Why I Quit Sugar

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It seems to be the latest ‘evil’ in the media, with voices from all around telling us we should eat less of the stuff… but why?

 

I gave up sugar a little while before it grabbed the media’s attention, but I’ve been slow to quit it. I thought I had a pretty healthy diet, but was surprised by how much sugar I consumed when I began to look at it.

 

I think it was a sort of psychological substitute. As I can’t have gluten, I’d almost reach for other sugary things that I could eat. I couldn’t have the cake, but I could have a meringue or a lovely packet of Haribo Tangtastics (other jelly sweets are equally to blame!)

 

I started to investigate the sugar thing when my mum was diagnosed with cancer and we begun to look at how diet could help with her treatment and in fighting the disease naturally.

 

WHOAH, it’s a HUGE topic.

 

I’m not an expert and certainly do not have all the answers. I only know the conclusion I came to for the situation our family was in based on what I read extensively both in book form and on the internet.

 

I’m not here to preach about what’s right, I wanted to merely share some of the sources I used and then if it makes sense to you and you want to try it – for whatever reason- sure, give it a go.

 

Initially, my reasoning was that if mum was going to go through treatment and having to drastically change the way she ate and give up a whole load of stuff, I wanted to share in that journey, even a little bit, by giving up sugar in solidarity with her. It’s turned out that it’s been good for my health too – bonus!

 

The most influential sources for me have been Chris Woolam’s ‘The Rainbow Diet’ and Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar.‘ These are the two sources that I kept going back to time and again to check things or clarify details.

 

I found Chris Woolam’s book informative and scientifically based, using his background in biochemistry. It was a thorough summary of many options for natural or alternative treatment, written in a way that could easily be understood by a non-scientifically minded person like myself -someone seeking the best way forward when faced with a sea of options.

 

The message I kept hearing was ‘cancer cells need sugar to survive. Starve them of it and you’ll be helping to slow down the advancement of the disease, if not reverse it’. Worth a try.

The more I read, the more I think that there’s just no need for any of us to consume the amount of refined sugar we do.

Historically, fruit was scarce and was rarely eaten, except when it was found in abundance in the environment. Then it was gorged on and is apparently, according to Sarah Wilson of ‘I Quit Sugar’, the reason we have no ‘I’ve had enough’ gene when it comes to the sugary sweet stuff and eat it to excess.

 

In modern history, we ate a mere 2kg sugar a year in 1700. By 1900, this had sky-rocketed to 41kg. In today’s society, we consume approximately 82kg a year, more than our body weight – Crazy! (source: Wellness Mama)

 

I don’t want to eat so much of something I don’t need. So I stopped – gradually. It’s very hard to avoid. Turn over the ingredients label and you’ll see it’s everywhere. From the obvious cakes and biscuits to the hidden sugars in sauces and condiments. I’m an avid label reader. For me, anything over 5g sugar per 100g is out.

 

What about fruit? Is the question most people ask. Personally, I eat a little fruit, mainly berries and other lower fructose fruit. Having said that, I do eat bananas which are high in sugar, but where I’d formerly put a whole one on my breakfast, I now put a few slices. I know people who eat no fruit and others who eat it freely. I don’t eat dried fruit either – sugar per 100g is too high. I also try not to have substitutes like honey or maple syrup but I’m not religious about it. I use rice syrup if I need a sweetener. I tried Stevia but the powdered stuff was simply horrid. The disgusting aftertaste was most unpleasant.

 

The fruit/honey/maple syrup thing may change in the future. I don’t think those alternatives are as bad as refined sugar, but that’s where I am for now. The white (or brown) stuff is out – for good.

Millet Porridge

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I was really annoyed when I was told that I could no longer have oats as part of my diet. I’ve been gluten-free for about 10 years, and all that time I’ve been able to tolerate oats. About a year ago I started to feel unwell again and my nutritionist and I pinned it down to oats.

