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sugarfree chocolate brownie recipe

Sugarfree chocolate brownie recipe (banana sweetened)

Delighted to share with you this low fructose sugarfree chocolate brownie recipe, kindly contributed by The Sugarfree Siblings.

Replacing sugar with a natural version (like a banana) is a great step to eating less of the refined stuff and the fact that each of these sugarfree chocolate brownies is just sweetened with 1/4 of a banana means they are also going to hit the chocolate spot without a natural sweetness overload.

Sugarfree chocolate brownie recipe

sugarfree chocolate brownie recipe

Recipe & images by the Sugarfree Siblings

Serves 4

  • 1 banana
  • 4 tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp almond butter (any type of Nut Butter really!)
  • 2tsp chia seeds
  • 70g 100%* dark chocolate

*FYI (Madecasse, Willies Cacao & Pacari Raw Chocolate are good options available from Wholefoods / Planet Organic / Amazon. Or try a Lindt 99% bar – which isn’t quite as good but still a great option!

Method

  • Melt the Coconut Cream by putting the bag in a bowl of hot water.
  • Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl mash the banana thoroughly with a fork and add the coconut cream when melted.
  • Fold in the almond butter & chia Seeds and combine.
  • Add the chocolate to a saucepan and on the lowest heat, melt it before adding to the rest of your ingredients and stir well
  • Pop the mixture in a small, lined baking tray/vessel and leave to set in the fridge for min. 2 hours.
  • Optional to serve with a couple of cherries & a little sugar-free or low sugar ice cream

sugarfree chocolate brownie recipe

About

The Sugarfree Siblings are a two sisters from Scotland obsessed with cooking and nourishing sugar-free and low fructose. With a host of delicious healthy recipes on their website, you’ll find lots of lovely things to keep your taste buds savoury and less sweet. You can also follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

low-sugar-hot-chocolate

How to manage sugar cravings during your menstrual cycle

Last week running my webinar, someone asked about the intense sugar cravings they were having in the week before their period. As I started to answer the question I noticed lots of others on the webinar chat box chime in ‘me too!’ so I figured it was time to write on this one! (one for the ladies this week!).

Maybe you can relate….

You’re doing to doing well with your lower sugar efforts until that PMS week comes along and you feel maybe one of the following:

I want chocolate.

I feel fat and horrible and I want chocolate.

I’m useless. Life is not feeling great right now and I want chocolate!

You think because I live a generally lower sugar lifestyle these days that I’m immune to this? Hell no.

However, I’ve gathered some knowledge and techniques that have helped, so here’s some practical sugar busting PMS tidbits you can try.

Why the cravings and feelings in the first place?

As any woman knows, the week before our cycle, our hormones go a bit mental. The stress hormone Cortisol increases and the happy hormone Serotonin decreases.

These biological changes remove our sense of emotional well being where generally happy feelings are likely to be replaced with irritability, anger, exhaustion and depression – personality depending.

I’m not really an angry person so my pre-menstrual symptoms usually manifest in some form of crying and a more pronounced irritation at something irrational like a wobbly table! (This was the most recent one I can think of!).

To add to that bundle of fun, it’s common to bloat and retain water. It’s not abnormal to increase 5-10lbs through water retention and when clothes feel tight and uncomfortable, it’s just not fun. I will have a few days where I don’t want to wear half of my wardrobe and feel like a baby elephant – I get the water retention bad.

Psychologically all of this can cause sugar cravings primarily the form of emotional comfort, especially if sugar is your default emotional crutch where habits are well established i.e you’ve always reached for chocolate to feel better. We aren’t feeling great and it’s our natural response to reach for sweet sugary comfort which does temporarily increase our happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. So our brains know that it does work.

Another reason why we can crave sugar at this time is potential magnesium deficiency. During this second half of our menstrual cycle when progesterone and estrogen are elevated, magnesium levels plummet and our bodies are naturally going to crave it.

