My experiences of cutting sugar from our diet

This morning I listened to Dr John Briffa talking to Chris Evans on radio 2 , I turned over from radio 1 to give it a listen as the subject was Sugar, and whether we should be eating it in the quantities we do these days. Now this is a subject I have been following now for about a year. I have bought books to read on the subject and looked at lots of pieces on the internet, all leading me to the conclusion that it would be best for my family and I to remove as much sugar as we possible could from our diets. The family have come on board with this, which has made the decision much easier.

I dont want to get into the scientific stuff about sugar, there is plenty of information about now, that you can read up on to make your own judgments. But what I found is lacking is, once you have made the decision to change, Where do you go from there!

We all need some ideas that are achievable.

We all have busy lives and have got into certain habits and ways of thinking and living and its hard to change. Let alone the fact that for many of us sugar is highly addictive.

So I thought I would share our story as a family, and how cutting the sugar has worked for us.

Firstly breakfasts, In our house, that used to be a quick bowl of cereal or porridge or a fruit flavoured yoghurt with granola. washed down with a glass of fruit juice usually orange. one of your five a day!

Now we have switched to eggs every morning usually two each with a good quality bacon or smoked salmon or a veggie or cheese omelette. We also love homemade pancakes with berries.

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If we are in more of a rush we will have toast or full fat greek yoghurt with no added sugar with seasonal berries and homemade low sugar or no sugar granola. I even sometimes make savoury breakfast muffins for a treat. Porridge is still a good option if it has no hidden sugar or dried fruit and you top it with double cream or a dusting of cinnamon. Avoid dried fruit in general as all the moisture has been removed leaving the sugar. Best to have a piece of whole fruit. Raisins etc are a big no no a real shock to find out.

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Now we have stopped buying fresh fruit juices or smoothies instead have a glass of water, coffee or tea without sugar and have fruit in its entirety as then the body can deal with the fructose because it also has fibre too.  That was a hard change for the family but if its not in the fridge they find something else to drink.

We tend to keep our carbohydrate intake low but include lots of good fats such as butter, cheese, coconut oil etc to fill us up.

On to lunch, for most of the family lunch has to be a packed meal at work. a high protein and fat salad with chicken, fish or eggs. usually with some cheese and plenty of vegetables. The family sometimes still have bread, but only occasionally as this has hidden sugar too.

At home it is far easier to use wonderful things like avocado , seafood or make homemade pasta from courgette topped with grated cheese or a creamy sauce made from double cream. Homemade soups are delicious and healthy too.

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Avoiding that sweet thing after your savoury lunch is tough especially to start with, it has become a habit for us all. But I was amazed how quickly that fades if you eat enough savoury high fat, low carb food for your lunch. I now find a pear or slice of watermelon a real treat. I actually get excited about buying fruit,  because I know its a treat.

Cans of drink also tend to make an appearance at this time of the day . Giving us that sugar rush for the start of the afternoon. We no longer buy them, instead water or teas and coffee are on offer. Fruit juice and fizzy and squash drinks have a very high level of sugar and best avoided completely .

Snacks I now find I have lost the need to snack , but to begin with I was armed with almonds or other plain nuts to nibble on. Cubes of cheese work well too.

Dinner Now my family come home famished from a day at work and up until a year ago I would have made sure there was some kind of pudding on offer.Which would have been high in sugar. These days we eat a good wholesome meal, again high in protein ,good fat and healthy vegetables and low in carbohydrates like pasta, white rice and potatoes. Instead using more cauliflower, cabbage, courgettes etc and usually we don’t feel the need for anything else. When we do we will have a couple of chunks of dark chocolate I eat 85% the family prefer 70% this still all contains sugar but very little and because it is so dark you can only eat a square or two. Fresh fruit is also available or full fat greek yoghurt. For special occasions I still make low sugar or no sugar puddings. Water is on the table to drink and the family still enjoy the odd glass of red wine.

