This text came together in an email to someone who wanted to know more about a sugar free diet and raw chocolate. Considering the wealth of information that I packed into it, I thought I might as well also share it here with you. It’s my acquired knowledge to date in a nutshell 🙂
When I realised that I don’t agree very well with sugar, milk and yeast, after an initial panic, I began experimenting with things I did agree with. These might be different to your own, so please don’t take my experiments as the one and all cure for a better diet!
So if you are diabetic or have any other condition affecting your health, then please check with a registered professional before making any major changes to your diet. I’m not diabetic, though I have some of the symptoms and borderline on insulin resistance.
Medical terms aside, for me, having a naturally sweet tooth, i.e. being sugar sensitive (some people are, some people are not), dried dates were a perfect solution to help my craving for sweet things.
However, dried dates still have a very high GI (Glycaemic Index, rating the speed at which food is transformed into glucose) and might not suit everyone. I know of people who even stopped eating fresh fruit because of the sugar response… It’s more about learning to listen to your body and understand the signals it gives you to determine what is right for you. A diet focusing on low GI foods can help stabilise blood sugar levels.
In my eyes, dried dates still have more “body” to them with fibres and vitamins whereas a teaspoon of cane sugar consists of pure carbohydrates only. As natural sugar replacement I use mostly agave nectar and xylitol. The best options from all the different product distributors are those that have undergone least processing, or are termed “raw”. Raw is considered anything that has been heated below 46C, at which level most essential properties like minerals and vitamins are still present.
Throwing in some links for you:
Agave Nectar knowledge
Agave Nectar product
Now to raw chocolate. I have found pure chocolate solids very helpful in stabilising my blood sugar levels and help me get over my initial craving phase. It is essential quite pricey, like most good things, but ever so worth it any penny, because essentially you will eat less of it because you won’t get that craving like from “common sugar chocolate”.
I have put together a little visual aid to show where chocolate comes from (click image to enlarge). These cacao solids I use in my attached recipes.
Below some recommended “life saving” reading (It saved my life after all) 😉
For really easy sugar free snack recipes: Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles
How food can heal: Secrets of natural healing with food by Nancy Appleton
Best raw dessert recipes EVER!: Sweet Gratitude by Mathew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra
Essential read to understand the impact on cane sugar on our health: Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin
Guidance to understanding and healing sugar sensitivity: Potatoes not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons
The GI diet by Rick Gallop
These books are a selection of my collection that has greatly contributed to my understanding and awareness of the impact that food has on us. Please be considerate and see how your own condition might be affected by any of the suggestions.
It is a very big topic and I have written a lot about it on the Sugar Hangover Diaries here, so do have a look for more information on sugar related stuff in earlier posts.
Below I have listed some of my experimental creations. Any ingredients can essentially be exchanged or left out, additional ingredients added and the sweetness adjusted to your own liking. Be experimental!
I sometimes lead small introductory workshops where individuals can experiment themselves. Get in touch if you are interested!
Happy to help if any queries!
RAW CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
250g ground almonds, 50g ground brazil nuts (or other), 40g raw cacao powder, 100g roughly chopped hazelnuts, 200g chopped dates, 50g agave nectar, 40g raw almond butter, 2 TBSP melted coconut oil (optional), 1 TBSP cinnamon, 1 TSP vanilla extract, pinch of salt.
Mix dry parts together first and then mix in the rest and form doughy lumps. Line a medium size baking tray with baking paper and press dough thoroughly into it. Leave to set in the freezer for a few hours. Cut into pieces and enjoy!
RAW CHOCOLATE (about 500ml chocolate)
300ml melted cacao paste (or 280g cacao powder and 300ml melted cacao butter) , 150ml agave nectar, 150ml melted coconut oil, 2 TBSPS cinnamon, 1tbsp vanilla extract.
Melt cacao paste (or cacao butter) in a hot water bath below 46 Celsius. The hottest water your tap provides should be okay. If the water in the pot feels too hot to touch it is too hot and will burn away all the goodness! Use a thermometer if you have one.
Add all the ingredients to the melted cacao paste (or cacao butter) and stir until everything is smooth and without lumps. Sweeten to taste, adding a bit more of any of the added ingredients if it is still a little too bitter. Feel free to add flavours e.g. mint or orange or add nuts or dried fruit to the chocolate mix for more variety. Pour into forms or cover nuts, fruit ANYTHING with it and place it in the fridge/freezer to settle.
RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
200g ground almonds, 30g raw cacao powder, 100g chopped dates, 25g agave nectar, 2 tbsp soft coconut oil, pinch of salt, coconut flakes.
Mix everything together apart from the coconut flakes, form small balls and roll them in coconut flakes until all sides are covered. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.
RAW COCONUT BALLS
100g coconut flakes, 50g agave nectar, 3 tbsp soft coconut oil, dash of vanilla extract, pinch of salt.
Mix everything together and shape into small balls. Leave to set in the fridge and then cover with raw chocolate.