by Buffy Ellen
How has your week been? I hope great. The weather’s starting to warm up here in NZ, and we’ve even had a few days that almost feel like summer. As for me, I made a pledge over on Instagram earlier this week, to tackle the hard, scary tasks first. Do you ever have that issue? Procrastinating perfectionism, or just putting things off for fear of not doing a good enough job? I’ve tried focussing on tackling those hard tasks first this week, and whilst I’ve had a few days where I reverted to putting things off, I had even more days where I had success. And in doing them, not only did I realise that they weren't as hard as I thought, but I felt so much better for having done them, and realised that my “less than perfect” job was actually well good enough. If that’s something that rings true for you (procrastinating perfectionist, or just general fear avoider), I highly recommend giving the hard/scary-task-first technique a go – I’m going to roll it out again next week and see if I can hit a full five dayer!
On to what you really came for: the recipe. I’ve been wanting to create another recipe using carob for a while now, after this delicious Carob Coconut Rough turned out so well. Largely because I wanted to talk more about the incredible natural sweetness that carob has, and the fact that it’s caffeine free, making it a fantastic option for both diabetics and children (the latter of which, as you know, is a slightly more front of mind topic for me these days).
And so these lovely Carob Logs were born. They’re…
Yes zero added sugar! Can it be done? Well yes - carob is so naturally sweet and creamy, that you can get away with literally adding no refined sugar or even any natural sweetener to these logs at all. I’ve thrown in 1/3 cup of raisins because I really enjoy the occasional chewy sweet pop you get as you bite through them, but you could omit these if you wanted for a fully no-added-sugar version.
Will the real sugar-free please stand upSo what does sugar-free really mean? Sugar-free, refined sugar free, fructose free, I quit sugar/IQS, low sugar, no sugar, dried fruit vs fresh fruit… what’s a sweet-toothed gal (or guy) supposed to do amidst this sea of sugary confusion?
Sugar, essentially, is the generic name for the short-chain members of the carbohydrate family. The smallest include monosaccharides (mono-sugars i.e one sugar) which include glucose, fructose and galactose. Then slightly larger, the disaccharides (two monosaccharides joined together), which include sucrose (simple white table sugar), lactose (found in milk). These are what we normally term “sugar”. However moving on from them, we also have oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (= multiple monos stuck together), which are also found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Essentially the longer the chain, the more work the body has to do to break them down in order to use them as energy. This is why the smaller mono and di chains are often called “sugars or simple sugars” while the longer chains are referred to as “complex carbohydrates”.
All sugars though, regardless of length, are eventually broken down into glucose (a simple mono sugar), which is the key form of energy our body, cells and brain use to function. So really, any food that contains carbohydrate of any form (white table sugar, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, and sweeteners such as agave, maple syrup, rice syrup and coconut nectar), can never truly be “sugar free” in a full technical sense. Refined sugar free yes, but not fully sugar free, technically speaking.
So given the above, that eventual sugars are found in so many foods, why are people so set on being sugar free? Two reasons – firstly, sugars consumed in any form in excess to our body’s needs will be stored as body fat. Secondly, simple sugars cause spikes in our blood sugar, which can leave us feeling drained, headachey, and in the extreme, lead to metabolic syndromes such as diabetes.
However to counter these two oft-stated rationale, fat and protein are both stored as body fat if consumed in excess too. In fact, any macronutrient we eat too much of (carbohydrates, protein, or fat), can lead to us retaining more body fat than we might like. Secondly, blood sugar spikes can be mitigated by simply combining our various sugars, particularly the shorter chain ones, with protein or fat to balance out our blood sugar response. This is why an apple might leave you feeling hungry half an hour later, but an apple dipped in nut butter will likely leave you feeling just perfect.
To add mayhem to the mystery, many foods and recipes labelled sugar free still might not be good for us in large quantities. They often contain either artificial sweeteners, which our body doesn’t recognise and thus we want to avoid. Or they include large amounts of other sweeteners, such as agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, rapadura sugar or dates. Even though they’re more natural whole food forms of sugar, they’re in such great quantities that if consumed in large amounts, would cause anyone to gain excess body fat and have blood sugar spikes!
So, what to do? Here are my top three recommendations:
Also, be somewhat wary of recipes that claim to be “sugar” or “refined sugar free” – have a look at the ingredients, and if a sugar-containing food is 50%+ of the ingredients, it’s still going to be very high in sugar. In terms of my recipes here on the blog and elsewhere, they all meet the above three criteria - whole foods sweeteners only, low in total sugars, and are combined with fats or proteins for blood sugar stability and satiety.
Now that we’ve covered off sugar, let’s get back to our gorgeous Carob Logs! Here I’ve combined naturally sweet carob powder with cashews for creaminess, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds for protein, iron and calcium, almond butter and coconut oil to help bind, and a very small scoop of raisins for some chewy pops of flavour. I’ve detailed three versions below:
Pick your vice and go for it! All three are wonderful healthy low sugar options. I’d love to hear your feedback, and any thoughts you might have on the sugar debate, feel free to share with me below. And if you make these lovely logs, I’d love to see you beauties on Instagram – tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can pop over and say hello, and even share yours on my feed!
Enjoy your sugar free adventures this weekend, and til next week stay happy and well.
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Takes 10 minutes
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Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible
1 c cashews^1 c mixed seeds*^1 c carob powder1/4 c almond butter1/2 c coconut oil (melted)1/3 c desiccated/shredded coconut1/3 c oats1/3 c raisins1/4 tsp sea salt1 tbsp vanilla extract2 tsp coconut nectar OR 1/3 c medjoul dates (optional)
*I used an equal blend of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (1/3 cup of each) for the optimal blend of protein, iron and calcium, but you can use whatever is in your pantry!
^Use dried activated nuts/seeds if possible, otherwise raw
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon
Buffy is the founder of Be Good Organics, and loves creating delicious yet simple plant-based whole foods recipes.
Buffy also oversees our Be Good Organics online store, full of plant based goodies that she personally uses and loves. Sign up for our newsletter below to be the first to receive her weekly recipes.
by Buffy Ellen
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I'm Buffy, a food obsessed nutrition nerd, former financial research analyst and investment banker, and now - full time blogger, nutritionist and soon to be naturopath. I live in Auckland, New Zealand with my partner Tony, our two cats Zeus and Luna, and our cute-as-pie little girl Mila. Can't wait to share some healthy recipes with you! READ MORE HERE...
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