Late night snack I turn to a cube of parmesan or a few macadamia nuts which feel very indulgent.

The easiest thing for me was avoiding sugar filled drinks I have never been a huge fan of soda, fizzy drinks . We don’t have sugar in our hot drinks and I have learnt to enjoy a camomile tea too.

I did used to love a gin and tonic, but after realising how much sugar was in the tonic I’ve stopped and now find it much to sweet.

I continue to find grabbing a snack quite hard if i’m out as I am gluten intolerant and usually the only option for me is cake. I treated myself to an old favourite at the weekend and with the first bite I realised I just couldn’t eat it anymore. It honestly tasted like a mouthful of granulated sugar. I tend to be very prepared now and take a banana or apple or nuts out for emergency food.

This all might sound like eating in our house is no fun anymore. I honestly think if you asked the family they would say we eat very well and they all now really enjoyed the homemade low or no sugar things we have on offer. The granola is a big favourite as are the chocolate profiteroles made with dark chocolate and no added sugar. Great for special occasions.

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I still use fresh fruit in my baking especially bananas and apples because once in a while it is still nice to have a treat and I use fruit instead of granulated sugar. This is still a form of sugar, but we only eat in moderation on special occasions.

I also occasionally use raw honey this is still sugar and I use only occasionally and in moderation. Our tastes buds have changed so much that very little is needed anyway.

I also use powdered dextrose which is good in cakes and is free from fructose.

I really hope this has been of some help to you. It really can be done without too much change. Its mainly changing how you feel about sugar. Get reading. I urge you! There is so much information out there, explaining the dangers behind sugar.

I will include a list of books and people to follow. I wish I had this information when my children were younger so that I could have put this into practise along time ago. But that isn’t possible, so we are doing the best we can now to be as healthy as possible.

All the best, You and your family Can do it!

 

Twitter

Dr John Briffa @drbriffa

Action on Sugar @actiononsugar

Sarah Wilson @_sarahwilson_

I Quit Sugar @iquitsugar

The Sugar breakup @thesugarbreakup

David Gillespie @gillespie

Sugar free me @beadlealison

Sam Feltham @samfeltham

Books

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Sweet Poison why sugar makes you fat by David Gillespie

The Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie

Pure, white and deadly by John Yudkin

Low carb high fat

Christine Cronau @christinecronau

Sam Feltham @samfeltham 

More recipe ideas on my blog Fabulouslyfreefrom.net

or follow me on Twitter @nels3 gluten free Helen

Video

Fed up

Sugar is killing us

Sugar hiding in plain sight – Robert Lustig

 

 

 

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Courgette ‘Pasta’ naturally gluten free

Avoiding gluten and grains? On a low carbohydrate diet? Looking for an alternative?

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This could be for you! Just like pasta but made from Courgettes/Zucchini

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All you need is a regular peeler and a courgette. You could use a Spiralizer, but I find a peeler works perfectly well.

Peel strips from top to bottom of the courgette until you reach the seeds in the centre, dispose of the centre.

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One good size courgette is about one portion of pasta

Cook the courgette Tagliatelle in a frying pan with butter or coconut oil for just a few minutes.

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serve with a homemade bolognese sauce

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or make your own pesto by processing pine nuts, parmesan, basil and a little olive oil

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I promise you, it is very delicious!

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with no bloated feeling after a large bowl full !

Simple and quick

What pasta sauce will you try with your courgette tagliatelle ?

 

Gluten free and low sugar breakfast ideas

I really believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Since changing my diet I was surprised  and pleased to find I no longer felt hungry by 11am. I was always desperate for a mid morning sweet snack, now I have to remind myself to have lunch.

The key ingredient for my favourite Breakfasts is free range eggs, cooked in a good healthy fat . You just can’t beat them! healthy, reasonably priced and naturally gluten free. No need to just eat the whites, the entire egg is a healthy addition to your diet and contains good fat.

