Positivity

This week I thought I would look at sugar from a positive point of view. I want to share with you the great things that may happen when you quit or lower your sugar intake. Many of these I can relate to from my first hand experience of giving up fructose. Some I think you don’t realise until you have a ‘sugar fall’ and you feel the opposite.

There are 3 things that I really noticed when I lowered my sugar intake – 

MY SKIN – I was lucky enough to really never get a pimple through my teen years but once I hit 30 I seemed to blessed with them. My initial thinking was that it had something to do with my hormones and the ups and downs of having two children. I still didn’t get many but enough to make me feel very conscious of them when they arrived. When I gave up fructose I didn’t join the dots about my skin being clearer until we went to Europe for our Christmas break and I ate and drank whatever I chose and my pimples came back. It wasn’t until I was back in Jakarta and on my ‘usual’ fructose free diet that I put the pieces of the puzzle together. When I am not having the sugary foods and drinks my skin is almost always pimple free. This link became even more apparent in my 13 year old son.  After being away at a sports camp and then to Bali for a holiday, where he ate quite a high sugar diet, his face certainly showed it.  Now that he is back home and eating under my guidance his face has pretty much already cleared up, in just over a week. For me this is a good enough reason to give up fructose.

MY WEIGHT – I have once again have been lucky enough not to really struggle greatly with my weight except after having my children.  I have notice that from having less sugar and eating healthier foods I have lost about 5kg over the past 6 months. It certainly was not why I started down this path but it is a lovely side effect to have happen.

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MY SLEEP – This is another area I did not think about until recently. I gave up alcohol for the season of Lent. That means I didn’t drink for about 50 days. It wasn’t until today that the penny has dropped!!  When I have 1 drink – usually cider which are very high in sugar, I slept fine BUT the couple of evenings where I had 2 ciders I didn’t sleep as well.  Though I didn’t have any problems going to sleep I do now realise that I didn’t sleep as soundly throughout the night, as refreshingly or as long. I am now thinking that this big hit of sugar right before bed time did not agree with my sleep.

 There is a lot of research that tells us that sugar and sleep don’t mix. 

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There are many other benefits to giving up fructose.  On Sarah Wilson’s I quit sugar site she lists some other areas in our life where we can benefit.

 

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I would like to hope that people would consider giving up fructose or limit their intake for positive reasons rather than being scared into it.  I think if you can see the positives and hopefully feel the positives then it is more likely to be a life long choice and journey.

Guinness Lamb Shanks.

I am finding that most of my old favourite recipes can be altered to be sugar free (or the sugar substituted with rice malt syrup) and they can still tastes just as good. I would like to share one of my favourite recipes from Jamie Oliver – Guinness Lamb Shanks. To help reduce the sugar content I just leave out the tomato sauce and halve the marmalade and sultana amounts. It still tastes yummy to us! I love this recipe for two other reasons besides it being delicious – 1. Its good for your gut health to eat meals that include meat cooked on the bone. I keep all of the left over stock and then add it to our spaghetti bolognese therefore giving our guts another good meal.  2. I get to use my Romertopf (like the picture below) to cook the shanks in – nothing is easier. We always have our shanks on a pile of mash with a salad.  Our mash is usually half sweet potato and half white or red potato but be warned – you need a lot of mash!

Jamie Oliver’s shanks

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Ingredients

  • 3 red onions , peeled
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • 2 handfuls raisins (I use a small one)
  • 3 heaped tablespoons marmalade( I use 1)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato sauce (I leave this out)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce,
  • 200 ml Guinness 
  • 6 quality lamb shanks , roughly 350g each (For our family of 4 I usually cook 3 shanks)
  • 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 litre organic chicken stock
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint leaves
  • 2 spring onions , trimmed

Method 

Finely chop the onions and put them into a really large casserole-type pan , with a lug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over a medium to high heat, stirring as you go, until the onions start to caramelize. Add the raisins and marmalade, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and booze. Give it all a good stir, then leave to gently simmer.

Put the lamb shanks into a large frying pan on a medium to high heat with a drizzle of olive oil – you can cook them in batches if needed. Turn them every few minutes; once they have some good colour, pick in the rosemary leaves and move them around in the pan to get crispy, but don’t let them burn. Use tongs to move the shanks into the pan of onions, then pour in all their juices and the crispy rosemary. Add the stock, put the lid on, turn down the heat and leave to blip away slowly for around 3 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Try to turn the shanks halfway through so they cook evenly. 

When the lamb shanks are ready, carefully move them to a platter, making sure the meat stays intact. Whiz or liquidize the gravy with a stick blender until smooth, then allow to reduce down and thicken. Cut up the mint leaves then take to the table. Finely slice up the spring onions and toss on a plate with the remaining fresh mint leaves. Serve on a generous pile of mash.

This is what mine looked like not quite as pretty as Jamie’s!

Happy cooking!!

 

FEATURE IMAGE – http://www.slowyourhome.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/happy-making-5-201.jpg

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Travel and sugar

So holiday time means time to exit Jakarta and head away for a breath of fresh air.  These holidays we headed off to Bali.

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This is our first family trip to this favourite holiday destination. After arriving and unpacking our first job was to go in search of breakfast.  It was only at this point I paused and thought about eating during our holidays and how this would affect my sugar intake. Luckily though, as I looked through the breakfast menu I decided that it wasn’t going to be too hard to select something  that had low processed sugar. Eggs! Always a great breakfast option!  So this is what I had most mornings and just mixed it up with different ‘extras’ like – tomato, mushroom, spinach, bacon – yum.