Guess what’s magnesium rich? CHOCOLATE!!

dark-brown-milk-chocolat

So what can you do to help with these crazy cravings. Here are my best strategies:

1. Up the magnesium

First one is obvious given the whole magnesium thing. Dark chocolate or cacao which has as little sugar as possible and is as minimally processed as possible is actually pretty healthy and will up your magnesium levels. I personally love cacao nibs (click here for 5 easy ways to use them), Lindt 99% and 85% dark chocolate to get my fix. Here’s a video showing you the comparative sugar content between %s.

Don’t forget you’ve got raw cacao powder you can add to smoothies or make a completely sugar and sweetener free low sugar hot chocolate recipe.

low-sugar-hot-chocolate

Green leafy vegetables like spinach, along with some nuts and seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are also a good source of magnesium. You can add all of these things as an addition to most meals and snacks pretty easily e.g. scrambled eggs, salads, soups etc. It goes without saying to just try and keep your diet as healthy, well balanced and varied as possible.

spinach-sugar-cravings

 

You might also want to look into magnesium supplementation. I’ve never done this myself but I will point you in the direction of Dr Carolyn Dean who shares loads of helpful information to help you decide if this is an option you want to explore.

2. Ease up on any restriction

You may have also noticed that you want to eat a lot more during this part of your cycle. Carbohydrates, fat and sugar especially. This ‘I could eat a horse’ feeling can feel frustrating, especially if you’re conscious about your weight (which is even more likely due to bloating & water retention).

So what’s the remedy?

Recognise what’s going on with your body, emotions and cycle and resist any urges to do some drastic form of diet or restriction. These are likely going to backfire and install unhealthy mindsets that don’t serve a good relationship with food or sugar. Binges at this point will inevitably be more likely and your body wants and needs more food, so allow for it. You wont’ be as hungry the other weeks and accepting this natural cycle is really eating in line with your body. 

It’s also worth practice intuitive eating more attentively – so really listen to your hunger and cravings and try to eat the healthiest version of what you’re body is craving.

So if you’re craving starchy carbohydrates, could some roasted sweet potato fries do the job? If you’re hankering for some fat, could you add some extra grass fed butter to your veg or eggs? If ice cream is screaming your name, could you top some full fat creamy yoghurt with berries and grated dark chocolate? Or blend a frozen banana with some coconut cream and a drizzle of chocolate. Yum!

bananachocolate

Try to resist thinking black and white at this point and really seek those lowest sugar or healthy carb middle ground options that will satiate your cravings and feed the hunger.

3. Up Serotonin in other ways

If you know you habitually use sugar or sweet things to feel good, it’s time to up your serotonin in other ways and start getting these established as new habits. Think exercise, sleep, massages etc.

Feeling stressed? Move your body for the pure reason to feel good and get a happy fix (not just to counter and burn what you eat). So take the pressure off how long or hard you workout for and really seek to find something where you enjoy the actual process of the exercise.

Start prioritising your sleep as a health non-negotiable and maybe treat yourself to a massage. Also don’t underestimate the powerful hormonal fix you get from connecting with friends, partners and loved ones around this time too.

Start building these things in as your more default emotional coping mechanisms habit by habit. Track them. Get some accountability to start doing them more. 

If you want more hormone knowledge, two books I would recommend having read both are The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried and The Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.

4. Body confidence, mindfulness & gratitude

I didn’t’ have my menstrual cycle for nearly two years and it was somewhat nerving to say the least. Now when I am throwing a tantrum at my wardrobe, feeling fat and the rest of it, I bring my mindfulness practice right into play to consciously remind myself of a few things – most notably, that my body doing all of this jazz is healthy and I am not to take this this for granted.  

If you are feeling fed up getting PMS cravings and symptoms, chances are your body is working as it should! You’re able to reproduce and is going through the motions which when you think about all that is going on inside, it’s quite an incredible thing. Eating a bit more than usual if it happens can be managed. 

Being aware of your emotions, how they tie into your cycle, what’s going on in your head with yourself and how it all plays out into your habits and decisions is where mindfulness and emotional intelligence can really come into it’s element as a low sugar lifestyle strategy. 

