So, maybe you had a little bit too much chocolate and cake over Easter – it was fun, it was indulgent, and you definitely thought it was worth it. But now you feel a little full and have possibly put on some weight you didn’t really want. Most often, women go back onto a diet when they feel like this, until the next indulgent event.
But what if you could do it differently. In other words, what if you could have your cake and eat it?!
Before I share with you a couple of really delicious, sweet, raw recipes that don’t pile on the pounds or make you feel stuffed, bloated and sick afterwards, let me say a few words about sugar!
What are sugars?
Sugars are carbohydrates and they come in many different forms. Table sugar, granulated cane sugar, beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses and maple syrup are all simple sugars. They are easily digestible and the body breaks them down into glucose and fructose.
Our bodies use glucose to create energy. That’s why children climb the walls after eating too many sweets and why we crave cake in the late afternoon when our energies start to wane. Fructose is found in many foods, including fruits and vegetable and while glucose triggers the release of leptin and insulin to make you feel full, fructose does not trigger this release. Furthermore, fructose is converted into glycerol, which creates fat. While glucose is mostly absorbed by the intestines, with only 20% needing to be processed by the liver, fructose is only processed by the liver, thus increasing the toxic load.
Eating the right sort of sugars
When we eat fructose in moderation as part of a balanced diet in the form of vegetables and fruits, it’s not a problem and our bodies cope with it easily. But what we need to look out for is those foods where sugar is added. Sweet drinks, shop bought juices, biscuits, cakes, breads, yoghurts, well… basically most processed foods. If it says ‘no added sugar’ on the box, it may still contain hidden added sugars in the form of fruit juice concentrate. Sugars add calories to your food and new research now shows that not only does it make people fat, it also makes them sick. Sugar causes our blood sugar levels to rise. When we eat fruit and vegetables, our blood sugar levels are fairly balanced. The fibre in the foods slows down the rise in glucose and we have a stable blood sugar level. However, when we eat processed foods with added sugar, blood sugar levels rise rapidly to very high levels (making us feel good) and then the drop just as rapidly to below normal lows (making us feel tired and irritable). To help us out of the low we crave sweet things and reach for the cake, candy bar or sweet drink, just to start the whole cycle again. Scientific research shows that sugars are addictive and new research suggests that it is more addictive than cocaine. A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but seriously reducing sugar will reduce the amount of medicine we have to take in the first place.
Adults should be reducing their sugar intake
According to the World Health Organisation, adults in the UK should be reducing their sugar intake to 5% of their daily calories. That is less than the amount of sugar contained in one can of Coca-Cola. Most of us have been addicted to sugar since we were young children and it’s one of the hardest habits to kick. But once you fully understand that sugar not only causes weight gain but significantly increases your risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, digestive and heart disease and that it may not only shorten our lives, but that it may also reduce the quality of life in our old age, it becomes a no-brainer to reduce our intake.
Get your taste buds used to less sugar!
If you are addicted to sugar and take 20% or more of your calories in sugar, the best way to reduce your addiction and cravings is to gradually wean yourself off it. Start with reducing sugar in your coffee or tea daily until you’ve accustomed your taste buds to be happy with no sugar in your hot drinks at all. Choose low sugar options when buying foods and bit by bit try to not buy processed foods containing sugar at all. Eat sugars that come with high fibre content, such as fruit and vegetables and stay away from sweet carbonated drinks and fruit juices. Be wary of artificial sweeteners too, they come with their own set of health risks (which I’ll save for another article!).
Read your Labels
Read your labels and see in which place on the ingredient list ‘sugar’ is mentioned. If it’s the first ingredients, then don’t buy it. If it’s on place 3, I would still stay away from it. If it is further down the list, eat it in moderation. As you reduce your sugar intake you will discover some wonderful side effects: less cravings, reduced energy slumps, and a new appreciation of the flavours of real food. Does this mean we can never indulge in something sweet? Of course not. We love sweet things, so when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, start to enjoy some healthy sweet options. Stuff a couple of unsweetened dates with almond butter or brazil nuts for a quick sweet snack. Dates are high in fibre, so you won’t have the same sugar rush as from a chocolate bar. Experiment with darker chocolate. If you currently love milk chocolate, next time buy a bar with a slightly higher cacao content and bit by bit work yourself up to chocolate contains 70%, 85% and even 90% or 100% cacao. It is an acquired taste, so start slowly.
Oh, and should I mention not to eat to the whole bar in one sitting? Allow yourself a couple of squares every day. That’s a much healthier way to eat chocolate than to eat a whole bar and then abstain for a week with a guilty feeling!
The two recipes I’m sharing with you are sweet but they use a minimal amount of sugars. I hope you enjoy them.
Raw Rocky Road
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup raw cacao butter
1 cup raw cacao powder
1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 tbsp maca powder
pinch of sea salt
1 cup dehydrated Buckwheat Cinnamon Crunch (recipe below or purchase ready made from my website: www.radiantonraw.co.uk)
1-2 tbsp desiccated coconut for decoration
1. Grind the coconut and macadamia nuts together in a blender until the nuts start to release their oil.
2. Melt the cacao butter by placing it into a bowl on top of a saucepan with hot water.
3. Stir the cacao powder briskly into the cacao butter to create a creamy, runny mass.
4. Add the cacao mix, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, agave syrup and maca powder to the coconut and macadamia mix.
5. Process again to create a smooth consistency and break down as much as possible of the nuts.
6. Add the buckwheat cinnamon crunch and stir gently to mix well, whilst not destroying the seeds and buckwheat.
7. Spread evenly on a dinner plate and sprinkle with desiccated coconut.
8. Leave in the fridge to set completely, ideally over night.
9. Make sure there are no strong savoury smells in your fridge as the chocolate tends to take these on easily. If necessary, cover the plate with a bowl.
10 When the chocolate is completely set, cut it into 12 wedges and lift them off the plate with the back of a knife. It will store in an airtight container for two weeks.
Buckwheat Cinnamon Crunch:
1 cup raw buckwheat
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp maca powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Sprout the buckwheat for 24-48 hours until tiny tails emerge.
2. Soak the sunflower and pumpkin seeds in water the night before you want to make the crunch.
3. Rinse and drain the buckwheat and seeds.
4. Combine with all other ingredients and mix well.
5. Spread evenly onto a non-stick dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 42°C/115°F for 12-18 hours or until crispy and completely dry. Alternatively dry the mix in an oven on the lowest setting (below 50ºC) with the oven door slightly open.
6. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. Delicious with almond milk for breakfast!
Equipment: food processor, blender, 22cm pie tin with removable base
For the crust:
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pecan nuts
1/2 cup dates
pinch of sea salt
1. Sprinkle the coconut onto the base of the pie tin.
2. Process all ingredients for the base to form a dough.
3. Press into the pie tin and up the sides of the tin to create a pie base.
4. Keep in the fridge while preparing the filling.
For the lime filling:
3 ripe avocados
2 organic unwaxed limes (zest & juice)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
1. Melt the coconut oil on a gentle heat.
2. Combine all ingredients and blend into a smooth cream.
3. Pour the cream onto the base and place in the freezer for one hour.
4. Remove from the cake tin.
5. Decorate with pecan halves or sprinkle with coconut.