Sugar-Free Challenge

As you know, I had a bit of a pause from my sugar-free challenge. We went on holiday and I simply wanted to have some sweets there. To my surprise, I was not as attracted to cakes and sweet pastry as I expected myself to be, but I still had some cakes and enjoyed their pancakes. On the other hand, I was very much surprised I did not crave chocolate, chocolate bars. To be honest, when I saw some cakes on holiday or in restaurants being back from holiday, I had this weird feeling of “that’s way too sweet for me”, telling me that I knew I could have it, but I would not have enjoyed it.

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Having come back from holiday, I consciously decided to still have some sugar. So, over the last three weeks, including the holiday, I had a few cakes, ice-cream and even some soda drinks. I enjoyed it, I did not feel guilty eating it, yet I could feel the effect sugar had on my body.

Eating refined sugar, I had headaches, my skin got worse and I felt bloated. All these symptoms and my long-term goals for a healthy lifestyle led to my decision to go back to my personal sugar-free challenge.

My sugar-free is not 100% refined sugar-free as I still eat pastry and I do eat out, and as much as I try to make as healthy choices as possible while eating out, sometimes you may get a bit of sugar in pasta sauces etc. But I am sure that my daily sugar intake is within 2 teaspoons of sugar. Mostly even less or none at all. And I do not consume artificial sweeteners, those are a big No-No for me. If you want to learn more about sugar and sweeteners, check my blog post It’s all about the sugar.

So, what to eat when avoiding added sugar? Here is an example of what I eat in a day:

37812876_2225100121043490_3684150378741366784_nBreakfast: My breakfast always consists of hemp protein powder with almond or soya milk, occasionally with some fruits or spinach.

Morning snack: I would usually have some fruits in the morning, especially when at work as we get fruits in the office every Monday and Wednesday. (Yes, I know I work in a cool office 😀 )

39017497_2244268942459941_4649032266599628800_nLunch: Lunch would either be some leftovers from home, but that is rare as I do not cook much these days, or occasionally I would eat in a restaurant with my colleagues, I can recall I recently had Safran risotto. Mostly I would grab soup in one of the nearby restaurants.

Afternoon snack: When at work I am usually busy in the afternoon so I simply forget to snack, when at home I might have some nuts. During the weekend, it might be post workout pancakes as an afternoon snack or even lunch.

38862595_2242243945995774_3014138126265221120_nDinner: First of all, I would have a drop of my CBD hemp oil 30 mins before a meal. My dinners usually are scrambled eggs/salad with pastry, or we would go to eat out – Chinese, vegan, Italian etc. When I decided to really cook, I might cook something like my favorite Creamy tomato Gnocchi – click here to check the recipe. 

And of course, it is also very important to think about what you drink. I do not drink soda drinks, I do drink plenty of water which I think is the main reason why my body managed to deal with the sugar easily when I happened to had eaten sugar past three weeks.

What does your meal routine look like? Looking forward to hearing from you! Please comment below.

Sugar free peach jam

Last week I made raw peach jam – a non-cooked version. Since the weather is nice and cool today, pleasant weather to cook, I decided to make the cooked version and see the difference.

When you cook the jam, some water vaporizes, which already makes the jam thicker. And also the taste of the jam is a bit sweeter as the natural sugars are more dense.

I like both jams, they both taste great, and I very much appreciate the simplicity of these jams. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 peaches
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp date syrup (or any other natural sweetener of your choice)

Directions:

  1. Remove pits from the peaches.
  2. Blend peaches in a blender.
  3. Pour the mixture in a pan and add date syrup.
  4. Stir and let shimmer on medium heat.
  5. Let it cook for 5-10mins.
  6. Switch off the stove and let it cool off a little for 10 mins.
  7. Stir in the chia seeds and let it cool a bit longer.
  8. Once cold, put the jam in a container and place it in a fridge.
  9. Let it rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before eating.

Enjoy!

Hemp protein pancakes

You know the days when you come home famished and you realize that both your fridge and your pantry are practically empty? I had a day like that when I came home from work and I found only eggs, spinach and tomatoes in my fridge. And since I always keep protein powder at home, my hemp protein pancakes were born.

