Stop dieting!!! (and what to do instead)

Stop dieting (blog)

I’ve had it with people dieting. To get their pre-baby body back, to fit into a particular dress… whatever it is – stop dieting! Right now! There is no need to constantly feel deprived and hungry. You can loose weight, feel great and still eat delicious food every day. Read on.

What’s the issue? After becoming a mum it is particularly evident in all the online forums I’m in, that loosing weight is a big thing. After all, especially for mums, who doesn’t want to get rid of the baby weight and return to your pre-baby body? (or even fitter!) The problem though, as I see it, is women asking for advice on how to loose weight and the answers from others is all about the latest diet, from the ‘juice only’, ‘only eating every other day’ to restricting daily intake to near nothing. Then, comes the success stories of loosing the weight (but it wasn’t pleasant, headaches, cravings, feeling deprived etc), followed by a re-gain in weight because these diets aren’t sustainable. They are only a quick fix. You will be yo-yo’ing for life if you carry on.

Here is what you can do instead and FEEL GOOD for life:

  • Go sugar-free! Go to this page and read up on all my posts on how to go sugar-free. Not convinced that sugar is the problem? Read this and you will wonder no longer.
  • These posts from my sugar-free challenge will help you through the first week which is the worst and explain what to do after that. Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4. Day 5. Day 6. Day 7.
  • Follow my blog (sign up your email in the top right corner or follow on Facebook) so you don’t miss out on the latest recipes and great articles.
  • In a pickle or have a question? Just need support? Email me on contact@exsugarholic.com

What – and start a new diet? No. Although it may appear to start with, you are not cutting out a food group, you are just avoiding allergens and processed crap for the most. The hardest part of it is only temporary, then you are set for life long success. After your withdrawal from sugar you will no longer feel like you NEED sweet things, overdose on carbs and trawl the cupboards when you get home or grab that last cookie at the office. You may loose/maintain your weight (depending on what you want), have high energy, loads of motivation and feel happier.

What’s not to like? If you try it and withdraw successfully and you don’t like it you haven’t lost anything! (although I have yet to hear of anyone not loving all the benefits of their new lifestyle :)) Start now!

If you would like to see more articles like this and gluten, dairy and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page), on Facebook or Twitter.

Top 5 tips to avoid getting sick in the winter

For those on the Northern Hemisphere, winter is still gripping the country with it’s cold, clammy hands. Although spring is not too far away (woohoo!) how do you make sure to avoid all those nasty colds, flus and bug floating around? And if you already caught something, how do you get rid of it as quickly as possible?

Woman drinking cup of tea - warm clothes (blog)

I constantly used to get everything which was passed around and felt like my immune system surely must have been the most useless thing ever. I walked quite a bit and didn’t eat that bad after-all, it’s not like I lived of junk-food. Maybe just a cookie here, a piece of cake there at work, dessert on weekends… popcorn at the movies occasionally. Sadly the grey skies and crappy weather just made me want to eat more bad stuff because you feel good. However, the overload of starchy carbs and sugar is only a temporary relief. This is how I stay happy and healthy during the winter:

  1. Water. This one may feel like it’s been beaten to death, but it’s true – drink lots of water! I drink at least 1.5L of water each day. Don’t underestimate the humble powers of water. It improves your immune system, clears toxins, prevents constipation, makes you think clearer, relieves fatigue and just generally puts in a better mood.
  2. Cut sugar, eat healthily. Cutting sugar out of my life has boosted my immune system incredibly. I get less sick than before, and if I do catch something it passes very quickly and with less nuisance (usual two week long colds turned into nice short 2-4 day affairs). If you are not prepared to cut it out completely, see if you can swap out one item every day through the winter for something with less sugar content and less carbs. E.g. cookie instead of a donut, a piece of fruit instead of a cookie, a small caramel macchiato instead of large etc. I generally eat healthy wholesome foods, including loads of veggies and superfoods. For inspiration on making your own healthy food (including sweets), check out my recipe page.
  3. Sun-worship. I open all the curtains as soon as I wake up, the light helps to reset your body clock faster. Go for a 15 minute walk midday, every day. Even 5 minutes help. It doesn’t matter how crappy the weather is, you can still get plenty of vitamin D through those miserable grey layers. Vitamin D makes you happier by activating production of serotonin and dopamine – your body’s natural happy hormones (p.s. Vitamin D also increases production of oestrogen and testosterone… if you catch my drift. There is a good reason why people feel more frisky in spring and summer).
  4. Eat breakfast. Please don’t skip breakfast. You will have heard this a million times before. But, if you skip breakfast, you are setting your day up to fail from the beginning. There, I said it. Protein rich foods like eggs, meat, seeds and nuts gives you long lasting energy and you will be much less likely to reach for unhealthy things during the morning. Why not try my crunchy granola with fruit and almond milk – it’s full of seeds and nuts (and some carb for immediate and slow energy release to start your morning of right). Oh, and it’s tastes ridiculously good! This is what I have every weekday morning along with a soft-boiled egg or two.
  5. Laugh. A good laugh makes me less tense, less stressed and much happier. Laughter increases you resistance to disease by boosting the immune system (yes, I know I mentioned this several times already, but that’s what keeps you from getting sick :)). In the winter, I make sure I spend quality time with my husband and friends or watch funny movies. If you are at work and having a miserable day, why not grab your mobile and read something funny online (like these autocorrects) or grab your ear phones and your phone and watch some funny  cat clips on YouTube? (What? You don’t like cat videos? Get of this page! ;))