BOOO!!! What was I supposed to have for breakfast now?! I pretty much had porridge every day.

Since then, I’ve been trying to widen my menu for breakfast as I’m a bit of a ‘have the same thing every day’ girl and I’ve read that this can be not so great for you, so I decided to try and jazz it up a bit.

I’ve made my own refined sugar-free granola (more on that another time) but I was in need of something comforting and warming one day.

I came across the idea of using millet instead of oats and it worked. I used this recipe from Naturally Ella but without the strawberries. I also halved it to make enough for just me, although you could do double and heat it up the next day as it does take a bit of time to make.

I used:

1/2 cup millet

2 cups of coconut milk (or any dairy free milk I have –  carton not tinned stuff) I found it drinks up the liquid so be prepared to add more as it cooks.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (adds a little sweetness without the sugar)

I simply ground the millet in my Nutribullet (any food processor will do) so that it was half ground, half whole and then toasted it in the pan for a few mins. I then added the coconut milk and kept stirring. I have attempted to do my morning yoga whilst leaving this to cook but I don’t recommend it – I nearly burnt the pan dry! One task at a time!!!

It takes about 15-20 mins to cook, but do keep an eye on it. A little while to wait but worth it I think.

I’m interested to try porridge with other grains/seeds. Anyone tried Amaranth or teff or even quinoa?

SLOW

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As I bustled out of the gym, hurrying to be on my way to something else, I glanced over at the group of older ladies all chatting and laughing over coffee.

 

It got me thinking.

 

Often, when I think about going slower, I think of the elderly. For whatever reason, whether it’s because they physically can’t go fast or whether they’ve learnt to appreciate the benefits of ‘slow’ in a life well lived, there’s a lot to learn from them.

 

I don’t mean this in a patronising way, but in a genuine sense that we have a lot to learn from those who have gone before us. Many folks who are a generation or two older than me seem, at least on the surface, to appreciate what it means to take time over something, to be with people and to really savour their company while you are with them.

 

Making bread has taught me to be patient. You can’t hurry it. It needs time for the yeast to penetrate through the batch. Maybe that’s why I’m getting into it at this stage, I need to learn to be slower, to take time allowing things to permeate and marinate with me.

 

I’ve been deliberately trying to walk more slowly. I’ve been trying to look less hurried when in shops or on the streets and am preparing myself to engage with people who are maybe looking at the same thing I am in a shop or waiting in the same place that I find myself. I’m trying to be available. I’m excited to think of the people I may speak to or the conversations I may have because of these choices.

 

A phrase popped into my mind as I was chewing this over;

 

TAKE TIME, MAKE TIME.

 

I think the fullness of what this means may become move evident in due course, but in its simplest form, I want to take time over things and people more and make time to do things and be with people.

REST

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These three words have been painted on the chalkboard in my kitchen since the beginning of the summer holidays. They are things that I find hard (read almost impossible) to do. I felt that this summer break was a good time to begin to try and embrace them a little more (I have a suspicion that it’s a lifelong journey!)

 

Today, I’m thinking about Rest.

 

I’m an active person. I’m generally tearing around with a zillion things to do. I do a lot of sport. I can be found in the swimming pool mostly and I feel guilty if I have not done some form of exercise in a day, whether that be a cycle to someplace or a full-on session, complete with fins and paddles, in the pool.

 

But in the last few years I  have learnt to embrace a more genteel side to exercise, namely in the form of yoga and Pilates. My body copes much better with these forms of exercise. I have reluctantly hung up my running shoes as each time I try to run I get injured. “Finally…”, my body is saying, “…you are listening to me”!

 

I understand the concept in sport that we need to rest in order to build muscle and all that, but I’m not so great at actually doing it. I see rest as having to stop, be totally still, a ‘lie on the sofa and do nothing’ sort of thing. And I don’t like that idea.

I think I’m only seeing half the picture though.

