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

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!

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!

2013-09-19 07.39.57

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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2013-09-19 07.39.37

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.

 

fruit_shake_pink_241863_l

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?

fructose

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

roasted-squash-avocado-cottage-cheese-breakfast

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.

spinach-omelette-squash-side

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.

squash-scrambeld-eggs

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?

 

ham-eggs-in-bowl-with-knife-and-fork

Easy ham & egg cases

When you eat a lot of eggs like me, you need to find new ingenious ways of having them so you don’t get bored with the same thing. Last week I found I had three slices of leftover ham, 2 eggs, some tomato and a spring onion lying around, so in the name of no food waste, I cooked up these ham & egg cases.

Tip: For those who say they never have time for eggs in the morning, I whipped up these at the same time as cooking dinner to save myself time the next morning.

Easy ham & egg cases

Ingredients

Makes 3 but feel free to multiply the recipe for extra breakfasts and snacks

  • 3 slices of ham

  • 2 eggs, whisked

  • 1/2 a tomato, diced

  • 1 spring onion

  • parmesan cheese

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 175C
  • Line a baking tin with the ham. (Note: if you cut the ham to line the tin, the egg mixture will spill a little into the bottom but the general shape will still hold)
  • Add the tomato to the ham cases
  • Pour over the egg mixture and divide between cases
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and black pepper
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until the egg is cooked through and ham has crisped a little

Obviously you could mix these up a bit. Different cheese; some sautéed mushrooms instead of the tomato; or even a small head of broccoli for some greenery,

Happy case baking!

apple-cinnamon-quinoa-porridge-in-bowl

5 reasons to try quinoa porridge (& two easy recipes)

Quinoa is a super grain! Carmelo Flores, the Bolivian indigenous farmer,  claimed it has helped him to reach the ripe old age of 125! Inspired by this story, I wanted to share some ways of bringing more quinoa into your low sugar diet, namely at that trickiest meal of the day to get sugar, – breakfast.

Enter these quinoa porridge recipes…

Think porridge and you usually assume traditional oats. I know I certainly did. However, this is where we can shake things up a bit. Using quinoa for porridge instead of traditional oats has a few benefits:

1. Higher in protein – compared to oats, quinoa is high in protein (research how much) so you’ve got a slower more steady release of energy that will keep you fuller.

2. More nutritional – it’s a complete protein grain which means it has all essential amino acids present.

3. Gluten free – I don’t eat completely gluten free but I know lots of people are moving this way inclined and I opt for it when I can. This is a great gluten-free breakfast option for those that are sensitive.

4. Different texture – Change is good. If you’ve eaten porridge a gazillion times during your life like I have, it’s definitely a good move to add more variety to your diet.

5. Versatile when cold – You can cook up this porridge and then have it more ‘bircher’ style the next day or two, and it doesn’t grow a weird cling film layer on it like porridge does.

Granted, quinoa porridge takes a little longer to cook, but as you see below I had two tasty different breakfasts out of the effort, the second of which took approximately 60 seconds to prepare. I ate it on the train to work whilst the person next to me knocked down a McDonalds (no joke!).

Apple and cinnamon quinoa porridge

Makes two portions but push the boat out and make three if you want.

quinoa-porridge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa (well rinsed)

  • 1 1/4 cup of milk (I used semi-skimmed but almond, goats, soya all will work OK)

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I like mine spicy)

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Add the quinoa, milk and salt to a pot and bring to a boil

  • Add the cinnamon & nutmeg

  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins or until the grains are clear

  • Divide the quinoa porridge into two portions and place one in a bowl to cool

  • Serve the remaining portion with sliced apple and extra cinnamon, add a dash of extra milk if you prefer

On-the-go blueberry-chia quinoa

quinoa breakfast

This is very easy. The night before (you could also do this in the morning), I just added a handful of frozen blueberries, some chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. Other toppings could include:

