A healthy diet is kind to your body and your teeth and can also make you feel great! Overconsumption of added sugar is the leading cause of dental decay and is a major contributor to chronic disease, so it makes sense to reduce our intake.
Due to the vast number of foods that contain added sugar, cutting back can be tricky and confusing but don’t worry, it’s not impossible! Put simply, the best way to control the amount of sugar we consume is to eat food that we’ve prepared ourselves, so we have control over what it contains. Fear not, it’s easy and less time-consuming than you might think.
Now the sunny weather is here, it’s a great time to grab some food and a blanket and head into the great outdoors. Here are some ideas for quick picnic dishes, made from scratch without adding any unnecessary sugar.
The main event
Who says a picnic needs to have sandwiches? Many shop-bought breads contain added sugar so why not ditch the bread altogether and go for a filling salad as the main event at your picnic? To compensate for a reduction in starchy carbohydrates (which as it happens only turn to sugar in the body anyway) and sweet dressings, this salmon salad is rich in fibre and healthy natural fats that help to keep you full for longer, and help prevent snacking! The salmon in particular is a great source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids which can’t be made in the body and therefore have to be obtained from food. Omega 3 oils are scientifically proven to be anti-inflammatory, helpful for brain function, important for maintaining cardiovascular health and an aid in weight management!1
Filling picnic salad for 1-2 people
1 tin of wild salmon
1 avocado – chopped
Half a red onion – finely chopped
4 cherry tomatoes – chopped
2 inches of cucumber – chopped
A handful of salad leaves such as rocket or lettuce
A large tablespoon of pesto
A large tablespoon of sour cream
A good dash of apple cider vinegar
Lots of olive oil
Mix together the pesto, sour cream, apple cider vinegar and olive oil first to make the dressing, then drizzle this over the remaining ingredients.
It isn’t all about the food
So what about drinks? No fizzy, sugary refreshments here! Fill up a reusable bottle with water and add some fresh lime or lemon juice. If you’re feeling really exotic, throw in some mint leaves. What could be better on a sunny afternoon?
Although fruit juice used to be freely included as one of our ‘five a day’, recommendations have recently been revised to allow only one 150ml portion of fruit juice daily due to the high amount of free sugars contained in juice.2 The difference between naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit, compared to added sugar, such as that in biscuits, is that naturally occurring sugars are bound up in a matrix of fibre that helps to slow their breakdown and release. Added sugars are already free to attack teeth as soon as they enter the mouth, whereas naturally occurring sugars don’t get released until further down the digestive process – in the stomach or intestine for example. 3
And finally, dessert
No picnic is complete without some cake, so considering your teeth, here’s a gloriously satisfying banana cake recipe that uses dates to sweeten, rather than added sugar.
Banana cake recipe (makes enough cake for 5-6 people)
1 cup of ground almonds
1 cup of spelt flour (naturally lower in gluten)
2 ripe bananas – mashed
1 cup of date paste (soak dates in a little warm water and whizz in a blender)
75g butter or coconut oil (melted)
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
20g unsweetened chocolate chips (optional) see link here to buy on amazon
Mix together all the above ingredients. Pour into a greased bun tin and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for around 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when dipped into the cake.
1. Swanson, D. Block, R. and Mousa, S.A. (2012) Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Advances in Nutrition, 3(1), p.1-7. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22332096
2. NHS [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day-what-counts/
3. Jamie the Dentist [Online] https://jamiethedentist.com/diet/good-sugars-vs-bad-sugars/