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.

Asian soy lime ginger dressing

Low sugar Asian sesame, lime & ginger salad dressing

I LOVE Asian food. Lime, lemongrass, ginger and all that jazz. I have travelled in Asia, namely Thailand, quite a lot and a few years ago I lived off of Thai green curries, Pad Thai and okay, maybe a few too many Chang beers…but hey, I was travelling….

Anyway, upon my travels I went to a Thai cooking school which was amazing. Thinking back to it now with a lower sugar hat on however, does remind me that quite a lot of Asian sauces and cooking methods often involve sugar of some kind, which can be a bummer if you’re eating it a lot or trying to eat less sugar in general.

Over the last few (lower sugar) years I’ve not eaten as much Asian food at home due to the fact I wanted to move away from buying packets of sauces etc. Despite my cookery school experience, I am by no means an expert with DIY sauces etc.

Whilst I’m not going to not eat some of my favourite Asian dishes from time to time, I have been curious to develop a salad dressing that hits the spot on Asian flavour but without the added sugar. Most shop bought Asian stir fry sauces and salad dressings over here in the UK are loaded with sugar and I don’t think it’s always necessary.

You can make the sweetness healthier in any Asian recipe by substituting in something like stevia or brown rice syrup if you wish, however this salad dressing recipe needs no sugar substitute whatsoever. It does have a smidge of sugar as the fish sauce you buy usually contains some, but in terms of the overall recipe, i’d class it as pretty much sugar-free.

Low sugar Asian style salad dressing (makes ½ jar)

Asian soy lime ginger dressing

  • Juice of 1 lime (approx 4 tbls)
  • 5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 birds eye chilli (this was perfect for me but these bad boys are HOT. Maybe go with half to start)
  • ¾ tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground ginger

Method

Put all the ingredients in a nice jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake until your heart’s content!

Asian ingredients

In terms of salad ingredients, cucumber, radishes, grated carrot, fresh coriander and prawns all taste great with this dressing. I often use spinach as my ‘green base’ and then add in the other things depending on what I have in my fridge. You can also sprinkle over sesame seeds to make it look pretty.

What are your thoughts on Asian food when it comes to a sugar-free or low sugar diet? Do you eat a lot of it and are you aware of the sugar in it? Leave a comment and share your thoughts….

sweet potato coconut balls bite

Sugarfree creamed coconut sweet potato balls

You know, I decide to test recipes and play around with food at the most random times – sometimes it’s very early in the morning. Last week I got up and decided to cook with a lonesome sweet potato and store cupboard bits. It was all I had left at home after being away with work and at Champneys (I’ve started to do sugar talks there which is very exciting).

Anyway, I literally didn’t have anything in to eat for breakfast when I got back, so these sweet potato coconut balls it was!

I have played around with sweet potato ‘balls’ before. It’s not as straight forward as I initially thought and I’ve messed them up a number of times. I think I’ve finally got a half decent recipe for you now though. I’m also pleased to say, apart from perhaps the chia seeds in this recipe, the ingredients are cheap and pretty accessible.

sweet potato coconut balls

These are a superb sugar friendly snack or treat and are simple to make. They are of course very low in fructose but taste naturally sweet thanks to the sweet potato and coconut. So if you’re being mindful of your fructose intake in an attempt to curb sugar cravings, they serve as a nice little filling sweet-ish treat.

Creamed coconut vs. coconut oil

Creamed coconut packs some of the nutritional benefit that coconut oil  does, simply because it contains some of the oil which usually is visible in the packet. Thus, it contains some lauric acid which has antiviral and antibacterial properties whilst also being a great source of natural fat. The nutritional benefit isn’t as dense tablespoon to tablespoon, but creamed coconut has the added benefit of fibre (from the flesh). It’s also a lot cheaper than coconut oil. I know many say to me that coconut oil is a little expensive, so creamed coconut is a great way of getting the health benefits of coconut products into your diet without spending a small fortune. The creamed coconut I picked up in the Asian section in Tesco was a mere 99p!

