Break the Sugar Habit Challenge {First Week Check In}

break-the-sugar-challengeThe Break the Sugar Habit Challenge launched earlier this week…how’s it going so far for you?

To be honest, I’ve been surprised both by how easy it’s been (but we’ve mostly stayed home, where there is no sugar to be found!) and by how many times we’ve discovered sugar hiding in some seemingly innocuous food.

Confessions

Before I share our successes for the week (and the snack I now refer to as “heaven on earth”), let me start with a few confessions:

1. As far as I know we’ve only had sugar once this week…in the tortillas I used to make quesadillas the other night. I’m not sure why I didn’t read the ingredients on the tortillas (maybe because I had checked the tortilla chips, and I figured if the chips were safe, so were the tortillas…a terrible assumption, it turns out), but I didn’t…and we didn’t realize it until last night. The good news is we didn’t have much — just 1/2 to 1 tortilla each. But still. Ugh.

2. Secondly, it turns out that balancing our youngest daughter’s dairy-free diet with this sugar-free challenge is harder than I thought. Twice now we’ve opted to give her a hotdog — despite the added sugar since we haven’t been able to find a sugar-free, nitrate-free brand locally — when everybody else was having a dairy-laden meal.

3. We served Annie’s Homegrown Mac & Cheese not once but twice at the beginning of the week because I had spent so much time in the kitchen preparing snacks and homemade condiments that I couldn’t bear to think of making anything else for lunch. We try to serve it, at most, once a week, so that was a bit ironic — processed food in place of sugar. But at least it was Annie’s.

Successes

Despite the failures above, we’ve also had some successes and discovered some tricks that have helped us not even miss the sugar:

Let Them Eat Fruit
I’m not sure how one does this challenge, particularly with kids, if you’re also eliminating fruit, because beautiful, glorious summertime fruit has been a lifesaver for us. We’ve totally blown our weekly budget on fresh fruit — heading out to buy more halfway through the week — with more than 12 lbs of strawberries, 3 lbs of blueberries, a bag of apples and peaches, 3 big bunches of bananas, a bag of grapes and a bag of frozen fruit (for smoothies and yogurt) consumed so far.

(We’ve got quite a few veggies to balance out the mix too — carrots, celery, tomatoes, broccoli and sweet potato that I plan to make into chips.)

I am trying to be conscious of how much fruit I’m eating — so that I’m not still feeding my sweet tooth at every meal — but I couldn’t be happier that the girls are choosing fruit for every snack and as a side dish for every meal.

As I was cutting up another 6 lbs of strawberries yesterday I started to wonder why we as a society ever started adding sugar to such an amazing fruit. We haven’t done that in our house for a few years, but now that we’re off sugar altogether…holy cow! I’m pretty sure pureed strawberries — with nothing else added — are sweeter than syrup, and I plan to test that theory by drizzling it over pancakes or waffles very soon. Also, carrots suddenly taste incredibly sweet to me — almost too sweet — and we’re munching on carrot sticks like there’s no tomorrow.

Homemade…Everything
I’ve made pretty much everything (save for the mac ‘n cheese) homemade this week, which makes it pretty easy to control the sugar content. I simply left the sugar out of my salsa and pasta sauce recipes, and both have been hits with my family. After searching and searching for a biscuit recipe that didn’t call for sugar, I asked Aimee at Simple Bites if I could simply omit it. Turns out that’s the way they used to be made anyway, and the girls gobbled them up despite the omission. We’ve also done homemade peanut butter, homemade jelly (although we really love Polaner’s All-Natural Fruit Spread too), homemade slushies and smoothie pops and more.

Next up? Homemade mayonnaise, because I haven’t been able to make egg salad or chicken salad since commercial mayonnaise also contains sugar. Argh.

Heaven on Earth…German Chocolate Larabars
Although I’ve had a copy of Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship’s Healthy Snacks to Go for at least a year now, I’ve never tried her homemade Larabar recipes. I’ve never even had a Larabar, so the recipes just didn’t jump out at me as something I wanted to try.

Well, let me tell you…I didn’t know what I was missing.

I decided to make some peanutty laraballs (as I like to call them, since I just scoop them out with a melon baller!) as a handy snack for the girls, especially when they might be tempted by sweet treats — at play dates, an upcoming day camp, etc.

I’ve never tasted a date in my life, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was love at first taste! Not only did I make two batches of peanutty laraballs for the girls, I also made a batch of German chocolate for myself (using cacao nibs and carob powder in place of the chocolate and cocoa powder)…and they’re so delicious that I feel guilty eating them, even though they’re 100% free of refined-sugar and sweetener.

I have had to limit myself so that I’m not grabbing one with every sweet craving, but these truly are amazing, and I’ll be keeping the fridge stocked with them long after the challenge ends!

Don’t forget that you can save 30% off Healthy Snacks to Go with coupon code NOWHITESUGAR!

So that’s our experience so far! Next week brings its own set of challenges, which I’ll share more on Monday, so I’m anxious to see how we do when we’re not sequestered at home all week.

The Backstory

If you’re just learning about the Break the Sugar Habit Challenge, be sure to visit these posts for more details:

Share Your Story

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