Just consciously practice catching your thoughts and turn any negative ones on their head where you can. Then add in some gratitude. Don’t beat yourself up for overeating a little chocolate and instead use it to practice slowing down and mindful eating. I find journalling in the morning really helps, doing some form of movement everyday (even if it’s a seemingly lame 1k run) and actively try to process negative emotions with talking to friends, dancing and time off.

running-serotonin

 

In a nutshell

If you get sugar cravings for one crazy week a month – know you’re not alone and well, you’re normal!

Eat all things raw and dark cacao.

Put in place your magnesium and serotonin strategies.

Practice intuitive eating over anything restrictive and make ‘better’ low sugar choices where you can.

Finally, be mindful of what is going on with your wonderful healthy body and practice gratitude where you can (even for that irritating wobbly table ha!).

How do you find your sugar cravings are before your period? Do you crave particular things? Chocolate? Share in a comment below or just let me know if this has been helpful – I hope it has!
Laura xx

 

chocavotruffles

Dark chocolate avocado truffles (low sugar)

So I know it’s the festive season as we’re now into December for many of you around the world and there are sweet things everywhere.

One thing you can do to reduce your overall sugar intake is to make your own healthier low sugar versions of things to keep your sweet palate from increasing too much during the month and also to HAVE FUN playing around, discovering new things.

A few months ago I experimented making these chocolate avocado truffles and I never fully shared the recipe on the blog despite them turning out pretty well. So here they are! These truffle balls are something you could make to sneak some super nutritious avocado into what feels like a chocolate indulgence. 

chocavotrufflesplate

These aren’t crazy sweet at all but the small amount of sugar in the dark chocolate and the cacao flavour means they don’t taste like avocado. I didn’t use any other sugar substitutes but you could add a little brown rice syrup, yacon syrup or something if you did want them a bit sweeter for a wider crowd who have more of a sweet tooth!
Because they really are low sugar and packed with healthy fats and nutritious cacao, they shouldn’t have you on a full sugar craving train and I found they could work for a chocolate fix or post-meal craving well.

It’s really fun to make them too!

Chocolate Avocado Truffles

chocavotruffles

Ingredients

  • 1 perfectly ripe (or slightly over ripe) medium avocado
  • 140g 70% dark chocolate
  • Few drops of vanilla essence
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp raw cacao powder

Method

  • Peel and pit the avocado then mash the flesh until it becomes smooth
  • Melt the chocolate. Ideally do this with a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water so you do it gently and don’t burn the chocolate. You can also do this in the microwave but be careful not to burn it!
  • Stir the mashed avocado into the melted chocolate along with the vanilla essence and salt
  • Mix all together well (this bit is fun!)
  • Place the mixture into the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to set. If you leave it in for longer, just remove and then wait for 20 minutes for it to soften a bit so you can mould.

I know loads of these type of recipes would pack in dates but I wanted to share a really low sugar alternative as a change. What do you think and will you try making them?

Time to change around sugar?

Love this recipe but feel like you are not sure where to start with recalibrating your tastebuds, dealing with emotional eating, changing habits etc? Then check out my free 4-video training course which describes my four pillars to embrace a low sugar lifestyle and sends you LOADS of other helpful resources to get started.

 

 

Binged on sugar again? Your 7 must do’s…

You’re annoyed with yourself. Really annoyed. It was meant to be one small piece of chocolate to relieve a hectic day. Yet it turned into a rather large slab of the stuff; then 3 biscuits; and somehow the tub of ice cream also came out. Damn that Ben & Jerry’s…

Yes I’m talking about the almighty sugar binge.

For me, binges weren’t usually the ice cream type. It was usually a low fat fruity yoghurt, 2 muesli bars, a few handfuls of granola and then I’d pull out the biscuits, chocolate or cake.

I used to start off ‘better’ and then progressively get worse as I got increasingly frustrated with myself. It was like more sugary unhealthy foods were meant to more appropriately sooth my increasing rate of self-bashing and frustration for eating to unnecessary excess.

Laura those three handfuls of granola were ridiculous, you need to stop this. Ok well let’s just eat that piece of cake to feel better and then that will be it.

Yeah flipping right!

Whatever the food of your choice, the outcome is the same. You feel frustrated, annoyed, shameful, and possibly a bit sick. Too full, uncomfortable, embarrassed, and desperate.

