I am often asked how do you get away from the sweet craving that often hits either mid morning or worse mid afternoon by which point, tiredness kicks in and you go for the easiest most convenient thing you can get your hands on, crisps, fizzy drink, chocolate bar, sweets etc The result? A sugar spike – you feel the first flush of craving squashed and then brief alertness that refined sugar brings and then crash bang wallop, you are worse off than when you were craving just sugar. Now you have become tireder, slightly grumpier and still needing that sugar fix! Life is so unfair! So what gives… These treats, are convenient and cheap for a reason, the refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract sugar and typically found as sucrose, and for the scientist amongst us, this is a combination of fructose and glucose and can be found in all types of foods and beverages from crackers, flavoured yoghurts and low fat foods being the worst offenders, so don’t be fooled!
Simple refined sugars go through your body with the speed of a forest fire, and produce no nutritional benefit except increase calorie intake. It also causes your insulin and blood sugar to spike and you most likely will still feel hungry. So what is the alternative I hear you ask? Abstinence? No! i firmly believe everything in moderation and life would be pretty dull if you didn't allow yourself to enjoy sweetness, however the trick is to replace the bad with the good and instead of refined sugar, you remove this for natural sugars, which are more complex, they take longer to digest and make you feel fuller for longer. These come in the guise of fruit, as fructose, and dairy products such as milk, cheese as lactose. These are the real treats and provide essential nutrients to the body which the body utilizes to help perform at its best. The only down side is that psychologically there is always a part of us that wants to have something that visually looks and feels bad for us, instead of sitting on our lilly pad munching on an apple, we want to bite down on chocolate sweet goodness. So to help with these rebellious moments, I have a few simple recipes that are suitable for everyone, from the worker bee with no time to the can't cooks. They take less than 15 mins to get a sugar hit that not only fills you up, but gives you the nutrients your body needs to thrive.
We have seen them everywhere, on the shelves, in every health food shop, priced quite highly and yet with a little know how and a blender you can make a batch for yourself for the price of 1 bought off the shelf. A great go to snack that keeps the hunger pangs at bay till dinner and keeps you feeling full for longer. Here are 3 versions for you try your hand at:
Coconut and Lemon Balls
2 ¼ cup dessicated coconut, zest of 1 medium/large lemon, half lemon juice, 2 tbspn coconut cream, chilled, 2 tbspn coconut water and 3 tbspn honey. Put some parchment on a tray and set aside. Add all the ingredients in a blend and blip so it’s all combined and starts to come together. Once done, take a spoonful and round them in your hands and add to the parchment, and repeat until it’s all been used – should make about 10-12 balls, pop in the fridge and they will last at least a week if you don’t devour them all in one sitting!
Coconut Fruit Balls
¼ cup dates, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ goji berries, ½ cup of walnuts, ½ cup almonds, ½ cup pumpkin seeds, ½ cup cinnamon and ½ desiccated coconut, added with splash of almond milk. Add all ingredients to blender apart from coconut and blitze until it comes together. Form into balls and then coat in the desiccated coconut and pop in fridge!
Chocolate and Hazelnut Balls
½ cup dates, ¼ cup of toasted hazlenuts, ¼ cup of raw cacao (some left over), 1 tbspn agave syrup, ¼ cup of cashews. Blend it all up and add a little water to make it easier to bind. Once you have made into balls, drop them in the remaining raw cacao and make a mini truffle and if you want to add a little more, roll them in chopped hazelnut. Pop in the fridge and enjoy!
Yes you heard correctly, I've gone old school and for those not familiar with marathons, I mean Snickers, however these a very back to basic version of said snickers, filled with refined sugar free goodness and protein to keep you going.
10 medjool dates, 2-3 tbspn peanut butter, ¼ cup peanuts, ½ cup dairy free dark chocolate. Cut the dates open and remove the pit. Lengthwise is best! Then fill them with peanut butter and add 2 or 3 peanut halves and put them back together. Next melt the chocolate and dip the dates in the chocolate. Allow to harden and you have yourself a healthy snickers version is less than 15 mins and with only 4 ingredients!
There are so many ways to do this, the basic ones are to chop the fruit you have up and add some toasted nuts and voila, a tasty bowl of fruity nutty goodness. Another love of mine is to slice a fresh apple and add a tsp of peanut butter on it and devour, sugar, protein and good carbs and super tasty! Another idea is to slice up pineapple onto a plate like carpaccio, squeeze over lime juice and the zest of a lime, and then scatter slithers of red chilli for a lovely refreshing kick. A great zingy treat!
Gone are the days, where you just add milk to a powder… these days the world is quite literally your oyster and the variety is outstanding to choose from if not a little daunting, so here are my 3 favourites:
100 ml of almond milk, 50g apple puree, 50g cashew nuts, 2 tsp cinnamon, dash of vanilla essence, handful of toasted pecans and 100ml of apple juice and blend together for a tasty satisfying apple pie smoothie
250ml oat milk, 2 tbspn of raw cacao powder, a squeeze of agave syrup, handful of cashew nuts, cacao nibs and blend till smooth and enjoy – add ice for a colder treat.
¼ chopped pineapple, ¼ mango, ¼ melon, 150ml almond milk, 100ml coconut milk, handful of cashew and 1 date, blend and enjoy pour over ice and for the dramatics in us, a mini umbrella!
Simple and something very satisfying hearing the pop pop of each kernel. This can be done either with a machine If you have one, or in a pan/microwave and adding a little oil and 30g of popping kernels to the bowls, on full heat and wait till the popping starts before you pull them out: Now toppings!
Chocolate and Cinnamon
One of my favourites is to put the popcorn in a bowl and add a spoonful of coconut oil, raw cacao powder and cinnamon and a dash of coconut palm sugar and shake!
Sounds odd but this is using coconut oil to coat the popcorn and coconut sugar to give you the sweet taste. See what you have in your cupboards and try sprinkle in some blueberry powder or maca powder for sweetness and nuts for added crunch, the variety on these gluten free nuggets of joy is endless so practice and see what you prefer!
The only thing you have to remember is this, it takes seconds to make and tastes so much better than the shop bought stuff, you don’t need to be a pro cook or indeed good at cooking to make these, as these are assembly only and for that reason, simple quick and perfect for the healthy nutritious pick me up your body will thank you for rather than the processed refined packages bought. So if you do anything, try making a batch on a Sunday and see for yourself the difference for a week and report back with your feedback, would love to hear from you!