Ok, it’s been just over a month since I finished the 8-week I Quit Sugar program (read about that here and here) and I have to say that I have slipped, like once…..or twice….or thrice. I have had a couple of binge days where no amount of self cajoling has kept me away from the dark chocolate and nothing but a brownie will do. And I have had those days where that gorgeous fudge that that client has brought in simply can’t be ignored.
But you know what? I don’t actually feel that guilty. I guess firstly because I never intended to be completely sugar-free for life. I always knew I’d re-introduce the S-word back into my life in the form of the (occasional) treat and while recently I seem to have stretched the definition of ‘occasional’, I have certainly noticed some changes in my attitude to sugar.
For one thing, my tastes when it comes to sugary treats has refined and while it seems nothing will cure me of my chocolate obsession, I seem to be able to resist the cheap, sugar-laden ‘confectionary’ type chocolate. I previously would have crammed any cocoa-related substance indiscriminately into my mouth at break-neck speed, just in case all the chocolate factories in the world happened to burn down in the next five minutes. But now, I seem to very partial to high quality dark chocolate……the good stuff, as any addict would say.
I can also quite happily walk past a bag of lollies or a pack of biscuits without turning into a human vacuum cleaner and have also been able to resist many cakes and such without too much drama.
Then there was that weak moment, or succession of moments, when I came home from a Saturday at work madly craving a chocolaty treat.
That evening, after discovering an Adriano Zumbo brownie packet mix in the cupboard, the mixture may or may not have met with a couple of eggs and some butter and made its way into the oven.
Thirty- five minutes later, about a quarter of the pan may or may not have disappeared.
It’s my word against the brownies’ so I guess we’ll never know how it all happened.
Aside from struggling a little with the transition from ‘sugar-detox’ to ‘just treating myself to the good stuff every now and then’, the other thing I struggled with is not being able to bake while I was trying to detox. So I’ve been playing around with some fructose-free recipes and hit up my stash of cookbooks to see if I could modify an existing recipe.
I dug out a squat, fat little book called ’500 Cookies’ by Phillipa Vanstone and found a recipe called ‘Coconut Wedges’. I tweaked some things, added some saffron (it’s the Indian in me) and came up with something that I will call Fructose-free Coconut Cake bars. If you don’t mind the fructose, you can of course use any other syrup such as honey, maple-syrup or golden syrup.
These little dudes are like the anti-brownie. While brownies are the good stuff, these bars have the stuff that’s good for you.
These are dense, crumbly little numbers, somewhere between a cake and a bread, that you could totally get away with eating for breakfast. They of course, also make a great healthy snack which I suspect is their original intention.
Fructose-Free Coconut Cake Bars
Adapted from ’500 Cookies’ by Phillipa Vanstone
1/4 tsp or generous pinch saffron strands
1 tbsp milk, warmed
3/4 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 cup rolled or quick oats
1 1/2 cup shredded or desiccated coconut + 1/4 cup extra
1/2 tsp all-spice
1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 to 1 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 175 C.
In a small bowl, add the saffron strands to the warm milk and stir until the milk is coloured. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking powder and baking soda. Add 1 1/2 cups coconut, the oats and all-spice and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk the oil with the syrup. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and milk with saffron. Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture and stir through gently until just combined.
Pour the mixture into a 30cm x 20cm baking tin and smooth out evenly. My mixture didn’t fill the entire tin and there was about 2 inches empty at one end. Sprinkle extra coconut over the top. If using desiccated coconut to sprinkle, do this about 5-7 mins into the baking process so it doesn’t burn.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 12-15 mins. Test by inserting a clean knife or skewer into the centre of the cake- if it comes out clean, it’s done!
Allow to cool and slice into bars, about 7 cm x 4cm.
Ok, so the saffron is a luxury and very nice but probably optional.
Vanilla extract has a little sugar in it. If you need this to be completely fructose free, use vanilla powder or the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean.
If you don’t have coconut oil, a neutral oil such as vegetable oil should work.