Sunday, June 19, 2011

156 Pounds

(Cupcake counter at Cupcake Royale)

It was the last day of my sugar free week and it was filled with temptations. I have to admit I almost fell off the wagon. After a seven-mile run this morning with a friend we went and got coffee. Where did we go of all the million coffee shops in Seattle? Cupcake Royale. Now they do carry Stumptown Roasters coffee, which is delicious but with rows and rows of sugary sweetness it was definitely mouthwatering in there. Instead, I treated myself to something better, fresh strawberries from the farmer’s market. They were so sweet and flavorful.

(Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! OMG!)

(My yummy berries from the farmer's market...better than a cupcake anyday!)

Later my parents showed up in town for my graduation tomorrow. We went out of an early dinner at Cedars on Brooklyn. Their Indian food is off the hook and I filled up on fish curry and spinach naan. Of course, everyone (excluding myself) wanted dessert so we swung on over to Molly Moon’s, where we waited in line (of course) for their amazing ice cream. I was tortured by the smell of homemade waffle cones while we waited. I was able to walk away no cone in hand.

(Jon and the folks at Molly Moon's, by far the biggest temptation of the week! Her salted carmel icecream is to die for!!)

Now that my sugar free week is over I do have a few final thoughts. Can someone really be addicted to sugar? To me, it seems like it. As humans, we are innately programmed to prefer the tastes of all things sweet. Even breast milk is sweet. Instinctually, sweet things provide the essential calories and energy that we needed to survive, plus plants that are sweet and not bitter are generally safe to eat (not poisonous). In today’s world we have found ways to make things sweeter and sweeter and have put sweeteners in everything to appeal to human’s taste buds and keep them buying and eating more. In fact, the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar a year! Humans don’t need those extra calories anymore to survive and they are posing a problem for many people today with skyrocketing rates of obesity and type II diabetes.

Once I kicked sugar to the curb, it took me about 3 days to get past the “withdrawals” of not having it. The crankiness and mood swings that I experienced in those first 3 days are all the evidence I need that sugar is addictive.

I feel great knowing that I was able to avoid sugar for the week, but it wasn’t easy. I also feel better in general, more clear headed, happier, more energy. I’m not saying that I’m done with sugar forever but I liked taking a break and now that I have I will be more aware of how I feel when I do eat sugar. I also may try and keep my sugar consumption to a couple servings per week, instead of a couple per day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bad Dog!

Let me tell you about days 4 and 5. You may have been thinking that I failed, but you would be wrong! 4 and 5 were easy. They weren’t easy because there wasn’t sugar laden goodies everywhere I looked, they were easy because the cravings are gone.

Day 4 I had my culinary skills final. I discovered this great Muesli for breakfast. It’s just: oats, wheat, dates, apples, bananas, millet, raisins, hazelnuts, and almonds. I had it with Greek yogurt and fruit and was all set till lunch. After my final I was finished with grad school. Master of Science in Nutrition. Pretty awesome! It was definitely time to celebrate and a bunch of us did by going out on one of our professor’s boat to for a dinner cruise. The thing about all the women in my program is that they are excellent cooks so we had an amazing feast! I brought my Banana rum cake that you have been hearing so much about and they (not I) enjoyed it! The funny thing was, I didn’t even want any of it. There was a fresh fruit salad that I enjoyed instead.

Day 5 I had the same breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch and then helped my friend set up our MSN graduation party. We had veggies, fruit, salads, pizza, and all sorts of cupcakes and cookies. I stood right in front of the cupcakes for a good half and hour talking to a friend and didn’t eat any. I didn’t even lick my fingers when I was helping to arrange them on the platter.

When Jon and I got home after the party the Pyrex baking dish that the remainder of the banana rum cake had been in was on the floor and the dog didn’t get up to greet us when we came in, he looked guilty. Jon and I had a good laugh and I told Frank it was okay, he had just let his sugar cravings get the best of him. I know how he feels; I had been there before.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 3 Challenges

(Cookies that my awesome students made! I'm not sure how they tasted, but they sure look good!)

Today was a day full of challenges. I am a teaching assistant for a whole foods cooking class on Wednesdays and today was chocolate chip cookie day. Also the students had their finals and one group prepared coconut ice cream, and another, blueberry pie! I really wanted some of that ice cream.

Later, I came home and had to make my banana rum cake for culinary skills tomorrow. It is sitting whole on the counter.

I did make quinoa and black bean patties, so I had a delicious dinner. Even though my dinner rocked and was super protein packed and delicious, I have to say; day 3 has been the hardest day so far. I’m cranky and a little sad. I’m not sure if it is just that kind of day or if these are the signs of withdrawal.

(Black bean and quinoa patty for dinner, here is a lovely picture of with some salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt, and a little salad.)

I had 2 dates for dessert and gave myself a pat on the back for hanging in there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cupcake anyone?

(The start of a delicious dinner!)

Day 2 down, 5 to go. I did really well today considering how I started off. I did a huge no-no this morning. I skipped breakfast. This is big problem because if you don’t give yourself a healthy breakfast, your blood sugar will plummet and you will be looking for something that will bring it up FAST. The thing that does this best is sugar.

A couple struggles today… I went for a lovely long run with my friend, her daughter, and the pup. Afterwards, we went grocery shopping and I was starving. I knew protein was what I needed but the dessert case was calling out to me. I resisted and grabbed some tuna salad, a whole grain roll, some salad greens and cherry tomatoes. After lunch we ordered food for our graduation party including a few dozen cupcakes. I am still thinking about those cupcakes.

