(Refined) Sugar Free, Gluten Free Banana Bread

For some reason I have become slightly obsessed with finding a (refined) sugar free, gluten free banana bread. My kids love banana bread and, compared to some of their other choices, it’s a great healthier option for a quick breakfast, dessert, snack or supper. Encouraging my children to make healthier food choices is often a losing battle, but it is not a battle I am willing to give up, on so I am always on the look out for quick wins and compromises. Plus, I always seem to have a number of black bananas in the fruit bowl looking for a final resting place!


I have tried lots of different recipes recently but without much success. Some are so complicated compared to the old ‘one bowl’ recipe I did use (containing flour and sugar) and some just didn’t turn out right. My son will try most sweet food but my daughter if very fussy about texture (as well as taste, smell, colour). If she likes something, then it’s a safe bet most people will.

So yesterday, with eight bananas turning rapidly black in the fruit bowl I spent an hour looking for a sugar free, gluten free banana bread recipe to try. Eventually I came across one on ‘Our Paleo Life’ that looked promising. I had all the ingredients (or so I thought) and it included a decent amount of bananas.


When I actually came to making the recipe, I realised I didn’t have any coconut butter. After a quick look online for coconut butter alternatives, I decided to try almond butter instead. I had no idea how the banana bread would turn out but I popped it in the oven and left my husband with instructions to take it out when the timer went off. In the meantime I took the dog for a walk.

An hour later I returned to find only half a loaf of banana bread on the kitchen side! It was an absolute hit with both my husband and kids (fussy daughter included) and I was lucky to get my hands it before they devoured the whole loaf. It was delicious and the texture was perfect. I had been a bit nervous about using coconut flour, as many of my previous attempts to use coconut flour have been a disaster, but this didn’t have any of the dry crumbliness experienced before. All the sweetness came from the banana’s so it wasn’t too sweet for me but sweet enough for the kids. Definitely one to put in the recipe book!

Note: The recipe below has been adapted from ‘Our Paleo Life’ to use almond butter instead of coconut butter. I also increased the cooking time to 55 minutes from the original 35-40 mins.

Ingredients for Sugar Free, Gluten Free Banana Bread

4 ripe bananas (I use mine when they are practically black)
4 eggs
½ cup almond butter (about 115g)
4 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup coconut flour (about 115g)
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

Instructions for Sugar Free, Gluten Free Banana Bread

  • Preheat oven to 180 and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
  • Place all the ingredients in the Blendtec or another high-powered blender in the order listed.
  • On the Blendtec, run the “Batter” cycle. Otherwise, blend/mix until well combined.
  • Pour the batter (it will be thick) into your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven when a knife inserted in the bread comes out clean.
  • Cool on a cooling rack.

Read more at Our Paleo Life – Banana Bread

Holiday Food – Five Simple Steps to Make Holiday Eating Easier

Whenever I go on holiday I remember why I try to eat as clean as possible the rest of the time.

We have just had a lovely weekend away in Devon. In the surrounding area there are a number of pubs, restaurants and cafes which advertise their local and homemade delights to entice you in. Unfortunately the reality is that, despite being homemade and local, the dishes on offer fall far from the clean eating ethos. Fish and chips, pie and peas, lasagne and garlic bread are just a few of the choices repeated everywhere you go. Don’t get me wrong, I like to indulge in all of the above from time to time, but when you are used to eating a diet low in sugar, starchy carbohydrates and grains, you soon start to feel the negative impact of introducing these foods back into your diet.

My Favourite Holiday Food

The two holiday foods I always treat myself to are ice cream and Devon cream tea. Most dessert are too sweet for me now but I still enjoy both of these, probably because they are more creamy than sweet.

Holiday Food Scones_cream_jam

Devon cream tea is possibly my favourite holiday food. In the past, the scone only served as a base on which to pile as much jam and cream as possible. Now I have tweaked this a little bit. I still pile on as much cream as possible but with just a scraping of jam.

I can stomach each treat in isolation, but what I don’t take into account are the other small amounts of sugar, starch and grains that creep into my diet during the day. A handful of dates in the car because I have ran out of alternative snacks. Fish and chips because its the seaside. A jacket potato because its the healthiest option available. And of course dessert, just because it looks so pretty.

