May 2017: sugar slavery

Bad things have been published about sugar recently. And they are correct. What’s worse: artificial sweeteners, the usual substitutes, are no better. On the contrary – see [1].
How can we free ourselves from this particular slavery?
Here are some tips [2].

1. See through the disguise.
Do you have any idea how many names sugar can take in an ingredient list? Have a look [3].
2. Check the ranking.
Ingredient lists rank ingredients in order of weight, so if there is lots of sugar it will be listed as one of the first ingredients.
3. Beware of misleading labels.
Labelling such as ‘low sugar’ or ‘light’ is not to be trusted. What does ‘low’ mean? How much of it can you eat, to still be ‘low’? And ‘light’ always means ‘artificials’, and so does ‘low sugar’ usually. See [a].
4. Eat whole foods.
One way to avoid the entire labelling and ingredients trap, is to eat mainly whole foods. Foods that your great grandmother would recognise.
5. Ditch soft drinks.
Soft drinks are basically liquid sweets. Cut back, and don’t turn to diet sodas as a substitute. See [a].
If you love fizz, try soda water with a squeeze of lemon. You can get used to it, really!
6. Re-train your taste buds.
Our taste receptors are numbed by the chemical overload of sweet foods we consume. Try gradually cutting back, or for real results, just stop. This helps reset your receptors and appetite. Once you’ve changed your habits, it’s easy. I can testify! Nowadays I even, happily, have custard without sugar. And so does my husband.
7. Don’t skip meals.
Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Keeping your blood sugar stable is the key to managing sugar cravings. If you skip meals, your energy levels crash and you feel light headed and weak. This is not good for you, and you won’t be able to resist the resulting craving.
8. Drink.
Water is necessary for many vital functions, yet we often don’t drink enough. Sometimes when we feel hungry, we are in fact thirsty.
9. Season and spice.
Experiment with herbs and spices to give yourself the flavour that you are missing from eliminating sweet foods. A delicious salt such as himalayan pink could make a world of difference.
10. Get plenty of rest.
If you are tired, you may want a sugary pick-me-up. However, sugar will make you only more tired before long. Try get a good nights sleep; a siesta may be useful too.
When I worked in an office a long time ago, after lunch I used to have a nap on the floor next to my desk. But I liked sleeping hard. And it helped that I had a room to myself. Later, when I didn’t, I would hide in the far recesses of the building and do the same. I realise this is not a possibility for everyone …..
11. Stress.
Try and eliminate stress as much as possible. Don’t turn to sugar as a form of comfort when you are feeling under emotional pressure. Look for other ways to help yourself feel better: take a walk, get into nature, see friends, lose yourself in a book. That way you will avoid the nasty dip that follows the high.
13. Distract yourself.
If you really feel you cannot resist a sugary snack, try distract yourself. Pick up the phone, sing a song, do press ups. The craving will pass!
14. Befriend fruit.
Enjoy nature’s own treats and don’t listen to those who say they, too, contain sugar. It’s not the same! Fruit naturally contains small amounts of sugar, but also fiber, nutrients and various beneficial compounds. Mind you, this does not necessarily hold for fruit juice [4].
15. There are other ways to sweeten your food. Have you thought about salt? I thought not. Or milk? Beetroot? See [5].

direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, salsify/scorzonera, (sugar) peas. If pea moth’s a problem, wait till mid May.
in seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in trays: beans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, tomatoes, squashes late May.
green manure: if you have space, do it now. See

veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.


Throw some rocket leaves into your next meal; it goes well in pastas and risottos. Or grill bread, rub with garlic and top with olive oil, salt, and rocket. For more rocket recipes, see [6].

