can serve this with anything. Sliced avocado and tomato could be nice, or why not try wilted spinach in a little butter. Hey why not push the boat out and go for some roasted squash.

Mentor Me Off Sugar: Don’t miss out on the discount

So the Mentor Me Off Sugar detox relaunch is drawing closer and i’m very VERY excited to share with you all the details soon. Amongst other things, I am creating, vetting and adjusting lots of other recipes to form part of the meal plan and give you inspiration no matter how good at cooking you are.

I’m always surprised at how some recipes claim to be healthy but then include something sneaky or not as sugar saintly as you would hope for. Alternatively they can just suffer from being inappropriately balanced with protein, vegetables and good fats. So…I’m creating the ultimate source of delicious sugar-proof recipes to make low sugar life really easy. Make sure you sign up to the Mentor Me Off Sugar detox priority list before the 14th November to be the first to know about the early bird and to get access to special discounts.

 

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Juices vs. Smoothies: What you need to know

Quite often I get asked about juicing. Is it suitable on a low sugar diet? Are juices better than smoothies?

There isn’t a straightforward short answer to this. You need to understand the differences between juices and smoothies. You need to consider their merits and also be aware of things to be careful of.

Here are some of the main things you need to know and be aware of (with my low sugar hat on of course).

The appliances

First thing to get your head around is that you need two different appliances: a juicer and a blender. You can’t make a juice with a blender and you can make a smoothie with a juicer. They are completely different.

A juicer extracts and separates the pulp from the fruit and vegetables. A blender breaks down the whole fruits and vegetables and ‘blends’ them together to form a thicker drinkable substance.

Last year I was bought a juicer for my birthday and I’ve got a oldish blender which I’m hoping to upgrade to a Vitamix at some point. The quality and strength of your blender does count. I’m sometimes limited to what I can blend. Celery tends to be a tricky one.

Thinking about fibre

I think the main difference to be aware of with juices and smoothies is the removal of fibre from juices. Extracting the pulp means you take out all the roughage that essentially slows down the absorption of the nutrients, whether that’s antioxidants, sugar, fructose, vitamins etc. As you probably know, fibre helps keep your digestive system ‘flowing’, so to speak.

This may point towards smoothies as the superior of the two, but juices do have their place. In some cases, for example a digestive detox, there are benefits to quick nutrient absorption. They are also more concentrated, as you pack more nutrients into a glass of juice compared to a smoothie. Without the fibre you also give your digestive system a rest and you ingest an incredible amount of goodness very quickly and easily.

Sugar content

The third thing to be aware of is the fruit concentration, because this is where we link to sugar. Whilst juices and smoothies are a healthy, natural source of sugar, they can be a very concentrated source. You need to err on the side of caution.  With a 100% fruit smoothie or juice, it’s very easy to ingest high amounts of fructose (make sure you’ve read my post explaining fructose if you don’t yet understand this sugar type).

You might have heard the phrase ‘eat your fruit and juice your greens’….It does make some sense.

Now you might not want to take fruit out completely, (I know I still like a little of it here and there). Using more vegetables and lower fructose fruits is a way to manage this more practically. Bulking out your smoothies with other substances will also help you from going overboard with the fruit. I’ve been playing around with combinations for a while. Vegetable juices do need a little fruit to make them palatable, I’ve found. There was one time I overdid it on the broccoli and quite frankly, that juice was nothing short of gross!

This is a recipe that turned out rather delicious without a fructose overload. I used two apples and it made 1 large or two smaller portions.

Basic Green Juice

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  • 2 green apples
  • ½ a cucumber
  • 1 whole bunch of celery
  • 1 lime

Practicalities

I also need to mention that I find smoothies more convenient that juices. A juicer can be a right pain to clean and involves more preparation. With smoothies, you just chuck everything in and blend. When I get my Vitamix, this is going to be even easier!

How I use smoothies and juices

So what do I do with these? Well, I use juices to replenish myself nutritionally when I feel I’ve been lacking. I hadn’t eaten as healthy as I usually do and for a few days I wasn’t getting my usual 5-9 portions of vegetables, so I whipped up a juice to top up on some goodness, in addition to the food I was eating that day. Quite often I have one before I go to a wedding or after a more indulgent birthday week when I’ve been out a lot more. You get the gist.

Smoothies I tend to use as a quick easy breakfast. Because of this, I’m more concerned about balancing them with protein and fat so that they’re filling and substantial enough to keep me going to my next meal.

If you want to know more, I’ve done a video on my best 7 tips for making smoothies low sugar and another video showing you how to make my delicious chocolate berry smoothie.

Hope that post was helpful?!

What are your thoughts on juices vs. smoothies and the fruit concentration in them?

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Low sugar chocolate berry smoothie

This recipe is dairy free, gluten free, low sugar and jam packed with so much health benefit I would be here all day listing it!

How much sugar?

I’ve roughly worked out that it contains about 18g of natural sugars, where approximately 7.7g of those are fructose. For a smoothie, that is low. I don’t rigidly count it, but as a guide I aim for around 15g of naturally occurring fructose a day (a recommendation made by Dr Mercola) I find this amount doesn’t trigger any major cravings and allows me to benefit from the all of the that fruit does have to offer.