So not surprisingly by the third day of holiday food, I start to feel rubbish! Nothing specific, but a maybe a headache, tiredness, pains in my stomach or disturbed sleep. It’s only when all these symptoms return that I truly appreciate my change in eating habits.

The annoying thing is that I don’t actually want to revert back to my old diet when I am away. I don’t feel that I deny myself on a day to day basis and I’m certainly not desperate to binge on the food that I have cut out, I am quite happy with the way I eat now. I can truly say that I eat what I want, when I want. I want to eat foods that make me feel good, and I can eat as much of these foods as I like because they satisfy my hunger. But the truth is it is very difficult to eat out and avoid sugar and wheat without having the same dishes over and over again. I don’t want to be the awkward one and I don’t what people to believe that my diet choices cause me a problem – I want people to see that eating healthy whole foods does not have to be restrictive or difficult, so when I go out for a meal I try and balance between good choices and being realistic with what is available.

So you can imagine my delight when we found a lovely little café (Tessa’s Tea Shop) in a medieval village called Dunster that offered a gluten free menu including desserts (ok so maybe not sugar free, but they were homemade using the more natural sugars, so a better option than available in many places). I had a mushroom quiche (homemade gluten free pastry) which came with a salad, including apples soaked in lemons and grapes and a spiced blackberry dressing. It was delicious and I could enjoy it worrying about the effect it would have on me later. I just wish that there were more cafes offering healthier choices like this.

How can you make better holiday food choices?

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to make holiday eating healthier, most the them revolve around just a little planning ahead to make life easier.

  • Research the place you are visiting and try to identify good quality cafe’s and restaurants beforehand
  • Prepare plenty of snacks. I find nuts to be the best thing as just a small handful can satisfy my appetite until I can find somewhere decent to eat
  • Plan when you are going to eat. Don’t wait until you are starving to find somewhere, this will usually result in a mad dash to the nearest café.
  • Drink plenty of water. Make sure that the hunger you feel is not really dehydration
  • Don’t be afraid of asking for alternatives. Change the chips for salad, skip the bread and order extra vegetables.

But most of all enjoy the holiday and the food on offer. Go by the 80/20 rule. I eat very healthy food 80% of the time and even during the pther 20% of the time my choices aren’t that bad. Following the above tips means that I have my routing diet covered. When I can combine great food with healthy food I will choose that option every time, but if there is a time when I want to try something new, or have to make do with the choices available then I refuse to feel guilty about it. As Vinnie Tortorich often says in The Angriest Trainer Podcast – ‘Put the life into living and do it with enthusiasm’

Where do you go to enjoy healthy food on holiday?

My top ten whole foods at Costco.

When people ask me about giving up sugar, one of the most common questions is ‘Where do you buy your whole food from?” I wish I could say that I buy everything locally, but I don’t. Not too far from my house there is a lovely street of local independent retailers including an organic fruit shop, whole food store and a deli (as well as some amazing coffee shops) and I try to shop here when I can, but sometimes I succumb to the convenience and cost advantages of buying in bulk and at these times I often rely on Costco (though when buying online my favourite supplier at the moment is Real Food Source, but more about them later). There have been many articles already written about what to buy (or not) at Costco but each one has a slightly different focus and most of them are not UK based.  The best one that I have read is at 100 Days of Real Food where I got the inspiration to offer a short UK version focusing mainly on sugar free cupboard items.


Why do I buy at whole foods at Costco?

Well the obvious reason I buy whole food at Costco is it offers good value. Some people suggest that when buying cheap, you are in danger of reducing the quality of what you buy, but I don’t believe that is the case for the foods I have included in my list. There is a good post on The Modern Alternative Mama which addresses this issue – specifically related to Costco. If you are worried about the quality issues of buying food from Costco it is worth reading.

I also buy at whole food at Costco for convenience. I can stock up on ingredients and save time on shopping trips. Honestly, some of the food I buy might not be much cheaper at Costco, but being able to buy in bulk means I don’t have to go out of my way quite so often to get some of the items that are more difficult to source. I have this ideal that one day I will always go shopping locally for fresh seasonal foods at the butchers, bakers and fruit and veg shop, but this is just not realistic for me right now.

What do I buy from Costco?

