Monthly Archives: October 2012

banana cake

Grain-Free Banana Cake

I found this recipe, again, on Food Renegade. I had a ton of bananas waiting to be frozen (for Magic Milkshakes), and had all the other ingredients needed, so I decided to try it out.

My verdict? It’s good. For me it’s not gotta-have-another-piece-right-now good, and probably isn’t something I’ll make a lot, but I liked it. It’s very moist and dense, with a very strong banana flavor and a hint of coconut. For whatever reason, it doesn’t completely do it for me, but that might be because I was really thinking of my favorite (sugar-filled) banana bread recipe while I was making this, and it’s nothing like that. So maybe it’s just comparison.

But…my kids LOVED it. As in, really, really over the moon about it. So, obviously it’s not bad. It’s just not my particular thing. So maybe you’ll love it too…or, better yet, your kids!

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apples

Stewed Apples with Cinnamon Nut Streusel

This might not sound like much. After all…apples? Meh.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I don’t want no stinkin’ apples! I want chocolate cake!!”

But, if you’re like me and you just can’t have chocolate cake anymore, then this yummy little dish is definitely a welcome thing. It’s naturally fruit-sweet, with subtle flavors of cinnamon. The added crunch of the cinnamon nut streusel adds great flavor and texture. It’s kind of addicting, actually. I’ve come to depend on it and make enormous vats of the stuff so that I have some on hand at all times. I’m not kidding. I have it for breakfast almost every day. I have it for a snack at night. I have it in the middle of the day just because I want a quick sweet-ish fix. And, the best thing, I can have as much as I want because there’s nothing at all wrong with eating it! 

So, while the chocolate chip cookies I posted last week might be closer to the things you remember craving, you have to be careful about eating too many of those if you’re trying to live an anti-inflammation, reduced grain life. But these apples? Chow away, baby.

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IMG_1272

Cheesy Broccoli Bites

Okay. These things are amazing.

They might not be chocolate chip cookies or milkshakes, but one big thing I’ve found is that if I fill my diet with really delicious food that I can look forward to eating, then I don’t crave the things I’m not supposed to eat as much. So, while this doesn’t directly satisfy those cravings, it indirectly satisfies them by filling you up with other yummy stuff!

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milkshake

Magic Milkshakes

I’m going to share today my go-to ice cream craving substitute. Now, it’s not exactly like ice cream, so if you go into this with the idea that it will be an exact substitute, you’ll be disappointed. And, again, with no sugar, it won’t have that emotional punch that sugar does.

BUT…if what you really miss is ice cream and milkshakes, this does go a long way to satisfying that longing. It has the exact consistency and mouth feel of milkshakes, and it’s sweet. The banana is what adds most of the sweetness, but since they’re frozen, it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly banana-ish. I find myself totally looking forward to this now, and feeling all happy inside when I know I have all the stuff to make it!

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Birthday Cheating

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 37, which means that I truly have to accept the fact that I’m on the 40 side of my 30s now, and should probably stop thinking that I just graduated from college “a few” years ago. (The older I get, the more flexible my definition of “a few” becomes.)

I don’t mind getting older, because life kind of gets easier the older I get. But I do miss the days when I just ate whatever I wanted and could get away with it. sigh.

So, yesterday, since it was my birthday, I decided to cheat. My husband asked me where I wanted to go for dinner for my birthday, and I didn’t know what to tell him. All the foods I used to love for gastronomical reasons are on my naughty list now, so it kind of sucks the joy out of eating out. I’ve been very scared to cheat, because I haven’t wanted to go back to the joint pain, and have also been very nervous about starting the whole sugar withdrawal thing over again, because that was TORTURE. 

He talked me into having a birthday cheat, though, so I chose Carrabas. For the bread, of course. We all went together, and then we dropped the kids off at kids’ clubs at church and went to the Olive Garden so that I could have a Chocolate Almond Amore. It was heavenly. Absolutely heavenly. But it meant that I had had the Big Three of anti-inflammation diet no-nos: refined flour, white sugar, and alcohol. I waited to see what the damage would be.

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plate of cookies

Special Occasion Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, I’m not going to mess around with you guys. I’m not going to lead off with a recipe for smoothies or stewed apples (even though those things taste great). I know that’s not what you’re looking for right now. If you’re jonesing for the comfort food desserts you’ve given up, you’re wanting more than just fruit.

I’ve got the fix for you. I’m talking chocolate chip cookies, people.

Now, this is not strictly speaking something I should be eating, because it does have sweetener in it, and some wheat. So this is a “special occasion and/or I’m-going-to-lose-my-mind-right-now” sort of recipe. Make it and eat one. ONE. Hopefully, a bite of something at least a little close to what you’re craving will help you get through the day.

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How To Handle the Evil Craving Monster

Cravings. There is no getting around it: you’re going to be plagued by them.