I hope these tips might help you through the rest of the winter. What’s YOUR top tip? Please share 🙂

If you would like to see more articles like this and gluten, dairy and sugar-free recipes, you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page), on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Top 5 tips for travelling sugar-free

The last couple of months I have been visiting Europe to see family and friends. And let me tell you, it isn’t easy eating sugar, gluten and dairy free on the go in another country!

veg car

This is what worked for us:

1. Make a mobile pantry. If you are only staying in the same spot for a day or two, making your own stuff really isn’t feasible. However, having rented a car, I found that stocking up on items which didn’t need refrigeration worked well (such as fruit, nuts, low-sugar cereal, gluten-free bread).

2. Let your lifestyle be known if you are staying at someone’s house. If you are visiting good friends and family, they will understand and appreciate what your dietary needs are, especially if you are staying at their house. As a host, it’s a bummer to cook a nice meal for your guests only to find out at a later stage that it made them sick. We were very conscious about not being a pain, so we would tell them not to worry about buying anything they wouldn’t normally get, but if they could avoid meals with loads of sugar, gluten and dairy that would be fantastic. Other times, I would offer to cook them a meal in their house – that way you can treat them and your body will thank you at the same time.

3. If only catching up with someone briefly, meet at a cafe. This way you can select something from the menu which suits you (stay away from all the desserts, cakes and any sweet drinks).

3. Don’t sweat the little things. If you want to eat and not starve to death, you will find it easier to eat the occasional sugar/gluten/dairy. Other times, a treat is worth the consequence (I was re-living  a few childhood memories, you may just want to experience something new and exciting – if it only happens very rarely, for me, it’s been 4 years, why not? As long as the ‘occasional’ doesn’t happen weekly).

4. If travelling in Europe, use the new allergen info panels. I must say, the new European rules for allergens were just in time for my arrival in the UK. EVERY cafe, bar, stall and hot dog stand I went to had allergen information readily available. It doesn’t include sugar (I wish) but for my gluten and dairy intolerance, this was awesome. It also appears to have made staff much more aware of what’s in their products which is a bonus, so, quite often this means raised awareness of sugar content, yay.

If you would like to see more articles like this and gluten, dairy and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

How to get rid of your sugar addiction – when going out (4/4)

Friends at cafe eating (blog)

Going to a bar, café, sports game or the movies can seem almost impossible if you are planning to eat or drink anything at the venues as sugar is added to most things. Many of these businesses capitalise on the fact that you are going out to enjoy yourself. Who wants to go to a place with delicious food and drinks and feel deprived?

There is a fair few things you can do to make sure you can still go out and enjoy yourself without feeling like you are being difficult and still adhere to your life-style choice.

  • Ask your regular places (or find some new ones ) how much sugar there is in the various recipes you would normally eat or drink. Then ask for alternatives. You can ask when you are there or you can call or email them in your own time, so that when you go with your friends that, just like them, you can just look at the menu, picking something, and then enjoy it. Sorted!
  • If you are going somewhere you haven’t been before you can still contact them ahead, but if you don’t have time or only find out last minute – do some research in general. Get street-smart on sugars, know your stuff. Find out what the biggest culprits are on restaurant menus and which are the best options (this would depend on what type of food you normally go for). This will allow you to make easier choices when you have a new menu in front of you. You can, of course, always ask the staff in the venue.
  • If you have to choose something from a café to takeaway, there are usually a couple of gluten free and dairy free options, however, sugar-free is still highly unlikely to be on offer in your typical café. If you have time, order something from the sit-in menu and ask if you can take it away. Many things on lunch menus are naturally sugar-free but ‘glass cabinet’ offers typically aren’t if you are looking for lunch.
  • Finally, if you are going somewhere you know has zero options which are suitable for you, for example the cinema, bring your own snacks! (just keep in mind that some places don’t allow people to bring their own food)

