Tag Archives: cinnamon

How easy is it to give up sugar?

sugarI’m not going to tell a lie, it’s difficult.

After all, if you start looking at the labels on stuff there’s pretty much added sugar in everything from bread to the really naughty food stuffs.

And then there’s all the naturally occurring sugars in fruit, which gets increased when you smoothie them down – glad I sold my juice extractor!

Sugar, although it doesn’t have any real nutritional value is still part of the carbohydrate food group, which give us energy.

And we all know that anything sweet, sticky and generally looks sugar laden might be bad for us, but boy does it give us a quick, almost instantaneous sugar rush.  (You only need to watch a group of children at a party once the ice cream and cakes have gone).

The addictive nature of sugar is what makes it so tempting and easy to reach for a chocolate bar or a slice of cake (or even the entire cake) when we’re feeling down, tired, emotional, etc.

But sugar is now the bad boy of the food world.

We consume too much refined sugar which in turn, can increase our chances of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease to name but a few. And with a health service that’s already stretched shouldn’t we do something that may ease the burden?  Even if it means missing out on a slice of cake?

Now, I don’t eat chocolate. I know, I’m a girl so I must have chocolate cravings, right? Um, no. Actually, I can’t eat it. I’m one of the rare few for whom chocolate actually does not give a euphoric contentment. It does the complete opposite, I get a real, real, bad low.

And, as you all know I’m a recovering “Biscuitholic” – it’s now been 4½ years since my last biscuit!

But, I do have to confess to liking cake. The creamier the better. Carrot cake (slightly healthier option), coffee cake, vanilla, you name it, if it has got frosting, yes please.

Well, back to the point, last year I kind of got to the stage where I thought I needed to lose a few pounds – the jeans were feeling a tad on the tight side – and I had a bit of a flabby tum from not having done too much ab work following my op.

When lo, what should behold me at the local newsagent but a magazine about how to get rid of your “sugar belly”. And so, of course I bought it.

It was very enlightening, I can tell you.

For instance, I now know that the little aches and pains I notice in my joints after I’ve had something sweet are actually called “sugar aches” – who knew?  That certainly explains a lot.

So after reading the magazine thoroughly, several times, I decided that I should try this crazy idea. (At this point I had weighed myself – big mistake, huge!)

The basic idea is that you go pretty much cold turkey for 2 weeks and then gradually reintroduce sugar, see what reaction your body has and then just reduce the amount you eat.

After all, going back to the fact that it is a carbohydrate, it’s not all bad.  Just like anything it’s better in moderation.

Out went the sugar-laden breakfast cereal (I hasten to add it was only Shreddies) and in came porridge. I have to confess I couldn’t give up milk (which yes has sugar in it – obviously a naturally occurring one, but still pretty much ½teaspoon every 100ml), so I didn’t go completely cold turkey.

And to the porridge I added cinnamon. This gives it the sweet(ish) taste that your body may crave, but is actually (and I didn’t know this) a “fat-busting” herb! (Bring it on!)

I’ve got so accustomed to this now, that I simply couldn’t go back to any other cereal – it would be too sweet.

So, what else did I cut out?  Fruit, smoothies, cake, bread, etc., and I avidly began reading labels off everything.

The first day was breeze, by the second day I did start to feel a bit shaky and headachy, the third day I was pleased I didn’t actually have to work but by the fourth day I felt much brighter.

So, for the first few days you do have to think of the long-term aim and not give up.  It is hard, but you have to use that old willpower.

Over the next 2 months, I was amazed at how easy it became not to reach for the sugary stuff. And yes, I did substitute, like all the celebrity magazines. I’ve used brown sugar for years instead of white, but I also now use agave nectar, which is low GI and has a lower sugar content than honey.

And like when I gave up biscuits, my taste buds changed. I no longer craved sugar, and when I smelt something sweet all I could smell was the manufactured, processed yuckiness!

And did I mention the weight? Well, it literally fell off. (As that weight control freak, I wanted to lose a good 10-12Kgs. Not that I needed to, but that would then get me down to a weight I felt comfortable with and pretty much back to pre-baby weight).

After 2 months I had lost 5Kgs and felt great. I actually had more energy than when I had been eating sugar.

So, then I started gradually introducing a “sin” – not every day, but once a week. What I did notice, was that after eating it I got sugar-aches. The weight stabilised, but then as we drew near to Christmas…let’s just say “Oops!” maybe a few pounds crept back on – what can I say, I’m a sucker for Stollen!

But, here we are 4 months into the year and I am almost, so very nearly there. I have maybe 2-3Kg to go.

I’m still on the porridge with cinnamon and I try to avoid foodstuff with sugar in, but if it does I actually (how sad is this?) calculate how many teaspoons it is.  I generally manage to stick within 1tsp a day – it’s tough, but you can do it.

I now find I have more energy not eating sugar than I did when I did.

 

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Recipe – Cinnamon and Carrot Cake

I got this lovely recipe out of “Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen”, a book I bought seriously years ago. It has been languishing in the drawer in the kitchen for a while (most of my recipe books, are actually taking up a cupboard’s floor space (and some) in my bedroom…) and I decided last week to try something a little bit different instead of coffee & walnut cake, and this was one of them.

Ingredients

  • ½lb (225g) Plain Flour (this can be normal, wheatmeal or wholemeal)
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ½ tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 4oz (110g) Butter (or Margarine)
  • 4oz (110g) Honey
  • 4oz (110g) Sugar
  • ½lb (225g) Carrots, peeled and finely grated

Method

  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3 (325°F, 170°C, 150° (Fan));
  • Grease a 1lb (450g) Loaf Tin;
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder);
  • Put the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan and melt over a low heat;
  • Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is combined;
  • Stir in the finely grated carrots;
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and pop in the oven;
  • Cook for 60-80 minutes until the mixture feels firm to the touch and a skewer, when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean;
  • Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, the turn out onto a cooling rack;
  • Enjoy!

What happened when I did it!

  • Well, the first thing, is I clearly didn’t read the recipe clearly enough (must use my glasses more often) as I only added ½ teaspoon of baking powder, not ½ tablespoon – that could be the reason it felt very ‘heavy’!
  • I also always use light brown sugar instead of caster sugar. I also think that if you want to use fruit sugar, it would work just as well just remember to only use 2/3 of the amount).
  • I didn’t have any nutmeg in the cupboard – or rather I did but it was seriously out-of-date, so it got binned – so I replaced this with 1 teaspoon of ginger.
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon does make for a very heavily spiced cake – so if cinnamon is not a particular favourite, you could always use half the cinnamon and replace the remainder with mixed spice, or ginger! Cinnamon does have an enormous range of health benefits, so this could be said to be a ‘healthy cake’ – would one of those really exist?
  • An alternative – which is the route I took – was to top the cake with an orange buttercream frosting (recipe below). This actually helped to cool down the spiciness of the cinnamon, and it tasted great 😉

Orange Buttercream Frosting

  • 35g Butter (or margarine)
  • 20ml Milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract (or orange juice)
  • 166g Icing Sugar

These are approximate guidelines, as I reduced a recipe by a third!

Chuck everything into a bowl and mix with an electric beater – or a spoon, until smooth and creamy 😉

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