If you’re just starting out on trying a no-sugar diet, it’s going to be really hard. Sugar is incredibly addictive, and when you go off it, your body acts like it’s lost a vital element of life. Everything in your being will tell you that, to survive, you must have some sugary goodness. It’s completely irrational, yet completely consuming. You don’t care that it’s irrational. You probably don’t even stop to consider that it’s irrational – it just feels so obviously necessary to you.

I’ll be honest: Most of the recipes on here won’t do much for the chemical dependency of sugar, or help you feel better during the withdrawal process. I’ll give you recipes that satisfy your sweet tooth and taste good, but they won’t give your brain that chemical buzz that it wants, so your body won’t think it’s any good. For the first week or so, that’s the way it’ll be.

But don’t give up! Stick with it, through the crazies. Warn your loved ones that you’re going to be slightly insane for a while, and expect it to be hard. But realize it is temporary. I’m not saying all cravings completely go away, at least they haven’t for me, but after the first week, it gets much, much easier. Your body gets more used to not having that chemical reaction to the sugar, and starts accepting the other sweet things you give it. Fruit starts to taste incredibly sweet, and you’re more easily satisfied. It’s a process, but it does get easier.

I’m going to post recipes here that will help with that sweet tooth urge, or that have helped with me, but in addition here are some practical hints, some of the things I’ve found that make it easier to deal with cravings.

1. Eat. All the time. Eat all day. Just not anything with sugar or refined grains. If you let yourself get hungry, it becomes almost impossible to fight the urge for a quick sugary fix, so stay full. Plan ahead and have foods that you enjoy on hand so that you’re not scrambling last minute. Don’t overeat – be sensible – but don’t let yourself get hungry.

2. Eat lots of protein. I’ve found that eating foods high in protein fills me up and satisfies me. It’s much easier to resist cravings if I’ve been eating enough protein.

3. Satiate yourself with good fats. Good fats are natural fats, like butter (preferably from grass-fed cows) coconut oil, olive oil, and (yes) even lard. You’ll feel satisfied when you incorporate a lot of these saturated fats into your diet and won’t feel the need to snack as much. (And, don’t be afraid of healthy saturated fats like these. It’s actually GOOD to get enough cholesterol and saturated in your diet. Really! I know, I know – that’s hard for most people to believe, but it’s true. This is an excellent article that explains why and is a must read: http://paleodietlifestyle.com/cholesterol-is-not-bad/)

4. Keep foods you enjoy and are easy to eat on hand. For me, that’s things like chocolate peanut butter and banana bread. Also plenty of fruits for smoothies and stewed apples. I keep these things on hand almost constantly so that when I want something sweet I don’t have to think about it – I just go grab it. If you have to work for it, you’ll be frustrated and be more likely to eat something you shouldn’t. Maybe for you it’s yogurt, or peanuts, or popcorn (NOT microwaveable!) Whatever does it for you and is okay to eat, keep plenty of it on hand all the time!

5. If necessary, go gradually. If you’re having a hard time cutting all sweeteners and refined grains at once, start by just cutting sugar and occasionally eating raw honey, or maple syrup. Try only having natural, whole food sweeteners for a while, and then slowly cut back from there. (Just don’t eat artificial sweeteners. They’re almost worse for you than real sugar, so STAY AWAY!) You might find that you can get away with just cutting sugar. I have to be careful with all of them, but listen to your body and what it tells you. Which brings me to…

6. Really pay attention to your body. Start out by trying to eliminate everything – all sweeteners (including honey and syrup), all refined grains, maybe even all wheat or all grains altogether. See how you feel after a couple of weeks, then start introducing things back one at a time. Eat a little honey and see how you feel. Try a 100% whole wheat something-or-other and listen to your body. Really listen. Make your choices about your diet based on an honest reflection of how you feel.

7. Cheat. Yes, if you have to, cheat. If you feel like you’re in danger of bingeing on an entire half gallon of ice cream, allow yourself to have one cookie instead. In the first week, I was dying for a cheese steak (my husband was eating one), and so I took a bite of it. After that bite I felt like, “Okay. I’m in charge now. I don’t need to take another bite.” If you think it will help you get control of yourself, allow yourself a small cheat like that and see if it helps. Some people end up bingeing once they have one bite, though, so listen to yourself, and do what works for you.

8. Remember how you used to feel. If you’ve been doing it for long enough to feel better, just think about going back to how you felt before. It makes it seem not so worth it.

9. Educate yourself. Learn just exactly what sugar (and even wheat) do to your body, and what’s happening inside you when you eat it. When you can picture what it’s doing it you, it seems less appetizing. A good place to get started is on my Links and Resources page. I’ve collected there a lot of the articles that have educated me on issues.

10. This article shares some really interesting information about an easy way to stop sugar cravings with taking an amino acid – which is potentially a life changing thing!

Have you found other things that have helped you resist the urge to eat sugar and refined grains? What’s worked for you?