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.

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?

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_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

IMG_3149

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)

IMG_3152

IMG_3150

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.

IMG_3151

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

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

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

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

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

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

Anyway here’s the recipe…

Sugar-free sweet potato & walnut cake

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

Makes about 10 portions

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Sugar-free sweet potato cake

What to do with your cake?

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

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

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

 

guacamole

Spicy homemade guacamole recipe

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

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

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

guacamole

Spicy guacamole

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

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

Ingredients

  • 3 small or 2 big ripe avocados

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • few slices of chilli, chopped (optional)

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large ripe tomato

Method

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

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

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

  • Add extra lime juice or salt to taste

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

almond-rosemary-crackers-bowl

Grain and sugar-free rosemary almond crackers recipe

I know low sugar snacks can be a continuous challenge. Trying to get them balanced with some healthy fat and protein whilst avoiding processed packaged goods is not an easy feat (& it’s why I developed my low sugar snack guide).

It’s therefore my pleasure to share these delicious almond-based rosemary crackers because they tick all the right healthy boxes and satisfy my tough low sugar snack requirements.

They’re pretty simple, with limited ingredients. They do however need a bit of careful watching to make sure you don’t burn them. Saying that, I burnt a batch and my friend Katie insisted they were super tasty dipped in hummus, so rest assured there was no waste in the making of this recipe.

You can’t actually eat too many of these as you get quite full quickly, unlike other refined flour crackers where you can usually gorge and clear off a whole packet. With a base of almonds and olive oil, they’re high in healthy fats and your body will let you know when you’ve had enough. The ground almonds mean they have a slightly sweet feel to them without any added sugar.

almond-rosemary-crackers-bowl

almond-rosemary-crackers

 

Grain and sugar-free almond crackers

Recipe slightly adapted from The Nourishing Home. Makes 40-50 crackers.

Ingredients

  • 200g (2 cups) ground almonds

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tbls olive oil

  • 1 tsp water

  • ½ tsp dried garlic powder

  • ½ tsp celtic sea salt

  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

  • butter for greasing

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 250C

  • Grease a baking tray with butter

  • Combine the ground almonds, salt,  garlic powder and rosemary. Mix together well.

  • Whisk the egg, olive oil and water together

  • Combine the wet mixture with the dry and form into a dough

  • Roll out the dough onto the baking tray to ⅛ of an inch thickness

  • Cut into a large square, remove outskirts and roll again into a smaller square

  • Sprinkle with a little extra salt

  • Cut the dough square into 1 inch squares but leave on the tray

  • Place in the oven for about 10 minutes until the edges start to turn brown and the ones in the middle are firm

  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes

  • Remove carefully from the tray and store in an airtight container

  • Serve with dips or topping of your choice. I like them simply on their own!

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!

almond-butter-close-up

Sugar substituting: Why you need almond butter

Have you heard of almond butter, and have you tried it? For those of you who have, this post will give you some handy suggestions for its use in a sugar-free diet. For those who haven’t (and who aren’t allergic to nuts), this stuff could rock your sugar-free world, so read on…

Become the master of substitution

One of the best tricks to master when reducing the sugar in your diet is the art of substitution. Substituting is a trial and error process where success is dramatically increased by choosing to eat alternative things you actually like. Yes I said LIKE, not forcing yourself to eat ‘healthy’ things that don’t come close to what you’re trying to stop eating.

There is no way a piece of celery is going to replace that piece of dairy milk and give you anywhere near the level of satisfaction you need to successfully wean you off. You’d probably rather either eat nothing than replace your dear chocolate with a piece of celery – right? You need something that feels a bit indulgent, satisfying but not sweet.

almond-butter-natures-energyalmond-butter-close-up

Enter almond butter….

This goopy, grainy version of the humble almond has been a revelation in my diet over the past year. Step aside peanut butter, there’s a cooler kid in town. Almond butter is more nutritious than peanut butter and because it’s just that little bit more runny, I find it more versatile to use. Oh, and I think it’s nicer. So thumbs up all round.

I’m currently using Meridian Smooth Almond Butter which I picked up in a slightly larger limited edition jar at my local health store Natures Intent. It’s sugar-free, low in salt and palm oil free. The ingredients are simply 100% roasted almonds with a little salt. You can’t get better than that when it comes to produce out of a jar.

