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.

P.S I know I’ve dropped in my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea lightly into this article and recipe. It’s something I can talk about more but I wanted to gauge how much interest it is to you and if it’s helpful me writing up the whole story?

 

 

 

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?

 

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?!

sugar-free-avocado-on-toast

Avocado on toast: Your ultimate guide

So I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to avocado on toast. YUM!

Why? It’s a nifty, quick, super nutritious & tasty low sugar breakfast that appeals to many and is good breakfast if you’re weaning yourself off of sugary stuff.

A lot of people come to me saying they don’t have time for eggs in the morning or they are short on time.

Well, avocado on toast works around this problem because it is super quick. By the time your toast has toasted, you can peel and mash half an avocado. 5mins tops.

Benefits of avocado on toast

  • Healthy fats & something green in your breakfast
  • Source of fibre, potassium and antioxidants
  • Feels decadent & indulgent
  • Can flavour or fancy to taste (salt, chilli flakes, herbs, seeds etc.)
  • Filling because avocado is a source of protein & fat
  • Children & fussy adults generally like it too (I’ve found anyway)
  • Oh, nearly forgot this one…completely sugar and sugar substitute free!

On top of this, there are some recent studies that show avocado really is flipping good for you. Read about the 12 proven benefits of avocados on Authority Nutrition if you’re still not convinced (or feeling still a bit scared of the fat).

So how can you have it?

 

Chilli flakes & salt

 

avocado-and-chilli-on-toast

 

Cottage cheese & pumpkin seeds

 

avocado-and-cottage-cheese-on-toast

 

Ham

 

avocado-and-ham-on-toast

 

 

You could also melt some cheese on top but I haven’t done this myself yet (I suspect it’s really good if you’ve had too many drinks the night before!)

I also found 7 other (more fancy) ways to do you avocado on toast on 700experience.com. Puts my pictures to shame and makes you hungry!

Don’t want to make? Eat out!

Of course you can make avocado on toast at home pretty easily, but you can also now get it out and about. Eggs will always be a brunch winner, but avocado on toast, now more widely available could be another winning savoury option.

I recently spoke to the lovely Natalie Glazee – author of The Nutritionista which is a nice little healthy website full of helpful interviews & reviews.

IMG_1126

Natalie knows the London avocado toast scene a lot better than I do so I picked her brains for list of places that could accommodate this sugar-free request.

Even if you don’t live in London, you could keep this list to hand in case you ever visited. I’ve certainly got some on my radar.

Note: Even if somewhere doesn’t do avocado on toast, you can always ask for it – I suspect quite a few places will oblige.

Do you like or have you tried avocado on toast? Is it something you’d consider? What is your favourite way? Comment below with any other suggestions!

 

 

sugar-free-savoury-flapjacks

Savoury olive & almond flapjacks

Calling flapjack lovers, this recipe is AMAZING! I’ve been excited for nearly a whole week about sharing it with you because I know that cereal bars, flapjacks and all things like that are a killer for sugar yet can be handy to carry or eat on the go.

I used to eat flapjacks and cereal bars like nobody’s business when I was a sugar fiend so I’ve wanted to create a sugar-free option for a while now. If you find yourself at the mercy of cereal bars, flapjacks and quick grab sugary bars, these could be a great option.

You also don’t have the hassle of deciding which sugar substitute to use which can be a confusing business to say the least!

sugar-free-savoury-flapjacks

Even though you might feel cumin is a no go first thing, you can definitely eat these for breakfast and i’d encourage you to break out of your comfort zone by doing so.

Alternatively eat them as a handy snack, have with your lunch, or use in the kid’s lunch boxes (maybe just omit the chilli flakes).

The pumpkin and chia seed topping is optional to simply boost the nutritional count and make them look pretty!

