A couple of weeks ago the team over at Benenden set me a challenge as part of their campaign, Bloggers Vs Sugar. They challenged me to one week of sugar-free living. Cutting out refined sugar has been on my mind for a while. I’ve made wise choices over the last few months but thanks to Benenden I’ve had to really focus and work hard to avoid refined sugar.
In today’s post I’m talking about a few of the things I ate on my refined sugar-free days and sharing what I’ve learnt during the week.
One of my favourite ways to start the day is with porridge. Well, it has been over the last few months. I used to have a sprinkling of sugar on my porridge because I really didn’t enjoy it. But since starting to use rice flake porridge I’ve grown to enjoy it more.
To make my daily porridge I simply use 1/2 cup of rice flakes, 1 cup of almond milk and half a cup of water. I then add in some banana (frozen or fresh). I let the flakes and banana blend together and then add in extra fruit. Today I added in apple and then topped it with frozen blueberries and cinnamon. There’s really no need for sugar when fruit can do the trick. If you want something extra sweet then try using dates – they’re very sweet and tasty.
I also like to make green smoothies with spinach/kale, banana, berries and peanut butter. Another breakfast alternative is an omelette, scrambled or poached eggs. I tend to make these on days that I have a little extra time. For the omelettes I use 2 eggs, spinach and mushroom. If you’re looking for more ideas then Benenden have a really handy post on fab sugar-free breakfast ideas.
Lunch is something I generally find hard. I love a good sandwich but I can’t eat wheat or dairy so I no longer make them. Throughout the colder months I tend to want something warm but luckily during my sugar-free week it’s been hot and sunny so I’ve been in the mood for salads.
Today I shared a salad with P. It’s was bowl of rocket and various green leaves, avocado, tomatoes, olives and hummus. I used up what we had to hand in the flat. On other days I made a similar salad alongside a bowl of quiona and mushrooms.
Another lunch I enjoyed making during the week was veg fritters. To make these just grate up any random veg you have in the house. I like sweet potato, courgette and carrot. Next mix the veg with gram flour ’til the mixture sticks. Then fry them for a few minutes on each side. Yes, they’re that simple. I’ll had these with fresh salad and Tabasco sauce, which you’ll be pleased to know contains no sugar.
I always plan out my evening meals in advance. It saves time and worry after a long day of work. Do any of you plan your meals? If you’re thinking of cutting out sugar then it’s a good way to control what you’re putting into each dish.
Today was a soup day. I’m not normally a fan of soup but this sweet potato and red lentil soup is delicious, very simple to make and filling. To make enough soup for 4 people – Chop up 3 sweet potatoes, sprinkle them with paprika and chilli flakes and then leave them to boil. Once the potatoes are soft you can add in 2 cups of red lentils. Leave the everything to simmer for 40 minutes, add in half a can of coconut milk and then blend it together with a hand blender.
I also enjoyed making veg chilli during the week. The pre-made sauces and spice mixes contain sugar so it’s important to make meals like this from scratch. I really like this recipe from Jamie Oliver.
I don’t always have a dessert but I thought it was important to share a couple of sweet treats in this post. There are many ways to enjoy sugar free treats. I’m a huge fan of fresh fruit after a meal and you can also use fruit to sweeten homemade desserts.
On this day I had a hunk of this peanut butter fudge. Another delightfully simple treat to create and one I’ve made multiple times before.
Snacks and drink
I like to start my day with hot water and lemon and a coffee, peppermint or yerba mate tea. I alternated my morning drinks throughout the week, depending on what I fancied. I generally don’t add sugar to any of my drinks and rarely drink fizzy drinks. The times I do have fizzy drinks are usually as mixers with alcoholic drinks or when I go on holiday. I just can’t resist Coca Cola in a glass bottle. I had no problem with avoiding sugary drinks during the week and even stumbled upon these sugar free drinks from Ugly.
In terms of snacks I always like to have Nakd bars in the house. These are ideal to keep in your gym bag or to enjoy with a mid-morning coffee. I also subscribe to Sourced Box which is a monthly box of healthy snacks. Most of the items in the box are free from refined sugar.
I found that removing any sugary treats from the flat worked well for me. We didn’t have a lot around but P managed to eat up the dairy free ice cream so I didn’t.
Here are a few of the cookbooks I use. I have quite a big cookbook selection but I picked out main meals for the week from these. If anything called for sugar I just switched it out. Even with sugar free desserts I cut down the amount of honey or dates that they required.
During my week of no refined sugar I did a lot of research. Here are a few things I was surprised had sugar in:
– My favourite fajita seasonings – I’m now making my own minus the sugar
– Peanut butter – Try Meridian or Nut Shot instead
– Curry and pasta sauce – I make my own so I can avoid sugar and dairy
– Milk alternatives – Be sure to pick the unsweetened versions
Going sugar free for one week really opened my eyes up to how much unnecessary sugar is in the foods we eat. I won’t lie, I did slip up. On one evening I had some limoncello, I’d totally forgotten about my challenge. Avoiding sugar in my main meals, snacks and desserts had quickly become a habit. However, when I was handed a shot of limoncello it just went straight down, I didn’t thin twice. Whoops.
On the whole I think I did well and I’ll certainly be much more mindful with what I eat. After learning about the way sugar affects mental performance I want to avoid it as much as I can. I’ll be avoiding it fully within my main meals. There’s just no need to have sugar in a pasta sauce or fajita mix. Those things can be quickly and easily made at home. I’ll be saving my refined sugar moments for a slice of cake or a summer cocktail.
I am going to be much more mindful with what I eat. I like to know what I’m putting into my body, my health is very important to me. I want to avoid as much unnecessary sugar as possible and if I fancy a bar of (dairy free) chocolate then I’ll have it and really enjoy it. While we’re on the topic, if like me, you can’t have dairy then I highly rate Ombar and Vego chocolate.
If you’re thinking of cutting out sugar or at least, being more mindful in how and when you consume it then try cutting it out for one week. There’s loads of useful info on the Benenden site. Get started tomorrow and take it one day at a time. You might make a mistake but don’t worry, the day isn’t over, just keep going. We all want to live a healthier life, so do your best but don’t freak out if you make a mistake. Enjoy your mistake, then continue with your journey of avoiding refined sugar.
Thank you to Benenden for giving me a kick to start cutting out refined sugar. I’m in the habit and I plan to share more sugar free meals with you here on Prettygreentea and over on Instagram.
Have you tried going sugar free? Would you? Leave a comment below and let me know.