Photos by the writer
Photos by the writer

As I prepared for my daily walk and bent down to tie my shoelaces, I didn’t like the feeling. My breathing was heavy and I felt a little out of breath. I knew exactly what the problem was.

I had gained 11 lbs during this pandemic, and I was already nine lbs over my baseline weight. I needed to shed some pounds. A tall order for a short person who knows how to get this done, but the bridge between knowing and doing is an arduous one. I was already doing my evening walks (10 percent of the part), but the 90 percent of the disciplined eating had been thrown out of the window. That’s the dragon I needed to chain and retrain.

A light bulb moment and I knew exactly what I needed to do.

I decided to exclude red meat, added sugar and sugar substitutes, and allowed myself a small portion of white meat at four meals (between the 21 meals in a week). I ate everything else sensibly by making better choices (whole wheat flour instead of white flour). There was no cutting out rice, flour, bread, potatoes, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, cheese, dairy, etc. And I allowed myself all naturally occurring sugars; however, I do not like drinking my calories, so no juice.

These absolutely delicious, no sugar-added desserts are completely guilt-free if you are watching your weight

In essence, I went back to myself, otherwise lost in the humdrum maze and noise of all else. I carefully read labels of pre-packaged snacks and, for the most part, cooked for myself.

So here I am, almost six lbs lighter, with sugar cravings almost gone, hunger pangs in control, and there is no starvation and denial involved. The mood swings and occasional feeling of dejection (I’m generally an upbeat soul) is within the normal spectrum, my energy levels have gone up, and the overall feeling of wellbeing is worth noting.

Since it has only been a fortnight, I can only report on the changes I’ve seen so far, but this sustainable lifestyle is easily maintainable. I do plan to reintroduce sugar and red meat, within moderation, once I’ve attained my target, but for now this is working out well.

Today, I’m sharing with you two no sugar-added desserts that have aided me through my journey. Guilt-free and absolutely delicious, here they are, from my kitchen to yours.

Blueberries and Apple Crumble

Ingredients

(Can substitute with berry of choice and/or pears)
4 cups diced and peeled apple
4 cups frozen blueberries
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

FOR THE CRUMBLE TOPPING

½ cup rolled oats
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup pecans
½ cup walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup unsweetened coconut
Bananas

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with coconut oil.

Combine the apples and blueberries in a large bowl. Add the orange juice and stir to evenly combine the fruits and the juice. Transfer to the baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until the fruit is soft and bubbly.

Meanwhile, combine the oats, quinoa, pecans, walnuts, spices and salt for the topping in your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine the ingredients. Gradually add the coconut oil, while continuing to pulse the mixture until it is evenly moistened and the nuts are roughly chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in the sliced almonds and unsweetened coconut.

Take the baked fruit from the oven, and sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven (uncovered) and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until the topping is crisp and gold. For added deliciousness, eat it with sliced bananas.

Banana Loaf

Ingredients

WET INGREDIENTS

5 ripe bananas
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or extract

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
One teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of cinnamon

Method

Mash the bananas. In a separate bowl beat the egg, and add in vanilla essence or extract. Mix in the mashed bananas and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients well and fold into the wet ingredients.

Do not over mix. Add ½ cup chopped walnuts. Line a loaf pan with coconut oil, pour the mixture in the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Originally published in Dawn, EOS, December 6th, 2020

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