Without any pressure, I took small steps that made sense at that time. If you have been living on sugar, white flours and processed foods for a long time, it makes sense to reduce/eliminate these first. So I switched from white flour to wholemeal flour (wheat it was mostly), and eliminated refined sugar by switching to natural sweeteners like agave, honey and maple syrup. I started cooking from scratch in order to eliminate processed foods.
In another step I tried to explore foods that keep blood sugar levels low. With low GI foods on the menu, I explored the use of beans and lentils extensively.
This was followed by trying to reduce/eliminate wheat/gluten. I am not allergic to gluten. But I couldn’t help jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, just to see if it would make a difference to my well-being.
It does make a difference. I find it hard to describe, but my body feels lighter, cleaner, less clotted. I am definitely less bloated. I am not sure if it is gluten-related but last year I often had swollen feet and legs in the Dubai summer heat. This summer, with a very reduced to gluten-free diet, my feet were fine.
Now I have gone a step further and try and avoid grains. Starchy carbohydrates from grains take a lot of someone’s energy just to digest them. The nutritional value that comes with those grains, is not worth it. I do not avoid grains religiously. Just last night I had a whole spelt chapati with my dinner. It didn’t kill me, nor did it make me feel sluggish or bad. But the overall reduction of grains definitely benefits my well-being.
Going grain-free seemed to be a big step at first, especially with me being a granola addict for breakfast. But what do people do that go grain-free? They use almond flour instead of grain flour. Instead of using two cups of rolled oats, I chopped up two cups of almonds. Combined with seeds of your choice and some flavoring I prepare my granola the same way I used to with oats. And I love it even more. The crunch is just unbeatable.
If someone had told me five years ago, that I would be having an (almost) grain-free and sugar-free diet, I would have declared that person crazy. But this is what I am doing now, and it seems natural because it developed into it over several years. I surely don’t feel deprived. Let’s see where this journey is taking me.
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
Preheat oven to 165C/325F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roughly chop the almonds and hazelnuts. In a large bowl, combine all nuts and seeds. Set aside.
In a small pan, combine dates, orange juice and zest. Over medium heat, bring to boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Blend to a paste in a food processor. Mix the paste into the nuts and seeds until well coated.
Spread out onto baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes or until dry. Turn clusters over half way through. If they seem to take longer than 30 minutes, check regularly afterwards, as they burn quickly past the half-hour mark. Let cool completely. Break up bigger clusters. Stir in coconut. Store in airtight container.