I hope these tips were helpful. Please share any of your tips 🙂

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

 

 

How to get rid of your sugar addiction – visiting friends (3/4)

At home friends in the kitchen

Visiting friends or going to parties can be a minefield if you have food intolerances, allergies or you life-style choice isn’t very common (i.e. sugar-free). Hopefully you have lovely and understanding friends who accept and support your new life-style choice (that would make this easier for you). Pot lucks are great as you just cook something that you want to eat, and then bring that (check out savoury ideas here on the blog). However, you might find that some friends might hesitate to invite you over for a regular dinner because it’s too hard to figure out what to cook for you. You can, however, explain to them that, main courses shouldn’t be too difficult. Home-made, wholesome dinners don’t often have heaps of sugar in them (with the exception of a few cuisines which has many sauces with higher sugar content), so I don’t usually fret about that (it’s far more likely to have gluten in it, e.g. pasta).

Make it easy for them and say that you will bring drinks for yourself and dessert for everyone. When it comes to drinks, water is of course always best, just not as exciting as other drinks. You could jazz it up a bit and drink sparkling water and add slices of lemon and strawberry. If you are not too worried about the usual effects of alcoholic drinks on your body, just choose wisely (sugar-free or low in sugar) – keep an eye out for my post on drinks soon.

Desserts and treats are the most difficult ones to deal with – they are after all meant to be sweet and sugary. I have dragged many recipes (which are now here on the Ex-sugarholic) to work with me and asked my very helpful ‘taste panel’ to rate them and give me feedback. My aim was to make free-from recipes which tasted just as good as the sugar-laden stuff (to ‘normal’ sugar addicts). This meant that I could still bring cakes and sweets to work, have friends for dinner or visit them and everybody satisfied and happy. That being said, I don’t actually eat sugar-free ‘treats’ very often. When your body and taste buds are cleansed from the sugar addiction you just don’t feel like it that much and I tend to go for foods which are just naturally sugar-free rather than recreating something I miss. But, I like to have the option so that I can choose.

PicMonkey Collage - bring to visit friends

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about all the testing I did. Just try some recipes on this blog and then go visit your friends 🙂

Have you got any questions? Please let me know.

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

DIABETICS: Please note that the recipes containing glucose (including the following terms: dextrose, rice syrup and glucose syrup), as far as I understand, is not suitable for people with diabetes. Please see my recipes with no added sweeteners or just the natural sugar from fresh fruit. If in any doubt, please contact your health professional

 

How to get rid of your sugar addiction – at work (2/4)

business meeting with sweets

In the previous post we focussed on getting your home sugar-free, now, let’s look at what we can do about the abundance of treats which present themselves at the place we spend the majority of our wake hours during weekdays – work!

The challenges

Work was my biggest pitfall. There was always sugary treats available, in the lunch room, in the kitchen, at people’s desks and at meetings. It was hard to resist because:

1) You’re addicted, so you crave it

2) You want (need!) it if you are stressed, sad, upset etc

3) You don’t want to be rude if someone offers. “No thanks” or “I’m good thanks” (said with a smile) are the shortest ways of dealing with this (if you don’t want to spend the next 10 minutes explaining why you have gone sugar-free).

4) You don’t want to be seen as the odd one out and you want to feel a part of the group. At work, sugary treats are used as a bonding experience (the boss brings cake, going out for an ice cream, having a drink after work etc).

The solutions

1) And 2) are eliminated when you have successfully withdrawn from sugar (you simply don’t feel like it). The withdrawal itself though, takes a while and it is hard work.  I had almost uncontrollable sweet cravings, head-aches and mood swings to match a pregnant woman (now that I know what that’s like!). When I first went sugar-free, I felt a bit like Pavlov’s drooling dogs for the first two weeks whenever I sat in the vicinity of the sweet stuff. I crumbled a couple of times, but started resisting all the time with much difficulty. Then I started seeing the first benefits and gained strength and willpower from then on. After 4 weeks I noticed the ease of which I started to avoid sugary things and after 6-8 weeks I didn’t feel like it any more at all and reaped all the benefits of a sugar-free life-style.

To make this as easy on yourself as possible, make sure that you bring a lunch from home that will fill you up. Just as important – bring snacks!!! Lots of safe snacks are critical for those in-between meal cravings or if you have just been to a meeting where there was a plate full of delicious chocolates that everybody else was scoffing down. Those first couple of weeks you may last it through the meeting, but then you might feel like secretly sneaking off to a kiosk or vending machine to get a sugar kick (don’t judge me, I was an addict after all!). So, look out for my posts coming soon on weekday breakfasts, lunches and snacks (easy to make in and suitable for bringing to work).