You might also have even eaten something that wasn’t yours and be aware you need to go and replace it before they notice (I did this often because I usually didn’t stock biscuits but my flatmate did!).

All of this I describe is just the emotional downside of it all. Heck knows what that rather large concoction of sugar is doing physically inside your body.

So pain aside, what can you actually do? Like right now.

I seriously hope you’re still reading because I’ve got 7 practical and mindset shift steps to sort you out immediately. Read on my sugar guzzling friend and come out a new person…

1. Balance your blood sugar

Ok let’s start super practical. You’re possibly on a sugar high with an impending crash due over the next two hours. Your temptation might be that you deserve to starve yourself for 12 hours to try and balance out the calories, but this is going to take you right down the wrong path – both physically and emotionally.

Plan to steady your blood sugar with a healthy protein based snack or a full meal about 2-3 hours afterwards. It will help reduce the crash and steady you out again.

I know when I ate a stupidly sickly cupcake once on an empty stomach once, I felt so jittery for the hours afterwards I couldn’t wait to eat a proper meal to steady me out again. I wasn’t that hungry but I could tell my blood sugar was out of whack. Listen to your own body and respond accordingly.

2. Be aware of all sources of fructose and isolated refined carbohydrates over the next 48hours

Without getting overly restrictive (because this feeds binge behaviour), just be aware of all the sweetness passing your lips afterwards (e.g. sugar, dried fruit, juice, sugar substitutes etc.) and avoid eating what I call isolated refined carbohydrates e.g. a plain rice cake or white bread roll on it’s own.

The fructose will drive cravings more through your palate and increase your sweet preference whilst the refined carbohydrates will drive cravings through blood sugar unsteadiness. These two things are a little different in terms of what’s going on in your body, but keep an eye on both for a few days after to reduce the chance of a binge round two.

3. Green yourself up

When you eat a lot of sugar, your body needs to process it. To do this, it uses up a range of vitamins and minerals that you get from the rest of your healthy (or not so healthy) diet. Thus after eating sugar, there’s a strong a case for you to get coloured goodness (especially of the green kind) back into your body to replenish all that’s being used up.

This is a prime time to whip out that spirulina powder, add extra greens to your dinner or whack some extra spinach in your smoothie. Nourish and soothe. Your body can cope with the sugar onslaught but it will thank you more if you eat well to aid rather than starve yourself.

4. Talk out loud

Ok nutrition practicalities aside (the easier bit), let’s move on to the more serious matter of making yourself feel better in the moment.

Ever spoken out loud to yourself? It’s rather fun, try this one first:

‘I just ate [list it ALL] and do you know what, it’s OK!! HA!’

Then notice any self judgment you hear yourself e.g. You are not a good role model for your kids when you eat like this or you deserve to be overweight acting like this.

Mine at points has been…You can’t write a blog about sugar habits when you eat this much sugar!!

Then say:

‘I notice you self judgment. Thank you but I am choosing to like myself today no matter what I decide to eat’

If you feel a bit crazy talking to yourself, then confined in someone close who knows you well and will accept whatever happens with loving words and a realistic perspective.

This is part of my role as a coach helping people with sugar, but because I’ve got pretty good at it, friends now tend to spill their sugar sins on the fly. I’ve become a magnet for sugar confessions let me tell you.

Laura, today I ate three (medium sized) Lindt bunny’s in a row. Then I had some chocolate log, a coke and 5 bananas. That’s ok right?!!

I actually feel blessed that instead of people feeling scared of telling me they ate loads of sugar (which used to happen I suspect), they feel comfortable, accepted and normalised by telling me.

Of course, there’s likely action to take to avoid this becoming regular behaviour, but in that moment when it’s done, my primary goal is to make that person feel OK.

5. Add some other sweetness to your life

It’s often the case that overeating sugar is symptom of something else going on or just a lack of other sweetness in our lives (fun, self care, connection).

In the hours after your binge, commit to take one action to add something in over the next few days. Even if it’s just a hug, some meaningful human interaction, some love, laughing, dancing or even a flirt!

