Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sugar. Oh. Honey. Honey: Sugar Fast Anyone?

 Anyone else love sugar? I sure do. I love Skittles and Sour Patch Watermelons for the straight-up sugar cravings and chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls for my lots of sugar + lots of lard cravings. Luckily, while I was in college, my lovely sister-in-law Rachell started doing sugar fasts and I jumped on that wagon. We basically didn't eat any sugar (that didn't occur naturally in fruits and honey and the like) 6 days of the week, but were allowed 1 sugar day where we could have some legitimate delicious treats that came our way. We could choose to have our "sugar day" for the week, any day. That way if someone brought you a chocolate milk from the creamery (that literally tasted like liquid chocolate ice cream) and set it right in front of your desk at work-- you could take your sugar day and drink that baby.

For me, the great thing about doing the "sugar fast" thing for several months is that I stopped craving sugar. In fact, things started tasting too sweet and my body didn't want the amounts of sugar it used to want.

Fast forward several years and here I am now: a breastfeeding, busy mom. These days, when I  make my favorite orange-glazed poppyseed bread (or cake if you want to call things by their proper name), I basically want to eat the entire loaf . On top of that, my 3-year-old asks for candy all the time. I don't give it to her very often, so I'm not sure why she constantly asks...but what is it about us that wants sugar from the time we are 2 years old? 2 YEARS OLD! Sheesh.

This is the birthday cake I made for my 3-year old this year. It is based around a Daniel Tiger episode where two of the characters play on Jungle Beach. My little girl requested a pink cake- so it is a strawberry cake on the inside with tons of frosting on the outside--and only 3 people to eat it. Let's just say I tossed most of it in the garbage after the big day.

So I have been working really hard at satisfying my sweet tooth by using healthier, happier methods than chocolate milk and colored candies and entire loaves of cake. I know there are wonderful natural sugar substitutes out there. But most of the time I just want something very simple and easy that I can grab out of a bag or whip up in a blender in 3 minutes. So here are my go-tos:

1. Fresh Pineapple

This stuff tastes better than candy to me.

2. Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Shake

You must try this.

3. These Pretend Chocolate Chip Cookies from Chelsea's Messy Apron. They have a tiny bit of brown sugar and are actually gluten and dairy-free as well. I call them "pretend" cookies because there is just no real substitute for chocolate chip cookies made with 2 sticks of butter. mmmmmm....good.

4. Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips

These babies are rich, non-dairy, non-soy, and low sugar. Just a few of them will satisfy the chocolate cravings.

5. Fruit Smoothies: I really, really like Walmart's Great Value Mixed Frozen Fruit. We stick a cup and a half of that in a blender with a ripe banana and some orange juice and spinach: Voila! You get sugar but you also get a bunch of nutrients.

Or try this deliciousness:  Blend 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 6 frozen strawberries, 1 ripe peach, & 1 ripe banana. Add some orange juice until it is your preferred consistency. If you want to go a step farther, add a cup of fresh spinach to pack in some extra nutrients.

6. Marilyn's Homemade Granola

When I don't eat this granola for breakfast,  I've started making a muesli of sorts. You soak a cup of whole oats in unsweetened, vanilla almond milk (just pour in enough to barely cover the oats), sprinkle a bit of salt and drizzle a bit of honey over it. Then cover and refrigerate it overnight. In the morning, add some fresh berries and chopped almonds or walnuts, or just cut in a ripe banana. It is the perfect oatmeal for hot summer months, because you don't have to cook it!

7. Hot Cocoa

1 cup milk (or almond milk)
1 Tbl cocoa
1 Tbl honey

Heat milk in microwave for a minute and a half. Stir cocoa and honey into milk until combined.

8. Happy Munchies Apple Rice Cakes 

I like the idea of rice cakes but I hate all the added sugar and salt in the stuff you find in the snack aisle. And I don't love the plain jane rice cakes either. So I got these for my 8-month old to try. When I nibbled on one myself, I found it was the perfect rice cake! And they seem to only make them for babies. That doesn't stop me though. I just ordered myself a huge box of them. They are rice cakes with a hint of apple juice and no added salt or sugar. A perfect snack that is just the right amount of sweet.

p.s. Here's some nutritionist jargon about sugar that I read recently:

"Don't get the idea that because the sugar composition is the same in fruit and cake, they're interchangeable. (Seriously, they're not.) For one thing, fruit offers good stuff like vitamins, antioxidants and water, while candy and desserts are nutritionally void. Fruit also tends to have less sugar by volume. Half a cup of strawberries: 3.5 grams of sugar. Half a cup of strawberry ice cream: 15 grams.

Plus, whole fruit has a lot of fiber, which actually slows down your body's digestion of glucose, so you don't get the crazy insulin spike (and subsequent crash) that candy causes. That also means your body has more time to use up glucose as fuel before storing it -- as fat. Even dried fruit, a notoriously sugary treat, has all the fiber and nutrients of its plump forbear. But do watch out for dried fruits with added sugar(check the nutrition label), and don't eat a ton just because they're smaller. Picture how many pieces are in a handful of raisins compared with a handful of grapes. See what we mean?
On average, Americans don't eat enough fruit, so don't cut it out of your diet in an attempt to limit your sugar intake! Sugar itself isn't toxic. But getting too much of it from cookies and cake is." ("Is Sugar From Fruit Better For You Than White Sugar", The Huffington Post, Posted Online 6/29/2013)


  1. Elin, we're pretty much the same person: did you know that I, too, am in love with Guittard chips?? Those are the chocolate chips we order in bulk! Like, 5 lbs bags! We get the semi-sweet, but I bet the dark are delicious. AND, we're making the same smoothies! I love the Walmart frozen mixed fruit mix! I haven't found another smoothie mix I like better (which is surprising, right, since it's from Walmart and is so cheap?) Anyways, this post makes me happy.

  2. Replies
    1. Andrea, as much as I want to be your next door neighbor, we both know it would be the end of my sugar fasts...I am salivating just thinking about your ginormous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, your peanut butter chocolate bars--basically everything you bake and cook.