I DON’T HAVE THE TIME! If you really, really don’t have time to prepare anything from home,  educate yourself on the amounts of sugar in food and drinks available at, or near, your work. Ask them which of their products have no added sugar (or the least, low sugar) and are low carb. Give them a call in a break or after work if you don’t want to ask in front of your colleagues. Sure it requires a little work at first but then you get to know the menu/offering at you (new) fav places and can make informed decisions on what to pick. If you can’t avoid it, it’s definitely better to reduce the amount you consume rather than carrying on eating loads of sugar.

3) And 4) – feeling ‘rude’ and left out – unfortunately won’t disappear, you just have to think about how you will deal with it. I don’t explain anything to people that I only meet briefly, if offered, a simple “I’m good thanks” will suffice. With work colleagues that I worked with often, I started explaining that I quit sugar and why (health reasons, life-style choice). After that, everything became so much easier as they actually helped. They would stop putting cake in front of me and asking if I wanted muffins, chocolate (or whatever else treat was there that day). Although the “oh you can’t have this” popped up a few times – which really just makes you feel annoyed as you want at least to be asked if you want any. After a while though, it will become a non-issue for you as you and your colleagues get used to your new life-style (but they might still think you are a bit odd, but think about all the odd habits your colleagues have, I’m sure it’s no weirder in the grand scheme of things). However, if you don’t wan’t to explain exactly why you are doing this or really don’t want to be seen as being different, you could always just say that you are “watching your weight” or that you are “on a diet” – nobody thinks that is weird, after all, most people are doing it on/off which is completely accepted part of society (although, probably not very good for you). Why not make one of the recipes from my blog and bring to your next meeting (try the banana cake – I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like this). Sorted!

If you have any questions, do ask away in the comments below and keep an eye out for the next post in this series.

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

DIABETICS: Please note that the recipes containing glucose (including the following terms: dextrose, rice syrup and glucose syrup), as far as I understand, is not suitable for people with diabetes. Please see my recipes with no added sweeteners or just the natural sugar from fresh fruit. If in any doubt, please contact your health professional.

 

How to get rid of your sugar addiction (1/4)

lady eating sugar cubes - how to get rid of your sugar addiction TEXT

Are you unable to go a whole day without eating anything sweet? Are you an emotional eater? Are your energy levels throughout the day like a roller-coaster? Do you NEED something sweet to get you going during the middle of the day, but then your energy levels drop again soon after? Are you unable to say no to people offering you treats?  If you answered yes to some or all of these questions you are likely addicted to sugar. And who can blame you – sugar is added to most processed food these days. If sugar is as addictive as cocaine and tobacco, it is really no wonder that we get hooked!

If you know that sugar is bad for you (if not, check out my last post) and you are ready to take the leap and become sugar-free, here are some top tips for kicking the sugar in a series of four blog posts 1: Starting out – at home, 2: At work, 3: Going out and 4: Visiting friends.

At home

Living on your own might make the start of a sugar-free journey easier than if you are living with someone. However, if you do live with a partner or have a family, I’d start out by getting them on-board first. If there is chocolate lying around, you might not be able to help yourself (unless you are one of those superhuman people who have an ironclad willpower). If you don’t think that this is a good option in your household, start this journey on your own but know that the sugar-free community is growing rapidly everyday, there is always help and support to be had if you know where to look (you could always start here, by following this blog by email or on Facebook). When the rest of your household witness the changes in you (For example, loosing weight, better skin, loads of energy and how much happier you are) they might be encouraged to join you on your journey. This is NOT another fad diet to try out, it is a life-style choice which will make you happier and healthier.

Before you start whipping everything out of your kitchen, just make sure that you are prepared with sugar-free substitutes. You need to have alternatives ready for when you house is ‘clean’ and you are suffering serious sugar withdrawal (no, it’s not fun the first two weeks). Otherwise, you are setting out to fail. So, if you are new to this, I’d recommend saving the link to this series of posts and then go back and start here when you have read them all). I will be following up with posts about weekday breakfasts, lunches and dinners and how to prep in advance to make life easy.

Now, are you ready to make a change? Start out by going through your pantry, make it a cool challenge, get your partner/kids to help. First, start of by binning the obvious ones, your regular sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar etc. Then proceed to look at all the processed foods (check the labels) – has is got more than 5% sugar in it? (5 gram per 100 gram). Put it all in a pile on your kitchen bench. All the whole foods (oats, coconut flakes, seeds, nuts etc) are fine, only natural (tiny) amounts of sugar there. Don’t be surprised if your seemingly innocent cornflakes, toasted muesli or energy bars are crammed with sugar. While you are at it – remove all your (wheat/gluten) flours. Gluten and wheat are just empty calories which will be turned into sugar in your body.

