Tomorrow my darling husband and I are embarking on an eight week experiment to rid our bodies of sugar and see what happens. I’ve been keeping to the I Quit Sugar regiment pretty strictly for almost ten weeks now, including daily serious morning jogs and reformer pilates, and walking at least 10,000 steps a day. I haven’t felt so good for years. So in an effort to get my husband on the bandwagon of health, I signed “us” up for Sarah Wilson’s official eight week program in the hopes that he too will feel the benefits and perhaps start adopting this healthier lifestyle.
However, being a chef, ridding my diet of all sugar has been hard. When I made those delicious cookies and the cake, licking my fingers clean was a habit I had to stop in mid-act. Much of the Asian food I love to prepare is loaded with sugar and chilli pastes that are loaded with the stuff. I’ve been experimenting with new ways to pickle, new sweeteners, new ingredients all round. It’s a challenge, but one that I enjoy and it nicely fits into the lifestyles that most of my clients adhere to anyway. Yes, I’ve had an occasional treat (that cherry strudel at Fischer’s and those onesie cut out cookies), but by and large I’ve been even staying away from sugar-rich fruits.
Since tomorrow is the beginning of the serious program, with a full daily menu plan included, I decided that one last treat was in order before the hard work begins. Last night as i made a sweep through the cupboards I spotted a lone can of Libby’s brand pumpkin puree and my decision was made – Pumpkin Sour Cream Pancakes were on the menu. The pumpkin puree combined with the sour cream gives these a lovely light texture and a little autumnal punch, so perfect for a late September Sunday. I also decided to use the cute waffle skillet that I found at Sur La Table last time I was in the US (I thought the little savory waffles would be perfect for making the base for a myriad of canapes and starters). My mother says that she has made blini-sized pancakes using this recipe and piled them high with sour cream and caviar or smoked salmon. Her guests went wild, and while I haven’t tried it myself (yet), I’m guessing the slight sweet, earthy taste of these is quite special with savory toppings.
At the Queens Park Farmers’ Market this morning, still no sign of the Brussels sprouts I’ve been craving, but lots of gorgeous black kale and squashes galore. The flower lady still has the most exquisite roses I’ve ever known – the vase on our coffee table fills the room with the delicate scent of roses for the entire week. I bought some “streaky”bacon to go along with my pancake/waffles, lots of greens to accompany the meals this week, free range eggs, some buttermilk from the dairy stall. Starving by the time I got home (I’d already been to pilates too), I quickly preheated the oven for the bacon and within 15 minutes had my last sugar-fuelled brunch on a plate, doused in maple syrup. After weeks of smoothies and quinoa with greens and eggs for breakfast, the powerful sugary hit in these was divine. I can’t say I feel my best right now, I do believe that the sugar makes me less energetic and clear, but this recipe was worth it for one last hurrah.
So, for the next eight weeks, while I’ll be cooking for clients and have a couple of dinner parties arranged to cater, my own food won’t be that much fun to share. Please bare with me, and I might share some of the recipes, techniques, and lessons I learn along the way, if you’re interested. I find the relationship between food, health, and how we feel, not just emotionally (which is what I focus on most of the time) but physically, fascinating! Stay tuned.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix together all the dry ingredients in one large bowl. In a large measuring cup combine all the wet ingredients and then slowly add to the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Head a skillet (or waffle pan) and brush with oil or use a non-stick spray. Ladle out the pancakes according to the size you want, wait for bubbles to appear on the surface, check that the underside is the color you want and then flip. Cook for a couple more minutes and serve – butter and syrup for me please!