Cooking With Less Sugar: Chicken with Pumpkin-Guest Post by Swee Lin Lim

Hi everyone!

I have yet another great guest post to help us with ideas to reduce our general sugar intake. I say “general” because we do need to indulge at times so I am not eliminating treats from my blog, don’t worry.

For today, please welcome Swee Lin Lim who shares a tasty recipe and some useful strategies that have changed her life. Whether you are a perfectionist cook, a carefree cook or an easily distracted cook, you will love this recipe!


When I first started reading about how cancer cells thrived on sugar and that it destroyed the collagen in your skin, I decided to cut down on as much refined sugar as I could.  But as a foodie who loves to eat and enjoys balanced flavors,  what was I going to do?  Here are three every day ideas that I came up with and I hope you will enjoy too.

#1. Root vegetables and other sweet vegetables

Firstly, for most of my day to day cooking at home, I don’t add refined or unrefined sugar to my cooking.  Instead, I rely on root vegetables and other condiments to create natural sweetness.  Here are some ideas for savory dishes, using favorites that are always stocked in my kitchen.


·         Raw Onion (1 cup chopped, raw) = 15 grams of carbs/3 grams fiber + 7 grams of sugar.  Glycemic load: 5

·         Carrots (1 cup raw) = 12 grams carbs/4 grams fiber + 6 grams sugar.  Glycemic load: 3

·         Cherry tomatoes (1 cup) = 6 grams carbs/2 grams fiber + 4 grams sugar.  Glycemic load: 2

·         Sweet potatoes (1 cup boiled & mashed) = 58 grams carbs/8 grams fiber + 19 grams sugar.  Glycemic load: 23

When I cook with these ingredients, they are usually sliced and cooked slowly on a pan to caramelize the natural sugars further before adding them to the rest of the food.  This applies to stir fries, soups, stews and curries.  If I am making a stew or curry, I sometimes puree them directly in a blender, pan fry in olive oil and then add to the rest of the dish.   This approach also naturally provides bulk, fiber and thickens the stew/curry more quickly.  The extra fiber also lowers the release of glucose into the blood stream and the body in turn, produces less insulin.  (If you are interested in some examples, these can be found on my blog:

#2. Grated and pureed fresh fruit

I occasionally work with grated or pureed fresh fruit.  I keep the fiber in the dish to lower the overall glycemic index of the dish. Fruit that I like to use includes Pears, Apples, Peaches, Oranges, Pineapple.  I’ve used this approach for marinating steaks, roast chickens, dishes with pork and duck.  Left to marinate in the juices (& other ingredients), the raw enzymes in the fruit also break down the proteins in the meat, resulting in a very soft, tender, melt in your mouth result.

 #3  Selectively use raw sugars and coconut or palm sugar

On occasion, when I really need extra natural sweetness, I turn to coconut sugar or palm sugar (which is unrefined) for Asian salty-savory dressings — think Vietnamese, Thai and Khmer flavors.

Curious to try cooking with fruit?  Here’s an idea for you to try at home.


Use this for chicken, beef, pork, lamb or fish

preparation time: 5 minutes


·      2 pears, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped·      2 tablespoons of lemon juice·      ½ brown onion, roughly chopped·      2 cloves of garlic·      2 teaspoons all spice, ground·      1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ground·      1 clove (optional)

·      3 tablespoons olive oil

·      2 teaspoons of course sea salt


The recipe makes about 2 cups of gluten free, dairy free marinade.

Keeps well for a week or you can store ½ in the freezer for another time.


1.     Select the sweetest, ripest pears you can find.  If you are still getting used to eating less sugar and prefer things a little sweeter, replace the two pears with ½ cup of frozen pear concentrate.

2.    If you are not gluten intolerant, feel free to use dark soya sauce (2 tablespoons) in place of sea salt

3.    If you are not diary intolerant, feel free to replace 1 tablespoon of olive oil with melted butter

Here are other ideas for you to try if you are looking to add more flavor to side dishes.   Heat a non-stick frying pan.  Add 2 table spoons of this sauce.  You don’t need to add oil because there was olive oil added to the marinade. The mixture starts to sizzle quickly.

Once cooked, toss in pre-blanched vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or carrots.  You can also toss this cooked sauce with oven roasted potatoes or plain boiled rice.


Preparation time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4



·          4 Tablespoons of all spice marinade

·          4 chicken breasts

Accompanying veggies carbs

·          1 large zuchinni

·          1 large eggplant

·          ½ a small pumpkin

·          Olive oil for cooking

·          Salt and pepper to taste


·          2 pears

·          1 tablespoon of lemon juice

·          1 table spoon of olive oil

·          Basil or cilantro

·          Salt and pepper to taste



Marinating the chicken

Put chicken in the marinade.

(If you can marinade this for at least an hour, do so to let the flavors seep into the meat and for the enzymes in the pear to tenderize the meat)


Preparing and cooking vegetables

Cut zucchini and eggplant into ½ inch thick slices.

Cut pumpkin into ½ inch thick wedges.

Drizzle olive oil and salt/pepper to taste over vegetables and toss.

Heat a griddle pan.  When hot, place zucchini and cook. Use tongs to turn. Takes about 1-2 minutes each.

Cook the eggplant next. Takes about 2 minutes each.

Then the pumpkin. Takes about 3 minutes each.

Set the vegetables aside.


Cooking the Chicken

On a non-stick frying pan, drizzle a little olive oil.  Add the chicken and cook on low to medium heat to stop the pear sugar in the marinade from burning.  When cooked, remove and set aside.



Place pumpkin, eggplant and zucchini at the bottom of the plate.  Slice the chicken breast and place on top. To garnish, julienne pear and toss in lemon juice and olive oil.  Add salt/pepper to taste. Stack pear salad on top of the chicken and scatter fresh herbs.

Swee Lin Lim is the author of 10 Easy Habits of Eating Well Being Well (Rebuild Metabolism after 40, Get Better Skin) due out on May 14th 2016.




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