Embrace good fat, coconut oil, butter and cheese etc . All are great for breakfast and really fill you up! Avoid the sugar not the fat.

Here are some ideas

For frying I use either coconut oil or butter. you notice the taste of the coconut initially but we no longer can taste it in my cooking.

Cooked Breakfasts –

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon

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Naturally smoked fish fillet with poached eggs

Bacon and eggs either fried poached, scrambled etc optional extras fried tomatoes, mushrooms

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Ham and or cheese omelette

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Veggie Omelette with cheese, I use courgettes but you could use peppers, onions , tomatoes etc

Scrambled eggs with spinach, onion and finely chopped bacon or ham

For a full english Gluten free breakfast Sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes. Maybe even some gluten free black pudding!

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Grain free bread or American grain free biscuit  ( a little like an english scone  ) with bacon

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Fried Eggs on grain free or occasionally homemade gluten free toast. Helen’s gluten free homemade bread  or Sukrin gluten free bread toasted

other ideas for occasional breakfasts – 

Porridge with no added sugar. watch out for added raisins as they have a very high sugar content. Serve with a little honey, dextrose or cinnamon. Good with a dash of double cream

Homemade grain free or gluten free pancakes served with fruit or a little honey or dextrose and lemon

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Homemade banana pancakes fried in coconut oil, these contain sugar from the bananas so best to eat in moderation.

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Grain free Muffin cinnamon or lemon and poppy seed or savoury muffin for a quick breakfast on the run

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Cold Breakfasts –

Full fat plain greek yoghurt ( We use Yeo valley ) with homemade Granola. oat free version, sugar free version with fresh berries

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Fresh fruit with or without full fat plain greek yoghurt. Better to eat fruit rather than drink as a juice or smoothie due to the high level of sugar

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Cold platter of cheese, ham or mackerel and boiled egg

Hope these ideas will inspire you.

Ditch all the sugar filled cereals and fruit smoothies, you will notice the difference very quickly.

 

What will you have for breakfast tomorrow?

 

Grain free Quiche Lorraine, perfect for an Easter picnic

Following the success of the grain free Spinach and cheese quiche and the grain free salmon quiche, I thought I would try out a  Quiche Lorraine. Perfect to slice and take to work for lunch or great for a picnic.

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Recipe –

Grain free Base

1 1/2 cups of Almond flour approximately 150g ( ground almonds )

1 1/2 cups of grated Parmesan approximately 150g

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

Filling –

250g Mascarpone cheese

2 or 3 large eggs ( I used 3 today )

3/4 cup grated Parmesan about 50g

1 finely chopped onion or

1 grated courgette optional

175g streaky bacon chopped

salt and pepper

Large quiche dish

Method –

pre heat oven 170c

Mix together ground almonds , parmesan and egg

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press into quiche base

bake for 12-15 mins until golden brown

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fry bacon and onion or courgette gently in some coconut oil

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combine mascarpone cheese, parmesan and beaten eggs

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add the cooled bacon and onion or grated courgette

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spoon into the cooled base and bake for 30 mins at 180c

serve warm straight out of the oven

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or cool and use for a quick and easy lunch choice.

Happy gluten free baking!

 

 

Grain free Cinnamon bun muffins

Today I made these delicious cinnamon muffins. Hard to believe they don’t contain any grains. This recipe is from Erica Kerwien’s book  Cooking for the specific carbohydrate diet.

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It calls for coconut flour I used  Tiana organic fair trade coconut flour. The recipe book contains 100 easy recipes both savoury and sweet. Even shows how to make your own nut milk. Lots of uses for cauliflower, almond flour and coconut flour gluten free and grain free. There is also a quick history on Specific carbohydrate diet  with what to eat and what to avoid. I am going to embrace grain free for a while and see how I feel.

