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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Drunk or not, Sunday Painters is a good idea.

If you haven’t been to Sunday Painters yet, you need to go. I know I say that about most of the places that I eat (probably because I am a big fatty and I love everything and anything I can chow down on). But Sunday Painters really is great.

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Images from EAT HERE NOW

It’s a modest little place with mismatched vintage glassware, pristine linen napkins and black boards on easels. It had a warm feel with, with a classic edge. I felt instantly at home when I stepped in.

The menu was piled high with gorgeous sounding French cuisine. The boy felt adventurous and went for lamb rump, beetroot gratin, creamed spinach and crumbed lamb’s brain. I test tasted this (my second favourite thing, after eating, is eating other peoples food) and the brains were actually quite good! They were perfectly crispy on the outside and almost gooey on the inside. Another favourite from this dish was the beetroot gratin – yum.

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Mother opted for the confit duck leg with parsnip pommes dauphine, brussel sprout puree and blackcurrant jus. Having had memories of brussel sprouts in her childhood over Christmas dinner, she was hesitant on the puree, but really liked it.

Dad and I tried the fish of the day, which was a baked snapper with a potato and celeriac croquette, pureed parsnip and blood orange salad. It was amazingly light and I loved the citrus kick from the salad. I always try ordering fish when I am out. It is something we don’t have that much of at home, and at great restaurants they always buy the most amazing produce.

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Although the dessert menu was very tantalizing, we were heading home to the boys sugar free, dairy free, grain free carrot cake. Next time however, I have my eye on the chocolate tart with hazelnut meringue and toast parfait!

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I think I may have been a little bias, because when I visited it was not only my birthday, but I helped polish of a rather lovely bottle of Chablis. Drunk on not, I would go back. And back. And back.

No Ryan Gosling? No worries.

Bocal

I mentioned earlier that on my birthday one of the places I visited was Petit Bocal. And it was perhaps the best start to my day ever (ok, maybe having happy birthday sung to me by Ryan Gosling would’ve been better, but Bocal was damn good regardless). For those who haven’t visited this new(ish) Auckland hang out, it is a sweet, fresh, airy and oh so French. Filled with mason jars (hence the name that translates to “little jar”), the smell of coffee and piles of just baked pastries.

I ordered the baked eggs, which came in a Puy lentil and capsicum sauce with a side of sourdough. It was the perfect hearty breakfast, but in my haste I totally burnt my tongue, severing large numbers of my taste buds. The remaining ones, however, very much enjoyed it (imagine how good it would have been with all my taste buds in proper working order).

The boy grabbed himself the much acclaimed croque madame and (as always) I stole a few bites. Man was it good. Recently metro did an Auckland wide hunt for the best croque monsieur (which is a croque madame minus the egg on top), it was no surprise to me that Petit Bocal came out on top! It was rich, creamy and basically just the best ham and cheese toasty ever. Plus an egg. What could be better?

I complimented my meal with a super tasty coffee and the boy grabbed a tea from their extensive menu. We were both very happy campers.

This is not the first time I’ve popped in to this Sandringham local, a month or two ago I visited for an after dinner cheese platter with a friend. Needless to say it was this tiny taster that got me wanting to come back for more.

Now I am hooked. I need a Bocal hit. Next time I am planning on giving one of the amazing sounding salads a go, perhaps with one of the newly introduced cronuts on the side? Except I gave up sugar.

Damn me.

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It’s official, I’m old. Like really old.

On Tuesday the 20th of August I turned 25 (and my quarter life crisis went into over drive). Despite the overwhelming urge to give into my dying youth, slap on the slippers and head out to grab a thimble of fresh placenta (to banish my crows feet – duh), it has turned out to be an amazing week filled with food, love and wine (by wine I mean vodka). I feel so incredibly special.

Birthday

My actual birthday with kicked off with a French feast at Petite Bocal (review coming soon), followed by a hike up Rangitoto and dinner at Sunday Painters (yes, yes, review coming on that one too). Shaun even made me a paleo friendly, sugar free carrot cake (seriously yum) and I convinced my entire family to play a game of celebrity guess who whilst polishing off a celebratory bottle (or two) of wine.

