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Will Our Kids Be Sucked In By Sugar Free Sweets?

Will Our Kids Be Sucked In By Sugar Free Sweets?

Removing sugar from our kid’s lives is hard. Crazy hard. You can’t keep them in a sugar free cocoon when parties are filled with the stuff. It’s also crazy hard understanding how much sugar is where. There are 2 and half teaspoons of sugar in an iced Krispy Krème doughnut but 12 teaspoons in a glass of apple juice. What?!

Raw veggies in a lunch box might work for some but if I gave my son a crudité, he’d stick it up his sister’s nose. Teaming fruit and vegetables with protein and fat the correct way in order for them to be properly assimilated would send me over the edge every morning and quite frankly I’m normally perched on it to begin with.

So, the best way to take sugar from my kid’s lives is by good old fashioned lying. ‘What?! Of course it’s a wagon wheel darling, they’re doing special shapes for Easter!’ ‘Ooh yes these are the new snickers bars, aren’t they just amazing?’

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I appreciate that you can buy sugar free sweets and I think that’s fantastic but I don’t really understand the process of making them and I would much rather make my own from scratch. (Incidentally, I did find this blog, which explains the differences in ingredients between classic sweets and sugar free versions)

So, I made some sugar free versions of my families’ favourite sweet things and thought I would test them out.

Refined Sugar Free Wagon Wheels

I chose this recipe from the I Quit Sugar recipe book. In my imaginary world, I lead my life according to this book and I float around bare feet all virtuous and glowing with really clever kids called Apple and Strawberry. In reality, however, I panic buy in supermarkets because I have yet again forgotten to do my meal plan and in between working from home, doing up a refurb, having two kids, doing meals, laundry and cleaning, I just sometimes need things in packets that I can throw at the children.

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So as expected I had to make each element of the not so wagon wheel from scratch. The base is a sugar free baked cookie dough recipe that I thought would be disgusting but it actually turned out to be everyone’s favourite part. It’s made with 150g unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons rice malt syrup, 1.5 cups of flour. (The recipe called for ¾ cup of buckwheat flour and ¾ cup of gluten free plain flour but I didn’t want to go too crazy), ½ cup of desiccated coconut and a pinch of sea salt. This was simple. I mixed it up and baked it for 20 mins. Then let it cool.

Then I spread this with homemade refined sugar free strawberry chia jam which I took from the Deliciously Ella book because the recipe looked nicer. Then the best bit which I thought would not in a million years work, but it did and it was amazing! Homemade refined sugar free marshmallow made with 1.5 tablespoons gelatin powder, ¼ cup of rice malt syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

I mixed the gelatin into a cup of cold water until it dissolved. Then in a pan I combined the rice malt syrup with the vanilla and salt and stirred until it boiled. I let it simmer for 8 minutes then turned off the heat and added the gelatin which wobbled slightly at this stage. Then I blitzed the whole lot in a processor. It was supposed to go creamy but it actually didn’t so I didn’t hold much hope. However I poured it over the biscuit and jam and popped it into the fridge and it set absolutely perfectly and was exactly like marshmallow. That too was the kid’s favourite part. Once set, I added melted dark chocolate (85%) let that set and then tried to cut it in circles with biscuit cutters. That just cracked everything and looked a real mess so I made squares instead and they looked and tasted so good. I was pleasantly surprised but, were the kids?! Well, my son took his plate into the lounge and then brought it straight back. He had an issue with the darkness of the chocolate and the jam he said. So I had to scrape those bits off and give him the marshmallow and biscuit. Win. Even the boyfriend liked them but I didn’t see him rushing back for a second?

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Refined sugar free Snickers!

Again I took this recipe from the I Quit Sugar recipe book. ‘Snickery Caramel Bars’ and they were, in my sons words ‘awesome’! Yay, result! Even my daughter liked these and she is particularly persnickety when it comes to her food.

The nougat base consisted of ½ cup of coconut cream, 1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup, a pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder, 1/3 cup of coconut flour (again, I just used plain) and ½ cup of smooth peanut butter. All mixed together then pushed into a loaf tin and frozen for at least 2 hours. I froze mine for 2 days and it worked just fine. I covered this with gooey caramel sauce which was just insane. I heated ¼ cup of rice malt syrup in a pan until it bubbled, cooked it for 13 minutes, yes 13, added 100g butter and a pinch of salt, stirred, removed from the heat and then added ¼ cup of coconut cream and stirred until it was combined. It was delicious. This was then frozen for 2 hours. Gosh, seriously it was lush. If I can make this taste this good without sugar then it opens up all sorts of recipes that I can use it for.

Once the gooey caramel sauce was poured over the nougat, I sprinkled it with roasted peanuts and then sliced into 20 pieces and put them back in the freezer before taking them out and dipping them individually into melted dark chocolate (85%). Super lush and a big high five from each family member.

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So the end result, as expected is that yes I can give my kids treats without the dreaded white stuff, though they are fiddly to make and you need strange ingredients like rice malt syrup to hand. That said, I bought a stash from Whole Foods so now have plenty of jars at the ready. So, I guess this means that I now have to get up even earlier in order to prepare these sweet gems. They may not be a crudité but they are just little steps towards us going sugar free and I for one am very excited by this.

Featured photo credit: DollarPhotoClub via dollarphotoclub.com

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Kelly Coleman

CEO of Dawn and Shawn Digital Ltd

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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