Savoury olive & almond flapjacks

sugar-free-savoury-almond-olive-cereal-bar

Makes 8 large bars or 16 smaller bites

Ingredients

  • 200g rolled oats (2 cups)
  • 300ml milk (1 ½ cups)
  • 75g almonds (½ cup)
  • 20g parmesan cheese (⅓ cup, grated)
  • 60g black pitted olives (½ cup)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line an 8-inch square tin with parchment paper
  • In a medium bowl, mix the oats, salt, herbs and spices together with the ground flaxseed
  • Add the milk and leave it to soak for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the rest
  • Roughly chop the olives, almonds and grate the parmesan cheese
  • Add these ingredients to the mixture, stir well
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and spread evenly
  • Sprinkle over the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Bake for 45 minutes, remove and let cool
  • Slice into bars or squares
  • Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days

savoury-olive-almond-flapjacks

More foodie and sugar-free meal inspiration

I’ve also just started a new Instagram feed @happysugarhabits which is solely dedicated to helping you beat the sugar cravings and get a daily dose of inspiration to help you embrace a practical lower sugar life and feel in control. I’ve got Fit Food Emma helping out so do follow and let us know what you think. This feed is to really help you so feedback is always welcome.

What do you think of savoury flapjacks and eating these for breakfast? Have you ever tried a savour flapjack before? Please do let me know if you try this recipe and what you think.

 

Protein chocolate mousse

Sugar-free cookie dough mousse

So many of the sugar-free recipes out there you read and then stumble upon something that you’re not too keen on – or is this just me?! Whether it’s a load of dates, agave nectar, coconut sugar, stevia or even the better brown rice syrup, things are sweetened with something (even some of my recipes!).

I know a few of you have got in touch to tell me about Davina’s 5 weeks to sugar-free. I’m going to review her book in due course but yes she does use maple syrup and honey which still have a major fructose element. Recipes like this are great for transitioning off refined sugar to something slightly better and more natural alternatives, but If you’re trying to change tastebuds & cravings more significantly, maple syrup/honey substitution isn’t the way to go. I love Davina & what she’s doing but I’m telling you that the Mentor Me Off Sugar recipes & meal plan will get much more significant & better results.

So with all these sugar substitutes bounding around in ‘sugar-free’ recipes, I’ve really got a lot of time for recipes that don’t contain any of the above and are more truely fructose free. They’re just naturally sweet because of the clever combination of ingredients & flavours. My sweet potato & walnut cake falls into this category and is one of my most popular recipes.

So I’m excited to introduce you to a really unusual and clever sugar-free recipe courtesy of my friend Emma Charles (www.fitfoodemma.com & @Fitfoodemma on Instagram).

This mouse uses CHICKPEAS as a base. Yes chickpeas…in a dessert/mousse. Now before you start scoffing (I know my friends will!), I literally beg you to try this recipe. Since Emma sent it over I’ve whipped it up 4-5 times slightly tweaking it each time to my own taste. I just love how easy, quick and tasty it is. It’s pretty high in (healthy) fats & protein and so it’s ridiculously filling.

You could have it as breakfast, a snack or a treat in the evening when the post meal sweet temptation rocks in. It will satiate and satisfy you so much, you won’t want much else.

Sugar-free cookie dough mousse

Serves 4

Protein chocolate mousse

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ tin (120g) chickpeas, drained (I recommend KTC as they’re softer than most other brands)
  • 4 tbsp peanut, cashew, hazelnut or almond butter (100% nuts)
  • 100g ripe avocado
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 40g unsweetened protein powder (or 15g coconut/wholemeal flour)
  • ½ tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Approx. 55ml milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • Raw cacao nibs or 60g 85%+ dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Optional toppings: unsweetened coconut flakes, grated dark chocolate

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients except the dark chocolate together in a food processor or blender, then
  • gently stir through in the chocolate.
  • Taste and add a little more coconut oil or vanilla extract if you prefer a sweeter mousse. Add more milk if you need to make it slightly more runny.
  • Pour into four glasses or ramekins – shot glasses work well – and refrigerate for at least an hour (Laura – I eat it straight away, so impatient!)
  • Add your toppings and serve.

Emma’s Free ebook

Emma has launched a free recipe ebook with some brilliant and properly sugar-free recipes. It costs just £1.99 but if you use the code FITFOODJAN this month,  you can download completely free. She does tend to use a protein powder which I’m personally undecided on and tend to avoid (although I’m going to try the one Emma recommends). Just be careful when ordering things like protein powders so that you don’t order one with Sucralose or another artificial sweetener – protein powders can be a bit sneaky in adding something sweet (& usually very artificial) in. Anyway, I’ve been making this recipe with the coconut flour substitute (works fine) and on occasion just with an extra dollop of nut butter. The recipes in Emma’s book are really great – this girl has natural talent so check it out for some inspiration.