To get a 5% discount on your help protein powders or other hemp products use the discount code “annaogunnusi” at the checkout at https://www.cannadorra.com/ 

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs (2 for the batter and 2 fried)
  • 3 scoops / tbsp of Cannadorra hemp protein powder
  • 2 hand-fulls of spinach (one for the batter and one for dishing)
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Goji berries
  • Sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Put 2 eggs, 3 scoops of hemp protein powder and a hand-full of spinach in a blender and blend together.
  2. Put a bit of coconut oil in a frying pan and then add the batter. I fit three smaller pancakes in a pan.
  3. Let it fry on one side till the edges turn dark green and then turn.
  4. Once pancakes are ready, fry the eggs.
  5. Then put the cherry tomatoes, goji berries and sesame seeds on a pen.
  6. Lay few pancakes and then an egg. Put the tomatoes, goji berries and sesame seeds on top.

Enjoy!

To get a 5% discount on your help protein powders or other hemp products use the discount code “annaogunnusi” at the checkout at https://www.cannadorra.com/ 

4 months sugar-free

The first time I went sugar free was early in 2016 when I bought a lovely wedding dress that I could barely sit in, let alone dance in or eat in. That was in April 2016 and the wedding date was 17th July 2016. I knew I had to take some serious measures. So for 2,5 months I was totally sugar free, and I mean really sugar free. My grocery shopping use to take double the time as I was checking every single food label. And those days I was not even having shakes yet, so every day choices of food were a bit of struggle, but I made it. I went through 3 weeks of sugar withdrawal symptoms which showed me how addicted I was to sugar. But at the end I lost a dress size, my wedding dress fitted perfectly and I felt great. But life happened and I slowly went back to eating sugar on regular basis.

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Over the past two years I tried to do “sugar free” again simple before I knew I felt good doing it and I knew the health benefits. Check my previous blog post called “It’s all about the sugar” to learn more about sugar and sweeteners.

On 3rd April this year I went for it. This time I did not go as OTT (over the top) as the previous time, I was still eating out, so occasional sugar intake was still happening in a form of sauces when eating out (Chinese, Italian etc). Why did I decide to go sugar free this time? In January this year we moved from the UK to Prague. As great as it has been it was also stressful and it took a bit of time settling down again in Czech after 3 years in the UK. And the last few months in the UK were not as joyful as we wished. Therefore the sugar intake at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 was quite high –  emotional binge eating.

Starting sugar free this time was much easier as my body and mind already knew what to expect. What made it easier this time was the food choices you get in Prague – so many healthy places to eat that offer even sugar free cakes. My favorite restaurant is now VegGo that offers variety of vegan food as well as variety of sugar-free cakes – my favorite is a raspberry cheesecake.

From 3rd April till 25th July I had no cakes with refined sugar, no ice cream, no cookies etc, I did not use sugar in the household either. As I said the only occasion I might have had some sugar “unknowingly” was when we were eating out. Because sometimes when you make certain sauces, such as when you cook with tomatoes, you might need to use a bit of sugar to balance out the flavors, so I guess those were few occasions I could have consumed sugar. Actually, there was one more case that I am aware of –  pastry. Czech pastry is so good, so I was still eating pastry such as bread ans baguettes. And pastry does contain a bit of sugar as sugar is needed for the yeast to work in the dough to make it rise.

Almost 4 months sugar free and I felt great. I must say I was as consistent in the gym as I wish I were over those four months, but it did not matter because the effect of sugar free was great. My skin became so smooth, especially on my bum, my bum cellulite reduced big time. My muscle definition got more visible even with reduced amount of exercise.

Sugar free was definitely a great detox for me. I only stopped on 25th July as we went on All inclusive holiday. Do not get me wrong, I am not the kind of person who goes on holiday to over eat, but I simple wanted to try some local sweets etc.

