This post is a little different. First, here’s a little about my diet.
When I was diagnosed with ME my mum read probably every book ever published about ME. In a couple of those books a diet was recommended. Not a ‘losing weight’ kind of diet, but a ‘style of eating’ kind of diet. She told me about the diet but I brushed it off, I couldn’t, and still don’t, believe that what I do or don’t eat will cure my neurological illness. I’ve always loved cooking and baking and at that point the only joy I had left in my life was food, and I wasn’t willing to lose that. A problem became apparent though. Before ME, when I baked I could take my bakes into work to share with my colleagues and volunteers. I also exercised regularly, I had a physical job and I walked to and from work every day. But now, I was home, alone, all the time, no one to share my bakes with and almost completely inactive. I knew I was gaining weight but it wasn’t until I was weighed at a hospital appointment in March this year that I realised just how much weight I had put on.
I fretted about it, and mulled it over for a couple of days, then I decided to go back to one of those books that my mum read. I borrowed a copy and read the section about diet. It recommended eliminating refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. I didn’t think it would help my ME, but I did think it could maybe prevent me from gaining any more weight. And at least I would know that everything I was eating was nutritious, and good for me, no ’empty calories’, so to speak. Because I like to do things RIGHT AWAY, I then spent one day removing everything I could find from my kitchen that I could no longer eat. I filled two or three IKEA bags and gave it all away. I was surprised to find that I had to get rid of jars of pesto, and the Knorr stock pots I liked, they both, for no apparent reason, have sugar in them. I started the new ‘diet’ immediately, and I stocked my kitchen with all sorts of new foods and ingredients. Brown rice noodles, brown rice pasta, nut butters, buckwheat flour, oat flour, maple syrup, chia seeds, coconut butter, almond milk, agave syrup, date syrup, tamari (sugar and wheat free soy sauce), nuts etc.
Shortly after I made that change to my diet, I added another big change, and I gave up animal products. So, since the end of March 2016 I have been eating a vegan, plant based, whole food diet, with no refined sugar, no refined carbs (white rice, normal pasta, white flour etc) and very very little processed foods. My only processed foods are things like tofu, almond milk etc. I’m not going to make my own, my limited energy is precious.
I don’t call myself ‘vegan’, since I still own, and use wool coats, leather handbags and shoes. I’m not going to get rid of items that I already own. The vegan diet was really easy for me to adapt to. At that point I had only eaten meat on a handful of occasions in 2015. Many people with ME develop food intolerances, I became intolerant to meat. I wasn’t too fussed about that, given I was already in a moral dilemma about eating meat anyway and for a few years meat really hadn’t been a big part of my diet. Shortly before I started the vegan diet I also went off fish, which was upsetting, because I really love fish, then eggs. By then, the only animal products I was eating was a little milk in my coffee, honey in my homemade granola, cheese (very occasionally) and yoghurt. I could do without them, so, about a week after I cut out the other stuff, I added the vegan thing too.
I’m enjoying the diet, I don’t count calories, or fat, I don’t feel I’m missing out, or feel in any way restricted. It’s thanks to the likes of Deliciously Ella and Unconventional Baker that I’m not lost for recipes. Most of my existing ‘go to’ main meals were very easily adapted, or happened to already fall into the confines of my new diet. I’ve always preferred brown rice, or buckwheat to white rice, for example, and I was already eating lots of tofu, vegetables, chickpeas and beans. Initially though, I was worried that my days of baking were over. But it really is thanks to Deliciously Ella and Unconventional Baker that I could not only continue baking, but that I discovered this new style of baking, with so many new (to me) ingredients.
The most amazing thing about my ‘diet’ though, is, that since the end of March I have lost 1 stone and 3.6lbs in weight (that’s 17.6lbs, or 8kg). I’m still as inactive as ever, but this style of eating really seems to be working for me, in terms of weight loss anyway, which was incredibly surprising. I’m losing the weight that I gained at the beginning of my illness, slowly, but steadily.
Now. As much as I’m loving all the recipes I’ve been using I have yet to find a Phoebe-friendly recipe for cinnamon rolls. That’s not good. So, armed with a new found confidence, I set out to develop my own recipe. I made them for the second time today. I haven’t done a great deal of tweaking, and it’s possible I have ingredients in there that don’t need to be there. This seems to work though, so I’m sticking with it. I don’t want to risk having to throw a batch out, and waste ingredients. I’ve tweaked and adapted (sweet) recipes before, but I’ve never developed a (sweet) recipe from scratch before, let alone published one. I think these are really yummy, and they are suitably ‘cinnamon rolly’ enough for me. FYI These resemble the small Scandinavian cinnamon rolls I’ve bought in Iceland (the country, not the British supermarket), rather than the larger American kind, that are smothered in icing. It’ll be bonkers if anyone actually uses this recipe, but, anyway, here we go…
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Ingredients for the dough
- 350 grams sweet potato
- 70 ml almond milk
- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 75 grams oat flour
- 70 grams ground almonds
- 125 grams brown rice flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
Ingredients for the filling
- 6 medjool dates
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 0.25 tsp vanilla powder
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 tbsp almond milk
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper. The dish I use is 25cm x 19cm.
For the dough
- Cook the sweet potato. I don’t think it matters how. I peeled the sweet potato, cut it into bits and microwaved it for 6 minutes, turning once.
- Then I put the cooked sweet potato into my food processor with the almond milk, melted coconut oil (also melted in microwave) and maple syrup and processed/blended until smooth.
- Then I added everything else (from the dough ingredients) and processed until a dough forms. It shouldn’t be sticky. If it is then add more flour (any variety) until it isn’t sticky.
- Then roll it out on a floured surface (just in case) into a rectangle about 1cm thick. My rectangle was around 37cm x 28cm.
For the filling
- I have a mini food processor that I used for this.
- Remove the stones and the wee stalky bits from the dates and put the dates with the other filling ingredients into the processor. Process/blend until a smooth paste forms.
- Spread the filling onto the rectangle of dough, covering the whole thing.
- Then, from the longer side, roll it up.
- Now cut it into individual rolls. I ended up with 11 nice ‘clean’ rolls plus the two end bits. Mine were around 3cm wide.
- Place them, with the spiral side facing up, in your baking dish.
- Sprinkle with Coconut sugar if you want to.
- Bake for 35 minutes.
I hope (if anyone actually makes these) that you like them! If anyone does make them I’d love to hear what you think, maybe you could tag me on Instagram.