Below is a list of the most common Costco items you would find in my cupboards:

  • Carrington’s Coconut Oil – £12.49 for 1.5 litres (83p per 100ml)
  • Natco Coconut Milk – £4.39 for six 400ml cans (18.2p per 100ml) 
  • Nutiva Organic Coconut Flour – £4.99 for 1.81kg (27.5p per 100g)
  • Vita Coco Coconut Water – on offer – £11.98 for six 1 litre cartons (20p per 100ml)
  • Carrington Farms Organic Flaxseed – £5.49 for 907g (60.5p per 100g)
  • Meridian Smooth Almond Butter – £9.99 for 1kg (£1.00 per 100g)
  • Chia Seeds – £7.98 for 500g (£1.58 per 100g)
  • Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour – £14.49 for 1.36kg (£1.06 per 100g)
  • Blue Diamond Almond Milk Unsweetened – £3.99 for 3 x 1 litre cartons (13p per 100ml)
  • Fruit and Veg – Various  (I know fruit isn’t sugar free but I eat it in small amounts as it is natural and nutritional as well as delicious.  Rather than go into detail here, I will direct you to I Quit Sugar where the fruit/sugar issue is discussed).  

(Prices have been taken from my last visit – April 2015 – please be aware that the prices in Costco go up and down, regularly)

Fruit and vegetables have been grouped together as there is a large variety of both available.  The pre-prepared items are great if you want to eat fresh fruit and veg but are short on time. But beware – only buy as much as you can eat whilst it is still fresh.  My first visit resulted in a lot of waste as I got carried away with the goodies on offer.  I have now learnt that it isn’t always practical to buy the fresh fruit and veg in the volumes sold at Costco, but I do stock up on frozen fruit. Below is an example of the prices.

Blueberries – £8.90 for 2.27kg
Raspberries – £5.39 for 900g
Pineapple chunks – £4.79 for 1.81kg

The kids love grabbing handfuls of the frozen fruit to make morning smoothies with, no washing or preparing required!

As not everyone has a Costco nearby I have listed below the branded products I have mentioned, with links to where you can buy them online.  In all cases for these particular brands either eBay or Amazon were the cheapest sources I could find.  But still more expensive than Costco.

There are cheaper alternatives online if you are happy to use other brands.  When I first quit sugar, I wasn’t familiar with many of the common sugar free ingredients, and I was shocked at the prices.  I did a lot of research to try and find quality, good value, sugar free food and so far I have found Real Food Source is one of the best options.

Real Food Source is a family business with a simple, clear and honest approach to real food.  The website is also simple and clear and doesn’t overwhelm.  I have been impressed with both their products and their customer service.  You can either purchase products direct from their website here, or you can purchase their products on Amazon here.

Where do you stock up on your favourite ingredients?


Disclaimer – I am not affiliated to Costco or Real Food Source in any way.  I do have affiliate accounts with Amazon and eBay.  If you purchase any product via the links on this page to these sites, I will earn a small commission, thank you.

Yoga Download – hundreds of Yoga classes to do at home

I love my latest Groupon purchase. A years subscription to YogaDownload.com.

If you can’t get to a yoga class for whatever reason, this is a great alternative. Too be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much. It was £19 instead of the usual £60 and I nearly didn’t bother with the purchase because I figured I could access a number of yoga classes on YouTube for free so why pay? But I am so glad I did.

Access an unlimited amount of classes to play/stream with YogaDownload subscription memberships. Sign up today!

Photo: Lyn Tally, Flickr
Photo: Lyn Tally, Flickr

It had been one of those weekends where 5.00pm Sunday evening arrived and it hit me with a bang that the weekend was over. I felt like I hadn’t done anything other than pick up and drop off kids, referee arguments; cook, clean and walk the dog; then cook and clean over again.

I could not get the kids into bed quick enough, the actively deciding to ignore the state of the house I collapsed on the sofa, deciding whether watch TV, read a book or go to bed. Anything other than cleaning.

Then I remembered my subscription to YogaDownload.com. I decided that yoga was exactly what I needed. I was wired and stressed, my body was tense and I was stuck in a spiral of negativity. I quickly switched on the laptop, connected it to the TV and within a few clicks, I had access to hundreds of different online yoga classes.

Why do I love Yoga Download? Well, first of all the vast variety of classes available. The search options are endless (style, length, level and focus are just a few). Second, the consistency and quality of the media used. Third, the variety of platforms the classes are presented in, stream, download, audio, pose charts. The subscription I have purchased allows me to download most classes and all the pose charts to my laptop. Then they are mine forever!

