Tag Archives: sugar-free

Scrumptious sugar-free berry muffins

28 May

I’ve undertaken a bit of a baking bonanza. Since discovering sugar-free substitutes and other handy whole foods, I’ve been whipping and whirring and mixing and stirring and licking the bowl of a whole range of delicious treats.

It’s fun chucking chunky heaps of ingredients into a bowl and seeing what works. I’ve never been one to experiment with cooking, but now I’m leaving the measuring cups and tossing everything in with wild abandon (a bit like my life at the moment, actually!)

Here’s a quick treat I whipped up yesterday, while Sex and the City played in the background. I’ve written the measurements, but you can also throw it all together like I did and adjust until the mixture is gloopy.

Presenting…my scrumptious sugar-free berry muffins

What you need

  • 3/4 C xylitol (or another sugar substitute)
  • A heap of frozen berries (I used a mix of blueberries, mulberries and raspberries)
  • 1/2 C coconut oil (or another vegetable oil)
  • 1 egg, whisked lightly
  • 1 C full cream milk
  • 2 C wholemeal self-raising flour (or a gluten-free substitute. You may need to alter the wet ingredients if substituting the flour)

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 190C
  • Mix the flour and xylitol in a large bowl
  • Toss in the berries and stir (it will turn purple/red immediately)
  • Add the milk, egg and oil
  • Stir it all together with a big metal spoon
  • Pour the batter into muffin pans. I used silicone pans to avoid greasing.
  • Put the pans in the oven for 20-30 mins. Test by poking a skewer or knife into the centre of a muffin. If it comes out clean, your muffins are ready!

Wait til the muffins have cooled before serving. I cut mine open and placed a chunk of organic salted butter inside.

You can keep the  muffins in an airtight container, or freeze them in individual zip-lock bags for a quick and easy snack.

Enjoy! 🙂

Paleo-inspired slow-cooked lamb shank smoosh

24 May

I’m nearing the end of my first sugar-free week and I’m feeling pretty good. My stomach hasn’t cramped and I haven’t experienced the 3pm slump I got the first time around.

While banning the sweet stuff, I’ve also decided to cut out grains. Just to see. I  know that whenever I eat starchy, processed foods, my gut groans and my tummy twists for hours. And all your encouraging comments on my previous post have spurred me on to keep this up. So thank you!

Of course, cutting out food calls for new recipes and a little research. While Googling, I discovered that the Paleo diet subscribes to the no-grains, no-sugar thang. Followers of the Paleo (or primal) diet stick to meat, eggs, fish, nuts, fruit and vegetables. Essentially, anything our ancestors could grow, source or kill.

Presenting…my slow-cooked lamb shank smoosh

Armed with this new info (and heaps of online resources and recipes), I set out to create a scrumptious lamb shank ‘something’ in my beloved slow cooker.

Slow cookers are fab. You can throw almost anything into them, go about your day and come back 8 hours later to a hot and delicious dinner. Best of all, you can cook in bulk and freeze a few portions.

What you need

Here’s what I chucked in:

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • A couple of carrots
  • A few onions
  • A handful of green beans
  • 1 can of whole roma tomatoes (organic, with as few ingredients as possible)
  • Some sprigs of rosemary & thyme
  • A pinch of oregano
  • A few slices of garlic, pushed into slits in the shanks
  • 2 cups of water
  • Loads of pepper and a dash of salt
  • A little all-purpose seasoning
And here’s how it looked before I flipped the switch:

Sweet potato mash

While that was simmering and stewing, I prepared a pot of sweet potato mash. Here’s how:

  • Cut sweet potatoes into small chunks and place in a medium-sized pot
  • Add a few sprigs of rosemary
  • Cover with water and bring to the boil
  • The potatoes are done once they are soft (check with a fork)
  • Remove the rosemary
  • Drain the potatoes and transfer to a bowl
  • Add a big dollop of organic butter, some salt & pepper and a pinch of basil
  • Grab a masher and pound those potatoes ’til they turn mushy
  • Put the bowl in the fridge

Taa daaaaaaa!

What to do next

Once the lamb shanks are cooked, skim any fat off the surface and freeze into individual portions. I also kept a couple of bowls in the fridge for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch.

