Tuesday, 29 January 2013

2013: Death to Sugar (and "Sugar Free" Induced Farts, Hopefully)!

I survived Christmas. Just.

Actually, to be quite honest, I did cave a wee bit at Christmas time and had one mince pie, a couple pieces of homemade turkish delight, a slice of my own maple pumpkin pie and a piece of Buche de Noel

That said, I am back on the sugar-free wagon and after reading Dr. Lustig's new book, Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar, I feel it's the right decision. My boyfriend had an even bigger binge at Christmas time and after feeling the effects of sugar, we've both agreed that sugar free is the way to go. 

I also received an interesting cook book from my boyfriend: Clean Food by Terry Walters. Most of her recipes are vegan, wheat-free and sugar free. It's an inspiring cookbook full of delicious (looking) recipes. However, in a lot of her desserts, she uses maple syrup (?!) Not what I would consider "clean" but I suppose it is a fraction bit better than sugar since it might contain minute minerals? Anyway, I was inspired by one of her recipes and made my own version of a sugar free fruit crisp (not a British "crumble" - which I always find to be too bland). 

Jennifer's Mixed Berry Crumble

*You could use any fruit in this, like apples and/or pears; I just happened to have a bag of frozen berries in my freezer so used that*

500g bag of frozen berries 
1/2 cup dried raisins
1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of flour (you could use brown rice flour/ spelt flour etc. if you're avoiding wheat)
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup of finely chopped dated (I blitzed them in my food processor) 
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
half a teaspoon of ginger
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted (you could also use butter)

Heat oven to gas mark 6 / 375f degrees/ 190c degrees. 

For filling, mix berries, raisins and vanilla together in a bowl. Spread mixture in 8x8 baking dish. 

To make the topping, add all ingredients APART FROM THE COCONUT OIL/ BUTTER/ WHATEVES, in a large food processor. If you don't have a food processor, buy one; they're a lifesaver. Blitz until all blended and add to a large bowl. Melt the coconut oil and to the bowl as well and stir just until blended. Spread topping evenly over the berries, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown. 

Remove from oven. Enjoy!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Sweetie Free Me

Well, I'm still plodding along, sugar free (as far as I'm aware of). I have to admit, however, that this has to be the most difficult time of the year to forsake sugar. Initially it was somewhat of a challenge to pass on the mince pies, mulled wine and other Christmas goodies. As I mentioned before, however, once you stop eating sugar, you strangely stop craving it (for the most part).

One of the strange side effects of not eating sugar is that I'm not as thirsty as I used to be. FOR YEARS, I'd felt thirsty like I'd just been trekking across a desert amidst an epic gossip session with a chatty Glaswegian. Once I stopped eating sugar though, that urgent thirst sensation passed. Sure, I still get thirsty but not like before.

I've been experimenting more with sugar-free desserts and ohmigawdyouguys, this might be the BEST one thus far.

Now, a warning: DO NOT be put off by the ingredients (e.g. tofu and sugar-free chocolate). I PROMISE you, you cannot taste it at all. Again, all credit to Chocolate Covered Katie for her ULTIMATE Chocolate Fudge Pie.

See, the thing is - it's made with tofu and melted sugar-free chocolate (I highly recommend Plamil's No Added Sugar bars). It is sensational: thick, whipped, rich but....mostly healthy!?

I followed the recipe but I didn't add any additional substitute sweeteners - frankly, it doesn't need it; the melted chocolate with Xylitol is enough. In addition, I added a heaping tablespoon of pure peanut butter, just to give it that extra fudge-y goodness. 


Monday, 26 November 2012


The funny thing about going sugar-free is that once I stopped eating sugar, I didn't crave it as much. When I was eating sugar, the more I ate it, the more I wanted it. Now, however, I don't have those sugary cravings. 

Nevertheless, this past weekend I did some experimenting with sugar-free baking. I decided to try out Chocolate-Covered Katie's, Chocolate Chip Pie, as it's had rave reviews on her website. Initially I was a bit hesitant to make it, as the recipe called for WHITE BEANS (?!) , but I have to admit - it actually is better than it sounds. I think, however, if I were to make it again, I would use less beans and more oats. Amazingly enough, it actually is sweet and there isn't any sugar in the pie and only about two tablespoons of stevia in the whole thing. 