Woman looking into fridge

Then pull everything out of you fridge which aren’t whole foods (veggies, fruit etc). Look at the back of the labels and add anything which has more that 5% sugar in it (and wheat/gluten) to your pile on the kitchen bench (unless the sugar content it is not added sugar and comes in its original ‘packaging’, e.g. a can of apple sauce with nothing whatsoever added to it).

Now, stand back and be amazed by the amount of food that makes up your pile (hopefully your fridge and pantry are completely empty!). How big was it? If it’s wasn’t much – congratulations, it seems you sugar addiction isn’t being fuelled at home (but perhaps rather when you are out and about). Decide what to do with your haulage of sugar but make sure it leaves your house or lock it in a box and burrow it in your garden with a note as a time capsule for your future self (kidding away, I would suggest actually throwing it in the bin so it doesn’t harm someone else!).

Empty fridge      Healthy fridge

Excellent. You have taken a huge step, now you need to replace all the sugary foods with sugar-free ones. The best way is to make wholesome foods yourself and not buy any processed foods since it’s ridiculously hard to find any processed foods which aren’t sugar-free (and it’s far better for you anyway). You don’t have to make everything from scratch though, use some ‘shortcuts’ if you want. Such as buying unsweetened chocolate (instead of making the chocolate yourself – in some countries it’s really easy to get, whilst in others like NZ it’s almost impossible to find), ready to use gluten and wheat free flour-mixes, unsweetened rice-milk etc). This is where the Ex-sugarholic comes in handy – browse through and see which recipes you like/need, then go shopping and get cracking on your amazing new sugar-free lifestyle.

For weekday breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and how they can be prepped in advance, please keep an eye on up-coming posts which will be focussing on these particular topics.

If you would like to see more articles like this and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

DIABETICS: Please note that the recipes containing glucose (including the following terms: dextrose, rice syrup and glucose syrup), as far as I understand, is not suitable for people with diabetes. Please see my recipes with no added sweeteners or just the natural sugar from fresh fruit. If in any doubt, please contact your health professional

 

How to cook the perfect poached, scrambled, boiled, fried egg

Main 1 (blog)

Boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs… there are so many ways to have eggs just by themselves. They are not only delicious but also a great source of protein, fats, nutrients, vitamins and minerals (and unlike dairy, they contain no lactose if you are allergic or intolerant). I have showed below how to cook basic eggs in 4 different ways, there are of course so many more ways to use eggs in other ways for breakfast. What’s your favorite  way of eating or cooking eggs?

Worth knowing about eggs before you set off

The reasons why some people using the same method, but getting different outcomes, are often due to the actual eggs and not the process (although you obviously need to master that too). For example, if a different size of egg is used the cooking time might be slightly different. All eggs I cook with below are large eggs (size 7 = approx 65 grams). If you cook with a smaller size you need to adapt (i.e. take off 30-60 seconds from the cooking time).  I never store my eggs in the fridge as I always need them room temperature to cook and they are fine in my pantry (if you live in a really hot place you may want to do this but then just make sure you take them out 30 minutes before you need them so they are not to cold and therefore may crack). Fresh eggs are best for poaching – if the egg is old, it will spill out everywhere when poaching. Old eggs are best for hard-boiling as they peel easily (they deteriorate as they get older and the egg’s attachment to the shell weakens), unlike fresh eggs – and so forth. Not every egg is equal 😉

Poached eggs

Fill a medium sized pot with three quarters of water (enough to cover an upright egg with at least an inch or two of water on top, otherwise it becomes flat/oval rather than round – but you may prefer it like that). Add a big splash (up to 100ml) of vinegar (this keeps the egg from spreading out – any vinegar can be used, just keep in mind that it may absorb a tiny little bit of the flavor). Heat the water to a gentle boil (keep it boiling throughout). When it’s boiling, take it off the heat and make a whirlpool in the middle of the pot by stirring quickly in circular motions. Then crack an egg and release the contents in the middle (or if you want more control, crack it in a small bowl first, then slide it in). Put it back on the heat straight away.

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Set a timer for exactly 3 minutes and 30 seconds and watch the timer like a hawk so that you can be at the pot when it goes off. If you are sitting in the couch or in another room, set it for 3 minutes. Before you get to the kitchen and get the egg out of the water you will have likely used 30 seconds.