Cinnamon bun muffins

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1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

4 eggs beaten

1/3 cup dairy free milk or SCD Yoghurt ( I used coconut milk )

1/2 cup honey

 Cinnamon topping-

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp honey ( to make these fructose free you could use brown rice syrup )

2 tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil

Pre heat oven 350oF 175oC

combine dry ingredients

mix wet ingredients together

add wet gradually into dry ingredients whisk until all lumps are removed

pop in to muffin cases

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mix topping together and drizzle over muffins

put in hot oven for 20 mins

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makes 8 muffins

These are a real alternative to using grains in baking. Lots more delicious recipes in this book, well worth buying

you can follow Erica Kerwien on twitter @comfybelly

her website is comfy belly.com

I bought the book on Amazon for £8.74

Gluten free and grain free pancake recipes for Shrove Tuesday

Here are 3 recipes for delicious gluten free pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, firstly

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Grain free pancakes–  makes 6 medium pancakes

2 tbsp coconut flour ( I used fair trade Tiana organic )

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

3 large eggs

100 ml milk or milk substitute

coconut oil for frying

Method-

Mix together the flour and baking powder

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make a well in the centre and add beaten eggs and milk

beat into a smooth batter

heat frying pan add a little coconut oil

spoon batter on to the frying pan

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the pancakes cook very quickly turn over and brown other side slightly

these pancakes are very delicate and lighter than regular pancakes. I have a similar recipe on my blog for tiny pancakes than can be used for blinis.

serve warm with a selection of toppings

Gluten free pancakes – makes 6 large pancakes

250 g  gluten free plain flour

3 eggs

250ml milk or milk substitute

200ml water possibly slightly less

2 tbsp melted coconut oil ( I use lucy bee fair trade organic coconut oil )

coconut oil for frying

method-

sift the flour in the bowl

make a well and add the beaten eggs and a little milk

gradually blend in the flour

add remaining milk, oil and water

leave to stand for 1/2 hr

heat a good non stick frying pan add a little coconut oil

use a ladle to pour batter into the pan, use entire pan

the pancakes will start to cook in about a minute and tiny bubbles will appear, once the pancakes start to release from the pan it is time to toss or flip with a spatula

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enjoy with a selection of topping sweet or savoury

these pancakes are identical to regular pancakes/crepes a favourite with my gluten eating family

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and  finally Banana pancakes– makes 10 little pancakes

1 large banana

2 eggs

method-

mash banana

mixed mashed banana and beaten eggs together

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fry in coconut oil

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a delicious little pancake, light with just a faint taste of banana.

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serve warm with your favourite topping

Topping ideas-

Sweet

fresh berries

sliced banana

lemon and sugar ( I used dextrose as this is fructose free )

Nutella style chocolate and hazelnut spread

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honey

maple syrup

brown rice syrup ( fructose free ) tastes like a very mild honey

Savoury

cream cheese and smoked salmon

mascarpone and spinach

cheese and tomato

goats cheese and basil

mushrooms and cheese

Enjoy Pancake day!

Fructose free Granola

Recipe-

100g hazelnuts

100g almonds

100g brazils

100g pecans

100g desiccated coconut

100ml brown rice syrup  ( make sure it is gluten free )

50ml melted coconut oil ( I use Lucy bee coconut oil )

handful of chia seeds ( optional )

handful of pumpkin seeds

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method-

rough chop all nuts using a food processor

and desiccated coconut and chia seeds and pumpkin seeds

melt coconut oil and add brown rice syrup

pour oil and syrup into dry ingredients and mix together

spread on baking sheets

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bake in hot oven 180c for 7mins stir and then back in the oven for a further 7mins until golden brown

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cool and keep in an airtight container

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Fabulous with full fat greek yoghurt and berries

 

This recipe is free from oats, but if you prefer you could add some gluten free oats and add slightly more brown rice syrup.

I found gluten free brown rice syrup on Amazon,I would be interested to hear about other sources .