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After the day of treats Shaun whisked me away for a short escape to Rotorua (a few hours from Auckland and known for its super smelly geothermal-ness). We spent two days relaxing; hitting up the local spa, eating (a rather large amount), horse riding and even zorbing! Upon arriving back in Auckland, my girlfriends whisked me out for a sneaky birthday drink and I came home to a full-blown surprise party (complete with excess party poppers and every one I love).

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I can’t say enough about how wonderful the boy was (is). Between creating a perfect day on the 20th, to taking me away, to planning a brilliant surprise party. He made me feel so loved and I simply couldn’t have asked for more.

And here is the kicker. I feel like I learnt something this week (exactly what you don’t want to be doing when you are off – learning shit).

I learnt that I really like the way I am living my life right now. I really, really like it. Some people may think that the sugar free/grain free/dairy free/processed free way I eat is extreme, but it makes me (and my body) feel great. The battle each morning to get up at the crack of dawn to fit in a workout is a tough slog, but once it is done and dusted, it’s amazing (and the endorphins are flowing all day). This week off (I haven’t run, gym-ed or even looked at what I have been shoving into my gob for 6 days straight) has been fun, but it has also been and eye opener (and seriously hard on my stomach). I’m excited to hit the ground running (literally), get back to a paleo palette and feeling incredible come tomorrow.

The story of an unfriendly drink.

Little Bird is a little (haha) “unbakery” in Kingsland. It boasts raw and healthy treats which are pretty much all gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Perfect for a health conscious paleo like me (and maybe you). The boy and I have often dropped in, and always loved it.

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The only set back? Every time we pop in, it’s so bustling and full, but with only a handful of seats it can be a rather long wait. It is however, worth it (if you can be bothered).

The other day we dropped in for breakfast. I ordered their take on bircher muesli with a green smoothie and the boy tucked into their raw sprouted buckwheat toast with smashed avocado and a green tea. First things first, as much as my dish was tasty, I had some serious food envy. The toast and avocado looked and tasted (yes I stole more than a bite) amazing. I would highly recommend it and it has since become my go to. It still baffles me how they manage to give the faux-bread the texture of toast, but they do. The seriously fresh avo, slathered in salt, pepper and lemon is zingy, creamy and topped with a crisp salad. My bircher was good too (but somehow managed to pale in comparison with the dish opposite it), it had plenty of nuts, seeds and large chunks of apple (in both grated and dried form). The berry compote style sauce was a great accompaniment.

This trip wasn’t all tasty delights though, unfortunately me and my smoothie were not friends. I admit however, it was me (and my ego’s) fault. On the smoothie menu (there are plenty to choose from) it warned that this particular green drink was however the most “green” you could ask for. Aka it was super duper healthy and not for the faint hearted. I saw this warning and thought to myself “you, my dear, are a glowing example of health, no matter what is in it you will find it super tasty because you are a health food guru”. Well I was wrong. To me, that smoothie just tasted bitter with a side of spinach. It took a lot for me to get through it. I am sure it cured me of every aliment known to man, but it was a step too far on the health scale for me! Maybe you however are braver?

All up, I love coming back to this place. They have a menu that chops and changes and a cabinet full of wholesome treats (the berry cheesecake is the bomb). When you want a great (but perhaps crowded) brunch with a side of feeling amazingly smug about the health factor of your food, head here.

Primal cheesecake feat. the boy.

I feel like a proud mum (actually, that’s kinda creepy, a proud other thing that isn’t a mum). Below is a post from the often mentioned ‘the boy’. He is a marvelous cook, filling the house with gorgeous smells every night. And although he spends endless hours at the supermarket deciding exactly which coriander bunch/brand of spice/pack of steak/stick of ginger (etc etc) is the best, I will forgive him because whatever he does in the kitchen pretty much always turns to gold (and it means I get to read every magazine front to back). So I am so happy that he has not only relented to my non stop nagging to share his favourite foods, but he has also agreed to bring them to you himself! So no more me for the rest of this post (and the following recipe posts feat. the boy). I am off to find me some magazines. Enjoy (it’s a good’un).

