One of my top five strengths from Strengthsfinder (my favorite personality test) is input. I love collecting information and learning all there is to know about a topic of interest. No Sugar September has given me ample opportunity to stretch my input muscles as I searched for recipes and ideas that would help make eliminating white flour and refined sugar as enjoyable as possible.
Gearing up for No Sugar September was a lot of work. Tim and I didn’t have terrible eating habits, but we needed to rethink our meal staples and flush our cupboards to avoid temptation. Meal planning took extra effort, too. We’re 9 days in (we started a bit late), and the effort has been worth it, but I know the start-up work involved could dissuade someone from trying something like No Sugar September.
I know not everyone is an input nerd like me, so I wanted to share the resources that have been the most helpful thus far. I will be sharing some tips and my entire meal plan later this month, but here are some awesome resources to get you started and inspired!
I knew we were doing No Sugar September for a month in advance, so I added an element of purpose to my Pinterest scrolling. Sometimes I searched for specific things (a whole wheat bread recipe sweetened with honey) and sometimes I just happened upon a recipe that met the NSS criteria (Healthy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt). I started a No Sugar September board to collect what I wanted to try. I also went back through my other food boards to cull recipes I was already interested in that were refined sugar and white flour free. There was a surprising abundance that were acceptable as-is or just needed a minor substitution.
Lindsay and Bjork are the reason Tim and I are even doing No Sugar September. Their 60 days of no sugar planted the seed and her blog has plenty of deliciousness that fits a sugar-selective diet. For example: No-Bake Mini Fruit Pizzas, Caramelized Banana Oat Muffins, and Cinnamon Whole Grain Power Pancakes.
She is both an inspiration and a recipe source. Her approach to real food is practical, encouraging, and full of grace. Reading Trina’s latest cookbook, Your Real Food Journey, made me believe that No Sugar September was actually possible. She was also the impetus for me making my own yogurt and incorporating healthy fats back into my diet.
Your Real Food Journey unravels the myth that real food is high maintenance. It’s the perfect real food primer full of useful information, tasty recipes, and genuine encouragement. Trina makes eating healthfully a fun, attainable adventure. Her approach is all about sustainable habits – really finding out how real food can work for you and your family, not the other way around. It’s a winner! Many of her recipes made their way into my meal plan and they have all been delicious. I’ve made her Peanut Butter Coconut Fudge three times already…
Maple syrup and honey are the only two sweeteners (other than fruit) we are consuming for No Sugar September. We’re fortunate enough to have friends in NY who tap the trees on their property and make pure maple syrup. Needless to say, we have a steady supply of HQ maple syrup for all our No Sugar September needs. Other than topping pancakes and the occasional carrot glazing, I hadn’t really tested maple syrup’s culinary chops. This cookbook has been a goldmine of recipes and ideas for both sweet and savory applications of maple syrup. An added bonus that a good portion of the recipes were already No Sugar September approved. (The Maple Bran Muffins are killer!)
Pictured: Maple Pumpkin Cookies that were cakey and delicious.
I have mentioned this cookbook several times here on the blog. It’s the source of the Low-fat Banana Bundt Cake and Cucumbers Vinaigrette I shared earlier this year and deserves the James Beard/Kitchen Aid Cookbook Award it won. While No Sugar September isn’t focused on being low fat, the recipes in this cookbook rely on whole foods to eliminate excess fat, which is definitely in line with NSS. It’s the kind of cookbook I’d like to work my way through one recipe at a time. You will find creative and simple ways to use beans, grains, and vegetables like the Southwestern Corn and Sweet Potato Soup and Black Bean Chilaquile. The Vanilla Cream is an amazing ice cream substitute poured over Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
It’s been five years since I read this book. I had moved to the San Luis Obispo area and was just discovering a whole new Crunchy Granola way of living. I was an observer of the acai bowls and falafel and hemp heart trends, not a partaker. A modern earth mothery acquaintance helped me plant tomatillos (that were VERY productive) and cherry tomatoes (that were mealy and gross) and introduced me to CSA boxes. She recommended Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I read it thinking, “I’m happy with my grocery store eggs, thank you very much.” Her family’s commitment to local/homegrown food was great for them, not for me. Now that I’ve embraced real food and would actually love to have a huge garden, I keep thinking back to this book. While Kingsolver and her family didn’t cut out sugar completely, their journey is endlessly inspiring.
What are your favorite real food resources?
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