food

I'm a sweet tooth and went sugar free for 3 weeks. Here's what I found.

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Well, as "free" as I possibly could be for 3 weeks straight. I was definitely free-er from sugar than usual.    

Let's rewind.

I have an insatiable sweet tooth. I’m someone who justifies an afternoon snack as "lunch dessert" (also known as a perfectly good way of motivating me through the afternoon), plus I always have dessert after dinner, then a ‘treat’ after dessert. I'm not kidding you.

A dessert to dessert if you will. So I knew giving up sugar was going to be a challenge.

I started by acknowledging that I was never going to give up sweet treats: it was the sugar I would attempt to give up. 

And because I love to bake, there came the next challenge. But I will say, that meant using Well Naturally No Sugar Added Baking Chips in some recipes that would satiate my cravings over the next few weeks. 

They taste just like regular chocolate (praise be), but naturally sweetened with plant-based stevia. So I was feeling hopeful. 

Here's the first thing I made:

Protein balls 

I've made this particular recipe before with regular full-sugar chocolate chips (and tasted just as indulgent as you'd imagine), but I convinced myself that as it had 'protein' in the name, and was shaped in a ball (like! all! healthy! treats!), that they were ‘healthy’. 

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Not quite.

The verdict: making a sugar free version made this recipe even better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup        

  • 2 scoops (about 50–60 grams) chocolate protein powder

  • 2 tablespoons Well Naturally No Sugar Added Baking Chips (I say this measurement very loosely; I think I poured in the chocolate chips until I felt there was enough. I went off vibes. I also used the Milk Chocolate for this one)

Method:

  1. Place oats, peanut butter, honey, protein powder and chocolate chips in a large bowl and stir to combine. This will take a little muscle at first but will come together eventually.

  2. Once combined, use a spoon to scoop out a small amount and form the dough into balls.

  3. Store in a covered container in the fridge or freezer.

That’s it! They were easy, they were delicious and they made me popular in the office.

Protein balls! Image: Supplied. 

So far so good; I was a few days into being sugar-free and was sticking to it. How hard can this be, right?

I was already feeling a few slumps in the first few days without my dear sugar, so I think my body and energy levels were adjusting and trying to figure out what on earth I was doing. 

Now that I'm reflecting, I was definitely feeling a little more irritable now that I was low on my usual sugar dosage, so I'm sorry to my colleagues if they picked this up too!

My next sweet treat-ish recipe were some muffins, also affectionately known as ‘breakfast cake’: a socially acceptable way to eat a small dessert for breakfast. 

These raspberry and chocolate chip muffins even have fruit in them!

Raspberry & Choc Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 cup of sugar alternative (Granular is preferred, so plant-based stevia is perfect for this)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 ¼ cup milk or milk alternative

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ cup of frozen raspberries

  • ½ cup of Well Natural No Sugar Added Baking Chips for batter and then another ¼ cup to top muffins with (I used the Dark Chocolate chips this time)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to around 65 degrees (every oven is different so keep an eye on it) and pop your muffin cases in a tray.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine together the flour, sugar alternative, baking powder, baking soda, and unsweetened cocoa. Set this bowl aside. 

  3. Using another bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, milk, vanilla extract, and egg. Mix the contents of the second bowl of wet ingredients into the first mixing bowl of dry ingredients. Then gently blend in the baking chips and frozen berries. 

  4. Fill each muffin cup about two thirds and then top with additional chocolate chips. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

  5. Let the muffins cool for 10-15 minutes before removing muffins from the pan to allow the chips to set.

These were bloody delicious, and I thought it was fun that even after being baked, the chips held their shape nicely. 

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I shared them around at work but I don’t recommend this, as I regretted it when they were all gone and had none left for lunch dessert.


Raspberry & Choc Chip muffins! Image: Supplied. 

 


One thing I noticed reducing the amount of sugar in my diet was that I actually wanted less sweetness the further into it I got. 

On one afternoon I did want a little pick-me-up, so I tried a Well Naturally No Sugar Added Coconut Delight chocolate bar bar, only to eat about half and leave the rest for the next day.

Look at me, a changing woman.

Then, Greek Easter came around and all bets were off. It was my Nan’s 89th birthday as well, so my day was filled with kourabiedes and cake. Oops.

But that’s what balance is all about: enjoying treats when it’s important to do so. Celebrations, family, traditions.

I found it so surprising how quickly your palate just adjusts to eating less sugar, but then how quickly it flings back and adjusts again to eating sugar. The body blows my mind.

On my last sugar-free stretch (my third week in at this point!), I decided I wanted some choc chip banana bread. Why not?

Banana bread is another cake that has snuck it’s way into our breakfast repertoire – it’s not even bread! This version is basically a loaf cake but looks and tastes delicious.

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Choc Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • ½ cup sugar alternative (I used plant-based stevia again)

  • 3 Bananas, mashed 

  • ½ cup melted butter

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 tbsp milk or milk alternative 

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup Well Naturally No Sugar Added Baking Chocolate Chips (I went back to Milk Chocolate chips for this one)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to around 65 degrees (every oven is different so keep an eye on it) and pop your muffin cases in a tray.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour and baking soda.

  3. In a mixing bowl blend together the sugar alternative, bananas, and butter.

  4. Use a stand mixer to blend half the flour mixture with the banana mixture. Stir gently and then add the vanilla extract, milk, and the egg with the second half of the flour.

  5. Mix until just blended and then fold in the baking chips.

  6. Pour batter into your loaf pan and bake for about 30 mins. Test with a toothpick but keep in mind the chips will be melted.

This is a great recipe as if you're eating it warm, the chips will be tasting all melty and velvety with every bite, and the whole thing will taste super (dare I say) moist. 

I learnt my lesson and didn’t bring this one into the office. 

Choc Chip Banana Bread! Image: Supplied. 

After three weeks of giving up sugar (though I must admit the few hiccups previously mentioned. Nan only turned 89 once!), I’m happy to go back to a few of my treats I so dearly missed. 

I definitely felt that I had more longer-lasting energy in my 3 week stint without as much sugar, and I couldn't help but keep thinking about my teeth (which isn't something I usually spend too much brain space contemplating!). The impact of my usually sugar intake and my dental health is something I'm much more conscious of.

Using Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate range as the naturally sweetened alternative to full sugar chocolate, I was able to indulge in a few recipes that I would otherwise feel a little guilty about, because no one stops at one fresh baked muffin. It’s all about balance.

Love chocolate, not sugar? Enjoy the better-food-you taste of Well Naturally, found in the health food aisle of Woolworths, Coles and Independent Supermarkets.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Well Naturally
Chocolate lovers rejoice! You can now enjoy great tasting chocolate with no sugar added. Well Naturally® No Sugar Added Chocolate is made with premium ingredients and sweetened naturally with stevia - it makes your healthier choices feel so natural, it’s hardly a choice at all. Available in the health food aisle of Coles, Woolworths and Independent Supermarkets.