Saturday, 31 May 2014

I Quit Sugar Once

Food Fads – I’ve Tried A few 

From my early teens I dabbled in many. A regimented life at a single sex boarding school soon made me realize what I put in my gob was the only real control I had. I have painfully boring diaries recording every morsel I consumed. I sampled every commercial kitchen delight and the contents of my tuck-box in the 3rd form, politely starved myself to 7 and a half stone in the 4th form, then let rip in the 5th  and 6th. 

If my girlfriends and I weren’t nipping out to the bike sheds for a post meal ciggy, with Anais Anais and tubes of Colgate wedged under the brown folds of our witches britches, we were making fudge on upturned irons and copious rounds of toast. We nicked bananas and dried the leaves amongst our shifts in the drying room, hoping to get a buzz when we scraped them and rolled them into banana-spliffs later on. I learnt a lot of things at boarding school and how to binge eat was one of them.

Lucky for me, I liked food too much to become one of the girls who continued to starve themselves well after their post 40 Hour Famine highs. The girls who’d turn up to the sanitorium for weighing, with rocks in their pockets and envelopes of hair.

Suffice to say, from 13 to 27 my body was a yoyo of the stretch mark inducing kind. 

During the school holidays my sister and I would tackle the diet-du-jour from the glossy pages of, bibles-of-promise Cosmopolitan and Cleo. We tried the Israeli Army Diet – two days of cheddar cheese, two days of apples and two days of grilled chicken.  I secretly supplemented my niggling hunger with chunks of fudge. The Grapefruit Diet was less regimented; you just had to eat one tooth enamel corroding orb of citrus before each meal. 

While we were losing a couple of pounds apiece and slowing our metabolisms down to that of a sluggish snail, we anointed ourselves in a Cosmo concoction of – cooking oil, malt vinegar and lemon juice, donned our homemade string bikinis and baked our better bodies brown. 

It didn’t stop there, I gave up bacon, even potatoes – they were starch and made you fat. A third of my dinner plate remained empty, as I tucked into mutton chops thick with crunchy yellow fat and boiled silverbeet, all washed with a glass and a half of full cream milk.

Post school, weekends of late night swooning at Graham Brazier and his leather clad pelvis at the Gluepot, was followed by group munchies. We stuffed ourselves to overflowing with packets of Cheezels, toffee pops and milky bar washed down with lime thick shakes. To make amends, I’d spend the next five days eating All Bran, Slimmers Yoghurt and the first ever trim milk.

Food is your friend I always tell my teenage daughters. But it wasn’t mine until I got to about 27 and stopped dieting for good. 

Nowadays quitting sugar is de rigueur. “I Quit sugar for Life: 148 Recipes & Meal Plans for Families and Solos”, by Sarah Wilson, is number 2 on the SST top ten food and drink books. Wilson has a point, white sugar is 50: glucose, and 50: fructose the purported health threatening baddy. 

I have a VERY sweet tooth so I haven’t been convinced that anything without good old refined white would taste of anything. Thanks to a little education over a steaming bowl of porridge made with oats, raisins a hint of cinnamon and almond milk, with my artist friend Marika I stand corrected.
Tasty Tuesdays on
If I can have my chocolate and eat it too I’m willing to try.  ****

Off home I trotted with Dr Libby’s Raw Chocolate Crackle recipe

Two days later I found cacao powder and cacao nibs staring at me like eager puppies as I perused the supermarket aisles. Ceres Organic - $13 a pop. 

The crunch in Raw Chocolate Crackle comes from dehydrated bulghur wheat groats (just spread out on a tray, bake on low for 75 mins and they'll be dry and crispy). For sweetness some nutritionists claim maple syrup is the best sugar substitute. I had none on hand so I used honey. To make RCC you'll need:

1 cup dehydrated bulghur wheat 
3/4 cup cacao powder
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/2 cup currants
3/4 cup coconut oil
3 Tsp Manuka honey (any honey will do)

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Gently melt coconut oil and honey over low heat, pour over buckwheat etc and mix in. Press into a 31cm/12inch lined baking tin and freeze to set.

Try not to pick - but you will, just like its rice bubble, cremelta and cocoa forebear the healthy crackle was sweet and chocolatety and gone in 24 hours, even without the fudge topping!

To make the topping you'll need:

8 Fresh Medjool dates
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut oil
6 tablespoons cacao powder

Chop dates and almond meal in a food processor, move to bowl. Melt coconut oil, then cool. Add cacao powder to date mixture, then coconut oil. Roll up your sleeves and wash your hands then combine with your fingers. Finally, press evenly over crackle return to freezer. Chop into tasty morsels when set. Eat a little at a time if you can. It's better for you. (Dr Libby says, 'Buckwheat consumption has been linked to lowered levels of rich in magnesium and antioxidants').

Next we made, Better For you Afghans (Afghans are a chocolate biscuit in NZ, not very pc I know but we still bake em). This recipe used - raw sugar, brown rice flour and cacao nibs (warning do not eat nibs alone in a sneaky handful they taste like freeze dried dirt), as well as the customary cornflakes. The icing/frosting was made with 62% dark choc and coconut oil. The results – very moreish, the more icing the better.

With all the CACAO baking happily consumed in the name of research my sweet tooth tingled. What’s a girl to do but add her own recipe to the mix. 

Sunday Night Pud, SNP – one bowl of vanilla ice cream, drizzle over equal parts cacao nibs and cacao powder. Par excellence. For two nights in a row.

Suffice to say I’m BAD. I’m applaud those who really can give away white sugar and feel better for it. Moreover, I have been transformed and now that my scullery runneth over with expensive raw chocolate ingredients - I will bake better. 

I WILL eat less sugar and use coconut oil instead of butter. And like Goldilocks I will eat porridge every morning for breakfast and I don’t need to explain why that’s good for me. 

**** If you can't think what to bake next, hop on over to #tastytuesdays and try this  Greek Almond Cake In Spiced Syrup  @
Warning: it contains sugar!


  1. I LOVE the randomness that Mumsnet Linkys unearths! Loved this post! I've tried all the cerrrrrrrrazy diets too! Not just because i was in an all girls school when it was the days of 3rd/4th/5th years etc too! ;) That cake looks amazing! But alas, i can only dream. :)

    1. Thanks Jess! Looking back, I'm surprised our mum let us embark on those, as you say CRAZY starvation diets, maybe she knew we wouldn't see them through. I'll be taking a look at your blog toute de suite.

  2. A post I can relate to-I went to an all girl's school and the constant diets were all part of the awful years I spent there. I've read the I Quit Sugar book too and sugar is awful as are white carbs-empty ingredients without value, I eat well most of the time but don't deny myself treats every so often. Your recipe sounds amazing. Please do add my badge or link back to #tastytuesdays at the bottom of your post if possible. Thanks

    1. Hi Vicky, I didn't stop dieting until I got to 27! I put your badge in the middle of my post, but will add #tastytuesdays link at the bottom also. I made your Dad's tasty orange cake over the weekend - now that packs a bit of sugar!!


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