How many of you have decided that enough is enough and will now cut down on sweet things post-Christmas? Just before the festivities I thought about sending a memo to my body:
Dear Body of Mine,
The Christmas holidays are almost upon us.
So, I have decided to give you an early present.
You can have now until the New Year off fat production.
Yes, no more tedious grabbing hold of sugar and fats as they
Course through you; no manufacturing new fat cells.
Have a rest and enjoy yourself – I intend to!
Who was I trying to kid? I wish!
When I was younger I gained a few pounds over the festive season. I was, however, able to shed them reasonably quickly. All I had to do was cut back on the amount I ate and do a bit more exercise.
Those days are over. As I get older I find it more and more difficult to shift that festive tummy. It’s not just for want of cutting back on the amount or “healthiness” of what I eat. Like many of you, post-60 my metabolism has slowed right down and due to various muscle and joint problems I cannot exercise much at all – and not for want of trying!
And of course, there are the dreaded medications we are given that either increase your appetite or encourage weight gain. Until very recently my biggest bugbear was steroids.
During the winter festivities, we seem to be bombarded with loads of wonderful tempting foods. They are all laden with sugars and fats. And of course, let’s not forget about alcohol and fizzy drinks.
Intellectually and technologically human beings have made great strides (even on the moon.) Sadly however, our bodies are still stuck in the cave so to speak. Early man and woman ate a very much simpler diet than us.
It seems that we developed the liking for sweet things as a protection against poisoning. The majority of sweet berries are edible but the most bitter are not. Back in those times food was not put on a plate -literally. People didn’t get as much food and they used up an enormous number of calories hunting and foraging.
When sugar was first refined very few people could have it. In medieval England, the average person had one teaspoonful of sugar a year! And in the fifteenth and sixteenth century the rich upper classes had rotten teeth because of the sugar they ate.
Some middle classes blacked their teeth so they would look like they could afford it. The poor overall had very healthy teeth! Apart from those they broke on the stones in the roughly ground flour. My goodness, how times have changed!
Dentists are extracting teeth from more and more children, even as young as four and five year olds. Diabetes is on the increase worldwide and children as young as twelve are being diagnosed with type two, also known as late onset diabetes. This is something unheard of a decade or two ago.
Sugar is the bane of our modern lives. It is so freely available and many of us have such a very sweet tooth! Everywhere we go we see yummy cakes, biscuits and sweets. That is the sugar we are aware of. However, if you stop to read the ingredients on food packaging, you see that sugar is included in many foods, even the savoury ones.
On my website, you will find some really tasty recipes for cakes and desserts using the minimum of sugar and little fat. These include fat free, low sugar chocolate sponge, pineapple cake, zucchini chocolate brownies and more.
In them I substitute figs and/or dates for sugar. As you know these dried fruits are very sweet, but they are taken into the blood stream far more slowly than refined sugar. In fact, sugar is empty calories. It contains no nutrients. Dates and figs on the other hand, have roughage, vitamins and minerals that are helpful to the body.
Below is a recipe for a treat I call Cacao and Coconut Booster Balls. They are only around 60 calories each and ideal for a mid-morning or afternoon boost.
A variation is to use the grated rind of an orange instead of coconut and roll the balls in cocoa powder. Once you have got the hang of how they are made it is easy to make up your recipes to suit your own tastes.
Ingredients (makes 20)
200g ground almonds
400g Medjool dates
4 tbs raw cacao powder
2 tbs almond butter
2 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs desiccated coconut (plus a little to roll the balls in)
2 tbs water
Pit the dates and chop roughly.
Put the dates in a food processor with all the other ingredients and blend them all together until they look like sticky breadcrumbs. They will stick together between your fingers.
Roll the mix into approximately 20 balls.
Roll them in cacao powder.
Put them on a baking tray and freeze for an hour to set.
Then place in an airtight container in the fridge.
Do you have any favourite healthy treats that you love to make? What about easy no-bake treats? Please add your recipes in the comments.