Sugar, Fare Thee Well Thy Temptress

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(Cauliflower soup made by Dayle, using the recipe below) 

Right, so it’s now day three in the sugar-free office challenge. Tensions are running slightly higher and all the ladies have a slightly ravenous look to their eyes and the mention of cupcakes is almost at the point of eliciting hysterical sobs. Not quite though. We remain strong and committed to the cause – Paleo warriors donned in regular office attire, championing the vision of Noakes, nuts and nutters around the world. Damn, we’re hungry.

We started this admirable campaign in order to rid ourselves of very serious hot chocolate addictions. We said we’d last a week – but now we’re contemplating two if none of us crack over the weekend. Our den is currently littered with nuts and green teabags, and there’s the periodic addition of an apple if we’re ‘treating ourselves.’ We have a support group. We tell each other about milk tart croissants at Jason’s and pretend we wouldn’t eat them anyway (we would). We repeat mantras of wellness and have epic stare-downs with cappuccino muffins. We are immensely proud of our strength of will, and the fact that we are keeping it together. We’re a delight to be around – just ask Steve – possibly the only remaining unconverted soul and long-suffering victim to our sugary (sugar-free) moods.

It’s been an interesting experiment so far. Truth be told I don’t eat that much sugar in the form of sweets, sugar in tea etc. but I do eat a lot of carbs, so they’ve been the hardest to cut. I’ve compensated for the lack of all things delicious by becoming slightly obsessed with finding healthy (and edible) recipes to follow. This has actually resulted if some rather tasty dinners (if I do say so myself), so I thought I’d share these with other no sugar, no carb, high fat wannabe disciples.

MONDAY NIGHT: PEPPERS STUFFED WITH MINCE AND TOPPED WITH GUAC & CREAM

Day one of the sugar-free challenge had me frantically hunting for something to eat that ticked the right boxes and crossed the wrong ones. I steadfastly ignored the two for one burger special at Lola’s, and opted for salad for lunch instead. Thoroughly unsatisfied after said lettuce leaves, I took to Google to find dinner inspiration.

I settled on bell peppers stuffed with mince and topped with creme fresh, tomato, Brie and guacamole. Holy moly, it was good!

VEG: Roast your peppers whole in the oven alongside an appetising array of other colourful vegetables, drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and dried herbs.

MINCE: Start by chopping up some portobello mushrooms and frying these with mince over a low heat. Add garlic to the mince and continue to saute the concoction, before sprinkling it with chicken spice (this spice is my everything, and when I say sprinkle, I mean pour), adding tomato paste and a bit of brown onion soup for extra flavour. Leave your mince to simmer and taste it to see if it needs salt – it shouldn’t due to the soup and spice. Add a sprinkling of pepper and you’re done.

ASSEMBLE: Once your veg is nicely roasted, take it out the oven and assemble an attractive pile of veggies on the plate. Spoon mince into the pepper and top it with the Brie, guacamole, creme fresh and tomato salsa. Lift the pepper and place it on the veg and there you have it: dinner is served! Next time I may replace the creme fresh with double cream yoghurt combined with a bit of mint and lemon juice.

TUESDAY NIGHT: CHEDDAR AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Last night, I made a variation of the lovely Meagan’s recipe for cheesy cauliflower soup. I was slightly skeptical about this soup before I began it, but it ended up working so nicely – Tom and I guzzled it down.

Start by heating 1 litre (or slightly less if you don’t want it too watery) of chicken stock/ veg stock on the stove. Chop a whole cauliflower into small pieces, and add two cloves of chopped garlic to this. Chuck all of that in the stock and leave it to simmer for 10 – 15 min until the cauli is soft. Take it off the heat and add 100g of mature cheddar (so gooooood) and 200ml of cream (even better) to the mix, along with a pinch of nutmeg. Season according to taste. Leave to cool for a little bit (we didn’t because we were hungry and it still worked) and then blitz it in the blender until smooth – it’ll go all shiny and tasty-looking with the sheen of the cream. Sprinkle  grated cheese and a bit of paprika on top to serve and there you have it. Done. If I have to confess without my fellow Amazonian sugar-free warriors judging me, I did miss having fresh ciabatta to dip into this delicious concoction. But only a little bit.

Today, I diligently bought Tahini paste (it’s expensive but I see it as an investment) and coconut oil to cook with. The Tahini was an impulse buy so I’m currently not too sure what to do with it. I’ll make some hummus (Martha Stewart has a sweet potato version I’m going to try), and I also found a recipe for quite a tasty sounding eggplant, avo, chickpea and cauliflower salad with a Tahini and lemon dressing. I’ll report back if that materialises into supper tonight.

I think I shall continue to document our sugar-free journey. There’s no doubt that sugar is a harmful and addictive thing, so I’m going to continue on this quest for a while – well until Sunday anyway, because I refuse to not drink wine at the Franschhoek Bastille Day wine festival! I’ll make up for my sins with an extra serving of kale.

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