As you’re reading this, I’m probably eating blueberry pancakes in all their refined sugar, white flour glory, enjoying the view of the lake from my parent’s kitchen island. Not how you pictured me starting the month after our No Sugar September adventure? Balance. It’s all about balance. And when you have the opportunity to fly across the country to see your family, you take it! And you enjoy every sugary morsel along the way.
But this post is about all the non sugary morsels we ate last month. So, let’s get to it. We survived No Sugar September and we enjoyed, too. Our month with no refined sugar, no fake sugar, and no white flour wasn’t perfect. We had three sugar surprises and a couple intentional indulgences.
- Vanilla extract – It wasn’t until I had to buy a new bottle at Costco that I realized store bought vanilla extract was made with sugar. I’d been using it in fudge and a couple baked goods, but the trace amounts didn’t bother me, so I kept using it.
- Italian Sausage – I didn’t even think to look at the ingredients list when I picked up a tube to use on pizza and in spaghetti. Sugar was definitely a prominent feature. This was at the tail end of our month and I had already cooked the sausage. I chocked it up to reintroducing sugar to our system.
- Molasses – I had searched for whole wheat quick breads on Pinterest and found a couple I wanted to try. Both had molasses and I didn’t give its source another thought. I made one of the recipes and it was delicious. It wasn’t until Tim wondered what molasses actually was that I Googled it and discovered it was made from sugarcane. Oops. Technically it’s not refined, so I’m okay with it.
Like I said in the half-way update, it’s difficult to separate food from community, so when we restricted food, we restricted community a bit. Engaging in community was the source of most of our intentional sugar indulgences. (Not always the case as witnessed by the baby shower I went to where I was able to fill a plate with NSS approved food. I have great friends who also happen to eat sugar free!)
- Our Home Community group from church had a kick-off dinner last week and while I brought a NSS approved salad, I also ate the bbq pulled pork on a white bun and the delicious sugary desserts.
- We had a last minute visit from out of town family which necessitated a trip to Fire Artisan Pizza (which naturally necessitated a Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookie with Sea Salt, al a mode of course).
And then there’s traveling. I knew I’d be flying across the country the day No Sugar September ended and there’s only so much you can do to be sugar free during a 12 hour travel day, while traveling alone with an 8-month old. I didn’t think the shock-and-awe approach would go over well, so Tim and I made the decision to reintroduce a little bit of sugar gradually during the last week of NSS.
The last thing I’ll say before the food… If you’re intrigued by this No Sugar September thing, I created a special little corner of this blog dedicated to Sugar Free Living. It’s the place to go for recipes, resources (like my Costco shopping list), and inspiration for a lifestyle with less sugar.
Now, drumroll please…
Our No Sugar September Menus!
Where possible, I have linked to the recipe. If a food item has a number after it, check out the footnotes to see what cookbook the recipe came from.
Our mornings start with coffee: half-caf with half and half. Repeat.
- homemade yogurt⁴ (with crockpot apple butter or plum jam) and my favorite granola
- oatmeal with a failed pumpkin fudge flavor brick
- chile egg puff or caprese egg puff
- toasted homemade bread with natural peanut butter (our favorite is Kirkland brand)
- scrambled eggs with cheese and basil or rosemary
The majority of our noonday meals were either leftovers, any of the aforementioned breakfast options, or a combination of these snacky items:
- quinoa and fried egg
- Wasa crispbread (Which I originally just tolerated but came to enjoy. I think it tastes like crunchy popcorn.) One package lasted the whole month.
- cottage cheese (Darigold from Costco is really high quality) with honey or apple butter
- moist soaked cornbread¹ with melted cheese and apple butter
- deli turkey meat
- glass of milk
- greens with leftover meat and berry vinaigrette¹
- oat bars with peanut butter, cheese, or apple butter
- chips and salsa
- hot dog + fried cheese (yes, we went there)
After trolling Pinterest and some cookbooks, I came up with 18 ideas for our No Sugar September dinner rotation. We enjoy leftovers and Wednesdays are usually PBJ nights because Tim eats on the go before youth group, so I knew we didn’t need a full four weeks of dinners. I think I made 8 of the original 18…
We ate breakfast for dinner multiple times and found other recipes that turned into dinner staples, like mac and cheese. The last week of NSS turned into “how to use the 6lbs of mozzarella I felt compelled to buy at Costco and a gigantic batch of crockpot marinara.” No Sugar September didn’t have as positive an impact on our food budget as I thought it would. I’d like to work on that as we move forward in our real food journey.