  • other lower fructose fruits like berries

  • coconut flakes

  • flaxseed powder

  • a drizzle of almond butter

  • brown rice syrup, if you’re still weaning yourself off golden syrup (I used to be a golden syrup fan back in the day,so I appreciate that the low sugar content of this breakfast could be a shocking difference at first)


What do you think? Anyone tried quinoa porridge? Does changing your favourite porridge grain staple scare you?

gluten-free-raw-buckwheat-apple-chia-seeds-breakfast

Buckwheat, apple and chia seed ‘soak’ breakfast

A little while ago, as part of my Institute of Integrative Nutrition studies, I did quite a bit of research on the benefits of many of the different whole grains. One that took my fancy was buckwheat, something I had never tried before.

Breakfast still remains one of the hardest meals to get right on the sugar front. It’s easy to get stuck in the routine of having the same things. So I developed an unusual breakfast using buckwheat that somewhat resembles a cereal for those of you that are struggling to let it go (it took me a while so I understand!).

Enter my buckwheat, apple and chia ‘soak’. As you can tell, I really didn’t have a clue what to call this recipe. I still think soak sounds naff. Any ideas, and I will gladly rename it. It was inspired by various recipes I read for both buckwheat porridge and more of a ‘parfait’. However by the time I’d adapted it to my requirements, it was neither.

A little bit about buckwheat

I picked up some buckwheat grouts at my local Nature’s Intent store in Balham. You’ll most likely need to head to a specialist health store to find it as it’s not really stocked in standard supermarkets.

Buckwheat grouts are strange little pyramid shaped seeds that can be green, pink or brown. They are commonly used in Japan, especially in noodles (called soba) and you also might have heard it more commonly used in buckwheat type pancakes.

Instead of being wheat related, buckwheat is more closely related to the rhubarb. This means it’s gluten free which is excellent news for those of you with a wheat intolerance. They can be cooked or simply soaked overnight which means this is also a ‘raw’ breakfast. I’m not massively into the whole ‘raw’ movement myself (mainly because of practicability), but I wish to state that this one qualifies!

gluten-free-raw-buckwheat-apple-chia-seeds-breakfast

gluten-free-raw-buckwheat-apple-chia-seeds-breakfast

A sunny breakfast

Being straight from the fridge, this is awesome for summer. It’s cold and refreshing with a really unusual satisfying soft crunchy texture (if that made any sense). As I said, it’s a great alternative to a processed bowl of Special K with ice cold milk. Whilst I still try to have savoury breakfasts most of the week, I really enjoy my fruity ‘treat’ breakfasts like this, especially in the summer.

Note – I still see fresh fruit as my sweet ‘treat’. This is one of the key mind shifts of lower sugar life where I really really appreciate natural sugar for the sweetness it is. Just want to get that point in there!

Protein count

This recipe is lower in protein than some of my usual breakfasts so it might not keep you as full as others. You do get super nutritional protein in the chia seeds, nuts and buckwheat, but not significant amounts. I find hot temperatures lessen my appetite so it depends on how hungry you’re feeling when you wake up. This did keep me full for hours but feel free to add extra nuts or a dollop of protein-rich Greek yoghurt.

Buckwheat, apple and chia soak breakfast

Makes one portion

gluten-free-raw-buckwheat-apple-chia-seeds-breakfast

gluten-free-raw-buckwheat-apple-chia-seeds-breakfast

Ingredients

●1/2 cup of milk (almond milk if you prefer)

●1 heaped tablespoon of chia seeds

●1 small or ½ large golden delicious apple, chopped or grated

●4 tbls soaked buckwheat (I soaked double this and had the recipe twice)

●6 chopped walnuts and a few frozen blueberries to top

Method

●The night before, cover the buckwheat with water in a pan and let it soak overnight

●Add the milk, chopped apple and chia seeds to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight

●In the morning, rinse the buckwheat to wash the slime off (yes proper slime, so make sure you do this step!)

●Add the buckwheat to the milky chia seed soak and mix well

●Top with the chopped walnuts and blueberries and put into an attractive glass if you want to make it look pretty