<Download Emma’s ebook HERE>

Are you absolutely mortified at the thought of having chickpeas in a mousse? Do you find it frustrating that so many ‘sugar-free’ recipes aren’t truly sugar-free? Have you got Davina’s book yet? Comment below and please let me know if you try and what you think.

 

christmas-salad-main

Warm turkey & cranberry Christmas salad recipe

The flavours of Christmas are so distinctive and popular that everything around this time of year can be flavoured with either a spiced fruit or a turkey-cranberry-stuffing concoction. I love Christmas flavours as much as anyone, but often the foods associated with them are not the healthiest.

What about salads?! Yes it can be done! Say hello to a very healthy and Christmas themed salad….

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Now, I can’t actually take credit for this salad as it’s a guest recipe by the lovely Emma Charles. Emma is a London-based foodie who fell in love with real food and heavy weights and hasn’t looked back. Her simple, purse-friendly recipes use natural flavours such as spices and cacao to replace sugar and sweeteners – which is of course, is right down my street.

Be sure to follow her great low sugar inspiration on Twitter at @FitFoodEmma or Instagram as @FitFoodEmma

Emma is currently helping me with some low sugar recipe developments (watch this space!).

I’m not saying too much yet but there are some really exciting things coming your way in 2015 to help you live lower sugar in the nicest way possible. If you’re passionate about this like myself and Emma, then please drop me a line as there could be lots of things to get involved with. Also don’t forget to make sure you’re on the Mentor Me Off Sugar front of queue get the first dibs on a kind, holistic sugar detox like no other.

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So, the recipe, in Emma’s own words…

The salad tastes great hot or cold (and has been approved by my very honest boyfriend!) and is perfect for anyone who wants to join in with the Christmas spirit without sacrificing their healthy eating goals. It’s packed with protein and all the carbohydrates are low GL so it will keep you full and not reaching for the quality streets mid-afternoon! I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who was really disappointed by Pret only offering Christmas sandwiches rather than salads/non bread based options so hopefully this recipe will help bring Christmas cheer to your packed lunch!

Cranberries & sugar

The only source of sugar (fructose) in the salad are really the cranberries and then natural sweetness from the vegetables. Cranberries are a winner on a low sugar diet as they are particularly low in fructose with less than 1g per cup of them. Do watch out when buying cranberries however – because they’re not as naturally sweet as other fruits, they’re extremely prone to having sugar added to them in some form. You can however buy frozen unsweetened ones which are 100% sugarfree and of course you can buy them fresh. Avoid cranberry juice as this is a sugar bomb. Of course a little cranberry sauce on Christmas day isn’t perfectly sugar-free but hey, it’s Christmas day – maybe just don’t slather it all over your turkey and have some extra gravy instead ;)

Warm Christmas salad recipe by Emma Charles

christmas-salad-long

Makes 3 salads

Ingredients

  • 270g broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt (pink Himalayan salt works well)
  • 100g leeks, sliced
  • 100g kale
  • 80g frozen unsweetened cranberries
  • 200g sugar snap peas
  • 300g diced turkey breast
  • 400g butternut squash

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c (160c fan oven).
  2. Microwave or roast the squash until it is soft enough to cut, then peel and dice into small chunks.
  3. Toss the squash, broccoli, leeks and kale in the olive oil and salt. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes, then add the turkey to the roasting pan and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. After 25 minutes, steam the sugar snap peas in the microwave until cooked. Separately, microwave the cranberries for 1 minute until the juices begin to run out of the fruit.
  5. Combine the roasted vegetables, turkey and sugar snap peas, then top with hot cranberries.

Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to two days – this recipe makes a fantastic healthy packed lunch.

Are you going to try out this festive salad? Let me know if you fancy this recipe and share with someone else if you’ll think they’ll like it too :)

Laura xx

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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.

salmon-leek-bake-plate

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!