Monday, 26 January 2015

How to Deal With Sugar Cravings

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my experiences giving up added sugar. It wasn't pretty, as you'll probably remember. Brain fog, headaches, dreaming of Mars Bars, mood swings and endless sipping on camomile tea was about the sum of it for three days. 

But how do you get through the three days?

Well here are my tips on how to deal with going through the detox once sugar cravings attack. 

Try not to have any sugary snacks in the house
This is easy if your whole family is sugar-free. Just don't buy the sugary stuff. Then it's harder for you to get to because it's at the shops and not in your kitchen. It's not so easy though if there are chocolate bars, cakes and cookies in the cupboards or on the worktops tempting you every time you go into the kitchen. In my experience, the only thing you can do here is put them away (no cakes on the worktop, please) so that they're not on show and beckoning you over. And then stay out of the kitchen. As much as you can. 

Sounds simple but honestly, do your best not to buy this stuff if you're trying to reduce your sugar intake. 
Have lots of healthy snacks available
Ok, so herbal teas are good (as long as you don't add any sugar). A couple of dates are good too if a) it's only a couple and b) it stops you eating your child's leftover Christmas chocolate on the windowsill.  A banana will get you out of a sugar craving - or keep easily-grabbed food (like cooked meat patties, salad stuff or cooked fish) in the fridge. Go into the kitchen to get some lunch. Not to go and look around. 

Read the labels
This might be counter-intuitive, but if you've got as far as holding that chocolate covered fudge in your hand, quickly read the label. It might actually put you off. It did me. Sugar - the first ingredient. Glucose syrup? Hmm. Various oils. In my chocolate bar? Emulsifiers, E-numbers and the ever vague 'flavourings'. Doesn't look so delicious now, does it? Good. Now put it down. 

Remember that natural sugar is still sugar
Just because it's natural, rather than refined, it's still sugar. Giving up sugar does not mean pouring maple syrup all over your breakfast or dropping great big spoonfuls of honey in your tea. Although it's considered better for the body than refined stuff, too much natural sugar can cause a sugar spike too. 

Step away from the kitchen
Go for a walk in the fresh air (don't take money with you and don't walk past the corner shop). Do some yoga. Pick up the phone and chat to a friend. Also beware the usual times you'd have a snack. For me, this was at 2.30pm before I went to pick up the children from school (I used to have a cup of tea and a stack of biscuits before I left) and also last thing at night before bed, when the biscuit ritual was repeated. 

No, not even 'just one'
In the beginning, we'd go out and my husband would order some treats for himself and the children and say "Oh come on, just one won't hurt." So I ordered a wodge of Cookie Dough Cheesecake. And do you know what happened? I went home and ate chocolate, and then biscuits and then the next day it continued, until I had to stop and start the whole thing over again. Once you get through the first 3 days or so and you see a change in yourself, it's like a switch has been flipped. Unless you want to start it all over again, don't eat cheesecake like I did and flip the switch back to 'ON'. 

There's no NICE way of saying this: it will probably feel like hell and you will most likely feel rubbish for a couple of days. Bear in mind that this is normal and it's your body returning back to normal again after a sugar bombardment. What I can tell you is that for me, it was 100% worth it. My skin is clearer, any niggles and pains (presumably caused by inflammation in the body) went away, and I felt so full of energy, and happy and calm. Better than I've ever felt. Cutting back (or eliminating) sugar might feel terrible at the time, but it's just a few days. And I bet you'll feel completely different - for the better - afterwards. 

Given up sugar? How do you feel? What are your tips for seeing it through to the end? 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Roasted Lamb Saddle Steaks with Butternut Squash and Red Onions

Lamb saddle steaks. They look lovely, don't they?  

All I could think about when I pulled these beauties out of the depths of the freezer was parsley. And mint. And I knew that butternut squash paired really well with lamb - I usually chuck a few cubes of the stuff in every lamb curry I make. And then the thought of red onions and garlic floated past in my brain and then, as they say, the rest is history...  

These saddle steaks were sent to me by the free-range meat company Farmer's Choice. Because they're rolled up, you can also stuff them if you like, or just buy a whole saddle joint and roast it. The meat was firm, tender and sweet. No gristly bits, no fatty bits, no bone - just succulent, sweet lamb waiting for you whip off the butcher's string and dive in with your knife and a fork. 

Go on, just look at it a bit longer...

