Well, we hear a lot about the evils of sugar and there was sure to be a book (if not many) informing us how we can live without it. Really, I think, it is more about substituting refined sugars for ingredients in their natural state such as honey as some foods would be unpalatable without some form of sweetness.
Not sure how I acquired the book ‘Davina’s Sugar-free In a Hurry’ by Davina McCall but thought I would use it during one of our healthy eating weeks and did enjoy the recipes we tried.
Although mainly focusing on the main meal dishes I did try a few of the cake recipes. The Malt loaf was wonderful – you do need to make it a day in advance to enjoy true stickiness although I am sure those impatient souls will still have a good cake if eaten as soon as it has cooled. It is now a family regular.
I started off with something simple – a Tomato Risotto. This was very tasty. I substituted finely sliced cabbage for the Spinach (to which I am allergic – yes, really) and just added it in approx. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Provencal Beef Casserole was next – I used the Slow Cooker, throw all ingredients in together and came back 4 hours later. Wonderful. Davina listed it as something to cook at a weekend, with a slow cooker and pre-planning it easily became a mid-week meal. The orange peel added a fresh taste, I added 2/3rds initially then the remaining 1/3 towards the end of the cooking period (showing against the white plate , not sloppy serving – is that what you were thinking?).
Chicken Cacciatore was easy to prepare and does look rustic and wholesome cooking away on the stove.
Salmon is a fish that can be overcooked easily so this dish needs attention. That said, it was quick and easy so no effort and with attentive serving onto the plate looked restaurant standard (well, I thought so)
The Lamb and Apricot Pilaf was so tasty that I have made it a few times now. The Lamb Neck Fillet is not always available so have substituted other lamb cuts and all work well – just need to alter the cooking time accordingly.
Then back to chicken – this time to make a Crunchy Buttermilk chicken with roasted ratatouille.
The recipes I tried have all been easy to prepare with good servings. The soups all freeze well, so handy to make double batches. For the Bean and Chorizo Soup I used a jar of roasted peppers instead of fresh ones (none in the pantry and it was raining) – worked well.
After using the book for a few weeks, I did not miss the sugar – then realised that the dishes I used were mainly savoury so would not have had sugar as a main ingredient anyway. The cakes I tried were good (judged by the fact all were eaten) and it was easy enough to obtain the sugar substitutes.
I would recommend the book if you are keen to gain information about how to reduce your refined sugar intake and I certainly will use the recipes for the Malt Loaf and the Pecan/Banana Bread again and again. As I bake using unrefined sugars I am more likely to continue using recipes I am used to, especially as I rarely eat cake so it’s a treat (so deserves the sugar, fat etc etc).
The instructions are clear and easy to follow so I would also recommend this book if you are just starting to be creative in the kitchen.