The first two days of holiday I tried some cakes, especially the chocolate ones, but to be honest they were not quite worth it. My favorite “sweet” stuff were their pancakes which became my breakfast choice together with some cinnamon and melon, and occasional evening desert choice with some coffee. As much as I do not usually drink sodas, I had few glasses of lemonade and I enjoyed it. But despite, or perhaps in-spite of all that I always made sure I was drinking plenty of water. We even carried one of our gym bottles with us and constantly kept filling it during the day.

Despite change of diet and increased sugar intake I actually did not put on any weight on holiday, I did not notice any changes in my body. And the secret being that as I detoxed my body before the holiday, my body was able to work with the acidity, also thanks to high water intake.

Having come back from holiday where was no ice cream I actually craved ice cream, so I had ice cream yesterday and I truly enjoyed it.

I definitely see benefit of being totally sugar and sweeteners free all the time – your body functions better, your skin improves, you lose weight etc. However, I think there is no reason to beat yourself up about your food choices. Remember “Eat according to your goals and be ready to deal with the consequences”.

Should you wish to go on “sugar free” journey yourself and get some tips, get in touch!

It’s all about the sugar

Some of you that know my story remember that just before our wedding I went completely added sugar free and sweeteners free for almost two and half months. It was an amazing experience and it was definitely worth it as I lost one size to fit my wedding dress. It was also a huge eye-opener to what sugar does to us and how addicted I actually was.

You see, people talk about all sorts of addictions – drugs, alcohol etc, but sugar addiction is not something that is spoken about that much. Why? Because companies make money, a lot of money from sugar. And just when we started being a bit cautious about „added sugar“, they came up with „no added sugar“ labels which trick a lot of people.

Have you ever wondered how come you buy a product labeled „no added sugar“ yet it is still sweet? Were you hoping there is „naturally occuring sugar“ from one of the ingredients? Well, think about it – most of the „no added sugar“ labels are on sweet drinks where no natural sugar occures. So, what is the trick? They pump us with sweeteners instead, such as sucralose, aspartam, just to mention a couple. So, what is worse – added sugar or sweetener? Sweetener! Effects of added sugar are visible in short term – you put on weight, your body retains more water etc. So, why do I say sweeteners are worse? Sweeteners are chemicals and chemicals make our body acidic, meaning they are slowly poisoning our body – no short term effect, but it long term they essentially make us sick, which is worse than fat in my opinion. Did you know that common sweetener aspartame has been link to cancer in several studies?

So, if you asked me to choose between a product with added sugar and one with sweeter, which one would I choose? I would choose added sugar over sweetener as I can at least help my body to deal with the added sugar by drinking plenty of warm water to flush it out and doing some exercise.

If you gave me a choice between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar, e.g. a raw cake sweetened by dates, I would 100% always go for the naturally occurring sugar. Why? Because i tis NATURAL. Can you „overdose“ on naturally occurring sugar? Yes, you can, but it would take some amount of dates for that to happen.

Is there any risk that naturally occurring sugar, such as in fruits, bring? I probably should not call it a risk, but yes, there is let’s say a side effect. If you eat too much fruits your blood sugar level can spike, such as when you have purely fruit fresh juice, and once they spike they eventually have to fall down too. Which can lead to fast sugar cravings which might get your brain to crave fast sugars, such as added sugar – perhaps in a form of chocolate or a cake.

Just a little advice – if you want to do juicing cleanse, use more veg than fruits. Fruit juices are good right after a workout as during a workout your blood sugar levels drop, that’s why a lot of people crave simple carbs after a workout, so a fruit fresh juice will level the sugar levels for you. Just think about this – when you make a glass of a fresh fruit juice you will probably use a couple of arranges and a couple of apples. Would you use the same amount in one go if you were to eat it in a form of a fruit? No. Which means you are giving your body much more fruits than you normally would.

This was meant to be a blog post about my 4 months added sugar free / sweets free time. And the paragraphs above were to be an intro. I think almost 700 words are a good blog post on its own. So, watch out for the next blog post about my recent 4 months sugar free.

Banana Chocolate Brownie

This is the kind of recipe you want to remember when you end up with several overly-ripe bananas. It is so simple, yet really yummy! And it is sugar free and dairy free!