The flexibility is the best thing, for example I wanted a class that was suitable for the evening and that would relax and de-stress me, but I didn’t want anything too long. So a quick search on ‘evening’ and ’20 mins’ brought up a selection of classes that were suitable. This is the benefit over YouTube. So far, it’s been easy for me to find exactly what I want and there has been a consistent quality to all the video’s/audio. I tend to find with YouTube you often have to kiss a few frogs before you find a prince.

Twenty minutes after my evening wind down yoga class, I was calm, relaxed and slightly embarrassed at myself for getting worked up about such trivial things. It was a huge reminder that I am in control of my emotions and that there are a number of ways you can avoid self pity. Yoga is just one of them.

As much as I love the hot yoga classes I go to, I just can’t get there in the week. So I have decided to supplement the Yoga Download classes with private yoga tuition every couple of weeks to ensure that I am doing the postures correctly and have the right alignment. I’ll still go to hot yoga from time to time as I love the heat (never thought I would say that), the guidance, the focus and the atmosphere, but having the Yoga Download classes available whenever I am able to fit in a session is going to be a godsend.

Disclaimer: I have provided links to Yoga Download because I genuinely love this service and think that anyone who wants to practice yoga at home will benefit from it. Yoga Download do have an affiliate programme so I will receive a small percentage of any purchases made via the links in this post, with no additional cost to you. If you are interested, you can go to the website via these links (thank you) or you can go direct to the website at www.yogadownload.com

Access an unlimited amount of classes to play/stream with YogaDownload subscription memberships. Sign up today!

I finally got a Blendtec blender!

I can’t believe it! I have finally got a Blendtec blender. It is so sad that I am unbelievably excited about this, but I have wanted a high powered blender for ages. Today I have already used it to make carrot juice, mango and pineapple smoothie and a mint choc-chip milkshake (sneakily hiding the spinach from the kids). I have also used it to puree some onion, carrot and cabbage, again to hide the offending vegetables from the kids in a shepherds pie.


I promise you I don’t always try and trick the kids into eating certain foods, well I didn’t used to, but since giving up sugar I have found myself doing it more and more. I do normally announce any hidden ingredient with great glee moments after they have declared that a new food has passed the taste test. However, for every successful recipe there are many more that are welcomed by a ‘blrrrrghh’ noise and an exaggerated run to the bin to spit it out.

The beauty of the Blendtec blender, or any high powered blender is that it blends the ingredients so well that things like spinach and kale are hardly detectable in smoothies or ice cream (yes, really). I can increase our intake of veg without it being a chore. My daughter is very fussy about the texture of her food, a strawberry seed or bit of blueberry skin can turn her off a smoothie in an instant which was a common problem with the old blender.

I can’t deny that the Blendtec is loud, everyone runs from the kitchen when I switch it on and the dog looks at me with despair. I have also had a couple of soup explosions, so I would advise, if in doubt, put your hand on the lid. Having courgette soup dripping from your hair and face, as well as the kitchen walls and cupboard, is not a good look. I can’t say the dog complained about this, she was under my feet cleaning the floor in seconds.

I can’t compare the Blendtec blender to other high powered blenders as it is the only one I have tried, but from my research there only Vitamix and Blendtec blenders came up time again as the blender of choice from serious users. I opted for the Blendtec blender because, though still expensive, it was on offer at Costco and cheaper than the Vitamix. And it’s been worth every penny!

My favourite recipe so far has got to be this Tropical Treat



2 cups of coconut milk
3 cups of pineapple/mango – either or both
1 cup of spinach or kale
Grated ginger to taste, if you want a little kick to it

Throw it all in the blender then whiz, pour and guzzle or sip!

Natural Flu Remedies – Vitamin C

So what is the big deal about Vitamin C? Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Well, it seems so, but maybe not as the flu fighter that I originally thought it was.

vitamin c

Image courtesy of Mehrad.HM, Flickr

Since the first discovery of Vitamin C the lists of benefits has kept growing. Vitamin C is an essential element in the production of collagen, as such it helps your body heal. It is also known to improve the immune system and help protect against viral disease and cancer. As an antioxidant Vitamin C reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke, helps lower cholesterol, improves blood flow. As a natural antihistamine Vitamin C helps control allergies. It helps prevent the development of cataracts as well as being beneficial to general eye health, and last but not least, Vitamin C is believed to be a strong adversary of the common cold. Boosting your Vitamin C levels, along with other preventive actions, helps fight the onset of a cold as well as reduce the duration.