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Sometimes it can be hard to satisfy that craving for a decadent dessert while ticking all the paleo boxes. This nut based cheesecake is rich and delicious with a nice citrus kick. I would advise sticking with small portions as it is super filling.

I like the tartness that the raspberries bring to this, but it would work equally well with a range of other flavours; blueberries, passionfruit etc.

The smoother you can get the filling the better, but don’t worry if you can’t get every last granule out. I pass what I can of the mixture through a sieve and return what is left for another blitz in the food processor. This might not be necessary if you have a better food processor.

I’ve left everything raw here, but toasting the nuts and coconut in the base could serve to give this a little bit of extra texture.

Makes 6-8 cheesecakes

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  • 1 cup of raw almonds
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • ¼ cup of coconut flakes
  • approx 1 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 3 medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Remove the pits and roughly chop the dates. Soak the pieces in a little water for 5-10minutes.

Place the almonds, walnuts, coconut flakes and orange zest in a food processor and pulse until you have a rough crumb.

Drain the water from the dates and add them along with the orange juice and vanilla to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together.

Press the mixture into the base of whatever you are serving the cheesecakes in. I used ramekins, but in hindsight, short tumblers would have presented better, allowing you to see the layers.

Put the bases in the fridge to set while you prepare the filling.

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  • 2 ½ cups of raw cashew nuts
  • ¾ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ cup of orange juice
  • zest of half a lemon
  • approx 1 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • ¾ cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup of raspberries plus extra for garnish

Put all of the ingredients except the raspberries into a food processes and blitz until smooth.

Pass what you can of the mixture through a sieve and return the rest to the food processor. Blend to get this as smooth as possible. Add this back to what was passed through the sieve and mix to incorporate.

Reserve a cup of the mixture for the raspberry layer and distribute the rest amongst the ramekins. Bang the ramekins on the bench to level, then place them in the freezer for 15 minutes to partially set.

Return the mixture that was reserved to the food processor along with the raspberries and blitz until fully combined. Distribute the topping between the ramekins and again bang them on the bench to level. Place the ramekins in the fridge for a few hours to set.

To serve, spread raspberries on top.

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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.

Ginger slice (paleo style).

I made some rather amazing ginger crunch to see me through my refined sugar free week. I love experimenting and trying different recipes out, this one is a slight adaptation (basically just more ginger) from an amazing food blog Petite Kitchen. Taking time to make and have healthy (well, healthier) versions of our favourite treats is a great way to have the perfect thing on hand when a craving kicks in. I promise, a slice of this will 100% satisfy that sweet tooth and although (as with everything) it’s still a treat and wolfing down 20 slice won’t do you or your digestive system any favours, a few squares after your evening meal won’t have you feeling guilty at all.

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The base:

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1 cup dates (pitted)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger

The icing:

  • 3 heaped tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp honey
  • 4 tsp ground ginger

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Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Grease or line a slice tin (I just used a cake tin because I don’t have a slice tin).

I roasted raw cashews because I find most store bought roasted cashews come with heaps of added salt that is not to my taste. Feel free to do the same, or use store bought roasted if you like them, or hell even plain raw works too! Blend these in a food processor with your pitted dates, water and ginger (until it starts to look dough like).

Push this base mixture into your greased/baking papered tray (try to get it even).

Bake the base in the oven at 160°C until golden (this took me about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on yours as times can vary). Leave to cool completely.

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In pot on the stove, mix all of your icing ingredients (coconut oil, honey and ginger). Heat slowly on a low temperature until the honey is just getting soft (the coconut oil should be fully melted), remove from the heat and whisk. After a minute or two the icing should become thick (sort of like caramel like).

Spread the icing on top of your cooled base and pop in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to set completely.

Remove from the fridge – slice and enjoy!

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Nb These tasty treats are best kept in the fridge and stored with baking paper to separate them (as they can get sticky).

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