The other meals during the day actually turned out to be not too hard either.  I was just careful in choosing options that were not too processed and, of course, avoided sauces as these are often laden with hidden sugars.  Some of the choices I enjoyed included a chicken fillet hamburger, sweet potato fries, a Vietnamese salad and a Lebanese tasting plate. We were lucky enough to find plenty of healthy and organic restaurants in Bali so that made the choice much easier. For me, it really helps that I now understand where hidden sugars are most likely to be found and so it makes it much easier to stay away from those types of foods when eating out. 

No holiday would be complete without allowing yourself a treat or two.  For this trip my treat was beautiful fresh juice every morning and a refreshing apple cider as the sun went down. So there was I thinking that a couple of juices a day wasn’t really that bad. It seemed like a healthy option and even though I knew that all the good fibre had been stripped away, surely all the other good stuff was still in the juice, right? So I was feeling pretty good about my healthy option treats. But….

The Truth about ‘Healthy Juices’

I think many people are now aware of the high sugar content in pre-made store bought juices, but I was having lovely fresh juice with no added gula! It wasn’t until I got home and was looking through my accumulated emails that I saw one from Sarah Wilsons ‘I Quit Sugar’ blog.  It was only after reading this that I realised perhaps my juice treats in Bali may have not have been as healthy as I thought.  Sarah Wilson wrote in this post about the 5 biggest health questions . The one that particularly caught my eye was the question “Smoothie or Juice?” Here is her answer – 

One hundred per cent, smoothies. Juices chuck out perfectly good, satiating fibre, contain more sugar and can even lead to constipation. They also need blooming great big contraptions to make. Smoothies can be made of whatever you like – fruit, protein, healthy fats, vegetables – and can be literally whipped up at the touch of a button.

It then got me thinking about what was said in “That Sugar Film” about juice. In this small exert – httpmaxresdefaults://www.youtube
.com/watch?v=vntLlBjOEAU – Damon tells of his juice experience in America where he drinks a ‘Strawberry Surf Rider’ juice.  This juice contained 139 grams of sugar – a staggering  34 teaspoons of sugar! If he had to ‘eat’ his way through the equivalent fruit Damon would have to consume 4 peaches, 30 strawberries, 30 lemons and 9 limes.

This really brought home to me the potential hidden danger fresh healthy juices can contain. Nature has conveniently wrapped fruit up in these sugar treats for us and included the perfect amount of fibre so that when we eat enough we feel full.  The sugar is then absorbed slowly into our bloodstream and bodies.  We would probably never sit down and consume what we could easily drink in just one fresh juice. 

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I still love juice and will treat myself to a small one every now and again. But once again it has shown me how I need to stop and think about what I am eating and drinking. SI need to sop and look beyond the hype and advertising and make sure that my healthy choices are truly healthy. And when they are not so healthy that then are seen as a treat.

 

Recipe Time.

It is holiday time for our family this week, so I thought it would be a good time to get back into the kitchen with a few quick recipes for easy lunches and dinners. One of my favourite things to make at the moment is a type of pie pastry that can be used for a variety of dishes both savoury and sweet.

In David Gillespie’s book ‘Eat Real Food’  he shares a quick fail proof pastry that I have used for a variety of dishes both savoury and sweet pies as well as quiches with varying ingredients.

Pie Pastry

Ingredients – 

2  1/2 cups of plain flour

1 /2 teaspoon salt

225g unsalted butter cut into small pieces (place it back into the fridge until needed)

About 1 cup of icy water

Method – 

  1. Place flour and salt into a food processor
  2. Put cubes of butter on top and then press until it is in tiny pieces throughout the flour
  3. While processor is going, add ice water gradually until the mixture comes together to form a dough
  4. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour two.
  5. When you are ready to use the pastry cut the pastry into 2 or 3 balls. Place one of the balls on a lightly dusted area and roll out to desired thickness
  6. Place dough in pie dishes and then add filling
  7. Place leftover balls into the freezer for when you are next inspired!!!

 

Another great recipe that I have tried out of David’s book ‘Eat Real Food’  is the pizza dough. We always love to create our own toppings ad it is a wonderful way to get the kids into the kitchen as they create their own individual pizzas.  Our pizzas are often vegetarian, unless we have some leftover meat.  We have also created our own base that consists of butter, homemade pesto, and garlic, we put this on the base of our pizzas instead of the traditional tomato sauce. My son who loves tomatoes usually adds them on top of the pesto base.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients –

4 1/2 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/4 cup virgin olive oil

Method – 

  1. Mix together flour, yeast and salt
  2. Make a well and add in lukewarm water and oil
  3. Bring dough together
  4. Turn out onto a dusted surface and knead until smooth and elastic (roughly 8 minutes)
  5. Place ball of dough in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes
  6. Preheat oven to 200˚
  7. Divide dough into the number and size of pizzas you would like to make.
  8. Roll out on a dusted surface to the required thickness then add your toppings
  9. Cook for 15 minutes

I hope you enjoy getting the kids involved in the kitchen. Both of these recipes can be used for entertaining as well, you could make mini quiches and pizzas for the kids enjoy having these cold in their lunchbox at school.

Edited by Eliza Roberts