However not everyone agrees that Vitamin C is as potent against cold and flu as most of us believe. There is a lot of conflicting information regarding the ability of Vitamin C to prevent (or cure) the common cold or flu. That said, there does seem to be a consensus that, by increasing your intake once you have got a cold, Vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration as well as help prevent complications such as pneumonia.

So how much should you take? Well, surprisingly enough there seems to be a lot of contradiction around this subject as well.

Vitamin C is readily available in a multitude of everyday foods. Vitamin C is available as a supplement but eating a balanced diet should provide enough Vitamin C for your daily needs. There are times however when you may want to boost up your levels of Vitamin C, and the winter is a prime example.

According to the NHS you only need 40mg of Vitamin C a day, easily accessible from a good diet. However, I don’t know about you, but I have certainly been seduced by the 1000mg supplements in health food stores suggesting that I will be super healthy if I take 1000mg on a daily basis.

The recommended amount seems to range from 25mg to over 1000mg – a big difference! However there are side effects from too much vitamin C, so it seems to me that it should be important to have a consistent approach?

What are the risks of taking too much Vitamin C?

• Nausea
• Diarrhea
• Kidney stones
• Vomiting
• Heartburn
• Bloating and cramps
• Headache
• Insomnia

So taking high dosage supplements for a prolonged period of time, as well has having a Vitamin C rich diet, could potentially have a detrimental effect?

The one thing that is clear is that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. The amount of Vitamin C you should take depends on your health, age, sex and lifestyle. Lower amounts will do the job during stress free, healthy periods. But an increase in the level you are taking may be advantageous during times of high stress or illness.

For me, and this is based on my personal circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that most of the time I don’t need to take a Vitamin C supplement. As long as I am eating plenty of fruit and vegetables rich in Vitamin C I will be digesting as much as I need in a day (your body can’t store it, so it’s use it or lose it). However if I am feeling run down, ill, or putting significant emotional or physical stress on my body it might be worth taking a supplement up to a maximum of 1000mg.

So where am I going to get my Vitamin C from? The following foods are repeatedly listed as containing high levels of Vitamin C.

• citrus fruits
• kiwi
• red and green peppers
• berries
• melons
• blackcurrants
• broccoli
• dark green leafy veg (kale, spinach)
• brussels sprouts
• tomatoes
• peas

Fortunately I eat at least 5 of the foods on the above list in my daily diet!

How much Vitamin C do you have in your diet?

Natural Flu remedies – the Daily Detox drink

Well. the last two weeks haven’t been much fun. What started out as a sore throat, developed into flu and two full weeks stuck at home. A significant amount of that time was spent in bed (or on the sofa) unfortunately.

On the days that my head was ok (though my body was still aching from top to toe), I managed to do some reading, listen to some podcasts and spend some time on the internet. And what did I do with the time on the internet? Searched for natural flu remedies of course!

The Daily Detox Drink (image: Danielle Deleon, Flickr)
The Daily Detox Drink (image: Danielle Deleon, Flickr)

What did I learn? Well, at the top of the natural flu remedy list is simple rest and fluids. Lots and lots of water. But why is something so simple amazingly hard to stick to? For me anyway. I have a bad habit of resting then, thinking I am ok, starting to do jobs around the house, only to realise that I am far from ok. Unfortunately I normally realise this too late and end up feeling worse for a few days. However by the second week I had mastered the skill of resting and stayed in bed all morning and on the sofa all afternoon.

To kick off my increase fluid intake I found a great drink to start the day with (well, some of you may beg to differ, but please give it a chance, you might be surprised!). I got the idea from Shawn Stevenson – The Model Health Show. This is one of the podcasts I listen to but this guy deserves a complete post dedicated to him so I won’t go into how amazing he is right now. However if anyone does want to find out more about him straight away then go to

What Shawn actually recommends is a Daily Detox drink, but when I read the ingredients I figured that it could double up as one of my natural flu remedies. Here’s why. First, it’s all natural. Second it consists of ingredients that you might already have in your kitchen cupboard. Third, it is quick and easy to make. And finally, most importantly, each ingredient fights flu with its own little natural wonder. Here is a list of the ingredients.