Next challenge, I am finishing a final for my culinary skills class. We need to write recipes for an entrée, 2 sides and a dessert. I wrote a recipe for Banana Rum Cake with Coconut Whip. All the while my mouth was watering. I went for a brown rice cake with peanut butter and a few slices of pineapple. It worked to kick the sweet tooth!


I finished the day strong with brown rice penne, fresh home made pesto sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and fresh mozzarella. Delicious. I have to admit, I wanted a little something after dinner. There is frozen yogurt in the freezer… fear not, I couldn’t let my readers down.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day One

(Sugar free breakfast!)

So I made it. As of 10:03pm as I type these words. No sugar. I have to say, day one wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. There were definitely moments when my sweet tooth kicked into high gear, but I didn’t give in. I persevered. Here is how I did it:

Breakfast: I wanted to start the day off with something on the sweeter side. I was thinking leftover banana pancakes from Sunday, but I stopped myself because I know that this is where the downfall begins! First thing in the morning it is so important to avoid spiking your blood sugar with something sweet. Pancakes, French toast, anything syrup covered, or cereal with added sugar can take your blood sugar for a wild ride. Today I had scrambled eggs, quinoa, and fresh salsa. It was so delicious, high in protein and low in sugar. Perfect! It held me over for about four hours until lunch. No sugar cravings.

Lunch: I had a delicious bowl of split pea soup, kale and beet salad and cottage cheese. I wanted to go heavy on the protein again to avoid the blood sugar spike and crash that would set me up for more sugar cravings later on.

I had a final today at 5pm. The hardest time of the day for me was after lunch and before my final. The girls I was studying with decided to split a piece of carrot cake. I was offered a bite of a chocolate cupcake at one point. I said no. I made it. I snacked on a Lara Bar, which has dates, nuts and spices. It was sweet enough to get me through the craving and gave me the boost I needed before taking my exam. Success!
(My lovely ladies chowing down on carrot cake! Torture!)

After the exam a bunch of us met up for drinks. I had two beers, a salad and sandwich at the bar. Done. No sugar.

I’d have to say that the hardest part of the day was the 2pm-4pm hour. I am going to have to think of some good strategies to deal with that tomorrow. For today, no sugar and feeling good! How was your day? What hour do your sugar cravings strike?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sugar Monster

Okay this is a little ridiculous. It may be the stress of graduation or my impending move to Texas for my dietetic internship but I need to confess, “Hello my name is Sarah and I am a sugar addict.” Yes it is true. Grocery gal has gone off the deep end. Chocolate in every form. Cakes and cookies. Ice cream and any sort of topping. What is wrong with me? I know all the reasons why refined sugar isn’t good for you; inflammation, weight gain, it’s hard on the liver, and the list goes on. So why can’t I stop?! The fact of the matter is, sugar is highly addictive and when you eat it, it causes your blood sugar to spike, and then fall again rapidly. Once you are down, you want to go back up, so you eat more and the cycle continues. I’ve made excuses. “I ran eight miles today.” “I ate a ton of vegetables for lunch.” “I just finished grad school, I deserve it.” Well that’s enough. If I put it in writing it should really stick. I’m going cold turkey. I’m eliminating sugar for 7 days and I’m going to blog about it. I’ll let you know how it goes and with my readers counting on me I’m sure not to fail. So, who else is with me? Day one starts tomorrow…sugar free.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pink One

So it’s been awhile. I apologize for my extended vacation, but I was having a bit of writer’s block. I needed a little inspiration and I certainly found it. It’s salmon season! After eating salmon four times in the past five days I figured I ought to let my readers know a little bit about this amazing fish!

I have always loved salmon. My dad tells a story about when I was little from inside the grocery cart shouting and pointing as we stopped at the fresh fish, “I want the pink one, Daddy! Get the pink one!” How could a father resist? Now that I live in Seattle, I eat salmon even more often because it is so fresh and available. Salmon is not only delicious but also extremely nutritious! It is one of the highest foods in omega 3 fatty acids, which have many anti-inflammatory benefits on the body. The American diet is generally too low in omega 3 fats and too high in inflammatory omega 6 fats which may attribute to many health problems that are rooted in inflammation such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many others. The more omega 3 fats we can eat the better and salmon is great way to get a hearty dose.

There are many different kinds of salmon, so how do you choose which one to eat? The key is to choose wild Alaskan salmon. Wild Alaskan is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Best Choice” list of seafood that is sustainable and good to eat. Atlantic salmon is NOT okay. It is farmed raised and this type of salmon not only poses huge ecological problems, but it is dyed with artificial color to look pink. Additionally, farmed salmon is significantly lower in heart healthy omega-3s and tastes mushy. For those of you that are on the east coast and can’t find Alaskan salmon in your local market, I highly suggest canned Alaskan. It is much more affordable and you can make delicious salmon burgers or salmon salad with it. Smoked salmon is also really yummy; in fact that’s what I’m eating tonight. Turns out, my neighbor’s buddy is a fisherman and smokes his own fish. Other great ways to prepare salmon are on the grill, sear it and finish in the oven, or wrapped in parchment paper and baked. Salmon is truly versatile, delicious, and easy to prepare so that pretty much means you can eat it four times in one week like me! Here is how I prepared it tonight:

Carmelize some red onion in olive oil and a little butter, add chopped garlic and broccoli. Add about 2 tablspoons of sherry wine, about 3 ounces of smoked salmon, fresh parsley and whole grain noodles (these are brown rice elbows)! It was delish!