Write it down and make it happen.

6. Understand and consider the term ‘validated learning’

Now this is clever. I’m going to take a term from a business book a read a few years ago and let you use it for post binge mindset healing.

The term ‘validated learning’ comes from The Lean Start Up and is defined as process in which one tries something and can clearly quantify its effect afterwards e.g. in business you learn through testing the sales of your drink that using the phrase ‘sugar-free’ on your product sells 100 more units of it a week than when you didn’t use it (like what I did there?).

Anyway, back to your sugar binge. Use this experience as one of your ‘tests’ and validate your learning if you can. For example, you could say ‘when I’ve had less than 7 hours sleep and I skip breakfast, I binge on 3x as much sugar in the evening as when I’ve had enough sleep and eaten breakfast.’

Or ‘when I say I can have only 1 biscuit, I eat 3 and feel annoyed but when I allow myself 2, I actually only eat two and feel better about myself.’

Both of these are valuable learning.

Progress can be measured in the amount of ‘validated learning’ or lessons instead of just measuring the reduced amount of sugar grams you eat over the week. So effectively this binge can equal more progress in your lower sugar journey because you’ve learnt something valuable than if it hadn’t happened.

You just need to make sure you acknowledge the learning, ideally record it and take logical action on it i.e. don’t keep doing the same thing again.

Clever right?!!

7. Remind yourself you’re human and normal

Sugar is addictive. It’s middle name is binge. If you didn’t overindulge in it ever, you’d probably be less normal that you are right now for going a bit over the top.

Accept that you’re human, this is temporary and it will pass. You can choose how you feel in this moment. Sugar doesn’t need to be making you feel bad all the time and your body will cope.

I really hope this helps you with whatever you were feeling before you read this and I’d encourage you to print it out for yourself in times of need but also share it with others who may find it helpful.

Any other tips or things you do that you want to share? Did you relate to any of this?

How to have a sugar-free Valentines Day

Ok it’s that time of the year again… Valentines Day! It’s only been 7 weeks since the last sugar onslaught of Christmas and we find ourselves with another ‘holiday’ to bring sweet food back into the picture.

If you’re concerned the sparks are going to start flying with your old friend sugar more than your partner, then arm yourself with some soul-filling sugar-free alternatives.

I’ve got the ball rolling here with some ideas and resources. Feel free to add anymore in the comments below…

Sugar-free Valentines Day SOS

First up, check out my post last year with a good array of sugar-friendly Valentines day tips. It includes eating out, communicating your lower sugar preferences to loved ones and how to avoid the ice cream sorrows if you’re single.

Secondly, watch how to stop one chocolate from turning into 10. I know it’s a Christmas video but the technique is still useful if you do find yourself presented with a large box of Thorntons….

Finally, I thought I’d compile a massive random list of alternative gifts and activities (for the loved up AND the single). Remember, Valentines is really about the message over the ‘stuff’.

sugar-free-valentines-tips

Gifts to buy (or request) instead of sickly sugary chocolate:

  • Good quality antioxidant busting dark chocolate
  • Posh tea in a pretty box
  • A thoughtful book with a personal note
  • A good playlist
  • Cuddly toy
  • Cute or funny keyring
  • A heart shaped handwarmer
  • Gloves, scarf, socks
  • Shoes (probably just for the women)
  • A ticket to something
  • Candles
  • Massage oil
  • FLOWERS!

So yes, I’ll give that list to my army of men….or not 😉

For the single, here’s a list of things you could do as ideas and inspiration:

  • Spend quality time with friends
  • Watch a movie (serious or action I personally feel)
  • Call an old relative for a chat
  • Facebook message a distant friend from your past (preferably not an ex)
  • Fresh strawberries and cream (instead of ice cream)
  • Buy & read a new magazine or book
  • Plan & research your next holiday
  • Indulge in your favourite hobby for a day
  • Hot bath with candles
  • Make a new healthy sugar-friendly recipe (like heart-shaped fudge)
  • Write a gratitude list (10 things you’re truly grateful for right now)
  • Try out a new class or learn a new skill

For the singletons out there, if you find yourself tempted to drown yourself in chocolate sorrow, this video by sugar-free Gabrielle Bernstein has some great mindset tips to help shift you out of the blues.