750ml of water – self explanatory really – to hydrate and revitalise.
Pinch of Sea Salt (good quality) – to help you stay hydrated. NOT table salt.
Freshly squeezed lemon to taste – antibacterial and liver strengthening – helping increase energy and banish toxins, also a great source of Vitamin C which boosts your immune system.
Pinch of cayenne Pepper – amongst It’s many benefits, this beauty helps improve circulation, is anti inflammatory, a pain reliever and effective against sore throats.

Now don’t get me wrong, this seemed like a seriously strange concoction at first but it wasn’t as bad as I expected and by the end of the week I was looking forward to my daily detox drink and enjoying the kick that the cayenne pepper gave it.

Coming up….. Chicken soup, Echinacea and Vitamin C

Being Perfect

I used to try to be a perfectionist because I believed being perfect, and doing everything perfectly, would make me a better person. I was wrong. It was actually making me a worse person. No-one is perfect, no-one should want to be perfect. After all it is our little idiosyncrasies that make us interesting. By striving to be perfect I was missing out on my life and at times even alienating people (no-one likes a smart arse). Trying to be perfect takes a lot of time, time that could be spent doing something much more satisfying. Trying to be perfect also made me fearful and anxious. What if I got something wrong? What if someone didn’t like me?

When you finally realise that those people who matter love you for all your imperfections, the fear and anxiety start to melt away.

Untitled 2

I know that the things I love the most about my friends are their ‘imperfections’. One is unbelievably forgetful, one could get lost going to the corner shop, one is regimented to a fault in her daily routine and another is so sweetly naïve (…to my friends…I’m sure you know which ones you are). But these are the things that make us laugh together, cry together, and create our own unique histories and stories.

Conversations that start ‘Do you remember when……..?’ are normally followed by a story about of when one of us has been far from perfect. In fact, can you ever remember reminiscing about a time one of you did something perfectly? Even events that people spend months planning are often remembered fondly for the things that didn’t go quite to plan – weddings for example.

I’m not saying you should stop striving to be the best that you can be, I’m just saying that maybe if you are striving for perfection you should stop and think for a moment about whether it’s what you really want to spend your time on?

Is less than perfect good enough? What do you think?

How do you give up Sugar? All things Coconut

Coconut has been integral to my success in giving up sugar. Coconut oil, coconut water, coconut flakes, coconut milk, coconut cream – wow, until I wrote this list I hadn’t realised how many coconut products I use!


Let’s start with Coconut oil.  It’s important to remember that regardless of the health benefits, coconut oil is a fat.  A delicious fat though. I can literally eat it out of the tub.  A spoonful of coconut oil is great for late night sugar cravings (tip from the Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar book).  Fortunately you don’t need more than a mouthful because it is so rich. (Try making Sarah’s recipe for Chocolate Nut Butter Cups which will satisfy your chocolate cravings as well.  If I am stuck for time I tend to just make the cocoa mixture from the recipe and pop it into ice cube trays).

What surprised me is that coconut oil is classed as saturated fat. Could what has long been considered the devils food, now actually be considered beneficial? I can’t say I fully understand the science but it has something to do with coconut oil being a medium chain fatty acid rather than a long chain fatty acid (like red meat). Rumour has it that coconut oil can even increase energy expenditure, which in turn will help your body burn more fat. However I’m always very hesitant to believe bold statements like this.  It’s worth remembering that coconut oil is a high calorie food and the idea of eating calories to burn calories doesn’t quite make sense to me.

What I do know though, is that coconut oil tastes good, and in moderation, it is a great way of satisfying that desire for ‘a little something’ that I used to satisfy with sugar. Good quality coconut oil isn’t cheap but if you only use it in moderation, it’s worth paying for. I get the Carrington Farm brand from Costco, which is also available from Amazon.

I didn’t take quite so quickly to coconut water, it has a strange taste initially, but again it is very good at quenching not only thirst, but cravings and hunger. It’s claimed that coconut water is more hydrating than water, contains more minerals than fruit juice, has less sugar than fruit juice and despite being low in calories it makes you feel full. I mainly use it as an alternative to dairy in smoothies. Coconut Water is another sugar free saviour that isn’t cheap though. Again I buy in bulk from Costco, but if you don’t have a Costco near by, you can also buy in bulk from Amazon.  Just check the ingredients to make sure nothing has been added.