Almond butter is a bit more expensive than its peanut equivalent where it’s usually about £2.39-£4.00 for a small jar, but I’d say it’s well worth it. And isn’t a piece of carrot cake in Starbucks about that these days, anyway?

Just some almond butter suggestions that I roll with:

  • Dip celery in it for a perfectly balanced protein-veg-healthy fat snack
  • Drizzle over porridge for extra protein and again, healthy fat
  • Spread over slice of apple as a real treat
  • Whack a dollop into smoothies to thicken up
  • Mix with hot milk, raw cacao powder and a little brown rice syrup for a comforting low sugar alternative to a hot chocolate
  • Very slowly eat a teaspoon after a meal with a cup of tea (good if you’re trying to break the post meal-sweet habit)
  • Use as a topping on an oatcake or rice cake (somewhat resembles a biscuit)
  • Make my frozen almond butter blueberry fudge instead of eating ice cream

A word of warning

Now maybe it’s my former ‘sugar addiction’ mentality but this stuff is so good that it borders on dangerous. There are some occasions where it’s just too easy to grab another spoonful out of the jar. So use it as your ultimate indulgent treat and put it on a higher shelf so it’s not in prime tempting position every time you open your cupboard.

Any other almond butter lovers reading this? How do you like to eat yours?

sugarfree-frozen-blueberry-and-almond-butter-fudge

Sugar-free frozen blueberry and almond butter fudge

Now, I don’t claim to be a good foodie photographer by any means, but I can certainly say last week I was quite chuffed with myself. You may have seen on my Facebook or Instagram a cute heart-shaped frozen delight.

If you’ve been sunning yourself in the UK recently, you’ll know it’s pretty damn warm and we’ve even had some monsoon samplers! I’m really feeling for my Mentor Me Off Sugar cohort at the moment because they are battling ice cream at every corner. They’re finishing up on Sunday so they really have had nearly the whole heatwave to contend with.

Whilst summer has it’s Magnum themed sugar-free challenges, when you think about it there isn’t really a season when there aren’t any sugary challenges just around the corner. I personally find Christmas the toughest because of my former raisin obsession (have I told you that one year I ate Xmas pudding all year round? I know!). Anyway, whilst you think this is the worst time of year to attempt your sugar slaughter, in fact there is never a great time. Don’t fall into the trap of using time of year as an excuse.

If you got my newsletter last week, you’ll know I deconstructed ice-cream cravings a little bit to help you uncover the truth behind them. If you’re still craving a cold-sweet substitute then these little blueberry-frozen-fudge bad boys might do the trick… and they’re a heck of a lot healthier.

Warning: It is quite hard to just eat one when they’re this small and tasty, but because of the high fat content you can feel pretty full after 4 (as I found).

Sugar-free frozen blueberry and almond butter fudge

Makes approximately 10 shaped heart nibbles

sugarfree-frozen-blueberry-and-almond-butter-fudge

sugarfree-frozen-blueberry-and-almond-butter-fudge

Ingredients

  • 4tbls melted coconut oil (this stuff is amazing for you)
  • 1bls almond butter
  • 1tbls barley malt extract
  • 10 frozen blueberries

Method

  • Mix the oil, almond butter and barley malt extract vigorously together in a small bowl

  • Spoon into an ice cube tray (of any shape, hearts worked well!)

  • Push a frozen blueberry into the middle of each shape and stick the whole lot into the freezer

  • Eat when frozen or even semi-frozen if you’re as impatient as me!

These are sooooo nice. They’re quite sweet so you may want to adjust the barley malt extract accordingly and I might add a little less next time. Remember, barley malt extract is a sweetener I like because it’s very low fructose and more natural than chemical or processed sweeteners. However, it’s not something I depend on every day, or even every week. It just helps make nice things, like these, on occasion.

I know these ingredients are a) a bit expensive and b) not found in the average supermarket. However, once you have them in stock, you can mix up this frozen fudge very quickly. The sheer convenience means they could be a great ice cream transition strategy and the price over the long run probably works out similar. Plus, you can use some of them in your low sugar smoothies remember!

sugarfree-frozen-blueberry-and-almond-butter-fudge

 

sugarfree-frozen-blueberry-and-almond-butter-fudge

If you make these PLEASE post a photo and let me know, as I would love to see them. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. I think this is becoming my social network of choice and I’m planning lots of sugar themed pictorial fun this summer.

Enjoy!

Laura x