Snacks and desserts are an important part of my diet. I’ve trained my pleasure system to be content with its regular supply of treats, so I’m able to easily avoid the temptation to eat processed foods during my main meals.
However, because I eat desserts and snacks regularly, I’m also careful to make sure that my treats are both as tasty and as healthy as possible, so that I can maximize the pleasure that I get from them while minimizing the degree to which they compromise my health.
One simple strategy that I use is to try to choose treats with no added sugar. I’m fortunate to live near Borough Market which is full of great no-added-sugar treats. I’ve listed my top 5 below.
But first a couple of notes:
1. I could fill this list entirely with fruit and/or cheese, but that would be boring. I’ve tried to choose things that are a bit less obvious.
2. You won’t find any fruit juice on the list. Fruit juice is technically a no-added-sugar treat, but it defeats the purpose of the no-added-sugar strategy because it has so much sugar.
So, without further ado, here are my top 5 Borough Market no-added-sugar treats:
1. Ricotta (The Parma Ham and Mozzarella Stand)
OK, forget about that first note, I’m starting with a cheese anyway. I can’t help myself because this stuff is special. I’m into all things dairy. If it’s a high-quality milk product, I will eat it and enjoy it – yogurt, curd, fromage blanc, whatever. But I think this ricotta is the best of them all. Sometimes I throw a few berries on top. Sometimes I don’t. It really doesn’t matter. (Note that this ricotta is also amazing for savory purposes: throw it in a bowl with some tomatoes and some chilli oil and you’re sorted).
2. Flaxjacks (Flax Farm)
OK, that is admittedly not a very exciting photo. These are kind of like granola bars, but much better. The varieties change frequently and not all of them have no added sugar, but there are always some that do. Last year I had to take a work trip to one of those food deserts in the US where there is nothing to eat but fast food. I knew that food was going to be a problem before I left for the trip, so I packed a sack of these Flaxjacks. Sure enough, they saved the day!
3. Granadilla (Ted’s Veg)
Yes, this is fruit. But part of the excitement here for me is the novelty – I’d never had a granadilla until this year. It’s like a bigger, sweeter passion fruit. Just eat the flesh with a spoon, or put it on top of some yogurt. Brilliant.
4. Ivy House Farm Whipping Cream (Neal’s Yard)
Another dairy entry. I don’t eat this one on its own (though I’m not exactly sure why that is), but I use it as a topping for fruit, or if I’m going all out, as a topping for the apple crumble listed below. I’ve tried a lot of different whipping creams. This stuff is in a class of its own. (Note that it tends to arrive in the shop on Friday and sells out by Saturday).
5. Sugar-free Bramley Apple Crumble (Chegworth Valley)
OK, there a few things that need to be stated about this apple crumble.
1. It’s awesome!
2. Despite the name, it’s not sugar-free. It contains fruit, and fruit contains sugar. But even beyond that …
3. It’s inclusion on a no-added-sugar treats list is slightly dodgy. In addition to containing whole fruit, it also contains pear juice, which is more or less just sugar water. Adding fruit juice is essentially just adding sugar. But …
4. That being said, as far as treats go, this apple crumble definitely doesn’t have much sugar. I emailed them to ask for the recipe so I could calculate how much sugar is actually in it, but I didn’t get a reply. So how do I know that it doesn’t have much sugar in it? That’s easy: the taste. It tastes of apples and oats, not sugar. So while I can’t be sure exactly how much sugar is in it, I’m confident that it’s not that much and, let me reiterate …
5. It’s awesome! So even if it does have some sugar, I’m pretty sure that the large amount of pleasure that I get from eating it makes it a pretty good value in terms of its pleasure vs. health balance.
6. Cappuccino (Monmouth Coffee)
Yes, it’s supposed to be a top 5 list, but I want to at least give the Monmouth cappuccino an honorable mention. The question here is not the cappuccino itself – it’s flat-out amazing – it’s whether or not you consider a coffee to be a treat. If you do, then consider this a bonus!