And this is what I tucked into tonight:

It doesn’t look very pretty, but it was a lip-smacking bowl of smooshy goodness. And the best bit is, I now have leftover lamb bones to make into a stock (more on that in a future post). I’ve also got a week’s worth of meals for less than $5 a dish.

Bon appetit!

Today I…have the dreaded sugar comedown

21 May

They look so sweet and innocent…

I co-hosted a garden party for my nearest and dearest yesterday. I whipped up vanilla cupcakes, topped with pink and yellow butter-cream icing. Chocolate coconut slice was laid out on platters, alongside chocolate crackles, carrot cake and other sugar-laden goodies.

It was a delightful day and I indulged in a little bit of everything. Even though I’d been easing myself back into a sugar-free diet in recent weeks, I felt I deserved a little treat.

And then…part way through a conversation, my speech sped up. I felt anxious and my hands were shaking.

It had arrived – the sugar high.

I was flying! What a feeling! My friends and I, filled with food, got the giggles and collapsed on the couch in fits of laughter. I reached for another cupcake, another hit. Weeee! More sugar!

And then…after everyone had gone home and the last dish was washed, I slumped. I was utterly exhausted and had to drag myself off to bed.

It had arrived – the sugar crash.


I crawled under the doona, looking forward to a restful night’s sleep.

And then it was 1.30 and I was still wide awake. With sugar surging through my body, I twitched and tossed and turned, willing for sleep to arrive.

What was going on? My body was depleted, it needed sleep. Yet my brain was on an endless treadmill of thoughts. I tried reading, I tried meditating. Nothing would switch it off.

On top of that, my stomach was a sickly, swirly pit of nausea.

Eventually, I drifted off. And I woke up feeling terrible.

It’s a frightening feeling, having little control over your body. Desperate for sleep but being unable to switch off. Having such a potent substance swirling through every system. I can see now why David Gillespie calls it ‘sweet poison.’

Quitting sugar…again

I’m going to view yesterday’s gorge-fest as a final hurrah. A salute to sugar. Thanks for the fun (and the crappy hangover!), but now this body needs to get back to living cleanly.

Armed with a stack of sugar-free recipes, Sarah Wilson’s new ‘I Quit Sugar Cookbook‘ and a fresh resolve to fuel my body with fresh, natural foods, I’m side-stepping sugar.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been researching the effects of sugar, and the benefits of fats, and come to the conclusion that I should cut out fructose and  see if it works for me. See if my body sings.

I’ll share my ups and downs with you as I give the no-sugar thing another go.

I don’t view my previous attempts as failures. I simply wasn’t ready to accept the change. Now, the message is stronger. The proof – yesterday’s scary surge and slump – more convincing.

This time, I’m going to go gently. I won’t force the change or wallow in guilt if I slip up. But with each meal and every snack, I will ask myself: “Does this food fuel my body with natural nourishment? Why do I want to eat this? Will I feel better or worse after eating this?”

Have you quit (or attempted to quit) sugar? How did you find it?

Why I’m keen for quinoa

24 Apr

Note. Do not eat this much quinoa in one sitting. You may explode.

A few months ago, when I was trying out a sugar-free diet (it didn’t last long – I blame Reese’s miniatures. You can read about it here) I stocked up on boxes of quinoa (pronounced keenwa).

Don’t ask my why. I guess I thought a global shortage was imminent and I needed to hoard the stuff, lest anyone else get their greedy paws on it. No! My quinoa!

So I was digging around in the pantry last night, looking for something to accompany the two lamb chops sizzling under the grill. Then I saw it – a big box of red quinoa. Unopened. Neglected. All healthy and smug. I cracked the box open and decided to cook it up.

I bunged half a cup of the rich red seeds into the pot, added some chilli flakes and stirred away. Within minutes, I had a nice little spicy side dish.

It made a refreshingly light change from heavy rice or stodgy cous cous, which is, like soooo 2009.

Here are some other reasons to tuck into this little ‘superfood’:

1. Originating from South America, the seed was used by the Incas to boost their stamina. It’s like a natural steroid, ya’ll!
2. It’s protein-packed with all nine essential amino acids. So you stay fuller for longer, without the carb bloat.
3. Your heart will love it, as it has a high fibre and magnesium content and may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
4. It looks pretty. Well, for a grain.

I’m now on the hunt for some delicious quinoa recipes – please let me know if you have a fave. 🙂

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