When I started eating this way and gave up refined sugar I really missed my desserts and chocolates. I started experimenting with unprocessed, natural ingredients and found that I could create sweet treats and delicious puddings that were actually good for my body. I knew this because instead of feeling bloated and tired, I felt clean and energetic after eating them!
To my taste, they were actually yummier than their unhealthy counterparts. I would far rather dig into a piece of gluten and sugar-free apple crumble than have to deal with the mountains of refined sugar and bad fats in the usual suspect.
Let’s take a brief look at why refined, processed sugar is not something we should be putting in our bodies.
WHY SUGAR IS SO BAD
We now know that not all sugars are created equal. Some are fine to eat and others wreak havoc on our health. This is why it can be very confusing to be given an instruction to ‘avoid all sugar’.
Most sugars are simple carbohydrates, which means that they’re made up of one or two sugar molecules stuck together, making them easy to pull apart and digest. Complex carbohydrates, like those found in whole grains, legumes and many vegetables, are long chains of sugar molecules that must be broken apart during digestion. They offer a longer-lasting, more stable supple of energy. Naturally occurring fiber, protein and fat in many whole foods further slows the sugar-release process.
A rule of thumb is that the more processed and refined the carbohydrate, the faster it breaks down in the digestive system, and the bigger the sugar rush it delivers. That’s why refined flours, sugars and sugar syrups are such a hazard for our health. The body is capable of handling small amounts of sugar. However, refined sugars deliver a larger rush than our bodies were designed to handle.
SUGAR & NUTRITION
Sugar in itself is not a food group. Though sugar, in some form, is naturally present in many nutritious foods, by itself it contains zero:
- nutritional value
- healthy fats
Sugar is just empty and quickly digested calories that actually pull minerals from the body during digestion. I feel terrible after having eaten sugar. I’m tired, lethargic, spaced out and oh so irritable! I almost feel like it is leaching the life from my body.
Dr. David Reuben, author of ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition’ says,
“White refined sugar is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12H22O11. It has 12 carbon atoms, 22 hydrogen atoms, 11 oxygen atoms, and absolutely nothing else to offer.” …The chemical formula for cocaine is C17H21NO4. For all practical purposes, the difference is that sugar is missing the “N”, or nitrogen atom.”
Yes, refined sugar is addictive. Many of you will have experienced this. You start off eating a few pieces of chocolate and before you know it you have eaten the whole slab! Something compels you to keep eating long after your tummy has tried to tell you it has had enough. It causes a release of dopamine in the reward centre of the brain. The more you eat it, the more rewarded your brain gets which prompts you to eat more.
SUGARY FOODS TO AVOID
Anything refined and unnatural should be avoided. These foods are not only laden with unhealthy sugars but most of them contain bad fats too. Here is a list of some examples:
- table sugar
- castor sugar
- icing sugar
- chocolate (try dark chocolate sweetened with xylitol)
- breakfast cereals (try gluten free porridge)
- syrup (except maple syrup)
- agave nectar (promoted as a healthy sugar alternative but is mostly made of the bad kind of fructose)
- high fructose corn syrup
- Artificial Sweeteners: Sucralose (Splenda), aspartame and saccharin. These chlorinated artificial sweeteners are not sugars, they are man-made chemicals. Avoid them, like the plague, as they can cause far more severe effects than sugar.
SUGARS TO EMBRACE
Finally, some good news! These sugars are safe to consume in reasonable quantities but don’t overdo it and make sure you combine them with some good quality protein or complex carbs.
- Raw Honey
- Pure, raw maple Syrup
- Palm Sugar
- Date Sugar
RAW BERRY & APPLE CRUMBLE
Onto the recipe. This really is my go to dessert and the people I serve it to just can’t believe that it is gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, let alone raw! I hope you enjoy it has much as my family and I have.
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
- 1 cup of almonds
- 1/3 of a cup of pure maple syrup
- 3 heaped tablespoons of coconut oil
- 2 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp milled flaxseeds
- 2 apples
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 1 cup blackberries
1. To make the crumble, place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined but not too finely chopped up. Some texture is really nice!
2. Peel the apples chop into small squares and place them in your crumble dish. Add the berries.
3. Sprinkle the crumble all over the fruit until it is completely covered.
4. Put the crumble into an oven heated to 80 degrees Celsius and then turn it down to 50 degrees. This low temperature will ensure that the crumble is still technically raw when it comes out. Bake/dehydrate for around 2 hours (depending on your oven it may be longer than this).
5. The crumble should be slightly crispy and the fruit should be soft but not too mushy.
Serve by itself or with frozen banana ice-cream. This is super easy to make. Simply whizz up a few frozen bananas in your food processor and hey presto you have the most delicious and healthy ice-cream!
If you want to learn more about the dangers of refined sugar and how to enjoy healthy sweet treats, I’ll be speaking on this topic and doing a Raw Sweet Treat Demo at Planet Organic Wandsworth on the 15th October.
In the meantime, you can check out my brand new blog Kim’s Living Kitchen.