Sugar free gingerbread, misshapen reindeer and overeating.

Gingerbread

Even though I’ve lived in New Zealand for well over a decade, this time of year is still so alien to me. It’s a time for sickly sweet mulled wine, for hideously great knitted jumpers with misshapen reindeer on the front, for nights by the fire and eating, eating and more eating.

Those things don’t sit well with bikini wearing, blistering heat and beaches (especially the bikini wearing).

Now, I do love the quirky contradiction that Christmas here brings.  I love the look of jandals and Santa hats (even though it’s a total fashion crime), I love BBQ’s on the deck (with the perfect charred steak) and I love the notion of a huge, sand filled holiday to celebrate the end of one year and welcome in another – it’s fantastic.

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But for me, it’s just not the magical time I remember from the Northern Hemisphere (even if a white Christmas day barely ever occurred).

Today, to welcome in the Christmas spirit (despite the sandals weather outside), I filled my house with the spirit of the holidays and made gingerbread cookies. Sugar free, paleo gingerbread cookies – of course.

Served up with peppermint tea, this combo of strong aroma of ginger playing with my senses transported me back to London evenings in December (watching James Bond repeats and not sleeping much at all).

And with my first bite of biscuit, in the midst of a balmy Auckland summers day, it started to rain.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to hear the sound of rain cut the heat of summer.

For a moment, it was a real slice of Christmas, on the wrong side of the world.

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 Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of almond meal
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground gloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 65g melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup of rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of ½ and orange

Mix all ingredients together (I used a food processor) and wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to harden for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 160C (fan forced)

Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 1cm thick and cut out (I used nifty Christmas tree cutters).

Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown on the edges.

Take out and enjoy with a cup of peppermint tea and the sound of rain.

Total Bliss.

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It’s a wrap on the sugar free!

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Today I am finished my sugar free detox. I have gone 6 entire weeks without sugar (apart from those two licks of icing that we are not talking about). That is forty-two days fructose free. And I’m going to own it, I’m bloody proud. I am proud of myself, my friend who joined me, and the boy. Whether you agree with why we choose to do it, or that we choose to, surely everyone can recognize that putting your mind to something and diligently sticking to for forty two days straight is worth a damn pat on the back. So, what do I think now? Honestly, I kind of hate to say it, but I am still not sure my sugar habit is completely kicked.

I’ve definitely noticed a drastic reduction in my cravings. BUT they are still there. In the last two weeks of the detox Sarah recommends slowly introducing sweet tastes in small amount of fruit and some (Sarah approved) sweeteners. I tested some cookie recipes, started having raspberries for dessert, trialled a variety of sugar free chocolate, and I loved it. All of it. A bit too much. I had to remind myself (on many occasions) that just because I’d been given the all clear on fruit did not mean I could IV drip pureed apples into my veins.

I kind of want to keep it up. (The sugar free that is, not the trialling sugar alternatives, I have felt a little like a lab rat these last two weeks. A lab rat in stevia heaven.) I want to keep traveling this path to see if I really can get to the point of sugar just not occurring to me. I don’t feel a huge urge to go out and stuff my gob with Jelly Beans (except maybe a little), but at the same time, I’m not at the place I hoped to be.

I (sort of) feel like a recovering sugar-holic. And I fear that by having a square of chocolate I will black out and wake up naked in sweet shop with gummy bears stuck in my hair. I am pretty sure there are meetings for that right?

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So, this six-week detox doesn’t really feel like it’s come to and end. It feels like I have started a journey, a journey that, for the last six weeks, someone (Sarah Wilson) has been holding my hand through. Sarah has told me what to eat and what not to eat, and now I have to step out there and make my own decisions like a big grown up girl (and no, even at twenty five I’m still unconvinced that I’m even close to this elusive thing called adulthood). Do I want to go back to the way I was? Hell no. Is a life completely stripped of sugar in my future? Maybe.

I think for now, I’m going to keep steering clear of unnecessary sugars (I will just eat the ones that are completely and utterly enjoyed and acknowledged). No I won’t use store bought stock to make my gravy – because it adds sugar. No I won’t grab Thai takeouts on a Friday night – because I know the stuff is drenched in palm sugar. And no I won’t stop meticulously reading labels at the supermarket – because it’s ridiculous (and a little stupid, sorry folks) to not be conscious of what you are shoveling into your body. But at my besties wedding in three weeks (woop woop), will I have a slice of wedding cake? Hell yes (try ad hold me back).  Those seem like good and achievable goals that don’t sound too scary long term.