The other venture was more successful; my boyfriend and I tried experimenting with homemade sugar-free ice cream and it was pretty amazing. We ended up making cinnamon-infused date ice cream with a hint of rum. Of course, it was completely sugar and sweetener free.

Cinnamon Date Ice Cream


1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of evaporated milk
6 egg yolks
1.5 cups of finely chopped dates
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of dark rum

serves 4

Heat the milk, cinnamon and evaporated milk in a medium sauce pan until hot but not boiling, stirring often.  

Place egg yolks in a mixer and attach wire mixer. Whip for about 30 seconds. Gradually add eggs to the hot milk, do not boil. Remove from heat, let cool and then chill for about 8 hours in the fridge.

When you're ready to make the actual ice cream, blitz the dates in a food processor. Add the chilled milk and eggs to your ice cream maker (I use a Kitchenaid Ice Cream attachment). Once it's started churning, add the chopped dates and splash of rum. Churn for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Like All New Converts, I'm Zealous and Annoying

It's now been over a week since going sugar-free and you know, although I initially set a goal of the 22nd December before I was allowed to eat sugar again, I'm not sure I will ever go back. How crazy is that!? (Pretty crazy since I really love the stuff)

I'm actually taken aback at the difference I've noticed in the short period of time going sugar-free. Before, I was ALWAYS thirsty; no matter how much water and sugar-free juice I drank, I was always thirsty. I had an annoying insatiable thirst that I just couldn't quash. Two days after going sugar-free, that thirst had hugely subsided; I've given up almost all sugar-substitutes alongside sugar so who knows which one was the true culprit. I still drink about three litres a day but I don't have that horrible sense of urgency I did before when I was on the sugar. 

Another side effect (alongside farting), is that I actually feel like I have more energy; I don't feel lethargic and beastly, like I did before after eating stuff laden with sugar. Rather than feeling a slump in the late afternoon and wanting a cookie/ chocolate/ candy with my tea, I feel a lot more alert than before. Which isn't too suggest that I don't miss it - I do! - just, I don't need it like I used to. 

People's reactions have been interesting; when I recently told someone that I had given up sugar, they replied, "WHY?! You need it!" Some people have reacted like I just told them I decided to start smoking opium. But then again, perhaps that is just indicative of my sugar addiction - most people know I love to eat sugary garbage. 

The thing is though, you don't need sugar. AT ALL. Indeed, if you think about, it's only recently entered the human diet; most people couldn't afford to eat sugar until the early 1800s.  There is no other food group/item - fat, protein, carbohydrates - that you can give up, without losing out on essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. There is a reason why people say sugar is just empty calories - mainly because it literally is just that: calories that you add to your food. There is no benefit to eating sugar (apart from it tasting amazing). 

Anyway, if you're interested in reading about why sugar is bad for you (and it is), I would recommend John Yudkin's now somewhat infamous and prophetic book, Pure, White and Deadly

So now that I am off the sugar, it's not to say that I'm not eating sweet stuff, because I am, just not the normal crap I would normally consume (I'm eyeing you, Tunnocks caramel wafers). Last night, for example, I made a recipe from my new favourite website, Chocolate Covered Katie: Fudge Babies

Using Katie's recipe, I added walnuts, dates, vanilla and cocoa powder to a food processer and whirled it all together. Yes, that's it. Simple as, right? And to top it all off, they tasted really good too. I did, however, add more vanilla than the recipe called for. Was it as good as actual fudge? No. Of course not. Do I feel as smug as fuck for eating these instead of actual fudge? You bet. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

WEEKEND UPDATE - Thorntons No Sugar Added Chocolate: Explosive in Flavour and a Whole Lot More

