My thoughts on sugar, and a great breakfast recipe with no added sugar
I find myself joining the sugar debate quite a bit these days. I sat next to a nutritionist at dinner this week, and the first thing I asked her was what her thoughts were on the white stuff.
I think its power to infiltrate and detriment whole societies and cultures really hit me during the four weeks I spent in Mexico last year (Mexico City, Oaxaca, Merida, and Tulum), where in the poorer parts, I regularly witnessed babies being fed Coca-Cola instead of milk or water. I was surprised at just how uncomfortable this made me; it's an incredibly jarring image.
|breakfast smoothie made with |
Jamie Oliver's granola dust
They've overtaken the Americans, with a whopping seventy percent being overweight, and almost one-third registering as obese. In the poor districts, there are obese parents and malnourished children. And it doesn't help that in Mexico, the fizzy pop is cheaper than a bottle of water or milk.
And then when I returned to the UK from my eight months of travel, I watched Jamie Oliver visit Mexico in Jamie's Sugar Rush, a programme he presented that investigated sugar's contribution to global health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. He discovered that in 2014, Mexico introduced a 10 per cent tax on sugar sweetened beverages, in a bid to reverse the trends which helped it take the accolade of being the most obese country in the world.
And just in January this year, the British Medical Journal reported that Mexico's sugar tax has resulted in a 12% drop in sales of sugary drinks, and an increase in sales of bottled water. Which can only be a good thing.
So good old Jamie put his balls on the line, and decided to take this same idea to the UK Government, to prevent the UK going the same way as the USA and Mexico. After months of campaigning, he finally succeeded - the UK Government announced that a sugary drinks tax will be introduced in the UK in 2018.
Why am I ranting about all this? I'm not anti-sugar, not in the slightest. The last two recipes I published attest to that - gluten-free hazelnut and coffee cookies and 'The Elvis Sandwich' peanut butter, banana and bacon mini cakes.
There is always a place for sugar. In sweet treats - cakes, biscuits, chocolate. And who doesn't love a dessert after dinner? We go to these things because we fancy that sweet hit. And they should be treated as just that - treats. The occasional reward we give ourselves because we've earnt it, and there's nothing wrong with that.
|me and JO, just hanging|
Turns out my good pal Jamie Oliver (pretty sure this picture 👈 means he's ok with me calling him that) has the same bugbear.
Jamie mentions in his ace book Everyday Super Food, that he and his wife get particularly frustrated over how most breakfast cereals are full of added sugar, and nutritionally aren't the best start to the day. So with his nutrition team, he developed this epic megamix of great ingredients - oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. There are also a couple of pages covering the number of ways you can use this magic granola dust.
The guys over at personal healthcare providers Benenden asked me if I had opinions on sugar and if I wanted to take part in a blogger challenge they're running, to help spread the word about their Sugar Hub. Clearly, I have opinions on sugar that I'd been meaning to write about anyway, and I wanted to share how great JO's granola dust recipe is as a part of that. So I said, why not.
Unless I'm out of the country or in a restaurant for breakfast, this is the stuff I start every morning with, throughout the year.
In the winter, I heat it up on the stove with milk and make porridge, and maybe throw on a sliced banana if I'm feeling fancy. It tastes so much better than standard porridge, because the toasting means the natural sugars present have begun to caramelise, adding a whole new flavour dimension. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to un-toasted oats when it comes to porridge. Plus, it's gloriously nutty.
In the summer, I blitz up the powder with milk, fresh fruit and cinnamon, for a gorgeous morning smoothie.
However you decide to use it, make up a big batch, store it in a jar, and use 50-60g per serving.
Jamie Oliver's awesome granola dust - nuts, seeds, oats and fruit galore
Makes about 15 servings
500g porridge oats
125g unsalted mixed nuts, such as walnuts, Brazils, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews
50g mixed seeds such as chia, poppy, sunflower, sesame, linseed, pumpkin
125g mixed dried fruit with no added sugar, such as blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, mango, apricots, figs
1.5 tbsp quality cocoa powder or raw cocoa nibs
1/2 tbsp freshly ground coffee
1 large orange
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Places the oats, nuts and seeds in a couple of large roasting trays, toss them together, and roast for around 15-20 minutes, until they start to golden and caramelise.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then add the dried fruit, cocoa and coffee to the mix. Finely grate over the orange zest, then in batches, blitz the whole lot to a rough powder in a food processor. Tip it into a large airtight jar for storage.
For my smoothies, I take 60g of the dust and blend it with one fresh banana, a handful of frozen berries, around 200ml of milk, and a teaspoon of cinnamon.
RECIPE: Blueberry and almond smoothie