What do store-bought soup, smoothies, processed bread and pesto all have in common?
I’ll give you a clue – it’s not gluten, wheat or dairy, the foodie buzzwords that the UK has been mad about associating and, at the same time, disassociating itself with, due to the wider healthy-eating trend gaining momentum, and consumers becoming more conscious of intolerances and allergies.
This mix of regular household food items all contain sugar, an ingredient recently declared the public’s newfound enemy, and a foe closer to us than many might imagine.
Having negative affects on our teeth, heart, brain and with direct connections to obesity, in the last year, a slew of books and cookbooks have been published revealing the bitter facts and promoting a sugar-free lifestyle, including Australian bestseller I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook by Sarah Wilson.
A self-confessed sugar addict, eating the equivalent of 25 teaspoons of sugar every day, Sarah suffered with mood disorders, fluctuating weight issues, sleep problems and thyroid disease until she made the change. ‘I lost weight and my skin changed, it cleared. But when I quit the white stuff, I also started to heal. I found wellness and the kind of energy and sparkle I had as a kid. I don’t believe in diets or in making eating miserable. This plan and the recipes are designed for lasting wellness.’
This sugar-free mantra resonates with the UK’s pool of hot healthy-cooking talent, including Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley of Hemsley + Hemsley, Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella, wellness expert and contributing editor for Vogue Calgary Avansino and Honestly Healthy alkaline guru Natasha Corrett.
To make the sweet stuff, these cooks work with naturally occurring fruit and vegetable sugars (think beetroot, banana and dates) and natural sweeteners like honey or agave syrup. Resulting in recipes that are, specifically, refined-sugar free.
So in a marketplace where gluten, wheat and dairy-free options are the norm, a new demand is emerging and gradually being embraced. One such retailer ruling out refined sugar is The Detox Kitchen, a London-based company dedicated to eliminating bodily toxins through nutrient-dense, delicious and well-balanced foods.
Delivering detox packages to clients as well as operating a deli in Harvey Nichols and another in Carnaby Street’s super chic Kingly Court, The Detox Kitchen’s light, clean and uncluttered interiors are characteristics that are mirrored in the food.
With one exception, all dishes in The Detox Kitchen, from the muffins to the green-bean salad, are gluten, wheat and refined-sugar free, and all are very, very popular.
The Kingly Court deli, which opened in April, now regularly has queues out the door, and the numbers just keep growing. ‘There is a massive interest in sugar-free food, and I think it is only going to get stronger’, says the deli’s manager Sarah Cloete.
Bright-eyed and clear-skinned, customers buy clean versions of flapjacks, granola, even chocolate truffles and their swoon-worthy raw-cacao and beetroot brownies. The mindset being, don’t forget the foods you love, find a healthy substitute instead.
With the weather turning colder and our biological need for comfort and warmth increasing, The Detox Kitchen plans on expanding their current range of cakes and introducing a subtler, Detoxified version of afternoon tea, plus hearty soups and porridges for the deli’s very first winter.
Sarah continues, ‘I feel there are real conscious consumers out there and people who are genuinely caring about themselves and what they are putting into their bodies. What we serve is basic and simple produce…kind of going back to the way our ancestors may have eaten.’
While the nitty-gritty of nutrition still remains a debatable mystery, this mentality of consuming produce (and small amounts of sugar) in its most raw form unites the multi-faceted healthy eating movement.