Place the egg on a folded paper towel or a piece of bread for a couple of seconds to soak up the excess water. Serve straight away! (if you don’t the egg will keep cooking and get cold). Or, if you want to prepare a larger amount of poached eggs for guests – pop them straight into icy water and store them in the water until guests arrive. Then heat back up your water to a light boil, lower in your eggs and heat for 30-60 seconds and they are ready!

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Boiled eggs

I love my soft boiled eggs and I like them with very runny yolks but with all the egg white cooked though. All you have to do is fill a pot with enough water to completely cover the eggs and heat the water to a gentle boil. Take you pot off the heat for a moment and lower your eggs to the bottom slowly (count to 3!) so they don’t crack but not too slowly if you need more eggs in, then it might affect the cooking time. Set a timer for 6 minutes (or 5 minutes 30 seconds if you are in another room waiting – they need to cook for 6 minutes exactly – faffing about may mean it cooks for too long.

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As soon as the timer goes off transfer the eggs to icy water straight away (or keep cold water running over the eggs) to make sure the eggs don’t keep cooking in their shell (a trick I learned from my mother). Keep them there for approx 30-60 seconds, dry and serve!

For a medium egg, add another 30- 60 seconds of cooking time. For hard-boiled eggs, cook for 8 minutes.

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Fried eggs

Until recently, I was a bit rubbish at frying eggs, the bottom was too hard and chewy and the white on top wasn’t cooked all the way through. My problem? The heat was too high! To cook a sunny side up egg – the heat needs to be low-medium to give the whites time to cook all the way though. First you add oil to a non-stick frying pan and then crack your egg(s) and cook until all the white are cooked through (touch the surface to see if it’s slimy: not done yet, or if it sticks to your finger: ready). Serve straight away!

For over-easy, over-medium or over-hard eggs – flip the egg in one fluid motion by flipping the pan (non-stick important) or using a spatula and cook for a few seconds (easy), 20 seconds (medium) or 45 seconds (hard). You have to flip in one motion and reasonably fast or the yolk will break from the pull and gravity. If you cook it this way, the yolk will be runny and all the whites will cook all the way through but be soft and your teeth will go through like butter – no chewy bottoms here!

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Scrambled eggs

Start by heating up a frying pan at low-medium heat. Crack your eggs in a small bowl (3 eggs per person is usually a good amount). Then whisk like your life depended on it! The secret of beautifully light and soft scrambled eggs is air (and cooking at low temperatures). Make sure you don’t only go in circular motions, get in the middle and under the egg to get as much air as possible into it.

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It should look like the picture below left when you are done. Then slide it on to the pre-heated pan. Wait for a little while until the egg start to set at the bottom.

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Now use a spatula to push the egg from the sides into the middle whilst tipping the pan a bit so the runny parts go straight to the pan to cook.

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Keep pushing the egg until all the egg has cooked but is still wobbly, light and a little bit mushy. If you overcook it, it will be hard and not as tasty (unless you like it that way). When you have your desired consistency, use the spatula to slide all the egg on top of your favorite bread or eat just by itself drizzled with a bit of salt and pepper. Enjoy!

If you would like to see more recipes like this you can always follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

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Using dextrose (glucose) in cooking and baking

Glucose powder loose (blog)

What is dextrose? Is it the same as glucose? What is it used for in baking? How is it different from regular sugar? How do I substitute dextrose for sugar in a recipe? Is glucose syrup the same as corn syrup? Where do I buy glucose / dextrose? This is your ultimate post on glucose / dextrose, read on to find out the answers to your questions 🙂

What is dextrose (glucose)?

Dextrose is a form of glucose. Dextrose = D-glucose, hence, the terms dextrose and glucose are used interchangeably. It’s also sometimes called corn sugar, grape sugar, crystaline glucose, wheat sugar, rice sugar or rice syrup.

The full name is dextrose monohydrate and it is a simple sugar generated from the hydrolysis of starch, most commonly corn. The corn starch is treated with naturally occurring enzymes (they same as in our mouths) or acid. There is no way around the fact that this is a processed product, but at least it simulates natural occurrences (when we eat starch, it’s hydrolyzed by enzymes and broken down further by stomach acids to for example dextrose).

Wait, hang on – I thought this was a sugar-free blog? 

I’m glad you asked. There are so many people, blogs, sites and books out there now with a “sugar-free” label. Despite that label, you may often find the following sugars in the recipes: Agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, glucose syrup, dextrose powder. Read about agave nectar here (to be honest, I fail to see this product as being healthy for anyone) and read about honey here (depends if you are overweight, diabetic or neither, but generally avoid it).