Finally…

If after all of this you still feel like you’re missing out on chocolate, remember healing your relationship with sugar has a lot of similarities to overcoming a romantic relationship. You really do need space and time apart to grow without it in your life and right now that space is important to the long term end goal of feeling that you call the shots on sweet.

You can be ‘friends’ with sugar, where you feel in control and empowered, but you need to know that life and all occasionas can be just a rich without it first.

Show yourself that this is true this Valentines day and you’re well on your way to a happier balanced relationship with sugar long term.

Let me know what you think. Do you feel that fear of missing out when it comes to sweet food and particular holidays that push your favourite sweet treats? Any other items you’d like to add to the lists?

Protein chocolate mousse

Sugar-free cookie dough mousse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sugar-free cookie dough mousse

Serves 4

Protein chocolate mousse

 

Ingredients:

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

Optional toppings: unsweetened coconut flakes, grated dark chocolate

Method:

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

Emma’s Free ebook

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

<Download Emma’s ebook HERE>

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

 

What to think when faced with a mass of checkout sugar

You stand innocently in the self-service queue having quickly popped in to buy a birthday card or pint of milk. In my case, this morning, it was a pair of headphones from Sainsburys.

You’re minding your own business not really focussing on anything in particular when your eyes are absolutely bombarded from every angle with sweet food. You’re not hungry, you weren’t really thinking about sugar in any way, but suddenly, it’s inescapable. Oh look at those interesting gourmet chocolate wafers with chopped hazelnuts on top….Wow is that really a white chocolate mince pie flavoured Santa?!

Cravings suddenly descend and before you know it, a Maltesers reindeer has managed to scan itself through the check-out without you even noticing. Your habits are powerful. You can quite easily trick yourself in the moment if you’re not careful. Therefore it really important to making a conscious effort to manage your thoughts while you stand in that slow moving queue waiting to be served.

This is probably a very common dilemma at this time of the year for those of us who have had a history of less controlled sweet desires. I don’t have them so much these days, but I remember those feelings well and I know my clients have struggled with shop sugar pushers and clever marketing.

The worst culprits seem to be Tesco Metro, WHSmith (I just want a notepad!!) and,after today, Sainsburys in Old Street. Marks & Spencer used to be a culprit but I can appreciate that they’re at least trying to encourage a more healthy point of sale offering nuts and less sugary options.

So what can you do when presented with this dilemma?

Try tweaking the unbidden thoughts which come calling. Move from desire to curiosity, wonder, and blend it with a little bit of affirming thought.

This is quite a fun thing to do when you practice it a few times. It does help obviously if you’re not hungry having eaten a filling hearty savoury meal balanced well with fat protein and complex carbohydrates. Just take that out of the equation means you can’t blame use being hungry as an excuse.

Change your thought processes

Instead of saying to yourself ‘Oh gosh I could really eat one of those lattice mince pie right now’ say to yourself ‘I wonder if some people eat all of those lattices in one go and if they feel sick’ or ‘I wonder how many of people buy on impulse from here everyday and how much money they would save if they didn’t’. Let your mind wander with curiosity to help distract from those initial desires…

‘I wonder how long these have been on the shelves’
I wonder how many different ingredients are in that product’
‘How did society get to this point of sugar bombardment?’

Again, instead of ‘Wow that’s new, I really feel like I would be missing out if I don’t try it’ say ‘Seriously these guys are creative, they think of any way to get people to eat more sugar! I wonder what they’ll think of next’(then make a few guesses).

‘It’s only a £1, that is such a bargain’ think ‘I’m not sure I’d get paid a £1 to eat that in terms of what it’ll do to my health and cravings’

‘Today has been such a hard day, I really deserve a little treat’ try ‘Today has been really hard, what nice thing can I do for myself when I get home today’

‘Oh but It’s Christmas!’ say ‘I’m going to enjoy something much nicer than this when I am at [insert special event you’re looking forward to].’

Just play around with this.

