I have always thought I had a pretty healthy diet. And, compared to many young people around me, I probably did. But when I quit sugar, I had some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms, and I started to realise just how much my supposedly “healthy” diet had been crammed full of sugar.
I would start my day with a glass of fruit juice and a bowl of muesli followed by homemade bread with homemade jam and by 8am I would already have consumed more than my entire recommended daily allowance of sugar! Follow that up with a sweet home-baked snack, a lunch served with sweet chilli sauce and a slice of homemade cake made with raw sugar or honey, and I would have consumed at least 3 or 4 days’ worth without blinking, all while believing I was making healthy choices.
One of the worst offenders for me was snacks. They were nearly always sweet, and when they were shop-bought they were often cereal bars. I don’t know why, perhaps it was the packaging that marketed them as healthy and “refined sugar free”, but I never thought to read the labels on them. It wasn’t until I gave up sugar and started reading them that I realised how crammed they were with sugar. That often the first ingredient was dates or maple syrup or honey, followed by dried fruit and sometimes even sugary chocolate as well!
One of the bars I used to really enjoy was Nutrigrain bars. Now obviously, post quitting sugar, these were pretty much a no-no, and would certainly taste far too sweet to me now anyway. But when I came across a recipe showing how to make them at home (albeit with rather a lot of icing sugar and jam), I realised it shouldn’t be too hard to create a sugar free version myself!
So here they are, my sugar free Nutrigrain bars. I’m pretty proud of them. They really do taste like the original, but not so sickly sweet, and are actually packed with fibre, fruit, and no sugar at all.
I hope this helps you realise that you can quick sugar and still eat the things you love. I was so thrilled to discover that when I gave it up!
A sugar free, high fibre, delicious take on "Nutrigrain" bars. A way to *actually* make cereal bars healthy, rather than full of hidden sugars! Adapted from this recipe.
- 2 cups (250g) frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries all work well)
- xylitol, stevia, erythritol or rice syrup, to taste (I use liquid stevia - just a few drops) or 3-4 tbsp xylitol
- squeeze of lemon, optional but recommended
- 1 tbsp cornflour or arrowroot powder
- 1 cup (150g) wholewheat flour
- 1 cup (150g) oats
- 2 tbsp cornflour (or more flour)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (85g) room temperature coconut oil or softened butter
- 2 tbsp rice syrup
- 2 eggs
For the jam: place all ingredients except for cornflour in a pan and bring to the boil with a decent splash of water until the frozen fruit is starting to break down. Taste and add more sweetener if needed. Mix about 1-2 tbsp of the jam with the cornflour in a separate bowl to make a paste, then pour back into the pan and simmer for 3-5 mins, stirring often, until the mixture is nice and thick. Repeat with more cornflour if it is not thick enough (it should look like jam - jelly to American readers). Allow to cool then keep in the fridge while you make the dough.
To make the dough, blitz the flour, oats and cornflour in a food processor for 30 secs or so, then add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until it becomes a ball of dough (add a splash of dairy or non-dairy milk, or a little extra flour if it looks too sticky or too dry - it should be like a fairly glossy dough but shouldn't stick to your fingers).
Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 15 mins, then roll out to a large rectangle about 1/2 cm (1/4") thick. Cut into 12 squares, then spread about 1-2 tbsp of the filling onto the centre of each square before folding the sides over the filling and pressing them together lightly.
Transfer each bar to a lined baking tray and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 while you put them back in the fridge for at least another 15 mins.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins, until slightly browned and firm. Allow to cool completely before serving. These will keep, individually wrapped, for about 1 week in the fridge.