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This last six weeks has been interesting, and not as tough as I thought. I’m not sure what the next steps in my sugar free journey will be, but my next actual steps are to the counter at local fave Little Bird for a hearty slab of cheesecake.

Cheers everyone!

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Hallucinations, banoffie pie and the worlds tallest building.

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Image from Concrete Playground

As you picked up from the post of all my noms last week, I made a trip to Tom Hishon’s haunt, Orphans Kitchen. To be completely honest, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the food was tasty, the service was great, the place was buzzing, but the thing was, my expectations were high. Seriously high. Like Burj Khalifa high.

Having been on this sugar free detox for the last four and a half weeks (yes I made it four and a half weeks*), it has been tough for us (the boy and myself) to eat out. Or at least we thought it would be, and not wanting to be “those” people in a nice restaurant, we had largely avoided it. So this place was not only at the tipy top of our restaurants to try list, but it was also breaking our (read: the boy’s) long slog in the kitchen.

It’s a little hard to spot, and with a gammy front door that almost had us walking away, you can tell this is the hip place to be by how damn difficult it is to actually get inside.

Once perched at our table we went straight for it and just ordered a large pile of mains (to share).

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First to the table was their homemade flax-seed sourdough with burnt butter. I love that “burnt” has become cool. “Burnt” used to be bad. But this, my friends, was the furthest from bad anything has even been. It smelt like caramel and even had a distant tinge of sugary taste (or maybe my tongue was hallucinating). We demolished it. So fast, in fact, the waitress commented (saying something like “I am glad you enjoyed it so much”, where as you know what she wanted to do was jump up and down on the bleach wood bench pointing and yelling “fatty, fatty, fatty”).

We had requested all our dishes to come at once. And come they did. In hindsight we probably should have staggered them a little, just so we could actually fit our knives and forks on the table! What arrived was a brussel sprout salad with goats curd and baby beets, friend rye gnocchi with parmesan, sage, hazelnuts and a poached egg, kumera chips with sour cream and the ‘Boil Up’ of boiled boar, dough dumplings and sweet potato.

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It was a fantastic feast and, despite our best efforts to savor each mouthful, we (much like the bread) wolfed it down. My top pick was the gnocchi. I mean what crazy person doesn’t like gnocchi anyway? Now try it fried! Yeah I thought so. The thing that stood out in every dish was simplicity. These flavours weren’t big, and they weren’t meant to be. The delicate dots of curd through the brussel sprout salad was enough to have me diving in for more and the subtle sweetness of the kumera in the boil up gravy got the boy so hooked he literally drank from the bowl (you can’t take him anywhere).

Now, it doesn’t sound too much like I was disappointed does it? Maybe more what I mean is that I had a dream in my head, and it was that I was going to go out and be blown away. But Orphans Kitchen is a small, unrefined, rough at the edges eatery that serves up neat little flavours in a gorgeous (and surprisingly unpretentious) way. Those kind of places just don’t have you screaming from the hill tops. They have you wandering back to your car think hmmm that was pleasant. Which is what we did.

Also, I think in a small way, it is a testament to the boy. He is an incredible cook. And although he is too modest to admit it, I am served up dish after dish of amazing food right at home. Any restaurant we go to would have a seriously hard time beating some of the creations that he can whip up on a random weekday night in our tiny kitchen (with a mere two hobs).

So, no, Orphan’s Kitchen didn’t get me jumping with joy, but I would definitely go back nce my detox is over. Man, that banoffie pie sounded good. (Maybe this review would be different if I actually had hoped off my bar stool and stealthy swiped the dessert off the lady in front of me. But she looked like she would’ve won in a fistfight.)

*Although last night I made a cake for the boys mum, a spiced sponge cake with vanilla meringue icing and I did lick the icing spoon. Twice. But THAT WAS IT. The boy then stole the bowl from me and poured water in it. And I am glad he did because although my eyes said “I could punch you right now” my heart said “thank you for saving me”. That, my friends, is what a real knight in shining armour looks like.

A week of noms (and runs).