When it comes to brown rice syrup (also known as rice malt syrup or rice syrup), glucose syrup (also know as liquid glucose) and dextrose powder, these are all broken down to 100% glucose in our bodies. Glucose can processed by every cell in our body and is the brains main source of energy. So, not all sugar is ‘evil’, we do need some (our brains main source of energy is glucose). You just need to withdraw from your fructose addiction first before starting to swap to glucose. And even then, everything in moderation! Glucose does raise your blood sugar (blood sugar = glucose). The good part is that you will stop craving sugary things and your body will actually be able to tell you when you are hungry for real and how much you should eat. Your body has a well functioning appetite control. Unfortunately it gets over-ridden by our fructose addiction. Check out this great video from Dr. Robert Lustig which explains all the differences:

So, the main bulk of my family’s diet consist of healthy, unprocessed, home-made foods and I only sweeten with fruit such as banana and unsweetened apple sauce. However, when I would like a special treat or have friends coming over, and want to make cakes or muffins, or for physical activity, I do use dextrose (glucose). I am also currently finding out more about and experimenting with the natural (non-blood-sugar-raising) Stevia, Erythritol and Zylitol.

USING DEXTROSE/GLUCOSE IN BAKING:

Generally glucose for baking and cooking uses comes in two forms: Powder and syrup. The powder looks a lot like icing (powdered) sugar but is not quite a fine and it is only 50-75% as sweet as regular sugar. By regular sugar, I mean caster sugar (or brown sugar or raw sugar) = sucrose. These are all made up of glucose and fructose (usually in a 1:1 ratio).

Glucose (powder):

So far (I will keep updating this post when I learn new things), I have found the following (as per David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison): You can substitute sugar straight over for glucose but you need to increase the wet ingredients or decrease the dry ingredients as glucose absorbs more liquids that regular sugar. Furthermore, it seems that if you cook with glucose and it’s not covered (e.g. as in my granola) you need to reduce the temperature to around 160C (320F) as it will otherwise get a burned taste, however, if the glucose is mixed into for example cake mix, I have had no problems or burnt taste from keeping the temperature at 175C (350F). In pretty much ever other regard when it comes to baking, it acts exactly like regular sugar.

Glucose powder 2 pic (blog)

Glucose syrup / liquid glucose:

From my experiments I have so far found that you can swap this for honey in any recipe where the honey is used to make the end product sweeter (obviously honey has a distinct flavour which you don’t get from the syrup). Liquid glucose tastes sweet, but not as much as honey, however, it certainly is as thick and sticky!!!!

In contrast to glucose powder which absorbs moisture (and therefore needing extra liquids added to a recipe), glucose syrup keeps the baking moist and soft (and keeps it from going hard) as long as you don’t use too much, then it goes sticky. It is also often used in icing and ice cream to keep it from going too hard and give it that smooth texture.

NOTE: Glucose syrup is commonly derived from corn or wheat but can also be made from potatoes, rice and cassava. If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy you can safely eat glucose syrup (see more here).

Glucose syrup runny 2 pic (blog)

What’s the deal with corn syrup? Is it the same as glucose syrup / liquid glucose?

Yes and no. Well that was helpful right? The thing is, it depends on who defines it, the retailer and the country. In the US, glucose syrup is often called corn syrup because, in the States, it’s most frequently produced from corn. Makes sense, right? So, glucose syrup can be corn syrup but corn syrup isn’t necessarily glucose syrup. The difference is that corn syrup often has fructose added and the water content is slightly higher. So, if a recipe calls for corn syrup and you can’t get a hold of it, because it’s too expensive where you live or because you are avoiding fructose like me, just use glucose syrup instead and add a little extra water to the recipe (like a teaspoon or two).

In conclusion:

I find it easiest to remember that glucose swaps for regular sugar and glucose syrup swaps for honey. However, keep in mind that glucose is less sweet. I have tried quite a few recipes doing this straight swap and ‘sugarholics’ liked them all the same. Myself, now that is a different matter. I actually don’t feel much like sweet things (wow, it feels nice to be able to say this), so when I fancy an occasional treat, I will make a recipe with only 1/4 of the sugar that you would put in a traditional recipe. I now find the amount I used to crave sickly sweet.

Most of the recipes I have on my blog are a happy medium – sweet enough to bring along to visit friends (who will like it) and not too sweet for myself 🙂 So, if you are a fellow ex-sugarholic, you may be happy with the recipes as they are or possible cut down on the glucose (don’t forget to leave out a bit of liquids if using the powder version). In the opposite end, you could be a massive sugar fan and want to add in more (and then needing to add some liquid ingredients if using the powder version).

Where can I buy dextrose / glucose?

Where you can buy dextrose depends on which country you live in, but in most places you may find it at super markets, speciality stores and home brew shops (it’s used in beer and cider brewing too).

