I’ve been supremely absent. I know. It’s a motivation thing. And a time thing. Unfortunately it is not a space time thing. That would mean I’ve been gallivanting off with a certain Doctor. And I weep for that loss.
Anyways, while I’ve been not blogging, I’ve been trying something out off and on. Mostly on. That is the no sugar diet. And what I mean by that is probably no sugar added diet, or no unnatural sugar diet.
How is it going?
Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. But I do get the cravings for one certain sugar-filled item.
I know, I’m hungry too. But I did come up with a sort of solution for that. Homemade tootsie rolls made with…………………………………………………….
No seriously, all you need is honey, powdered milk, and cocoa powder. Your days post-apocalypse will be choco-filled and fancy if you keep on stock these three ingredients. I’ll include the recipe at the end. It comes from my neighbor’s “So You Have All This Food Storage Now What the Heck Do You Cook with It?” cookbook.
Which brings me back to no sugar. How’s that working? Well, it is actually kind of tough to do in practice. Not necessarily because I want the sugar, but because so many things we purchase are laced with the stuff.
It all started because I read this article about this lady and her family and how after they did a similar thing (except they barred honey as well, which I don’t agree with) they found a lot of desserts were too sweet they didn’t want them anymore AND that her kids specifically went from a dozen or so sick days a year to two.
And I gave it a go. It’s a little easier to do in the summer since there are plenty of fresh fruit and veggies to be had. But I’m also a firm believer that going cold turkey on diets is most likely going to create failure. So I did it bits at a time, imperfectly, and some things I still eat still have the unnatural/processed sugar in them, but it’s becoming fewer and fewer.
DOES IT SEEM IMPOSSIBLE?
This no sugar I gave up in addition to the regular unhealthy things like potato chips and other processed snacks. I also have read countless articles that artificial sweeteners can actually be worse than real sugar, so no artificial sweeteners either. I wanted to put all that up front.
How is it done? One step at a time, though I have some recommendations:
- Smoothies. They are filling, great for a quick breakfast item, and help keep you cool during the summer. My recommendation? About 1 cup plain yogurt, 8 medium strawberries (frozen works), 1 banana, 1 tbsp honey, 3 oz pineapple (or orange) juice. Honey can be tricksy with frozen items, so I usually blend the honey with the yogurt and juice first, then add the rest. I also will throw in a few spinach leaves for added iron when available. It may be a little tart for those unused to less sugar, so add more honey as necessary. You can try blending the first three and tasting to see what you think, the strawberries and banana will sweeten it just a little more. If the strawberries aren’t frozen, add ice.
- Fruit. Have it on hand at all times and change it up. I go through bananas like crazy, so that’s a frequent purchase. But if you need a snack, try apples and smoked gouda. Get the seasonal fruit and incorporate it into your diet daily, often it will be the fruit on sale.
- Go Homemade. Try making those foods you love yourself. You can control what’s going into it and you’ll find your palate will become spoiled for the best when it isn’t eating nasty processed sugar-laced garbage.
- Healthy Snacks Subbing. If you’re worried you can’t make it through fruit, get dried fruit. Dates and figs are already naturally sweet and can help satisfy that sweet tooth. Or have treats sweetened with honey (like those tootsie rolls). I also like snacking on sugar snap peas and doing cottage cheese with a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash on Ritz (yeah, that’s one sugar thing I can’t give up, but 1g of sugar per 5 crackers, meh).
- Eat More Veg. I think what’s helped me most is that I’m consuming A LOT of vegetables daily, which I think helps cleanse those old processed toxins from the body. I really like steamed broccoli with a little salt, boiled cabbage afterward cooked in a little butter and garlic, or cooked carrots in almost any fashion. I also do juicing. An easy to start with combo for juicing beginners is carrot-apple-ginger. Mostly carrots (probably 6 or so), 1 apple, and 1 sliver of ginger (it’s strong, so don’t go overboard). Not sweet enough for you? Add another apple. Carrots are sweeter than most veg, so it’s an easier start. My favorite go to recipe is carrot-beet-red cabbage-apple-lemon. Red cabbage will give it a more definitive veg taste. I often use lemon juice to fruit up the flavor of my juices if I’m not loving the taste. With all veg juicing, carrots should be a majority ingredient. I’ve also done carrot-beet-celery, and carrot-ginger-broccoli-beet-apple. My rule of thumb is as long as there are mostly carrots and some apple in it, you can probably make the taste work for you. Though again, for beginners, stick to carrot-apple-ginger and work your way up. It will taste SUPER veg to you in the beginning. Now I really like it to swing a little more veg when I make them, but I certainly wasn’t that way in the beginning. And carrot juice is great to be drinking regularly anyway. Some believe it can cure cancer, so I don’t see why it can’t work as a preventer as well. I’ve also stopped or lessened the effects of the common cold on multiple occasions with juicing. Those natural vitamins can do wonders.
WHAT HAVE I NOTICED?
I haven’t been perfect at this by any means. When a very nice neighbor brings you homemade banana bread with chocolate chips that you devour in almost an instant because it’s so ridiculously good, well, don’t get down on yourself. Life, and especially food, is MEANT to be enjoyed. What I’ve been doing with this diet is striving to follow it well.
And I have noticed a difference.
One of my favorite treats is fresh-baked cookies over ice cream (real stuff) and some hot fudge. Mmm-mmm good! This time, not so much. It tasted okay in the beginning, but got too sweet fast and made me feel a little sick afterward. The same thing happened to me recently in New York visiting Max Brenner’s (CHOCOLATE!). Too sweet, made me a little sick—when that wasn’t the case before.
So yes, this will ruin you on some sugar-filled delights. But coming from this end of it, I think it’s okay. It fine tunes your palate for better things. Or perhaps just smaller portions. And I’ve actually ended up craving certain healthy things. It’s weird, but nice. I feel a lot better too. When I exercise regularly I feel like those endorphins stay with me a lot longer and make it easier to want to exercise again.
It’s been worth it to me and I definitely recommend it. Plus, it’s okay to cheat a little. I try to live by a one day a week the “diet” is just going to go out the window. Much like that family did, you can and should still have your treats. Some you will probably always enjoy. Others you may start to like less and less.
If you give it a try, let me know. And if you want any other recommendations, ask in the comments. And if you have any further recommendations, please do share!
Okay, now that Homemade Tootsie Roll recipe
1 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup non-instant powdered milk
Cook honey to 255 degrees F (hard ball stage). Do not overcook. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla. Mix cocoa and powdered milk well and stir into honey. Pull like taffy until gloss is gone and roll into rolls. Wrap in waxed paper. (Jae’s note: scoop it out onto a non-stick cooking sheet as it will be HOT and you want it to cool somewhere other than the pot. I also use a tiny bit of canola oil or PAM on the wax paper to make sure it doesn’t stay stuck to the candy. Enjoy!)