One of the lovely things about this recipe as well is that the lamb juices trickle down into the squash as it cooks, adding tons of flavour. A lovely lunch or roast dinner for two. 

Now dig in.

Roasted Lamb Saddle Steaks with Butternut Squash and Red Onions
Serves 2
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped finely
haf teaspoon dried thyme
half teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lamb saddle steaks, tied
half a butternut squash (I used the top half), peeled and cubed
2 small red onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp duck fat or olive oil
pinch of salt

First, in a small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, salt and olive oil. Massage the mixture all over the lamb steaks, and into the centre where it's rolled up and leave to marinade for 30 minutes. This will also give the lamb a chance to come to room temperature. If making ahead, cover with cling film and store in the fridge until needed. 

Tumble the butternut squash cubes into a medium-sized roasting dish, along with the red onion, and add the 1 tsp duck fat or olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, give it a shake and slide into an oven heated up to gas mark 7/220ÂșC for 15 minutes. 

After the squash has had its 15 minutes, it should be just starting to soften and already be sizzling in the roasting dish. Lay the herby lamb steaks over the top and return to the oven until the lamb's cooked to your liking - start checking from 20 minutes. This will depend on the thickness of your lamb steaks, whether your lamb is at room temperature and how you like your lamb. Mine was ready (I preferred it with no pinkness but still juicy) after 30 minutes. Don't overcook the lamb though. 

When the lamb is cooked and the butternut cubes are tender with a few golden burnished edges, leave it all to rest for 5 minutes and then serve. You won't need anything else, except maybe a nice green salad. Beautiful, simple food. 

I received a contribution for the ingredients to make the recipe, from Farmer's Choice, who also supplied the lamb saddle steaks. Go and check them out on their website - their meat is free-range and really good. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Inside Out AIP Paleo Turkey Sandwiches

OK, I admit. It's not rocket science.

But after nearly two years on the autoimmune protocol (with reintroductions) you start to think of more creative things to do with your meat patties. And so one day I started using them like bread, in a sandwich.

I'd seen Ditch The Wheat's Meat Bagels all over Pinterest, and I just thought - yeah, why not just use meat patties like bread in a sandwich? Makes packed lunches really easy to eat, and taking food with me when we go out for the day now is a doddle! As easy as packing a sandwich, in the old days. 

You can use whatever type of meat patty you want to - I've used turkey here - but there's beef, chicken, lamb... just choose the patties to go with whatever else you're filling it with. I preferred turkey because it's leaner and lighter - and less greasy to hold. 

It's probably a safer bet to stick to veggies as your filling. I've added a slither of ham here, with some lettuce - because the pale turkey was kind of calling out for some saltiness - but I'd probably stick to avocado, lettuce, cucumber and gherkins in the future. Bacon would be fantastic. 

I've used the patties whole here. I stood griddling a big batch of them so I had enough for snacks and husband's packed lunches for the week. I cooled them down quickly and then refrigerated them. For this, I needed to keep the patties very thin. If making thicker patties just cook them for a bit longer and then, once they're cool, slice them in half horizontally, as you would a bread roll. 

Autoimmune and paleo packed lunches: Transformed. 

Inside Out AIP Paleo Turkey Sandwiches
Makes 8-10 patties (or 4-5 sandwiches)

1 tsp coconut oil (plus more for frying if needed)
1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
800g turkey thigh mince
1 tsp oregano
quarter teaspoon garlic salt

Fillings of your choice: lettuce, gherkins, bacon, (AIP-compliant ham), rocket/arugula, herbs, spinach, etc.

First, melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan or griddle and fry the onions, over a gentle heat, until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Scrape into a waiting (large) bowl and leave to cool completely. 

Once the onion is cooled, mix in the turkey, oregano and garlic salt and mix to combine. Don't over-mix or the meat will likely turn chewy once cooked. Melt a little more oil in the pan you fried the onions in and, as it's heating up, grab a small handful of the turkey mixture and form into a thin patty. Flatten it out, and gently lower it into the frying pan. Cook them in batches of 4, so they're not overcrowded. They'll take about 4-5 minutes per side to cook - check they're cooked completely throughout and then place onto a waiting plate. Leave to cool completely and then cover, and refrigerate until needed. 

To make the sandwiches, treat the meat patties like slices of bread and load your fillings inbetween. 


I've entered this recipe into Phoenix Helix's Recipe Roundtable - check it out for lots more AIP meal inspiration!


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