I have thought about rest before. I love a good acronym and this one came to me and helped me to look at this whole idea afresh.

 

R – Rest is REJUVENATING. It allows recovery from energy already expended.

 

E – Rest is ENERGISING. It restores energy for what is next.

 

S – Rest is SANCTIFYING. For me, this means it allows me time to pray and chat to God in a place of quietness and peace. It’s good for me.

 

T – Rest takes TIME. I think this is possibly the hardest one for me. It takes time to rest and I’m always concerned I’m missing something or wasting time!

 

Restful activities? Are there such things? What defines rest for you? How do you incorporate it into your life?

The Rise and Fall of Baking

If my last post was the rise, then this one is the fall of gluten-free baking.

I always get disappointed when recipes don’t work out and I get cross at myself for wasting  ingredients. I was really excited to try and make bagels. I’d recently purchased some shop bought gluten-free ones and was reminded of their deliciousness. “I can do those” I thought… hmmm, I’m not sure they’re as easy as I thought after today’s attempts.

I generally want to hide things that don’t turn out well, but I decided that it’s important to share the things that don’t go well alongside those that do.  I”m sure we can all learn something. So here is today’s offering in pictures- flat bagels.

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Batter was too stiff so I added extra water. Could this be my first error?

 

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IMG_0913 A top piping tip… seal off one end with a clip and use a glass to hold piping bag steady whilst putting in the mixture.

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Didn’t really rise at all!

 

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Just kind of spread out!

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After re-piping them, I decided I’d just see what happened when I baked them. I tried boiling a couple as the recipe dictated but that wasn’t a success, so I just stuck them in the oven!

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The result. Hardly bagel like in any way, shape or form. But they are just about edible in a strange kind of way!

Onwards to the next bagel recipe to try then!

Now the granola I made afterwards, far more successful. That’s for the next post maybe!

Gluten Free Artisan Boule

I’m into baking bread at the moment. I’ve become fed up with the standard gluten free bread machine loaf that I’ve been making for years and wanted to break out from the loaf tin and find something a bit more interesting.
I turned to Pintrest (as you do) and stumbled upon the very lovely people at  artisan bread in five minutes. They have a wealth of experience in bread making and when I saw they have gluten free loaves as well – heaven!

The recipe and method I’ve used is all theirs, so I’ve included the video which I used to create my first batch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxw1iqgJkQE

I now make it by the bucket load and bake a loaf there and then, have dough in the fridge for when I gobble up the first one because it’s so delicious, and then the rest of the dough goes in the freezer.

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Using Sorghum flour was a first for me, but it seems to work really well. I used this one from Bob’s mill. A bit pricey and harder to get hold of, but my local health food store, Manuka Wholefoods, stocks it. Expect to pay about £3.50 a bag.

The result…

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Yes, it takes longer than the bread machine, but the loaf is so much more like ‘proper’ bread. Delightful.

Walking Simply

1083301.largeI’ve been thinking about writing a blog for some time. With the summer holidays in full swing, now seems like the time when I have the space to put that plan into action.

This is primarily a space for me to explore ideas and share things that I  magpie from others and stumble upon whilst trawling the internet, talking to people, reading or scouring recipe books. Perhaps there will be others who find the content to come of interest or useful. Be there many readers, or be there none, this is my space to explore, welcome.

Looking at my Pintrest boards gave me more of an idea of the kinds of things that I’m likely to post about. So stay tuned if you’re into any of the following. These seem to be the things that occupy my mind most frequently.

Food – specifically eating within dietry restrictions for whatever reason. Be that gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, paleo or things that are simply nutritious and yummy. I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about, reading about and preparing food!!

Craft, reashioning clothing, upcycling. I hate throwing things out.

Sustainable living – oh, that’s a whole host of things! Pursuing ethical shopping choies, building sustainable, environmentally ‘good’, quirky (and beautiful) property and many more things that come under this umbrella.

Finally, and probably importantly, learning to write more eloquently!