I was at the supermarket the other day and it felt like I had just walked into the Easter Bunny’s Lair! Chocolate eggs and hot cross buns as far as the eye could see, and as a reformed sweet-tooth it was a little confronting, something I imagine a reformed alcoholic would feel like when walking into a Pub.

But of course, what sort of life would it be without the occasional sweet treat? As we head towards Easter and all its temptations I felt it might be the time to understand how excessive sugar in our diet can undermine our health and find some healthier ways to indulge occasionally.

 

 

5 Reasons To Reduce Sugar

1. Sugary foods and drinks are very easy to over-consume and tend to be high in calories but not very satisfying in the long term and the excess calories can cause you to gain weight.

2. Sugar often displaces other healthier foods. People often eat sweets instead of other foods that are more nutritious and, as a result, their overall nutrition suffers.

3. Sugar suppresses the immune system. Scientific studies have shown that when you get a big dose of sugar, you temporarily dampen down your immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effect lasts for several hours, so if you eat sweets several times a day, your immune system may be continuously operating at a distinct disadvantage.

4. Sugar promotes inflammation. Although inflammation is part of the normal immune response, by eating sugary foods you can fuel excessive, inappropriate inflammation that serves no useful purpose and actually promotes aging and disease.

5. Sugar raises insulin levels. An influx of sugar into your body will cause your blood sugar levels to rise quickly. Shortly after, your pancreas releases insulin to help clear sugar from your blood into your cells. As blood sugar levels go down, insulin levels return to normal. But when you eat a lot of sugar, you’re constantly calling for insulin, and over time, more and more insulin is needed to get the job done. Eventually, your pancreas may just stop responding to the call. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are the eventual outcomes of this process. Along the way, exposing your cells and organs to chronically high insulin levels also accelerates the aging process.

 

 

Better Choices

Ok so now you have the bad news on high sugar consumption–we need to get some perspective! The occasional sweet treat is not going to instantly convert into a wrinkle, organ failure or insulin dependent diabetes, but we can make “better” choices when we feel like something sweet. For example, fresh fruits, particularly berries are a great choice- they are sweet but also packed full of nutrients and fibre. Coconut sugar (link to Coconut sugar) is a also a great healthier alternative to regular sugar, as it contains , potassium, zinc, calcium, iron and a fibre called inulin, and according to recent testing by SUGIRS service at the University of Sydney, it has been given a Low GI rating.

 

 

What is Glycemic index ?

Glycemic Index (GI) measures the rate at which the carbohydrates (sugars) in a particular food are absorbed into your bloodstream. The more rapid a rise in blood sugar, the higher the GI number, so the lower the GI a food effects the glucose levels in the blood much more slowly and prevents large amounts of insulin being constantly required therefore being kinder to our pancreas and other organs.

 

How to use Coconut sugar

Personally, I like to use Coconut sugar in baking – where it imparts a lovely rich not too sweet flavour and can be used as a substitute for regular sugar or brown sugar, in most recipes. So, as a sweet Easter treat I have included my recipe for Peter Rabbit’s Paleo Carrot cakes.

 

 

Peter Rabbit’s Paleo Carrot Cakes

 

3 cups Almond meal

1/2 cup Coconut sugar

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

1 Tbs Cinnamon

1 tsp Nutmeg

1 tsp Peruvian Pink salt

3 cups of coarsely grated carrot

5 eggs (lightly beaten)

¼ cup of melted Coconut Oil

1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

½ cup of flaked coconut (optional)

 

Method:

1. Preheat Oven to 180 degs C /160 fan-forced. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Beat oil, sugar and eggs in a small bowl with electric mixer until thick. Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in carrot, nuts then sifted dry ingredients.

3. Drop ¼ cup mixture in each case – Bake about 30 mins stand for 5 mins before turning topside up onto wire rack to cool.

 

Coconut Cream Frosting:

 

1 cup full fat coconut milk

½ cup of honey pinch Peruvian Pink salt

4 teaspoons arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon water

1 cup coconut oil

 

Method:

 

1. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, honey and salt, simmer for 10 minutes

2. In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and water to form a smooth paste

3. Pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan

4. Whisk vigorously to combine, then bring to a boil, briefly, until shiny

5. Remove from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil with a hand blender

6. Allow pot to cool for 10 minutes then Place pot in refrigerator for 45mins- 2 hours, until frosting solidifies and turns white

7. Remove from refrigerator and blend again with a hand blender, until fluffy

8. Spread onto cupcakes and sprinkle with Coconut flakes