DO IT YOURSELF FOOD
1 vege that will help break the sugar habit
This month's article is not so much about recipes and food but a habit-slash-addiction that I personally have been trying to crack for some time now.
It's a serious one according to statistics from the Sugar Research & Advisory Service (www.srasanz.org). They have kindly figured out that New Zealanders eat on average 26-27 teaspoons of sugar a day. That puts us right up there with the USA and Germany, the biggest sugar consumers in the world.
I'm not the world's best mathematician by a long shot but my calculator tells me that 26 teaspoons (130g) of sugar a day adds up to just over 47kg of sugar a year. That's an uncomfortable feeling.
Sugar has long come under attack as a dubious ingredient in our modern diet. I've been working on finding recipes that satisfy the craving but don't contain 'white death', as it is labelled by some.
The issue for me is I love sweet food. Especially chocolate. Especially chocolate brownies. Add to that a weakness for lemon cakes, pain au chocolate and custard squares and it's a jolly good thing that I live over two hours drive from a bakery.
I have tried numerous times to break the habit, mainly by keeping sweet stuff out of the house, but then the Easter bunny comes a-hoppin' along and somehow we end up with a kilogram of hazelnut praline eggs and I'm a goner.
Fortunately, I have a sort of weapon up my sleeve. I was what is known as semi-anorexic during my teenage years so I know about the dangers of addiction and will never go into a saga like that again. The big thing I learned from that experience is that I alone control what I eat. The ability to eat less anytime I feel that I need to pay attention to my weight or stop eating a certain food is only a thought away. For that skill I am grateful, even though I would never wish the experiences of my younger self on anyone.
So I had a big welcome to a relative newcomer to the sweet stage, the delectable orange or Beauregard kūmara, which up until now I have mistakenly referred to as 'golden kūmara'. It turns out golden kūmara is another variety, also known as toka toka.
This humble tuber has been my saviour when it comes to scrambling for the sweet stuff and I have been thrilled to discover that orange kūmara are great when baked in the oven as part of a main meal, and even better as the main ingredient in cakes and desserts. I am happy to report that my sweet tooth is totally satisfied, especially when chocolate is involved (and as long as other temptations are not placed before me). The bonus is there are nutritional benefits to boot. Both of the recipes on the next page are also dairy and gluten-free, another big bonus.
While sugar is supposedly hell-bound on depleting my body of all sorts of essential necessaries and compromising my immune system, kūmara does the opposite. It feeds it with energy-giving carbohydrates, lots of fibre, almost no fat and a host of nutrients and minerals such as vitamins C, A and E.
Kūmara is related to convolvulus and it certainly looks like it when it's snaking its way across the garden patch. Mum had a go at growing kūmara a few times, gleaning knowledge from her Māori friends. In the end, the most success was achieved by covering the rows with planks, the tendrils sprouting up from under them. She snipped these back periodically when they started high-tailing it for the fence and this seemed to make the plant put more energy into the tubers. Her best-ever weighed in at 950g.
The issue for me is I love sweet food, especially chocolate