the quest for sugar-free living.

i have been doing “research” on food for the last 15+ years of my life.  whether it’s how to make food taste better, or how to eat in a way that will give me more energy, or what foods will help me fix my poor, broken digestive tract ~ the subject has been on my mind almost more than music.  i can honestly say i have a masters in music, but have a doctorate in food!

in the last few years, since the big 4.0., the passion has kicked into hyper-drive.    i’ve removed gluten and grains, attempted the no-sugar lifestyle (which, by the way, feels like i am renouncing my american/midwestern culture), and have tried out trendy detox moves, like starting each day with warm water and lemon juice (which totally ROCKS).

if there’s one thing i recommend everyone try, after all these efforts, it’s the removal of SUGAR.  and ironically, it’s the one subject people won’t even think about discussing.  but it’s really not as hard as you think.  and it’s the MOST TOXIC substance in our society today.  why?  because it’s EVERYWHERE.  it’s hidden in foods you can’t even imagine.  you can’t even go to an office depot and buy printer ink without being bombarded with sweets at the checkout counter.  and it registers as a toxic substance in your body, setting off a whole host of reactions.

i don’t like to preach ~ so i’ll stop right now!  because i’m constantly falling off the wagon.  but i do want to give you some recipes that i hope will help you reduce your sugar intake at home.  i use these substitutions or ideas to stay clean, clear-minded, energetic, and happy.  because i HATE SUGAR CRASHES.

let me know what you think of these!

idea #1:  make your own salad dressings.

i know, i know.  i talk about this all the time.  there is so much CRAP in bottled dressings, and i think they just taste awful.  and there’s entirely too. much. sugar.  you might as well eat oreos instead of salad!

i’m obsessed with homemade dressings.  and i’ve posted so many recipes.  but i’m here to tell you, it’s as easy as…

  1. stone ground mustard
  2. lemon juice or vinegar
  3. olive oil

don’t worry about anything else.  just whip those three ingredients up in the bottom of your salad bowl and toss.  add salt and pepper, parmesan, fresh herbs ~ anything to kick it up a notch.  even hot sauce!  i love honey in my dressing, but if you want to curb your sweet-tooth, stay away from honey for a few weeks as well.

idea #2:  eat cheese for dessert

  1. cheese with sliced apple, sprinkled with cinnamon, is a great dessert.
  2. if you can find haloumi, queso panela, provolone, or kasseri, you can grill these cheeses and they just get that much more sweet and delectable.  i’ve tried the haloumi cheese, which i found at trader joe’s.  it’s SO GOOD.  just slice it thickly, lay it into a grill pan and let it brown without moving it, then flip.  sprinkle with cinnamon and nestle between thin green apple slices.  top with a little sprinkling of sea salt.

idea #3: grill your fruit.

you don’t have to heat up the grill for this.  just use a grill pan or frying pan.  i’ve even used a microwave, actually.  the idea is ~ your fruit gets lots sweeter when it heats up.  caramelization is your friend!

  1. throw sliced pineapple on the grill.  sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
  2. slice bananas into a frying pan and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.  it’s ridiculous how sweet these babies already are.  so why have we been adding sugar to them for banana cream pies?
  3. core an apple and stuff the middle with cinnamon, a drop of vanilla, sliced nuts, and a few golden raisins.  microwave until soft.
  4. peaches on the grill.  yessss.
  5. toss fresh berries in cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and top with fresh whipped cream or greek yogurt.  heat up those berries in the microwave if you’re craving pie.
  6. need something creamy on top?  greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon and vanilla.  or use real whipped cream (don’t add sugar to it, though).  we’re not going for fat-free here ~ we’re going for no sugar for a while.

idea #4: hot tea.

there are some naturally sweet hot teas out there.  i love “bengal spice”, with a drop or two of half and half.  you can also brew your favorite tea and add a drop of high-quality vanilla.

idea#5: dark chocolate, baby!

last but definitely not least ~ in fact, my favorite!  anything over 70% cacao is 100% amazing for you.  and if you’ve ever enjoyed truly dark chocolate, you know that you only need one or two squares.  this stuff packs a punch.

did you know it can take as little as three days to curb your need for sweet, and within two weeks, you won’t believe how disgustingly sweet some of your past loves are!  i’ll never forget the first time i ate a candy bar after going off sugar.  it was the nastiest thing i’ve ever tasted.  and i used to live for those kinds of treats!

stay tuned for a sugar-free fresh berry tart recipe that i hope to conquer this weekend!

and please let me know if you’re fighting this good fight!  it’ll make me feel less lonely in this sugar-free world.  🙂

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