Coconut flakes are great for snacks and cereals. I love them! They are chunky enough to get real flavour and texture and you don’t get bits stuck in your teeth like you do with dessicated cocount. Great as a topping for cereal, in muesli, porridge, yoghurt and as a snack on their own, plain or toasted.

Coconut cream is possibly my favourite though. Sadly I don’t believe it has any added benefits to the products listed above and I can’t help thinking that because it tastes so delicious and creamy, it is probably the least beneficial of the lot. But it feels like a treat and you can add it to sugar free desserts to turn them into something special. Unfortunately, more often than not, I whip it up, pop it in the fridge and then devour it well before it makes it’s way into another recipe.

Despite some of the internet claims about the miracle benefits of coconut though, I would always caution believing that any food is a miracle food. That said, there isn’t a part of the coconut that I don’t like (well except maybe the hard hairy bit), and I haven’t even started on the beauty benefits.

Why don’t you try it and decide for yourself?

How do you give up sugar? Sugar Alternatives

So where do you start when you give up sugar?

I stocked up on sugar alternatives. These alternatives weren’t necessarily sweet, but ingredients satisfied me when I suffered the inevitable cravings.

Homemade Maple Syrup

(Photo Credit – Chiots Run, Flickr)

This is where I believe the real value of Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar programme shines through. In the past I have tried to ‘cold turkey’ without success, but this time I prepared by stocking up on some of the key ingredients that Sarah recommends. This is what made the difference between success and failure, having alternatives available at key times especially snacks. Although there are are a number of ingredients that I relied upon my first step was to choose a sugar alternative. This was driven by the fear that I wouldn’t be able to survive without some sweetness in my diet.

You would think that finding a sugar alternative was simple but I was in for a surprise!

Now it may be partly my fault, I love information. I can’t get enough of it. I could spend all day flitting from one blog to another absorbing all that everyone has to say. But the problem with unlimited access to information is knowing what to believe. I am a digger. I find a piece of information that interests me and then I dig to get to the next level of detail, then the next and the next. Unfortunately I inevitably unearth information that contradicts the very statements that caught my eye in the first place.

And when it comes to sugar alternatives it turns out there is a lot of conflicting information. Before my IQS days I believed that honey was the saviour. Not so, no better than sugar apparently. Then it was maple syrup, followed by agave syrup/ agave nectar. (I have never believed that artificial sweeteners were a viable sugar alternative by the way – sucralose, saccharin, aspartame – they taste like chemicals to me). Even the ‘healthy’ sugar substitutes Xylitol and Stevia seem to be recieving more bad press these days.

Finally though I thought I had found my saviour. Rice Malt Syrup – a Sarah Wilson favourite. What I really like about this option is that once I quit sugar I still occasionally fancied something sweet, but most options tasted too sweet. Rice Syrup doesn’t. But just as I thought the IQS world was rosy, someone tried to take my tinted spectacles off. Allegedly rice syrup could be just as bad as the other sugar alternatives on the market (according to some very grumpy commenter’s on one of the IQS recipe posts but more on that another day).

But do you know what? I don’t care, I’m sticking with Rice Syrup anyway. Why don’t I care? Because everyone will always have different opinions and everyone will also have different motives and goals. At the moment my goal is just to reduce the amount of sugar I eat, not to avoid sweet tasting food for the rest of my life. Maybe that will be a future goal, I don’t know. I have decided that the IQS method will be my guide for this stage of my journey because I can relate to Sarah’s reasons, lifestyle and chosen solutions for having changed to a healthy diet and a significantly reduced sugar intake.

IQS and Sarah Wilson offered me a way to quit my addiction at a speed I was comfortable with and showed me some tools to make it not only possible but a lot easier. Having the Rice Syrup at hand made me feel like I had a choice. And guess what? Most of the time I didn’t use it or I used less than the recipe called for anyway. This book does not promote extreme measures or an ‘all or nothing approach’. It talks to the majority and the majority are turned off by being told what they can and can’t do. And people can make their own choices. If I want to take an extreme approach to quitting sugar, I will go and find a blog that supports that approach. But do you know what? The science of all this is new to me, and IQS introduces it at a speed and level that suits me. If and when I feel ready to learn more I will. But right now I am just grateful for the support that IQS has given me in giving up my sugar addiction.

All I had to do was find somewhere to buy all these new products and ingredients. Surely this was easy?

Next post: Coconut Oil – heaven in a tub.