sweet potato _ creamed coconut

Sugarfree creamed coconut sweet potato balls (Makes 8-10)

sweet potato coconut balls bite

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 pack of solid creamed coconut (coconut butter may work too)
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • ½ tsp raw cacao powder (or use 100% cocoa powder as a subsiuute)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)

Method

  • Take the packet of creamed coconut and submerge in boiling water for 5-10mins until completely softened.
  • In the meantime, cook the sweet potato. I prick mine and put it in the microwave for 6 minutes but oven bake if you prefer.
  • Peel the sweet potato and mash.
  • Cut open the coconut cream packet and put into a bowl. You might notice the oil and flesh separating so mix it all together until creamy.
  • Mix 3 tbsp of the creamed coconut into the sweet potato with 1 tbsp dessicated coconut. Combine well.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for an hour.
  • Mix the remaining dessicated coconut, chia seeds and cacao powder together on a saucer.
  • Roll the sweet potato mixture into balls and coat in the powdered mixture. EAT!
  • Tip the leftover coconut cream into an ice cube tray and store in the fridge or freezer. You can use in soups, curries or even just eat it on it’s own as a mini sweet treat, it’s delicious!

sweet potato _ creamed coconut

A few notes to share my learnings:

  • Don’t try and rush softening the creamed coconut in the microwave quickly. It burns very quickly.
  • If your potato is small, the mixture might be too squishy to roll into a ball. If so, stick it in the freezer for 30mins to harden.
  • I made two batches and added a tablespoon of brown rice syrup to one to test it out. They were a little sweeter but I really don’t think this recipe needs it. If these aren’t sweet enough for your liking then it’s an option.
  • Don’t wear yellow shorts and a white top whilst working with cacao powder! #whatwasithinking

What do you think of this recipe? Going to give it a go? What are your thoughts and experiences with creamed coconut?

berry & avocado smoothie

3 delicious low sugar smoothie recipes

Now summer is upon us, I find my body naturally craves slightly different things on sunnier days. Whilst I still love my egg breakfasts and eat them throughout the majority of the week, I do find that when it’s hot some days (& my flat is like a sauna!), I really fancy a cold refreshing smoothie.

So today I have some super delicious recipes and a superfood competition to get you inspired for summer smoothie experimentation.

Low sugar smoothies

Smoothies, especially the shop bought variety can be packed with a serious amount of sugar. Up to 50g in some cases. If you make your own at home, you’ve got much more control and can make them SO much better. They are quick too. Ok, a little noisy if it’s early, but make the night before and refrigerate if that’s the case.

I’ve posted a video last summer on my 7 tips for making low sugar smoothies. These are my ground rules and living by these principles, here are three of my current favourite smoothie staples….

Note: for all these recipes you can use a milk of your choice e.g almond milk, coconut milk, semi-skimmed etc. I use organic semi-skimmed in mine. Just make sure any milk you buy e.g. soya, almond or coconut hasn’t got added sugar or sweeteners to it.

Berry & avocado smoothie

berry & avocado smoothie

  • 1 cup or large handful of mixed frozen berries
  • ½ avocado or tsp coconut oil (this is the filling fat element)
  • 3 tbls natural yoghurt
  • 1 cup or glass of milk (approx 250ml)
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1 tbls chia seeds
  • Cacao nibs (to top)

Kiwi & mint smoothie

Kiwi _ mint smoothie2

kiwi mint smoothie1

  • 2 kiwi fruit
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 handful of chopped fresh mint
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 3 tbls natural yoghurt
  • 1 cup or glass of milk (approx 250ml)
  • ½ tsp spirulina powder
  • 1 tbls chia seeds

Cashew banana green smoothie

Banana & cashew smoothie

  • 1 green tipped frozen banana
  • 1 tbls cashew butter (I used one I recently reviewed from Myprotien.com)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 3 tbls natural yoghurt
  • 1 cup or glass of milk (approx 250ml)
  • 1 tbls chia seeds
  • 1 tbls flaxseed powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp wheatgrass powder

Using superfood powders

You’ll noticed I’ve supercharged all of these smoothies with a superfood of some sort. I’ve been using 100% organic superfood powders from Miracle Powders who kindly sent me a nice selection box of 5 x 50g bags to experiment with.

