Sugar Free Easter

When you’re trying to stick to a new healthy eating plan celebrations and holidays can make huge demands on your willpower.

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I’m trying to make a permanent change to my eating habits to balance out some dodgy hormones. In a nutshell I realised I wasn’t getting anywhere near enough fibre and was consuming far too much sugar.
So far it’s going pretty well. I have been able to swap my firm favourites with very similar whole grain alternatives and am eating plenty of fruit. It’s almost easy, and I’m already feeling the benefits which is brilliant.
But now it’s Easter bank holiday weekend and I can’t have an Easter Egg, slab of simnel cake or a hot crossed bun. I figure if I’m struggling with this; how on earth am I going to get through Christmas?!
The only reason it’s been easy so far is because I’ve been switching things I can’t have (like butter) with things I really like but I can have (like avocados). In order to beat my Easter Blues I have decided to try and make a cake out of the things I can eat, but make it look like something I shouldn’t. Make sense?

Somehow Simnel Cake sounded like the easiest thing to mock up. Plus, I’m staying with a friend in Birmingham at the moment so this seemed like a recipe which wouldn’t leave the kitchen too messy.

I can’t really have cake because it contains refined sugar but I found this recipe for banana bread online. It seems there’s enough sweetness in the bananas so that you don’t need sugar- brilliant.
I substituted the plain flour for wholemeal because I thought I might as well make it as good as possible and I baked it in a round cake tin to further trick my brain. When it came out I let it cool and then sliced it in half through the middle. I sandwiched it back together again with a scrummy paste made from about 25-30 dried dates softened with around 4-5 tablespoons of boiling water (keep adding a splash and mashing them until they are the consistency of thick lemon curd). Add to the date paste half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a dessert spoon of cocoa powder. This made a really sweet chocolate filling ideal for this cake, but it’s also good on toast if you miss the occasional chocolate spread.
Obviously the marzipan was going to be the next hurdle, but i winged it and soaked some dried apricots in the same way as the dates (and about the same amount). Using a hand blender I processed 150-200g of whole almonds into the apricot mix. It turned out like a pale peanut butter. It tasted quite pleasant but I think next time a drop of almond essence would give it a more convincing marzipan flavour.
Finally I lightly grilled the cake to make it look authentic and that was it. Simnel Cake.
It was like eating cake, without the headache inducing sugar rush and probably at least one of my five a day; result!

Happy Easter xxx

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