This is something of a first, writing a blog post in English*. And it’s something of an exception, too, but let me explain: Nearly ten years after finishing school and uni I went back to being a student again. For a short time but still: I take lessons, I learn new things and I’m handing in homework. (You, my dear readers, are experiencing my homework for this week right while reading this. Aren’t you excited?) I am taking classes with the lovely Holly Becker which you might (should!) know as the author of the wonderful decor8 blog
and an equally great book
. The classes she and her co-teachers are giving at Blogging Your Way e-courses
are truly inspiring but oh my gosh – I had totally forgotten how hard student life is!
So in honour of Holly and my fellow international students I’ll switch to English for this post.
The “sugarfree” posts
have caused quite a stir here on the blog and whenever I mention the thing about not eating sugar to people in my non-virtual life they will typically answer, “Ohmigod, I could NEVER do this, I’m so addicted to my piece of sweet little something here and there during the day.” My standard answer would be that it’s all a matter of habit (unless you wave a Snickers bar in front of my face. That’s still a toughie.) but that there ARE substitutes that get you nicely over your cravings and will satisfy your sweet tooth. Even if you’re not planning to go all sugarfree you might be interested in something to replace that candy bar every now and then, so I though I’d share.
So here’s my favourite Sweet Five:
There’s hardly a sweet treat out there that doesn’t contain vanilla. It adds sweetness and taste to all kinds of cakes and chocolates – and I think it’s a shame that we mostly use vanilla as a flavouring agent instead of giving it the attention it deserves. I’m raising my voice for vanilla! So treat yourself to a small jar of ground vanilla pods and mix half a teaspoon over plain yoghurt or sprinkle some onto your coffee or on your morning muesli. The smell alone will lift your spirits and the sweet and pure taste will make up for any longing for cookies. (Or for Snickers bars. Hrmph.)
I used to say that as long as cocoa beans grow on trees I consider chocolate as some sort of fruit. Now that fruit is off limits for a while, I declare cocoa beans as legumes. They’re beans, after all! Seriously though, we all have heard about the health benefits of raw cocoa and (very) dark chocolate so it’s just a small stretch towards nibbling on real cocoa for a change. I have never liked this super dark 99 per cent chocolate bar and I had my reservations about cocoa beans but really – they are something else. They have an intense chocolate flavour with a subtle sweetness, all along with a nice crunch. In fact they were my rescue remedy when I learned to have my espresso without sugar since cocoa beans and feshly brewed coffee are an ideal match.
Coconut water & coconut oil
To me, some hint of coconut is a must in most Thai dishes. Coconut flavour might even be the reason I love Thai food in the first place. When coconut water became the Hollywood It-drink some years ago I was suspicious (as I always am when it comes to it-this and hip-that) but I became a fan of the stuff pretty soon. It’s fruity and a bit sweet and always reminds me of the baby coconuts that were offered on every corner of Balinese streets. Coconut water does contain a bit of fructose but it’s on quite a low level.
Coconut oil is perfect for frying at high temperatures since it will not change its texture or burn if heated to high. There’s a number of studies showing the health benefits of coconut oil, and I think there’s got to be a reason why Asian dishes are cooked with it. It’s also said to be great for hair and body care, however I haven’t given that a try yet. I believe in inner body care.
Most natural liquid sweeteners such as honey or agave syrup will contain high fructose levels. If you’re trying to keep your fructose intake low then rice syrup might be your friend. Its taste is a bit lighter than honey and the syrup is a bit less sweet but other than that it’s a great substitute for honey. For the sole purpose of sweetening you can substitute sugar and rice syrup roughly on a 1:1 basis but I’d be careful when it comes to baking. Other than pure sweetness sugar has some more functions, such as adding volume to a cake batter. But do not fear – there’s a whole world of sugarfree bakers out there, so get your search engine on. I’ll do that, too, once my no-sweetness-at-all time is up.
Chai tea isn’t only a sweet and tasty drink, its preaparation is also some kind of a ritual. Personally I find that my cravings for sweets are often a result of either stress or boredom. Brewing a cup of chai tea makes for a nice distraction from either a fizzy mind or a bored one. Sweet spices like cinnamon, cardamom and liquorice calm the cravings (and the mind), plus it adds to your daily drink balance. I’m guilty as charged when it comes to not drinking enough. Chai is available in a wide range of varieties and tastes, with black or green tea as a base as well as pure herbal tea. Please avoid the boxed chai tea powders, their main ingredient will usually be sugar.
Since I’m pretty new to the no-sugar business my main source of inspiration is Sarah Wilson and her book “I quit sugar”. But these five sweet cravings busters do work for me, and very well so, so I guess there’s no harm in trying. And I’m always happy when it comes to new unsweet sweet things, so please do share!
While some of the ingredients above may seem pretty exotic, most of them will be readily available in the stores. Look for coconut oil and water in your local dm Drogeriemarkt at the organic grocery section or refer to your local health store/Reformhaus. Both shops will also most likely carry rice syrup and a variety of chai tea. I was lucky to find ground vanilla beans in a small spice shop but a there’s a couple of online shops that sell vanilla powder at a fair price. THIS one
is also the one where I ordered my cocoa beans.
Have yourself a sweet little Sunday evening!
All the best,
*Initially, when I set up the blog, I had even considered writing it in English altogether but then decided to stick to German. I felt more confident using my mother tongue, also I do think some of the things I write about here don’t translate all that easily. Or well – they might give me a hard time translating them properly, getting the message across as I’d like it to. For a while I toyed with the idea of having a bilingual blog, but as much as I admire bloggers who do exactly that I felt like the blog would be at risk of turning into hard work instead of being fun – which was its first purpose. I guess you all know these days when words and ideas for blog posts come flying by without much ado but then there’s these other days when you fight for good ideas to share in your post. Or any ol’ idea in the first place. Admittedly, the thought of struggeling to translate hard-earned posts to another language scared me off. And lazy cow that I am I kept it at that. At German language, that is. Jawohl.
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