Sugar Swaps

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There’s little question that sugar is best avoided: rotting teeth, behavioural problems and spiking obesity are just some of the gloomy elements associated with those innocuous white granules of sweetness. Even the government has taken note now, with the introduction of the sugar tax last year.  Yet, as a parent, it often seems something of a shame to not be able to re-live certain happy childhood memories with one’s own offspring.

Most activities aren’t contentious and the memories are easily recreated: kicking a ball, learning a craft, snail racing, paddling in the sea. Others, however, have become much trickier in recent years: a pudding if you eat all your dinner, licking the spoons from a baking session, birthday parties with fizzy drinks and sweets.

Moderation is still very much the key but, since research seems to suggest that we are genetically hard-wired to love sugar (allegedly it’s how we once worked out which plants weren’t going to poison us) then it’s probably safer and wiser to allow children sweet treats that satisfy the craving but tick various other health and nutrition boxes.


No added sugar, dairy-free and it uses up blackening bananas. What more could you ask for?

Peel and chop the bananas, and place in the freezer, either in plastic containers or wrapped in baking paper (cling film or foil will stick)

When you’re ready for ice-cream, take the bananas out of the freeze. When they have softened just slightly, place them in your food processor and whizz them. The noise is awful at first and the texture goes strangely crumbly, but don’t add liquid. Stop, scrape down the sides, and keep whizzing – suddenly, it will turn gooey and creamy and you will have smooth, sweet, cold, delicious ice cream.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t taste particularly banana-y in this form, but even so, there are additions you can make to alter the flavour – choose Medjool dates for a caramelly hit, throw in frozen or fresh berries for a fruity sensation, or indulge the chocoholic with raw cacao or 100% cocoa powder


I don’t even know we call them this, but importantly, the kids love them after school.

Cut cold, crisp apples into discs. Smother a disc with no-added sugar peanut butter, or Manuka honey also works brilliantly if you have a nut allergy to contend with. Top it with another disc. Voila:  better than a bourbon.


So it turns out that fruit juice is just as dentally ruinous as soft drink. Sigh. Chop up oranges, limes, cucumber & mint, much as you would if you were making Pimm’s. Throw them into a large jug, top it up with water and refrigerate. Leave it to infuse and you’ll have a drink that’s a notch up from ‘plain, boring water’ yet still packs a perfect hydration punch. You can re-use the fruity additions once or twice more before they stop having a flavoursome impact on the water, too.

Watermelon popsicles

Slice a watermelon into pie-shaped wedges – don’t make them too thin; about 1.5 -2cm is about right. Insert a lolly stick into the rind of each piece (you may need to use a knife to make a slit for this), lay them on baking paper and freeze for a few hours before enjoying. To avoid freezer burn, don’t leave them exposed in the freezer for too long – these are ideal for making in the morning ready for that afternoon.

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