My Sugar-Free Challenge

I wouldn’t say I have much of a sweet tooth. If someone offered me a cake or a bowl of olives, I’d rather have the olives. But I’ve seen recently a trend for people saying they want to give up sugar and there are even ‘experts’ such as Sarah Wilson, who can help people give up the white stuff.

But is sugar really that bad and if it is, is it really so hard to give up, you need ‘experts’ to teach you how? I didn’t think it is, so when Benenden asked me if I’d like to join in their sugar-free challenge to help promote their sugar-free hub, I was more than happy to oblige because a) I didn’t think I ate much sugar; and b) I love a challenge.

So, below is a kind of diary of what I ate and – if applicable – what I usually would have had on a normal ‘not bothered about looking out for sugar to avoid’ day.

Sugar-Free Breakfast 

Hot water with lemon

Well, breakfast was never going to be hard to be sugar-free as, although there was a time when I was a five-teaspoons-of-sugar-in-tea kind of girl, I haven’t drunk tea for years and I’ve never drunk coffee (bleurgh) and my hot drink upon waking is always hot water and lemon.  Before anyone pipes up with ‘but fruit is full of sugar – you’ve failed already, loser’, as far as I’m aware, going sugar-free doesn’t mean giving up something perfectly healthy like fruit. So there.


Just as I haven’t drunk sugar-laden tea for years, I also grew out of eating sugary breakfast cereals topped with more sugar when I was about ten years old. Nowadays, my breakfast is a smoothie and today’s one was frozen mixed fruit, dried golden berries, acai powder and water. It did occur to me that sugar might be added to the packeted fruit and powder but, hooray, no added sugar. No added anything, in fact. If you haven’t tried golden berries before, please do – they make a great tangy addition to smoothies, or you could add them to flapjacks, energy bars, etc.

Sugar-Free Lunch 

Vegan tomato soup and ciabatta

Lunch was going to be slightly more tricky than breakfast as I’d made mushroom jerky the other day that I’d been having in wraps for lunch. No problems with the mushrooms, obviously, but I’d marinated them in Reggae Reggae Sauce which I thought was bound to contain sugar and, upon inspection of the label, saw I was right. No Reggae Reggae for me that day, dammit.

Never mind, I thought – I can have some of the tomato soup I made the other day, that’ll be sugar-free. But – woah, hang on, what about the stock? They put all sort of things in stock – they put milk in some vegetarian stocks, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find sugar in them too. It was fine though – no sugar in the stock. Oh, but then I thought, surely there must be sugar in the tinned tomatoes I used? But still, no sugar there either. My tomato soup was a sugar-free zone. Phew.

How about the ciabatta and Vitalite I wanted with it though? None there either – ha, this sugar-free thing is a breeze.

Sugar-Free Drinks

Hot chocolate made with raw cacao and almond milk

Okay, so obviously my homemade lemonade that I still had in the fridge wasn’t sugar-free – it’s made with just three ingredients, which are lemons, sugar and water – but apart from my beloved hot chocolate, I usually only drink water throughout the day, so cold drinks weren’t a problem. But, what about the aforementioned beloved hot chocolate? I didn’t even have to read the label to know that that would have sugar in it, so what was I to do? Go cold – or should that be hot chocolate – turkey? Na. I’d make my own with raw cacao powder instead. Sorted.

Although I couldn’t see sugar listed on the ingredients for the soya milk I usually use, I decided to make my hot chocolate extra pure by making it with homemade almond milk. Yep, maximum hippy level reached.

Homemade almond milk

Sugar-Free Dinner

Sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, courgette and carrot burgers

Luckily, Wednesday is Riverford veg box delivery day, so I had a box full of veg with which to make a healthy, sugar-free dinner. Faced with courgettes and carrots, I made courgette and carrot burgers and served them with purple sprouted broccoli and new potatoes. Because I made them with chickpea (gram) flour, I got a bonus ‘free’ in, as they’re gluten-free as well as sugar-free. Actually, they’re full of ‘frees’, as to give them their full title, they’re wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free (this may explain why The Meat Eater said they didn’t taste of much).

As a condiment freak, I don’t usually have ‘dry’ burgers, but tomato ketchup contains sugar, so that was out. The Mayola mayonnaise in the fridge didn’t contain any sugar but at the time I didn’t think courgette and carrot burgers would go with mayo – not when they’re spiced with curry powder, anyway. On reflection though, it probably would have gone well. Ho hum.

Sugar-Free Snacks

I’m not going to lie. I missed my after-dinner mint and I spent the whole of the evening wanting a bit of chocolate or a biscuit or something sweet, so maybe sugar isn’t as easy to give up as I originally thought and it is addictive as ‘they’ say?

As challenges go, this one was easy but, then again, I only did it for a day. Some people give up sugar for life and I’m not sure that would be so easy.