As I said I would, last week I took a photo of literally every morsel I shoved into my little mouth. No snack was undocumented and no meal ignored. I did however skip taking pictures of the numerous cups of tea and water that washed everything down. I also noted down my exercise because, to me, those two things go hand in hand. So, here is what a week of my food (and movements) looks like…

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach Snacks Green tea, Peppermint tea, A small handful of raw almonds, Green tea Lunch 5 x Homemade crackers with left over roast chicken, fresh parsley, avocado, cucumber and iceberg lettuce on top, plus some carrot sticks on the side (about half a carrot), Earl Grey tea Exercise Run (recovery after Sundays long run, 6k) Dinner Baked salmon with mashed swede, broccoli, garlic leeks and a sprinkling of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and fresh parsley. Dessert Natural yoghurt (full fat) with roasted almonds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon Snack 1 x Homemade cracker with a teaspoon of almond butter

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach with green tea Snacks Small handful of mixed nuts (roasted and lightly salted) Lunch Leftover veggies from last night (leeks, swede and broccoli) with 4 x homemade crackers and chicken Snacks Peppermint tea, Handful of raw walnuts Dinner Roast chicken with roast carrots, parsnip, pumpkin, beetroot and onion with blanched beans and homemade gravy Dessert Chia pudding (homemade with chai seeds, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla powder) with cacao nibs, almonds and roasted coconut flakes

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach Snacks English breakfast tea, Flat white (full fat milk) Lunch Left over roast dinner from last night Snacks 4 x Homemade crackers, 2 x Crisp crackers with cheese and just hummus Exercise Bikram (90 minutes) Dinner Blackened chicken with kumera chips, coleslaw and homemade sesame dressing (mustard, yoghurt, toasted sesame seeds)

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Exercise 4k run and 40 minutes of weight training Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach with Snacks Peppermint tea, Green tea Lunch Leftover chicken, kumera chips and coleslaw Snacks Peppermint tea, 4 x homemade crackers, Green tea, Cup of seeds with almonds, walnuts and coconut chips all roasted and tossed with lots of cinnamon (because I work late every Thursday night I pack extra snacks with me. Not only do I eat dinner later, but having something to munch on keeps me away from all the chips, lollies and chocolate that come out around deadline time) Dinner Homemade paleo pizza with asparagus, tomato, chicken, spinach and leeks

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Breakfast Paprika scrambled eggs with spinach on peas and avocado, Peppermint tea Lunch Leftover paleo pizza with rocket and tomatoes Snacks 2x Handfuls of raw peanuts, 2 x Homemade crackers, Peppermint tea Exercise Run (outdoor, 8k), 4o minute weight training Dinner Homemade salmon tart with spinach and cherry tomatoes with a side of leeks and asparagus

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Breakfast Kumera hash cakes with poached egg and mushrooms, Peppermint tea Exercise 50 minute weight training Snack Small protein shake (nuzest powder with almond milk) Lunch Leftover salmon tart with side salad Dinner (at Orphans Kitchen) Flaxseed sourdough with burnt butter, Brussels sprout salad and goats cheese, Gnocchi with hazelnuts sage and a poached egg, Kumera chips, Boiled boar with dough dumplings and swede Midnight Snack Peppermint tea, Cheese and crackers

WeekOfFood7

Breakfast Kumera hash cakes with spinach, mushrooms peas, fresh spinach and a poached egg, Earl Grey tea Exercise Run (outdoor, 18k) Lunch Homemade crackers with homemade hummus, cucumber, tomatoes and carrot sticks, English breakfast tea and cows milk Dinner Roast chicken with roast onions, pumpkin and parsnip Dessert Roasted almonds, walnuts, cashews and coconut flakes with full fat natural yoghurt, Peppermint Tea

Hopefully through this 7 day documentation you can see that I eat a simple, clean but varied diet (with large quantities of nuts, ridiculously large) and that it is healthy. I don’t feel that I deny myself a thing. The boy and I also don’t let it stop us going out (hello Orphans Kitchen), and we don’t stick to our paleo ways all the time (I know you spotted all that sneaky, sneaky dairy in there).

I’m now 24 days through my 42 days (or six weeks) of detoxing and, unless someone is cruelly eating a block of chocolate in front of my face (and cackling), I don’t even think about it. I barely miss it (except when my mind wonders to that cronut I’m yet to try). And I’m really surprised by how easy this entire thing has become.