Here’s what we ate for dinner from September 3rd – September 30th:
- whole wheat macaroni and cheese⁴ + dill pickles
- roasted chicken (freeze leftover meat for later) + greens with berry vinaigrette¹ + balsamic carrots
- sloppy Joe¹ (freeze leftover) with sour cream and cheddar + moist soaked cornbread¹ with honey
- crockpot black bean soup (half in freezer) + moist soaked cornbread¹ (leftover, rest in freezer)
- cinnamon power pancakes + fruit sauce (boil frozen berries, honey, and water until thickened, stir often)
- quinoa burrito bowls (quinoa + diced tomatoes + leftover roasted chicken + avocado + sour cream + cheese + black beans)
- caprese omelete roll (similar) + greens with berry vinaigrette¹
- PB&J on homemade bread with natural peanut butter + plum jam
- sloppy Joe¹ (leftover) over baked sweet potato + sour cream + cheese
- whole wheat waffles + natural PB + apple butter + maple syrup
- slow cooker balsamic chicken + quinoa with basil
- whole wheat pizza crust + pesto² + mozzarella + leftover balsamic chicken
- whole wheat macaroni and cheese⁴ + roasted carrots
- sweet corn and zucchini pie (baked in an 11 x 7 inch pan)
- leftover macaroni and cheese⁴ (Tim), toast with PB (Emily)
- crockpot black bean soup (pulled from freezer) + frozen corn roasted in cast iron skillet + moist soaked cornbread¹ (pulled from freezer)
- nachos (corn chips + mozzarella + shredded chicken + black beans + fresh salsa + sour cream)
- moist soaked cornbread¹ + melted cheddar cheese + apple butter
- cinnamon power pancakes + natural PB + apple butter + maple syrup
- whole wheat pizza crust + homemade marinara + leftover shredded chicken + italian sausage)
- spaghetti casserole (whole wheat noodles + homemade marinara + sauteed zucchini and green peppers + italian sausage topped with mozzarella – bake until bubbly at 350)
- leftover spaghetti casserole
- dinner with our home community (see my note about intentional indulgences above)
- grilled cheese (whole wheat honey quick bread⁴ + mozzarella + cheddar) + homemade marinara
- scrambled eggs with cheese and basil + whole wheat honey quick bread⁴ toast with maple cream
- the honey badger pizza (mozzarella + parmesan + salami + honey) and bittersweet chocolate chip cookie + ice cream from Fire Artisan Pizza
- brown rice macaroni and cheese⁴ + roasted carrots
I have an intense sweet tooth and was worried it might sabotage my ability to complete No Sugar September. However, we ended up eating more sweets during NSS than we do on a regular basis. This may have been the reason neither of us lost a significant amount of weight… I must say, though, despite the quantity of sweets, I never felt icky after eating dessert since all the ingredients were nourishing. I’m not about to give up chocolate chip cookies, but we definitely found some winners.
- blueberry crisp from Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine. I make it with coconut oil, instead of olive oil and it’s truly spectacular.
- vanilla cream² (tastes like thick, melted ice cream) which we ate atop our blueberry crisp
- peanut butter coconut fudge¹ (similar)
- applesauce brownies (without the chocolate chips)
- breakfast brownies (not as desserty as the applesauce brownies, but a great snack)
- maple pumpkin cookies³ (light, cakey, sweet and perfect for fall)
- slow cooker maple pumpkin spice lattes
- ¹ Your Real Food Journey: A Gentle Guide to Steady Progress by Trina Holden
- ² Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites by Moosewood Collective
- ³ Maple Syrup Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner by Ken Haedrich
- ⁴ Recipes coming to the blog soon!