Well, I managed to go my first weekend sugar-free; it's actually getting a fair bit easier, now that I know what foods/ brands to avoid as they have "hidden" sugar (see: pretty much any "ready-made" food item in Tesco). I also think that my taste buds are finally starting to readjust; only a week ago, I would have severe hankerings for something sweet after a meal. Now, I'm somewhat more content to just have a coffee and/ or fruit.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to Whole Foods in Giffnock, as we planned and stocked up on healthy and overpriced food items for our sugar-free adventure. To be honest, we did quite well as Whole Foods, as you can imagine, has a lot of healthier options and some of the best food items on offer in Glasgow - it's just like grocery stores back in Toronto! Indeed, we even managed to spend a fair chunk of change on no-sugar added chocolate. But after yesterday's exploits in no-sugar added chocolate, I'm thoroughly traumatised and weary of trying the brand's I picked up at Whole Foods.

You see, yesterday as we stumbled around a mall (always traumatic, especially at this time of year), we decided to see if Thorntons (a chocolate shop, here in the UK), offered any no-sugar added chocolate. Imagine our delight when we saw that they did and we purchased a small bag to try them. Our scepticism was quickly cast aside when we joyously discovered that the chocolates were delicious! You couldn't even tell that they were sugar-free!

After gobbling up a couple, we looked again at the ingredients and saw this:

Please note that excessive consumption may cause laxative effects.  

Sure, ok; don't eat a whole bag to yourself then - fair enough, Thorntons.

We split the small bag between us and continued shopping, before heading off to meet G's sister for dinner.

It was during dinner that I noticed my stomach was churning, gurgling and chugging. I started to feel really bloated and painful in my general stomach area. G was feeling the same. Was it the chocolate? we asked one another. Surely not; I mean, we only had about 4 - maybe 5 - TINY pieces each. Surely? Right? RIGHT?!


Needless to say, I don't care how delicious those sugar-free chocolate were (and oh god, they were); I would need to schedule an entire day off from doing anything, if I ever want to eat them again. Such a shame. And now I am reluctant to incorporate the sugar-free chocolate I bought at Whole Foods into recipes, for fear of a relapse.

That being said, I did manage to make some simple, delicious and sugar-free sweets/ treats.

In my research to find sugar-free desserts, I came across this website and I cannot recommend it enough: Chocolate-Covered Katie : "healthy desserts" and there are loads of sugar-free options. There are some recipes, however, that make me crinkle my nose at the thought of but I reserve judgement until actually trying them.

Inspired by this recipe on her blog, I made some raw peanut butter cookies: instead of peanuts though, I used hazelnuts. I also added a wee bit more vanilla to incorporate that raw cake/ cookie batter flavour. Sure, they're not the real thing but you know what? They were totally good and satisfying! I can't wait to try more and experiment with her recipes.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Day 3 and I'm still going strong - food and fart wise. Farts that resemble machine guns firing and angry ducks quacking.

Food wise, I'm still doing pretty well; there have been moments when I REALLY craved to have a small cookie alongside my coffee. Instead, I'm sitting here with a coffee and a Nakd bar. I swear I'm not being sponsored by Nakd - it's just, I'm still desperately trying to find sweets and snacks that don't have any added sugar. Obviously dried fruit and nuts have offered some relief but I'm still keen to try other products that do not have any added sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. In the meantime, I think the Cocoa Mint and Apple Pie flavours are my favourite.
Speaking of which, tonight I was so desperate for sugar free mayonnaise, that I ended up having to make my own. Every mayonnaise I picked up in Waitrose tonight had added sugar to it. I thought Waitrose being Waitrose (a grocery store that likes to think of itself as "posh"), would have some sort of healthy homemade-type mayonnaise without sugar. Not so. So, instead, I had to make my own and seriously, WHY HAVEN'T I DONE THIS BEFORE? Maybe it's because of the two cups of oil that you have to add to make mayonnaise, I'm not sure (*gulp*). Nevertheless, I wanted sugar-free mayonnaise so I decided to make my own and make it to my own tastes. Needless to say, it was super garlic-y. 

I also added fresh thyme, whole grain mustard and white wine vinegar. Not only is it sugar-free but SO MUCH BETTER than store-bought stuff. 

