Thursday, 25 June 2015

Savouring the Savoury

OK, So I’ve embarked on a sugarless diet (better referred to as sugar reduced diet). Is that it, then? Did I give up on pleasure food?
In plain English, what do I snack on now that the vast majority of conventional snacks, from your chocolate bars to cookies and ice cream have been banned?
I have so far developed a three pronged approach to this question.
First, there’s water. Water is calorie free (!), healthy when consumed at reasonable amounts, and when drunk in bubbly form can be surprisingly filling. I was surprised how far I could get away water during summer months. Alas, recreational consumption of water during the cold winter months is quite unattractive.
Second, coffee. Coffee fills me up quite well, and in the form I like it best (soy flat white at cafes or latte at home) it offers good value for the calorie. I like my coffee strong and bitter, so sugar need not apply. Alas, coffee consumption as of 14:00 hours is a dangerous affair given the half life of caffeine in the blood and the potential damage it might incur on the night’s sleep. Even decaf coffee has caffeine in it, enough to interrupt sleep when taken at the wrong time.
The third option is the most interesting one, coming straight from Israeli culture. It’s probably a weather thing, but whereas the dominating snacks in Australian culture come from English origins (read: heavy stuff, featuring sugar fortified with more sugar), Israelis know how to snack on nuts. Pistachios, almonds and cashews are, as far as I am concerned, pretty attractive snacks.
Then there is the Supreme Master of all snacks, the roasted + smoked sunflower seed. It used to be that Australia would only have tiny non-smoked sunflower seeds draped in salt, but nowadays one can get the real deal: sunflower seeds roasted and smoked in Israel (as per the photo). You can note the seeds are quite big, the cooking is optimal, and while salt is there it is not so abundant that it is visible.
Mind you, this could be a case of replacing one problem (sugar) with another (salt). I try to solve it by resorting to non salted solutions when they are available, but so far could only find unsalted cashews, almonds and roasted chickpeas.
Another problem is the calorie intake: these nuts sure pack heat, and it is all too easy to overeat. 100 grams of pistachios, for example, which take me about a minute and a half to consume, are equivalent to a proper dinner at a bit more than 2,000KJ.
On the other hand, there is no denying the health value. The nuts contain protein, iron and fibre that are all good for you. They are rich in fat, true, but that fat is also of the good kind. In other words, when it comes to snacking the smart thing to do is it in reasonable measures. Then again, that is the case with all food.

I’d be lying if I was to say I deny myself of all sugar. Apart from the occasional dish that has been prepared with some sugar inside, I do give in to the dark side and surrender myself to a Lindt chocolate or artisan ice cream. It’s just that I do it at far lower frequency and quantity than before, and by all [anecdotal + unverified] accounts this reduction is doing me a lot of good.

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