Miracle powders

These smaller portions are ideal for trying out different ones and seeing which you like the most without spending a fortune. I’m a big fan of the raw maca powder because it’s a great addition for smoothies that you don’t want to be green! It’s also worth mentioning that wheatgrass can help reduce sugar cravings. In general, because these powders are so dense in vitamins and minerals, effectively you’re giving your body such goodness, it should help reduce unhealthy cravings. It’s effortless to add them in and you’re potentially fighting off colds, diseases, cravings all in one go!

Competition WIN some superfood powders

Miracle powders have kindly donated a 5x 50g selection box to a Happy Sugar Habits reader :). All you need to do is comment below with a thought or response to this post e.g. let me know if you make smoothies or if you avoid them due to the sugar.

If you pin one of the images to Pinterest, you’ll get an extra entry and if you tweet about it with one of the following, you’ll get another additional entry… #socialmediaLOVE!

Get low sugar smoothie making with Happy Sugar Habits @miraclepowders superfood powder competition via @lauraj_thomas http://ow.ly/xEe5r

I just entered Happy Sugar Habits low sugar smoothie @miraclepowders superfood powder competition via @lauraj_thomas http://ow.ly/xEe5r

Good luck! Winners chosen at random. Competition closes on Monday 23rd June

Low sugar life with smoothies

So to conclude, I certainly don’t think fruit smoothies are out of the question when living on a low sugar diet, especially when you’re new habits are in place. You just need to be mindful of their sugar content and factor them in to your total fructose count for the day. I’d also say it depends where you are in terms of feeling in control with fructose. There was a period of time where these wouldn’t have been suitable for me. Listen to your body to determine how they impact your overall sugar cravings i.e. test different ones out, and see how you feel.

Are you conscious of smoothies being high in sugar and how do you like to make yours? Do you find they impact your sugar cravings at all and do they fill you up? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts around this. Leave a comment and enter the competition at the same time!

hummus from top

Sugar-free snacking: roasted red pepper hummus

Sugar-free snacking: roasted red pepper hummus

Sugar-free snacking is at times key to keeping sane when you’re transitioning to lower sugar or sugar-free life. At first you feel like you have limited options when it comes to snacking. You eat a lot of nuts to start (I know I did). Then slowly over time, you open your eyes to a world of possibility as you get used to things. Hummus is fabulous snack material. Today I’m sharing a an easy recipe for some roasted red pepper hummus that you’ll look forward to eating and you’ll be able to use up in a number of ways.

You can make this a bit more runny by adding more of the liquid ingredients but I tend to like my hummus less gloopy and more substantial.

Red pepper hummus

hummus dipped in

Makes enough for four friends to devour in less than 30 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 tbls olive oil
  • 3 tbls water
  • 2 tbls lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbls tahini

hummus from top

Method

Chop up the red pepper and coat in a little olive oil
Roast in an oven (approx. 180C for 20mins in a fan oven)
Add the roasted pepper and all other ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor
Blitz and gradually add in the olive oil
Add salt, pepper and more olive oil to get the right taste and consistency

Try this

How to eat your hummus? Well, obviously you can eat as a dip with celery and cucumber or you can spread some over a crisp bread or rice cake for a more substantial snack. You can add a dollop onto your salad or use it as a spread to jazz up a sandwich. I served this up to friends with some toasted pitta to keep their hungry tums quiet whilst I get on cooking the rest of their meal.

hummus from side

Why make homemade hummus?

I know it might seem a hassle but I promote making your own hummus like I did with guacamole. Why? Because you know exactly what’s in it and it usually tastes better. Most shop bought hummus is made with vegetable oil rather than olive oil, which is a more toxic processed oil to be putting in your system. Making your own ensures quality ingredients, clean eating and of course, it’s incredibly satisfying. My friends were impressed :)

Have you made your own hummus before and used it as a sugar-free snack? What other flavours of hummus are you a fan of?

Laura xx

IMG_3834

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

IMG_3834

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.

IMG_3832

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 :)

 

IMG_3150

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.