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 scoop of shake / oat apple fiber / beta heart powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flower

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mash bananas in a bowl.
  3. Add a school of shake / oat apple fiber / beta heart powder.
  4. Add 2 eggs and mix everything together.
  5. Add cocoa powder and coconut flower and mix well.
  6. Put a baking paper in a baking tray and spread the mixture evenly.
  7. Bake at 180°C for 30mins.

Enjoy!

2 Simple Desserts to Warm You Up

It’s getting more and more chilly, and in this kind of weather it is good to have some simple recipes to satisfy your craving. These two recipes are suitable as breakfast, snack or dessert.

Both recipes are refined sugar free and lactose free, however they contain eggs.

 

Mug cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut flower
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of baking powder
  • Optional: maple / carob/ date syrup if you got a sweet tooth

Directions:

  1. Crack an egg into a mug and whisk it with a fork.
  2. Add sunflower oil and mix together.
  3. Add coconut flower, ground almonds, cocoa powder and baking powder in the mug and mix everything together to get a doughy texture.
  4. Put in a microwave on HIGH for 2mins.
  5. Once done you can add some fruits on top. Enjoy!

 

Scrambled egg white with banana

This recipe was inspired by one of my FAB in 8 weeks clients. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Egg white from 1 egg
  • 1tsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: nuts, fruits etc.

Directions:

  1. Heat a pan with coconut oil.
  2. Cut the banana into pieces and add to the pan.
  3. Add a bit of cinnamon. Optionally add chopped nuts.
  4. Once banana is nice and soft add the egg white and mix till you have mushy texture.
  5. Serve on its own or with some nuts / fruits. Enjoy!

 

 

Raw Carrot Cake

Last week was the first time I attempted to make a raw carrot cake and I was so please how it turned out. I love normal carrot cake, so I had high expectations from the raw version. I was also a bit nervous as it was 2 layers of base and 2 layers of cream. But I was very pleased with the results and the guest we had over for dinner that night loved it too.

 

INGREDIENTS

For the base:

  • 2 grated carrots
  • 150g ground hazelnuts
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • 100g ground almond
  • Handful of pitted dates
  • Handful of figs (or prunes)
  • 2 tbsp carob / maple /date syrup
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil

For the cream layer:

  • 500g cashew nuts soaked over night
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp carob / maple / date syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

 

 

Note: I do not have a food processor so I use my Nutribullet for all the blending. So, either a blender or a food processor are both ok to use. 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a microwave.
  2. Put the grated carrots and goji berries in a big bowl and mix it with ground cinnamon.
  3. Put ground almonds, ground hazelnuts, chopped walnuts, pitted dates, figs, vanilla extract and coconut oil in a blender and blend till everything is nicely mixed together.
    Note: If your blender is too small just mix half of everything first and then the other half.
  4. Put the mixture in a bowl and mix it with the carrots, goji berries and cinnamon.
  5. Put half of the mixture in a round cake form, push the mixture evenly into the form. Then cut a baking paper into a circle shape of a size of the cake form and place it on the first layer. Put the remaining mixture of the baking paper and push into the form and make it even.
  6. Place the cake form in a freezer for 1 hour.
  7. Put all the ingredients for the cream layer in a blender and blend until smooth.
    Note: If it is not getting smooth because it is too dry just add a bit more of any of the wet ingredients- almond milk, melted coconut oil, lemon juice etc.
  8. When time is up take the cake form with the base out of the freezer and take the upper base layer out of the form.
  9. Pour half of the cream into the cake form on top of the base and spread evenly.
  10. Place the second base layer on the cream and slightly push down till you see a bit of cream coming out on the sides of the base.
  11. Pour the rest of the cream on top and spread evenly.
  12. Decorate with some chopped walnuts on top.
  13. Place in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
  14. Take out of the freezer 1 hour before serving and place it in the fridge. If you intend to server in less than an hour you can even leave it outside.

Tip: The flavors combine even better if you leave the cake to rest over night. In that case put in the freezer for 3 hours and then place in the fridge overnight.