Tuesday, June 4, 2013

No-Sugar Challenge!

What is three times as addictive as cocaine but three HUNDRED times as socially acceptable as cocaine? (ok, I made the 300 thing up, but really... what police officer hand-cuffs you for a candy bar?) Sugar! Sugar is loaded into all sorts of foods and is America's #1 food additive aside from salt. But sugar can wreak havoc on your body by disrupting your blood sugar and metabolism, creating an acidic environment within your body, as well as causing tooth decay and weight gain.

So, for the month of July I cut out all sugar from my diet including honey, high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, cane juice crystals, molasses, you name it. I did still consume fruits and grains, and yes, I am aware that they contain naturally-occurring sugar. ;) I try to go off sugar completely twice a year for 2-6 weeks each time. In general, I try to consume more natural forms of sugar when I have it and avoid high fructose corn syrup entirely. But, there are times when abstaining 100% is in order. :)

I have felt so good and it is really encouraging because certain times I have gone off sugar, I have literally displayed symptoms of withdrawal. No such thing this time which is exciting because my body is not as addicted as it has been previously. Yay!

I wanted to share a couple of recipes that I have found to curb a sugar craving when you're avoiding sugar... because, hey, everyone needs something sweet occasionally. :)

Carrot Cake 
Carrot Cake

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts 
4 ounces unsalted butter, heated until just melted
1/2 cup dried dates, seeded and finely chopped into a paste
3 ripe bananas (1 1/4 cups), mashed well
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 

For cream cheese frosting:
6-8 ounces cream cheese
Pineapple juice to sweeten
A few drops of stevia to sweeten
(Though I do prefer honey when I am not 100% off sugar)

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x5x3 / 8-cup loaf pan (or 8x8 cake pan) and line it with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and set aside.
Stir the dates into the melted butter, breaking up the dates a bit.
In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps as you go. Whisk in the yogurt and the eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir until everything just comes together. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the cake - it'll be less if you are using a standard cake pan. Remove from oven and let cool.
Beat cream cheese and pineapple juice. Add stevia. Spread over completely cooled cake. 

Ice Cream

2 Bananas, frozen
2ish TBSP whole milk/cream/half and half
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Place bananas in blender, add milk slowly until desired consistency is reached. Add vanilla extract. If you don't like banana taste, freeze green bananas. You will get your ice cream consistency but not the banana-y flavor. The riper the banana when you freeze it, the more banana taste you'll get in your ice cream. Try adding peanut butter, berries, cinnamon, or cocoa powder for an added twist. Enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse
1 can full-fat coconut milk
5 TBSP. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A few drops of stevia to sweeten

Leave open can of coconut milk in frig overnight until thick. Beat in other ingredients to milk and serve right away. Really good with strawberries or just on its own. :P

So, there you have it, my blogging friends! Try going sugar-free but beware of artificial sugar substitutes that are worse for you than sugar itself, as they mess with your metabolism, hormones, and body's way of absorption. Beware of Splenda and aspartame! :)

Also... Here is a short video with a few tips on how to kick the sugar habit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0E3tLLe0BM&feature=relmfu

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