Cut down on sugar with these easy recipes

By / Food / April 12th, 2017 / 4

I’m feeling a little bit lazy this month. Not lazy as in I haven’t been vacuuming the house lately, not like that at all ― although, in fact, I haven’t been vacuuming lately.

The thing is, I decided to give up sugar for a while and I feel like I’m running on an empty tank that once held nothing but sugar. Kicking sugar is a little like kicking any addiction. First, you’re cranky and you yell at your loved ones a lot. Then, you spend a lot of time reviewing your life choices and wondering where you went wrong: Sweetened yogurt and orange juice for breakfast, a honey ham sandwich for lunch, a sturdy heap of meat and glazed sweet potatoes hiding a stalk of broccoli for dinner and a protein bar as a midnight snack. Now, aren’t I the healthy one?

I’ve come to the startling realization that I have not been sugar-free since birth. I mean, I’m pretty sure my first baby bottle was filled with chocolate milk. Now that I’ve started looking at the labels on packaged foods, I’m aghast to see the s-word everywhere. It’s kind of scary — why didn’t I notice this before?

Now, this isn’t to say I’m aiming to be completely sugar-free, all the time, every day. After all, a glass of wine and a bit of dark chocolate is good for the soul. Life completely without sugar is — well — not as sweet. A lot of the recipes I make tend to include sugar – glazed meats, sweet salad dressings, and the list goes on. It took me a while to come up with these little stars, all with no added sugar.

baked cod with herb marinade

serves 4

A little bit of Moroccan flavour here; delicious served with couscous. Change the herbs to suit your fancy.

1 small onion, grated
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cod fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the onion, parsley, cilantro, mint, garlic, cumin, cayenne, lemon juice and olive oil. Place fish in baking dish. Pour marinade over fish, season with salt and pepper and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450˚F.

Place baking dish in oven and roast until fish is opaque throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with couscous and sautéed zucchini.

Match: Nice with a South African Chenin Blanc.

caprese stacks

Now is the time to start picking the garden tomatoes and enjoying their old-fashioned goodness. No precise measurements in this recipe. Just stack until you run out of ingredients. I’ve seasoned this with Hawaiian black salt, which makes a unique presentation.

Beefsteak tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Pitted Kalamata olives
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
Balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea or Hawaiian black salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into thin slices. Cut olives into rings. Layer a tomato slice, mozzarella slice, olives and basil. Top with a tomato and mozzarella slice. Broil stacks a few minutes until cheese melts. Drizzle with vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

grilled rosemary lamb chops

serves 4

I often forget to reach for lamb chops at the supermarket. I wasn’t raised on lamb and therefore don’t consider it a staple at the dinner table. But whenever I make it, I realize how much I love it. That said, I love the sugary mint jelly that goes with it. So, to divert my attention from the jelly, I made the chops with my favourite herb — rosemary. You can also make this dish with fresh-squeezed orange juice instead of the lemon juice.

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
Salt, to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 fresh rosemary sprigs
8 lamb chops

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, garlic, lemon pepper and salt. Whisk in olive oil. Lay the rosemary sprigs in a shallow dish and place the lamb on top. Pour marinade over lamb and marinate in the refrigerator 2 hours, turning once.

Remove lamb from marinade. Grill on preheated barbecue for 10 to 15 minutes, turning once.

Match: Uncork a Côtes-du-Rhône or Crozes-Hermitage.

salmon with romesco sauce

serves 4

Romesco sauce originated in northern Spain and typically includes almonds and red pepper, although other nuts such as hazelnuts or pine nuts can be used. To make the sauce thicker, add a bit of torn toasted or stale country bread to the food processor. You may also want to add a roasted mildly hot pepper to the sauce.

4 salmon fillets
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 sweet red pepper, quartered
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp raw almonds, chopped
2 tsp or more sherry vinegar, to taste

Place salmon in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lime juice, salt and pepper.

Heat broiler. On a large baking sheet, toss the tomatoes and red pepper with 1 tbsp oil, salt and pepper. Broil, turning once, until the vegetables are tender and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.

Transfer the pepper and tomatoes to a food processor. Add garlic, almonds, vinegar and remaining olive oil. Process until smooth.

Meanwhile, place the salmon on a broiler-proof pan lined with foil. Broil until done, about 7 to 10 minutes, depending on salmon’s thickness. Serve salmon topped with romesco sauce.

Match: Pair with a Cava or if you’d prefer red, a Rioja or Pinot Noir.


Quench Food Editor, Nancy Johnson, minced, sliced, chopped, sautéed and sipped her way through George Brown College’s culinary program with a focus on food writing and wine. Nancy cooks by the code her Italian grandmother taught her: For the best results, always use the freshest, best ingredients. She writes for Ohio-based Wine Buzz Magazine and recently published a short story in Woman’s World Magazine. She is always on a diet.

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