thai-pork-burgers-corner

Thai sesame pork burgers

Unfortunately Thai food can often equal sugar. Most bought stir-fry sauces will have a sugar of some form and many recipes online will call for you to add some.

However do you LOVE Asian flavours? What to do if you’re trying to shift to a lower sugar diet and lifestyle?

My love of Asian flavours

I had this dilemma for a while because I absolutely love Asian food and flavours. I practically lived off Thai green curry when backpacking around Thailand a few years ago and I used to often cook stir-frys because they could be super low fat, quick, easy and healthy (or so I thought). I would always use a bought sauce and hence be consuming hidden sugar.

However, since going low sugar and becoming aware of the sweetened nature of sauces, I have to say I moved away from stir-frys as a regular weekly meal – they became more one-off and I’d attempt at making a sauce DIY (please comment below if you use or know of any great sugar-free stir-fry recipes).

I decided to get Asian flavour in through other means and so here’s a recipe for Thai sesame pork burgers that gets some Asian flavour in without the need for sugar. I’ve also got an Asian dressing recipe that does the same.

Thai sesame pork burgers

thai-pork-burgers-corner

Recipe adapted from Fitter Food

Makes 6 burgers

Ingredients

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (about a thumb sized piece)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander
  • 1 fresh green chilli, chopped
  • 1 egg

thai-pork-burgers

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark and line a tray with baking parchment.
  • Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and with clean hands, mix everything together thoroughly.
  • Shape the mixture into 6 size burgers and place on the lined tray
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes

Note: You may notice a layer of fat that lines the tray after baking – don’t worry this is normal!

Try this

  • Sautee some pak choi in coconut oil or sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Add cold to a salad for a serious protein boost
  • Slice some cucumber and chop some red pepper on the side and add some sesame oil or Asian style salad dressing

pork-burgers-salad thai-pork-bugers-side

What do you do when it comes to Asian food and sugar? Any recipes or stir-fry sauces you’ve found that help? Share the love in a comment below or let me know how you go with this recipe.

 

 

spinach-quinoa-bake

Quinoa, courgette & spinach bake

The mornings can be a rush can’t they? You’re trying to kick off with your tasks and responsibilities. Get to work, sort the kids, respond to emails, social messages, organise your diary…. the list goes on. I commend all the Mum’s out there as I know you have it particularly tough.

The last thing you want is to have to spend longer than you want on a healthy breakfast.

So many people say to me, I don’t have time to make eggs each morning and I completely understand. Whilst my self-employed lifestyle is different these days, I did use to travel a lot with my job at IBM and on many days I had to leave at 6:30am to get a train somewhere.

Cooking scrambled eggs at that time was not really an option if I wanted to have a decent amount of sleep and look half respectable!

Egg type bakes and efficient cooking habits absolutely were the cornerstone to my low sugar success. They stopped me from grabbing sugary things from train stations and they saved me quite a bit of money too.

So here’s a easily transportable and reheatable spinach, courgette quinoa bake recipe that packs in super protein nutrition and gets those valuable greens in first thing.

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I’m on a mission to ban ‘no time for healthy breakfast’ excuses if it’s the last thing I do!

This recipe is relatively easy and is a protein packed substantial breakfast-snack-lunch that packs in nutritious green vegetables and amino acid busting quinoa. It’s gluten-free but feels a little bit like a savoury flapjack of sorts.

 

Quinoa, courgette & spinach bake

spinach-quinoa-bake

Serves 9 small portions as a snack or 6 larger breakfast portions

Ingredients

  • 200g or 4-5 large handfuls of spinach (washed)
  • 1 courgette, make 9 slices and dice the rest.
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 knob butter & some extra for greasing
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary (you can use fresh if you want)
  • 200g dried quinoa (1 cup) made according to packet directions
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk (I used almond milk in this case)
  • 25g grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

spinach-quinoa-bake-corner

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Method

  • Grease an 8inch glass baking dish with butter and pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Cook the quinoa according to the packet
  • Prepare a big bowl of water with ice cubes in it
  • Cook (blanche) the spinach by bringing a pot of large water to boil and placing the spinach in it. Cook for 1 minute until the spinach goes dark green.
  • Drain in a sieve and quickly put into the iced water. This helps keep the nutrients.
  • Once cooled, remove the spinach from the iced bowl and squeeze out the excess water. Place in a bowl on the side for later.
  • Heat the knob of butter in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the onion, garlic for a few minutes.
  • Add the diced courgette, rosemary and season with salt and pepper
  • Cook until the onion is translucent and the courgette soft
  • Add all the ingredients (quinoa, onion courgette mix, spinach, cheese, eggs) together in a bowl and mix together.
  • Spoon into the glass dish and push down evenly
  • Add the courgette slices, some extra grated parmesan and black pepper to the top
  • Cook in the oven for 60-70 minutes until golden on top
  • Leave to cool & then slice up into portions & keep in the fridge

Try this

  • Ok I know there’s garlic in this, but honestly it’s good enough to eat for breakfast!
  • Use as a carry around sugar-free snack or substantial protein-healthy carbohydrate addition to a lunchtime salad.
  • Use a sneaky way to get nutrient packed spinach into children’s diets or grown ups who don’t like green vegetables!

Do you struggle with finding the time to have a healthy protein packed breakfast in the morning?

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-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.

 

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

salmon-leek-bake-whole

Sugar-free breakfast: Salmon & leek bake recipe

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

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

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!

feta-pomegranete-mint-salad-square

Feta, pomegranate & mint salad

Lost for salad inspiration? Bored of that tuna number?

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

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

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

feta-pomegranete-mint-salad-top

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

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

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

Feta, pomegranate & mint salad

feta-pomegranete-mint-salad-vintage

feta-pomegranete-mint-salad-square

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

Dressing

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

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

butternut-squash-coconut-soup

Sugarfree butternut squash and coconut soup recipe

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

First, if you are buying this soup…

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

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

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

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

Sugarfree butternut squash and coconut soup

butternut-squash-coconut-soup

Makes 4-5 portions

Ingredients

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

Optional taste boosters

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

butternut-squash-and-onion

Method

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

butternut-squash-coconut-soup-2

A few notes:

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

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

Spiced veggie burgers above

Spiced veggie burgers with a tahini lime sauce

First…more sugar help coming your way!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spiced veggie burgers above

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

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

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

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

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

Spiced veggie burgers with a tahini lime dressing

Spiced veggie burgers close

Cooks 6-8 burgers
Recipe inspired by Oh She Glows

Ingredients

For the burgers

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

For the dressing

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

Method

For the burgers

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

For the dressing

Spiced veggie burgers dressing

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

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

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

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….