Accept that it’ll work on some occasions and other times it might still fail – these things take practice because you’re working to change habits and impulse responses that could have well developed to be quicker than you. However you can slow them down and change.

Some things will work better for you than for others so it’s a case of finding your golden replacement thoughts that stop impulsive, pointless sugary buys that are just a big ploy by the shops to make more profit at the expense of your health.

Any other thoughts you have that I can whip out a counter to? Leave a comment below and I’ll reply with something else you can try. Please share with a friend or family member if they are also prone to these situations! They’ll save money for more valuable Christmas fun.

Laura x

Sugar-free chocolate chip spiced pumpkin cookies

As I’ve mentioned before, some days I still crave cake. I don’t crave the sugar as much, it’s the real ‘cake’ texture with a cup of tea that I occasionally fancy. So I seek to develop recipes that can hit that spot without being overly sweet. My tried and trusted favourite to date is my sweet potato and walnut cake.

This recipe also hits the spot pretty well, but as with my recipes like this I will warn you that it is really low sugar.  Your carrot cake loving friend may not be falling over themselves to have another and likewise because they aren’t too sweet, you’re unlikely to eat more than 1-2 at a time.

I’ve used brown rice syrup but I also tried this recipe with a 50:50 blend of brown rice syrup and stevia (I used Natvia) which worked just as well. If you do want them sweeter, you can probably use the same quantity of a healthier higher fructose sugar substitute like coconut sugar, date sugar or raw honey. However they obviously won’t be as ‘fructose-free’ of low sugar.

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This recipe uses up any leftover pumpkin you have around but works just as well with butternut squash. I quite often roast two halves of a butternut squash and keep them in the fridge ready to use during the week. If I have any left over, I mash and freeze it in ice cube trays to use in recipes like this or, if I fancy it, in pumpkin/butternut squash porridge.

Because I made these more to my low sugar palate, I froze most of them so that I have a quick microwavable cake fix at home that won’t result in later sugar cravings. If you’re a cake fan, it’s a good strategy to try and it can help you break down your cravings i.e. work out if it’s a texture craving or a sugar/fructose craving.

Anyway, enough of my rambling…here’s the recipe…enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments below – would love to know how you go with these.

Sugar-free chocolate chip spiced pumpkin cookies

Makes 12 large cookies

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Ingredients

  • 125g butter (softened)
  • 190g rye or wholemeal flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tbls brown rice syrup (or Natvia or a mix of both)
  • 125g pumpkin mash (or butternut squash mash)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp all spice
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (I used freshly grated)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped(I used Green & Blacks 85%)

 Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Line two baking trays with parchment paper
  • Combine the butter with brown rice syrup (or/and Natvia) in a large bowl. You may need to melt the butter slightly if not soft enough. Do this by placing in a glass bowl and put in the heating oven for a few minutes to do so
  • Add the vanilla essence and whisk together
  • Add the egg and whisk until combined
  • Add the pumpkin mash, and whisk until combined
  • Combine the flour, spices, baking powder together in a bowl
  • Fold 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time into the wet mixture until all combined
  • Add the chocolate chunks or chips
  • Spoon 6 large tablespoons of the mixture onto each baking tray
  • Place in the oven for 20 minutes until slightly brown

Best served when warm straight out of the oven with a glass of cold milk or a cup of tea!

Also a quick note..

Want to adjust your palate low sugar style so you need less sweet to satisfy? Mentor Me Off Sugar is unfortunately now closed for new enrolments but you can get to the front of the queue for the next kick off after Christmas 2014. Click here to get yourself on my priority radar and enter your details into the form.

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Get sugar perspective on your dark chocolate %

You can read my other blog posts on how to buy dark chocolate and a review of a number of different brands.

I know there were a lot of numbers in that video there so here they are below:

99% cacao, 2% sugar, 1g per 50g bar, 0.1g or something ridiculously small per very small square

90% cacao, 7% sugar, 7g per 100g bar, 0.9g per square

85% cacao, 14% sugar, 14g per 100g bar, 1.75g per square

70% cacao, 29% sugar, 29g per 100g bar, 3.6g per square