700g starchy potatoes, 2 tblsp oil, 1 tblsp cider vinegar, salt, pepper, 200g lettuce or something like that, 20g butter, nutmeg.
The original recipe calls for escarole – a kind of endive which may be hard to get and, in Britain, is often confused with witloof chicory. The really intrepid can use some dandelion leaves!
Here goes.
Preheat the plates. Whisk oil with salt, vinegar and pepper. Cut greens into very fine strips, mix with dressing. Quarter or halve the potatoes depending on size. Bring to boil in salted water, cook, drain. Crush the hot potatoes, stir in butter. Season with salt and nutmeg. Fold in a portion of lettuce/escarole. Heap the potatoes in the middle of the plates, and arrange the rest of the greens in a circle around them. Serve at once.

Here is a recipe I did not try out myself but it sounds good:
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ASPARAGUS, serves 2.
2 large eggs at room temperature, 12 dozen slim stems of asparagus, woody ends trimmed; unsalted butter, a few drops of cider vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper.
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Lower in the eggs, simmer for exactly 4 mins. Steam the asparagus over the top of the boiling eggs, or cook in a separate pan for a couple of minutes. The asparagus should be tender but not soft and floppy. Transfer the eggs to egg cups. Cut the top off and take to the table with the asparagus. Drop some butter, a few drops of cider vinegar, salt and pepper into the hot yolk (alternatively, just sprinkle some salt and pepper on the plate), stir with a bit of asparagus, dip and eat.

Would you like your greens cheap but fresh? Do your radishes have more leaf than root? Try:
80g radish greens, 5 sliced radishes, 2 sliced potatoes, 30ml cream, 1 large diced onion, 2 tblsp butter, 1l water/stock.
Sauté onion in butter, add potatoes and greens. Then add liquid, bring to a boil. Simmer till the potatoes are soft, blend, add cream, cook and stir. Serve with radish slices.

SORREL OMELETTE serves 2 (daughter liked it, husband didn’t but then he doesn’t like spinach either)
40ml milk, 3 eggs, salt, pepper, (1 finely chopped garlic clove, ), 1/2 handful sorrel leaves, oil/butter.
Whisk eggs with milk and seasoning. Roll up sorrel and chop. Heat butter/oil, pour eggs into the pan. Let the bottom of the omelette cook a bit before adding the sorrel. Mix the leaves slightly into the eggs. Cook until done. Flip the sides of the omelette in toward the middle, so it is covered. Have with nice bread, fried tomatoes and lots of pepper. You can also add young spinach/chard, wild garlic, or spring onions.

FISH FILLET for one – best use coley, pollock, whiting or bream as they are more sustainable than the usually recommended sea bass.
1 fish fillet, 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, olive oil, sea salt, 1 sliced lemon.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Slash the skin side of the fish diagonally so the flesh is exposed. Put lots of rosemary into the pockets. Rub the rest of the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Sear in a pan skin-side down, until the skin starts to crisp. Then transfer to the oven for 5 mins. Serve.

250g potatoes, 20g young nettles (weighed after removing the main stems), sour cream, fresh mint, garlic, grated cheese.
Cook the potatoes in salted water. About 5 mins before they’re done, add the finely chopped nettles, mint and squashed garlic: cook till everything is done. Pour off any water, add some dollops of sour cream. Season if necessary, mash, let warm through. With plenty of grated cheese.

What more to do with your last old potatoes? Make
500g old potatoes, 1 egg, pepper, salt, any herbs/spices you have handy.
Peel and cook the potatoes. Mash, or put through a coarse grater. Mix with egg, 1 tsp salt, and pepper. You can add any herbs or spices you like. Make patties and fry. Serve with butter, thick yoghurt, or sour cream.

Make a marinade of 50ml soy, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, chopped onion and pepper. Steep them in this for however long you have. Stir once or twice. Cook as usual.


Kara Walker’s ‘Marvellous Sugar Baby – an Homage to the slaves in the cane fields on the occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant”.

Next month:

[1] “New evidence, in fact, states that people who frequently consume sugar substitutes may be at an increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.” – from
[2] Mostly from


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