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Review: Genius Gluten Free Cupcakes

Genius gluten-free cupcakes
Genius gluten-free cupcakes
Genius gluten-free cupcakes

Although I’d never pretend to be a cake expert (a cakespert?), I’ve got to say, these gluten-free cupcakes from Genius don’t appear to be any different from their un-gluten-free counterparts. I’ve only tried the lemon one so far which had a sweet lemony frosting on top of a light, fluffy sponge with none of that cardboard texture you can sometimes get with gluten-free products.

Genius gluten-free lemon and chocolate cupcakes
Genius gluten-free lemon and chocolate cupcakes

If you’re thinking they look a bit squished, that’s because they were sent to me, so I’m sure they’ll be in a more pristine condition in the shops. If you do want to check them out, also in Genius’ gluten-free range are other cakes and treats (including muffins and crumpets), bread and rolls, and pastry and pies.

Anyone who loves cupcakes but needs them gluten-free should definitely give these a go.

For more information:

Visit the Genius website
Following Genius on Twitter
Like Genius on Facebook

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Nairn’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Biscuit Breaks


I said recently on Facebook that I seemed to be amassing a collection of gluten-free biscuits and, as I’m not a coeliac, I don’t need gluten-free biscuits and why couldn’t I be sent Chocolate Hob Nobs instead?

Unfortunately, no Chocolate Hob Nobs were forthcoming (yeah, okay, I could have gone to the shop and bought some), so I cracked open the packet of Nairn’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Biscuits Breaks I’d been sent to try.

There’s something about the words ‘gluten-free’ that makes me think less ‘mmm, yummy biscuit’ and more ‘these biscuits are going to taste of cardboard’ but these are nice biscuits and totally undeserving of my preconceptions. Crispy, crunchy, chocolatey and perfect for dunking in your tea.

In each box are four pouches of four biscuits, so they’re handy for taking out with you in case you come across an emergency requiring a chocolate chip biscuit.

Nairn’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Biscuit Breaks are suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs and available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

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9bar Breakfast Bars


Because I usually only have a smoothie for breakfast, I’m usually hungry again by about 11am which is too early for lunch but near enough lunchtime to not want anything too substantial. 9bar have just  launched their range of breakfast bars which are ideal for that hungry-but-it’s-too-early-for lunch dilemma.

They come in four flavours: Apricot & Strawberry, Cashew & Cocoa, Almond & Raspberry, and Peanut & Raisin. 9bar sent me all four flavours to try and although they’re all tasty and I’d be happy to eat any of them again, my favourite is the Cashew & Cocoa variety.

As they’re full of seeds, bits will get stuck in your teeth, so my advice is not to eat one around someone who doesn’t like the sound of teeth being unstuck of seeds (yes, I’m talking from experience here).

The 9bar Breakfast range is gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and vegans andwill be in independent health food stores nationwide from May or online at All varieties are available in 50g singles, RRP 90p per bar. Visit for more information.

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Secret Sausages – Vegetables In Disguise


A healthy sausage? The last time I heard such an oxymoron was a couple of weeks ago when a friend mentioned ‘fun’ and ‘camping’ in the same sentence.

Still, Secret Sausages have 90% less fat, 50% fewer calories and 35% less salt than normal sausages. And if you eat three of them, you’ve got one of your five-a-day too.

Unlike most vegetarian sausages, these aren’t the ‘meaty’ type. These are made with fresh vegetables packed inside a vegetarian casing made from seaweed and rice and, like any other sausage, can be grilled, fried, oven-baked or barbecued.


Secret Sausages sent me a couple of packs to try and the other night I cooked up the rosemary and garlic variety which are made from garlic, green beans, mixed peppers, carrots and rosemary. Because they’re not the meaty type, they were quite soft and although I couldn’t taste any garlic, there was a pleasant hint of rosemary.

Not wanting to be too healthy, I served them with chips, baked beans, fried egg and fried mushrooms.



Secret Sausages are Vegetarian Society approved, gluten-free and available in six flavours: Lincolnshire, Chilli and Coriander, Rosemary and Garlic, Cumberland, Honey Bee, Cheese and Spring Onion


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Mexican Vegan Crustless Quiche

Mexican Vegan Crustless Quiche

I was supposed to be writing a script so, obviously, instead I did my washing, sent photographs of wallpaper to the decorator, went to the Post Office, emptied the cat litter tray and, most importantly, satisfied my urge to make a vegan crustless quiche.

I’ve had the urge to make a vegan crustless quiche ever since my friend Gemma said on Facebook she wanted to make one. This made me curious so I found this recipe for Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches, which Gemma duly made and pronounced delicious.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any firm silken tofu in my local supermarket and buying nutritional yeast would have meant a trip to Holland and Barratt, so I had another look for a recipe that didn’t require tofu and found this recipe for Mexican Vegan Crustless Quiche which, as well as being dairy-free and egg-free, it’s also gluten-free which, although I don’t have to avoid gluten, lots of my friends do.


I’ll have to admit, I was dubious. But I’m going to take back my dubiousness because this was amazing. It’s firmer than an eggy quiche but because it’s the eggyness that’s the worst bit of a quiche for me, that’s fine by me.

