1 vege that will help break the sugar habit

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS KRISTINA JENSEN

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 ( 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

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