So, if you want to give clean eating, or paleo or sugar free a go, or if you just want to make health conscious choices when it comes to your food, here are my top tips.

  • Plan and organize your meals, but throw in some exciting new recipes each week to keep food fun.
  • Make sure you plan for snacks too (nuts, homemade crackers or carrot sticks are my favourites).
  • Shop the perimeter of the supermarket (except for a quick nip into the aisles for your all important weekly magazine, New Idea).
  • Read the labels of EVERYTHING you’re buying. Even if you aren’t doing sugar free, take ownership of what you are putting into your body and know what is in your food. (I’m yet to find bacon, salmon, stock or shredded chicken in the supermarket that doesn’t have added sugar, to name a few.)
  • The internet is your friend (well hello there friend), use it to help you get pumped for new foods, recipes or quirky ingredients (like the amazing chia seeds).

I found it really interesting to document my food last week, in fact I loved it so much that I missed it today. So, I downloaded a food diary app that stores photos too! It’s pretty much an app like the above photos (called MealLogger). Although I believe this is a completely honest idea of what I eat in a week, I do think I tended to snack slightly less (if you can possibly believe that from the vast amount of snacks documented) because I could SEE that I really didn’t need them. It could be a really simple way for someone to watch what he or she eats (quite literally).

OR you could just instagram everything and piss off your friends*.

*I joke about this, but am painstakingly aware I do it myself, I also post too many picture of my cat. But who doesn’t love a furry feline clogging up their feed? Crazy people, that’s who.

Foodie inspiration with Rachel McAdams and Zefron.

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One of the best resources for keeping up a healthy diet and eating sugar free/paleo/really any health kick you are on? It’s the Internet of course. With a world of blogs, ebooks and online magazines it’s crazy to think people can’t find healthy noms. Here are a few places that I always head back to:

Petite Kitchen This is my favourite recipe resource, created by a like minded Kiwi girl (who I actually went to high school with). It isn’t specifically paleo or sugar free, but it is very clean and organic, and her simple recipes can be easily adapted to suit most dietary requirements. This talented cook is also coming out with her own cookbook soon and I can’t wait!

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I Quit Sugar The blog is a great recourse for some of Sarah’s more common recipes (like her tasty raspberry ripple), it’s also good for people giving up the white stuff as it is filled with great articles and support.

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PaleoOMG & Elena’s Panty The ingredients in both these blogs can sometimes be a little tricky to find in little old NZ, but can usually be adapted. These websites are so filled with recipes it’s impossible not to find something you would love.

As well as those, I usually have a collection of cookbooks around me to tantalise my taste buds and keep the inspiration following, like It’s All Good by Gwyneth, Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson and Dr’ Libby’s Real Food Chef by Dr Libby Weaver.

To be honest, it’s unusual that I follow a recipe straight up. I use these as guides, ideas and starting points to play with my own flavours. The Boy quite likes to stick to recipes, so together we can butt heads in the kitchen, but it usually evolves into a nice balance. Often, my theory in the kitchen is more is more. (Actually, in every part of my life really. More shoes? Yes! More dessert? Of course! More Zac Efron? Duh!) So I tend to make little things that are packed with flavour. People often think that healthy equals bland, and my experience is the complete opposite. By trying to source the most amazing, fresh and clean ingredients I tend to find that the meals I sit down to eat are screaming with flavour. Never underestimate the punch fresh herbs or extra garlic can give your food.

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The idea that finding a “clean” recipe is hard is absolutely ridiculous. It isn’t even a case of knowing where to find them, it’s a case of googling. Good hot words for googling recipes are paleo, sugar-free and clean. Healthy can be good, but do make sure to double-check the sources that are claiming health. (I once found a ”super nutritious and healthy” chocolate cake recipe. Sure, it had some grated beetroot, but it also had 3 cups of sugar, refined white flower, nearly a block of butter and countless other ingredients that are best kept to a minimum. That’s kind of like grating some carrot onto your candyfloss and calling it a salad.) Using these buzzwords should help you find recipes that are free of packaged/added/chemical anything (yay).

So, get out there, check out these places, look at your recipe books and have a play. Changing up your diet is in no way a shackle to restrain your palette, but an invitation to play, to experiment and to push those boundaries.