The way I did it, is pretty much the same as the original recipe, except Laura’s uses coriander (bleurgh) and she mixed up the chickpea flour and water mixture with the vegetables, whereas I didn’t have a bowl big enough to do that in, so I poured the vegetables into the dish, then poured the chickpea flour mixture over the top.


Mexican Crustless Chickpea Quiche
(adapted from

    • 4 cups loosely packed cups spinach, de-stemmed and chopped
    • 1 large tomato, chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 red chilli, chopped
    • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    • 2 cups chickpea flour
    • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 3 cups water


    Pre-heat oven to 200C.  Lightly grease a 9″ spring-form pan or other oven-proof dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together the vegetables.

Using a handheld blender or food processor combine the chickpea flour, oil, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic and water.  Blend until smooth and frothy.

Pour the vegetables into the ovenproof container, then pour the chickpea mixture over the top.

Bake for around 45 minutes until the quiche is brown on top, and a cake tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly before removing from the dish.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutritionals (per slice): 175 calories, 4.8g fat, 24.1 carbs, 5g fiber, 5.7g sugar, 8.8g protein

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Orgran Gluten Free Tinned Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce


Like Sooty without Sweep, and Sue without Mel, Orgran’s gluten free spaghetti in tomato sauce was okay, but there was something missing. I’m not sure what the something was (and it wasn’t a gormless squeaky thing either and yes, I know that’s not a nice way to describe Mel Giedroyc), but there was no ‘aaah, tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce’ comfort factor here.

The appearance was fine, it smelt tomatoey and all was looking good but the doubt crept in when I picked up a bit that had fallen on to the chopping board and it felt hard. Hard? Tinned spaghetti shouldn’t feel hard, should it? Shouldn’t it be a bit squidgy?

When it’s an unheated cold baked bean that’s fallen on to the chopping board, I usually eat it (it’s not just me who does that, is it? No? Good) but this time I decided to wait until the spaghetti was cooked.

It looked like any other spaghetti on toast – except it was already cut up into pieces and I like my spaghetti whole. Then again, the Meat Eater likes his cut up into short strands, so it’s not really something to criticise. It also tasted fine, it was just the texture and the texture actually wasn’t that bad, it just wasn’t quite right. I wish I could describe more how it wasn’t quite right but I’m afraid my Sooty and Sue analogy above is going to have to do.

All Orgran products are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, yeast free, GMO free and vegan and they have a wide range of products. For more information, visit the Orgran website.

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Trek Protein Flapjacks

Trek Protein Flapjacks

When I used to do my running commute from Chancery Lane to Walthamstow, I used to have a Trek Protein Bar an hour or so before leaving the office, to give me a bit of extra energy. Well, that’s what I told myself, anyway. I just used to like eating them (especially the peanut and oat variety) and running six miles home seemed like a good enough excuse to me.

Now Natural Balance Foods – who make the Trek Protein Bars (and also the Nakd Bars that I reviewed a while back) have brought out a range of Trek Protein Flapjacks. Yes, healthy flapjacks, yee ha! I had the Morning Berry one on a recent 35 mile bike ride and it was the perfect snack to have with a cup of tea halfway through the ride.

Trek Protein Flapjacks are also available in Banana Bread, Oat Raisin, Cocoa Coconut, Cocoa Oat and Original Oat varieties. They’re wheat-free, gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Find them in health food shops or order directly from the Natural Balance Foods website (they always have special offers on, so it’s worth checking out).

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Giveaway: BFree Gluten Free Wraps


BFree make a range of gluten free products including multigrain wraps that are vegan, vegetarian and only 99 calories per wrap. Considering most wraps have over 150 calories each, you’d think the BFree ones would be tiny, but they’re not. I had one for lunch today and filled it with the rather bizarre combination of Quorn pepperoni slices, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, rocket and mayonnaise. I’d like to say it’s nicer than it sounds, but I’d be lying; Quorn pepperoni and mayonnaise isn’t the greatest match made in munchies, that’s for sure.


BFree wraps are coming to Asda soon but if you’d like to try them for free, you’re in luck, as I’m giving away a packet here on Planet Veggie.

How to enter the giveaway

Just leave a comment below, letting me know what your favourite sandwich/wrap fillings are.

A winner will be picked at random after the closing date of Friday, 30 August 2013.

UK entries only.

For more information on BFree, visit the BFree website, or watch this video where the wraps are explained along to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody.

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Seabrooks Crisps whole range now vegetarian and gluten free


Unlike Walkers, who decided to add meat to their crisps (okay, it was to the meaty flavours but why cut out a huge corner of their market by making them ‘not suitable for vegetarians’, eh?), the entire range of Seabrooks Crisps are vegetarian. Now, they’re gluten free too.

Seabrooks Crisps are lovely. I had a packet of their cheese and onion flavour (my favourite) today and they were crispy, crunchy, full of flavour and just how a crisp should be.

For more information, visit

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