Seriously this smoothie is delicious, but to those of you who still have a sweet tooth, you will notice it’s lower in sugar. Use your own taste buds to gauge things if necessary, start off a little sweeter and bring it down gradually.

Low sugar chocolate berry smoothie

  • 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries (2.7g sugar)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (7.6g sugar)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 200ml coconut water (8g sugar but a maximum  of 32% fructose)
  • 100ml water (use extra coconut water if you want a little sweeter but this will take the sugar content up slightly)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of natural sugar-free pea protein powder (I used Source Naturals Pea Protein in this video)
  • 1 tbls chia seeds
  • 1 heaped tbls raw organic cacao powder (I used DetoxYourWorld brand which I picked up in Wholefoods
  • 1 tsp maca powder (optional for extra vitamins & minerals)

Add everything to a blender and blend!

Apologies that I have my back to you a lot in this video. I need a new kitchen that is more accommodating to cooking demos!

Enjoy, Laura x

guacamole

Spicy homemade guacamole recipe

Shop bought guacamole is not mind blowing is it? It’s usually gloopy and full of added ingredients that I wish they hadn’t put in. It’s one item I really think you should go DIY on. You can literally make your own in seconds and use it up in loads of different ways. Here is my spicy guacamole recipe for those of you who like it hot!

Avocados really are such a fantastic addition to your low sugar diet. Technically a fruit, they are the lowest fructose fruit in town, so eat your heart out. They have that super healthy fat component which does wonders for your skin and hair, whilst making them totally satisfying and delicious. Finding new enjoyable ways of adding a little avocado to your diet is a healthy small step that will certainly help with your lower sugar plight.

I’m pretty relaxed about lots of things, but I don’t like to hear of people not eating avocados because of their calories or fat. I was guilty of this once upon a time and it’s totally crazy when they’re such a pure natural nourishing whole food.

guacamole

Spicy guacamole

If you don’t like it so spicy go easy on the chilli and cayenne pepper.

Makes a big batch, probably good for at least 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 small or 2 big ripe avocados

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • few slices of chilli, chopped (optional)

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large ripe tomato

Method

  • Mash the avocado and lime juice together in a large bowl

  • Add the salt, cayenne pepper, cumin and mix again

  • Finally add the garlic, chilli, tomato and onion and mix

  • Add extra lime juice or salt to taste

Add a dollop of this spicy guacamole to spice up a salad or a sandwich. Alternatively spread over a crispbread like Ryvita and add cheese or ham for a serious substantial snack that will certainly stop a blood sugar dip. Might be a bit too spicy for breakfast but give it a go if you dare. I’ve also been dipping some poppy seed spelt crackers in mine this week, yum!

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Three unusual ways to eat squash for breakfast

So I have a bit of new weekly ritual when I’m in the kitchen. I roast up a whole butternut squash just for the hell of it and then work out how to eat it throughout the rest of the week.

I get a whole squash, cut it in half and brush it with melted coconut oil. I then stick it in a 180C oven and roast it for 40-50 minutes until it’s soft and I can easily stick a knife through it.

This has lead to some rather interesting concoctions – granted, some good, some bad. The most creative uses have surfaced at breakfast time. A year ago I would have never in a million years thought of eating roasted squash for breakfast and now I absolutely love it. Funny how things change, eh?

Health benefits of squash

Squash is seriously good for you with significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 which are both good for the immune system. Also a good source of vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, getting squash into your breakfast is a serious step in a very healthy direction.

I’ve personally been opting for squash as a more starchy filling alternative to bread. I’m not overly strict about being gluten free and I still do eat a little rye bread on occasion, but I do always look to eat the least processed foods I possibly can these days.

Bread comes in packaging, squash doesn’t. Bread has far fewer nutritional qualities to squash. Bread can sometimes have added sugar and other additives, squash comes as it is. Thus squash has become the healthier upgrade of late.

Here are three ways I’ve been enjoying my roasted squash for breakfast…

1. As a simple side

Quite often I make an omelette for breakfast. This one is a spinach and parmesan number. I add sides to make it more interesting and to make sure I’m full and satisfied for the day ahead. Cold roasted butternut squash goes well.

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Add as a tasty side

2. Sliced squash, cottage cheese & avocado

No time to cook and I needed something quick. I sliced some of the squash, added half a tub of full fat cottage cheese on top in little dollops and mashed half an avocado in the middle. I braced myself….and it was ok. In fact it was delicious so I had it the next day too. Result! I would really recommend trying this.

roasted-squash-avocado-cottage-cheese-breakfast

3. Squash scramble

A sweeter take on scrambled eggs, this is one of my new breakfast favourites. It’s also timely considering the Autumn season. I heat up some coconut oil in a pan and fry the squash for a few minutes. I whisk the eggs together with 1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg and then scramble them with the squash. Top with a little cinnamon and voila! An amazing naturally sweet but fructose-free breakfast.

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Note how all of these breakfasts have the protein, the fat and a vegetable component that makes up a super healthy breakfast. They also are often packed with colour which is another good sign you’re getting varied nutrients into your system.

What are you waiting for? Get that squash in the oven!

Any other butternut squash fans reading this? What are your favourite ways to eat it?