Do I sound as corny as a Rachel McAdams movie? Good. I love her movies.

Kicking the habit: snaps for Ally.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I have some amazing people around me. In the wake of my sugar detox decision, friends and family have been supportive (the boy has even started to drastically cut back too). There have been many questions about the reasons behind my latest life choice, yet I haven’t come across someone who is strongly against my decision. (Side note; having said this there continues to be a murmur of confusion. People seem baffled at the idea of what I can eat if I am cutting out sugar. They seem fixated on the list of no-go foods and blind to the variety I actually consume, they think I’m living on a diet of steamed veggies. Believe me confused ones, there is a lot more on my dinner plate than that.) Over a rather lovely girlie catch up the other night, my dear friend Ally, who has chosen to take this journey with me, told me of her first experience of and hater. Someone who effectively told her off for her choices, simply because they didn’t agree. By the sounds of Ally’s accounts, this hater didn’t even come from a place of education and was blindly wading into an argument without having read the books or done the research Ally had. Well that’s just kind of like doing a university project without and references – instant fail. It is also kind of like a pretty crap move on the friend front.

Luckily, Sarah Wilson (author of I Quit Sugar) has an entire chapter on what to do when you come across a creature like this. She writes rebuts to the most common arguments like “but sugar is natural” (she suggests we come back with “indeed it is, but so is petroleum and arsenic”). Or “cutting out fruit? That’s ridiculous” with arguments like “fruit contains fructose. And fructose is fructose no matter what package it comes in”. It’s also worth noting that fruit is not demonized by Sarah, it is merely avoided in the detox period to help you and your body re-balance, and also to remind yourself that, although nutritious, fruit does contain sugar and should be munched on mindfully.

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The argument that most people have being “we need sugar” is a little hard to retort with a one liner. But what I will say is this; Make sure you know what sugar you’re talking about. Table sugar is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Glucose is in everything we eat. It’s pretty much energy. It is what our body and brain run off. We clearly need that, and as long as we are eating we are getting it in some form or another. The sugar being avoided in this detox is fructose. It is found in a lot of things, but most notably in table sugar, HFCS (mostly in America), agave, honey and fruit to name a few.

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The truth is, as with everything, moderation is the key. But the unfortunate reality is that we are not being moderate with our fructose intake. We are over consuming by the bucket load. It’s fine to have a small hit of fructose as much as everyday, but modern foods don’t give us that. Look at that label on your cereal/porridge/tea/tinned tomatoes/stock/everything you eat in a day. Seriously look at it. And before those numbers fade into your brain, absorb that 4.2g grams of sugar is 1 teaspoon. Visualize it. Count up through out the day how much sugar you are consuming. And yes the teaspoons in that orange juice counts just as much as the in that coke. Moderation is the key and it is why I (and many others) am starting to take the control, the moderating, into my own hands. If we want to eat sugar, we want it to be on our terms, with our knowledge and to be 100% aware that it’s occurring, so we can stand up and count it. We don’t want it to be sneaking in the side door cloaked with words like “all natural”.

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Sure this detox is extreme, and I won’t pretend it isn’t. But surely the fact that sugar in our diet has increased drastically in the last 100 years (the average person in the US consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year–compared to just 7 ½ pounds consumed on average in the year 1700. That’s 20 times as much) is far more extreme.

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All above images from pinterest.

Basically this post is a rant, a rant to people who think that the best way to approach other I Quit Sugar peeps, attempting to make steps to a healthier life, is to put them down.

So, mostly for the haters, but also a little for the confusers who only hear the cant’s and ignore the cans, I’m going to document everything I eat this week. In fact, I declare next week – food week! I will give you the inside scoop on how I like to pre-plan, what goes into my weekly trolley and what wonderfully scrumptious meals I get to eat.

I can, hand on heart, say that I’ve never eaten so well, so varied and so creatively. With the boundaries I’ve set, and the experiments I’ve started to do with my diet in the last few months, it has really challenged me to think outside the square. To push my go-to dishes and to create wholesome and nutritious food. And I’m loving it.

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I dare you to look at my diet over the next seven days and tell me it’s unhealthy!

I also dare you to put down my friends, *insert head wiggle and finger snaps* “don’t you go dissin’ ma gurl Ally”.

Mothers around the world warn “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Or, you can take my fathers life motto and add this little gem to the end of that sentiment, “unless you have a damn good argument to back it up”.