New Zealand: The powder in the top main photo I got from my local bulk shop in Auckland (Bulk Food Savings, by far the cheapest I have found at NZ $3.50 per kilo – it’s at 217 Dominion Rd but you access it from Walters Road where the Wendy’s car park is). You can also find it in home-brew shops and sections, but mainly I have seen it in the local supermarkets in smaller containers (Examples above: King Glucose – NZ$8.73 per kilo and Queen Glucose syrup – NZ$4.80 per 500 gram tub at New World). **prices updated March 20th 2015**

USA: If you have a home brew shop near you, this is probably always the cheapest option to buy dextrose powder, if not, this is the best deal I’ve found if you just want to get it shipped to your house via Amazon: Dextrose Corn Sugar 21 oz (600 gm)* (US$5.84 including shipping – US$2.4 per pound) or if you want a larger amount and cheaper by the pound: Corn Sugar 4lb* (US$14.61 including shipping – US$3.7 per pound). If you need glucose syrup (liquid glucose) please be aware that this is a minefield if you care about fructose content – on the description it sometimes says glucose and then it arrives and it’s really corn syrup (with fructose in)). I would suggest this one: Caullet Glucose Syrup – 2.2 lb* (prices updated March 20th 2015)

UK: Coming soon!

Australia: Coming soon!

Need some recipes using dextrose / glucose?

I can recommend trying the recipes in the book Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie – I have been using some of his tips and tried a few recipes. The only thing is that, for me, the recipes take some adaptation to be gluten and dairy free too (but hey-ho, I’m practically an expert in that now).

You can of course check out my recipes too (and to see more posts like this, follow my blog by email, see top right, or like it on Facebook or Twitter). Here are some recipes (using glucose) from my blog (click on the pictures to see the recipes/blog post):

_DSC0122   13   P1080053 - Copy

P1070772   P1080135   P1070648x

P1070660   P1070640 - Copy   IMG_3777

P1080396   cake   ctp_5217

*Please note that these are affiliate links. I only recommend products that I think is a good deal (because, why would anyone want to pay more than you have to if it’s the same product and quality, I have a family to feed too and always trying to save money) and are the soundest choices I have found (no dubious, unhealthy product for me thanks!). If you do decide to buy via these links you will support this page and help me keep going and bringing new great articles and recipes to you 🙂 

 

How to use Xanthan gum in gluten-free baking

Although I am a recent ex-sugarholic, I have been experimenting with gluten-free and dairy free baking for the last 6’ish years as I’m intolerant.

So, what have I learned so far? That normal wheat flour largely consists of 12-14% gluten, that gluten has an elastic toughness that holds its shape during baking. It also acts as a thickener, adds texture, absorbs moisture and lends flavor to the baking. So, baking without gluten could reduce your lovely bread, cake or muffins to crumbles as soon as you touch it! Baking gluten-free goods requires a lot more precision that ‘regular’ baking – 1 tsp too much or too little might make your recipe a horror rather than a delight. If you are following a recipe, it should be to the letter (so if it fails the first time, try again and be more accurate – also pay attention to the differences in measurements between countries – the metric cup is used for example in Canada, Australia and New Zealand while the UK uses imperial measurements largely). If you are creating your own recipes, it’s all about trial an error and doing some research. But, then, it’s a whole new world of baking deliciousness that opens up to you!

This is where Xanthan gum enters the picture. Xanthan gum acts in many ways like gluten and keeps your recipe from falling apart and can imitate the spring in bread and light fluffy recipes. It is made by fermenting corn sugar with a natural strain of bacteria that in the end creates a white powder. No research has found it to be bad for your health, only good (although I have found mentions of caution in ingesting over 15 grams per day – so unless you scoff down all your baking yourself you are fine ;)).

So, how much do you use in your baking? If you use too little, your recipe might crumble. If you use too much and the texture might become heavy, slimy and very dense. So, as a rule of thumb, I would suggest using the following amounts:

Xanthan gum table

Just a note on allergies – if you are allergic to corn, you could swap straight over for Guar gum. This gum has the same properties as Xanthan gum but it’s made from legumes rather than corn (the amounts in the table above still applies).

Want to get some? Head to most big super market chains where you can find this in small containers in the baking aisle. If you are having trouble finding it (in some countries it’s a lot harder than others) you could always order from online US company iHerb. You can use my code DBL588 at the check-out if it’s your first time and you get up to US$10 off if you want. I order all my nuts, seeds, gluten-free oats, specialty flours, Xanthan gum etc from them as it’s about 10-30% cheaper than buying it in NZ, I can get everything organic and this even includes postage + I don’t have to chase through four different shops to get everything I need.

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