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