Bam.

Bathing in sugarless pain.

Today is the first time I’ve really felt like I’m missing out with this sugar quitting thing. Cronuts showed up at work and I couldn’t have them. They are (for those of you who’ve been living under a rock) a combination of a croissant and a donut. So basically, pastry heaven. Not only do I love both of these things, I’m also a sucker for crazy food fads and I entirely support creativity (and madness) in the kitchen.

It sounds melodramatic (probably because it is) but I was completely gutted. Simply miserable that I couldn’t tuck in, like everyone else around me. I know I am lucky that this is this first time I’ve seriously come across sugar envy/cravings. But right now I don’t feel lucky. I feel grumpy. I feel like throwing my toys, having a tantrum, shouting (loudly), stomping my feet and I seriously feel like eating sugar.

But I won’t. Instead I will just look and it and feel sorry for myself, bathing in my stupid, self inflicted sugarless pain.

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Kicking the habit: acne cures and sugar fiends.

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I think I’ve discovered the cure for acne! No, maybe not, but the first and most insanely noticeable change since cutting out sugar has been my skin. It is miles clearer and my skin tone has evened out dramatically. Great!

What’s not so great is the crazy sugar fiend that roars her unattractive head at precisely 330pm and then again post dinner – like every day.

So yes, it’s seven days into my detox. To recap, I’m doing Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ eight-week plan. Technically the first two weeks are all about cutting back, so I skipped straight to week three, because I’ve been slowly cutting down my sugar for a few months now. For those of you a little confused about what I am or am not eating…

I have cut out all sugar. This (rather obviously) means I’m eating no refined sugar, and I’m reading labels like a nut job to check for sneaky sugar added (seriously – almost everything has it). No sugar replacement (sweeteners). No honey/maple syrup/rice syrup/any of those sorts of things (I know, I know, all that stuff is “all natural”, but it’s sugar, so its out). Finally, no fruit.

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The idea of going cold turkey on bananas is the part that sits funny with me, I can’t get my head around the idea that fruit could be negative. But Sarah has convinced me that this “detox” is simply that, it is a period of time to reset your body. Once I nip my sugar cravings/dependency in the bud, I can introduce the correct amount of fruit back into my diet.

I know its controversial, and I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers, my research so far seems to support Sarah’s notion that a couple of pieces of fruit a day is the best number to stick to on a daily basis (and no other sugars at all) once back to my normal eating (aka post detox).

Anyway, enough of the nitty gritty! Back to what’s been going on through out this week.

I’ve been easing up my paleo ways. I still completely believe in the benefits (and have been reaping them for some time) of primal eating, but I’m also painfully aware of my own limits right now. Cutting out so much and leaving myself with no “treats” at all is a bit tricky (especially for the early stages). So I’m letting myself indulge in a bit more dairy (think full fat milk/yoghurt and some cheese). I’m not going crazy with it, but if I feel the pangs of dessert cravings, a few slices of creamy cheese to satisfy my need to indulge are keeping me sane. As the weeks continue I can cut down and down on these last vices until I am pure, clean and brilliant!

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It has been a hard seven days, if anyone ever says kicking sugar to the curb is easy – well they are SO wrong. Simply living your life is tough on sugar free. It doesn’t mean you CAN’T do things like go out for dinner, but it means you have to be conscious of every single thing that passes you lips. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just not always and easy one.

I’m starting to turn a corner and feel really good, I’m noticing that my energy is consistently up through out the day, I feel a lot fuller after my delicious sugar-free meals, and as I mentioned before, my skin clearing up.

Saviors? Peppermint tea (it’s an amazing sugar craving killer) and nuts (roasted, tossed with cinnamon, and mixed through yoghurt – serious sugar free dessert right there).

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Watch out for? Flavoured tea – If it’s fruit flavoured, likelihood is that they actually contain fruit (which isn’t bad, but if you are on this detox, they should be nixed). Another tea I found the other day was a “Crème Brulee” tea, and rather obviously that was PACKED with sugar, so read EVERY label. Bar none. Not even tea is safe from added sugar.

I’m having a love/hate relationship with the detox currently. But I am still excited to see how I feel, and how many changes I notice, come the end of this journey.