Anyway, before dinner I traipsed to Waitrose in an effort to try and stock up on sugar-free food. It actually proved a lot more difficult than I thought. Perhaps it's my local Waitrose, here in Glasgow, but it seemed somewhat limited in selection; I couldn't even find almond butter ("Almond butter", I hear you cry? YES, BUTTER FROM THE ALMONDS).  Then again, perhaps it's from years of living in Toronto - where people are way more obnoxious about "healthy living" than I am - but I couldn't help but feel a wee bit let down. Before moving to Glasgow, I couldn't throw a tempeh slice without hitting a health food store in Toronto. In Glasgow? Not so much; we're more chip shop than health food grocery stores. 

Nevertheless, a Whole Foods (yes, an actual branch!) opened up almost a year ago on the Southside of Glasgow, that my boyfriend and I are going to scope out, in the hopes that it has more options. Sadly, it's a wee bit out of the way - like most of the Southside of Glasgow (and I'm allowed to say that because I used to live there), but since I recently joined City Car Club, we'll drive there, like the way the piss poor city planners intended. 

I hope to experiment with more sugar-free cooking/ baking on the weekend. My main meals aren't so much of a challenge, to be honest, because I've always been fairly healthy in that regard (bar, of course, my dependency on mayonnaise). It's actually just dessert and sugar-y type snacks I am struggling with. Perhaps it's just a matter of weaning myself off sugar and sugar-y crap for good but to be honest, what sort of life is that?! I NEED SOME SORT OF SWEETS/ REWARD! And thus, Nakd bars have been a saviour. 


Boyfriend made breakfast for me this morning; I dictated that I wanted oatmeal with a mashed banana, 100% cocoa, coconut and coconut oil. Boyfriend thought it was too bland (he wanted cinnamon rather than cocoa) but I stand firm: cocoa in oatmeal is super chocolaty tasting - minus the sugar. 

COFFEE with evaporated milk 


Oh, man. I ate a lot today. Here goes:
Covent Garden Leek and Potato Soup (I had to pick up three different soups before I found one without any added sugar)
Raw broccoli (pure addicted to this stuff - perhaps the culprit behind my angry farts?)
Small packet of cashews
Melon, mango, and pineapple slices
small plain yogurt


Quinoa (another favourite of mine) with puy lentils
Steamed broccoli and carrots, drizzled with homemade mayonnaise
Nakd Cocoa mint bar

COFFEE with evaporated milk 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Day two of going sugar-free and there has been one immediate effect.


Serious trouser trumpeting.

As Dr. Robert Lustig said, "In life, you have two choices: it's either fat or fart." In my life, I've experienced both and I can attest that I much prefer farting - perhaps to the dismay of those in close proximity.

In theory, it's probably to do with eating more fruit and fibre. I suppose the Nakd fruit bars aren't helping much either. The Serious F Bombs only seem to really reach full velocity at night, after dinner. Then again, that might be down to the steamed broccoli that I am currently addicted to (no, seriously. I can't seem to get enough?!)

Today wasn't too bad - sugar-free wise. I got a bit more experimental with my food. Well, breakfast anyway.


As previously mentioned, I  L O V E maple syrup on my oatmeal. This morning, in an effort to sweeten my oatmeal without maple syrup/ sugar, I tried stirring in 100% cocoa and half of a mashed banana - alongside my usual coconut oil, topping it all off with some shredded (unsweetened) coconut. I have to say that it was actually really (surprisingly?) good. Sure, not sweet enough to what I'm accustomed to but still delicious.

It's not the most appealing aesthetically but I can assure you - it smells sweet and lovely.


Two Pieces of Biona Rye Bread w/ butter


Dinner was courtesy of my lovely boyfriend, who is also going sugar-free with me. He concocted a lovely meal of fettuccine pasta with goats cheese, cherry tomatoes, capers and olives. Dessert was a fruit salad topped off with two tablespoons of Rachel's Natural Organic Honey Yogurt. Poor boyfriend got confused and thought honey was ok. Alas, and much to his displeasure, honey is not ok on the sugar-free stretch. We had two tablespoons with our fruit followed by an affirmation that no more honey or sweetened-yogurt shall pass our lips until further notice.