I briefly mentioned in a recent post that I've given up sugar for Lent.
This has caused all manner of confusion for me and my housemates. Although I'm the one who called it, I have since passed all responsibility into their hands (they're kind of acting as my Lent managers). I originally specified that it was a complete cutting out of cakes, chocolate, biscuits, tarts, desserts, puddings... basically everything that is good in the world. I'm eating fruit (and so much of it now I can't have any of the aforementioned!) and obviously things like porridge oats are allowed so I've been having fruity porridge made with nut milk for breakfast which is sweet enough to make me feel like I'm cheating.
Which brings me to this dilemma: am I allowed to eat sugar-free goodies? What if we made a crumble made with apples, ripe plums, porridge oats, coconut oil and raisins? Would I be allowed to eat that or does it count as a dessert under my Lent specifications?
I have no idea, they have no idea and most likely, neither do you. But I think I might go for it because we have a punnet of plums that are decidedly wilting.
The closest I've been to breaking the rules was over the weekend. I went on a camping trip to the New Forest with the university's Expedition Society. It was such a great trip and so much fun but the cold weather, sheeting rain and long hikes meant that our appetites were up. Which was all the more tragic when we ran out of gas and couldn't find any more for the camping stove. The only food we had that could by eaten raw by that point was a packet of hot cross buns and some cheese - so I turned a bun into a cheese sandwich and crossed my fingers that nobody was watching (Jesus didn't get to bend the rules in the desert, as my housemates would remind me - we're not religious but they like to evoke the desert whenever they can).
Here are some other ways to keep yourself going when you've given up the good stuff:
- Fall in love with fruit and vegetablesAs a vegetarian this one has been pretty easy for me but it's been made even easier by my recent decision to set up a regular delivery from Riverford Farm. I bought one of their cookbooks on a recent trip to Totnes when my Mum and sister came to stay and was setting up a standing order that evening. My small fruit and veg box costs around £13 a week - as long as I keep my cupboards stocked with the essentials (pasta, oil, stock, tins of beans etc.) this will be all the shopping I need to do! It was so exciting waking up last Friday to see the box nestled just behind the garden wall, who knew organic produce could feel like Christmas come early?
- Get creative with your baking
Just before Lent began, I was in my brownie baking prime. Some friends baked the most incredible brownie for my birthday in January and once I'd prised the recipe off them, I set about making it as chocolatey as I could (i.e, how many chocolate chunks could I add before the mixture was barely coating them). Now I've turned my hand to bread and am pleased to announce that my first loaf/giant bun thing was a success! This time I stole the recipe off an Italian friend who is the most gifted baker I've ever come across (he could make serious money from his focaccia!) Mine wasn't quite as fantastic as his but my olive, smoked sundried tomato and oregano bread was delicious with a drizzle of oil and a chunk of grana padano
- Say hello to spices
Last time I gave up sugar (to show Michele I could do it and that I wasn't an addict - I lasted two weeks) he introduced me to the concept of sprinkling cinnamon on sliced oranges. It's an instant favourite and tastes like summer and Christmas all at once! Even better it feels like such a treat and I like to top my plate with a scattering of blueberries added flavour.
It's only a couple of months until Easter now but whilst I used to be counting down the days until my chocolatey reawakening, I'm actually not too bothered about eating the things I've cut out. Perhaps this could be the start of a permanent change?
Actually scrap that. The existence of dark chocolate digestives says: probably not.