Hopefully the roaring sugar fiend stops popping in to say hi. Oh an I also hope people at work stop getting older – because all the cakes I can’t eat are driving me mental!

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All images from Pinterest

Going cold turkey baby.

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A month or two ago I posted on a book I was reading about quitting sugar (by Sarah Wilson). At the time I thought she was a bit mental (and by a bit, I mean a lot), because three weeks into her suggested detox, all sugar was cut out. Like all sugar. No fruits or honey or sugar replacements – zip. It all went.

Although I thought she was cray-cray, I was intrigued. So I set about looking into a lot of the things Sarah brought up in her book, like the idea that the root of obesity issues in modern society comes from our excess consumption of sugar (more specifically, fructose).

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If you read this blog (hey!) you will already know I’m pretty sold on the ideas of clean eating and keeping away from things that can be tough on us (like dairy or gluten). I usually follow a paleo diet (or try to). And if you look at how cavemen really eat, the truth is they didn’t get an awful lot of sugar (maybe a few berries here and there). How can someone really believe in eating like out predecessors without questioning the amount of sugar going into our gobs?

At the forefront of my investigation (I went all CSI on sugar) was a book by David Gillespie, Sweet Poison. It was a hefty read, with loads of side roads into biochemistry and the history of sugar (right back to when it was first produced). I would highly recommend reading it. But don’t expect it to give you warm fuzzies by the fire on a lazy Sunday afternoon – this is no Harry Potter. This is big and scary with a side of the dramatics and a large sprinkle of science. Having read it I do feel a little freaked out, but I’m trying to take everything in Gillespie’s book with a pinch of salt (to balance out all the sugar). There is no real way to sum it up, because its dense and best read in full for a great picture on how our body handles sugar. (It’s also best read when you don’t have a dessert party to go to. You know in cartoons when someone is hungry and everything turns into walking tasty morsels? Well the dessert party was like that, except every scrumptious dessert turned into the grim reaper.)

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Also along my travels I came across Damon Gameau. This Australian actor is currently treating himself like a lab rat and eating a high sugar (40 teaspoons a day) diet to see what the effects are on him and filming it (think a twist on the ‘Supersize Me’ documentary). You can follow his progress and daily updates here. Check out the movie preview too – it looks very interesting (especially for a recently adopted sugar nerd).

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After a month or so of reading about the sweet stuff to within an inch of my life and drastically cutting down my sugar intake, Sarah’s idea of removing all fructose for a while seems less bonkers. Very challenging, but not completely ridiculous. Also, not completely uncalled for.

So, as of September 1st I’m attempting to follow Sarah’s detox and let go of the last clutches I have on sugar. I’m going to try being sweet enough on my own.

Wish me luck, or make like my amazing friend Alexandra and join me. If cutting out your desserts sounds too much for you, don’t worry, I will over share every step of the way – so upon the conclusion of my 6 week detox you will feel like you have lived every up and down with me (without needing to cut out donuts).

I bet you’re so excited to hear (well, read) my ever word on coming down off a sugar high. Yeah, yeah you are!

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All images from Pintrest

Banana bread for breakfast.

I’m quite partial to a little banana bread, so after a few attempts I’ve found a recipe that I love. This bread isn’t too sweet, it’s nice and moist (but holds its bread like form) and is great toasted with some almond butter or coconut butter. A couple of slices with a cuppa make for a great weekend breakfast!

PaleoBananaBread

  •  3 ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence*
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp honey (melted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 cups almond meal (packed)
  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda

(*I tend to use organic vanilla essence because I have recently discovered most of the other brands contain added sugar. If this sort of thing bothers you, check the ingredients of your essence.)

Pre-heat over to 170 (fan bake) and grease or line a loaf tin.

In a large(ish) bowl, mash your three ripe bananas and add the vanilla essence, coconut oil and honey.

In a separate bowl whisk your three eggs for a couple of minutes (to introduce some air for a lighter bread) then add to banana mix. Whisk until combined.

To your banana mixture, add the salt, coconut flour, almond meal and baking soda. Mix until all the flour lumps are out, but try not to over mix.

Pour your batter into the prepped tin and place in oven for 60-65 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool slightly before slicing.

This tastes great toasted and should be stored in an airtight container for no longer than a week.

Nb if you like your banana bread on the sweeter side, add a tablespoon of melted honey to the mixture.

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