Sugar Detoxing: Easing into It

I’m early into it, very early, like 2 full days into my self-imposed sugar detox.  I’m always one for challenges and pushing myself but this decision seemed extra necessary this time of year.

I love ice cream and chocolate, obviously.  Who doesn’t? I’m good at making healthier desserts but the problem is that if those options aren’t there, what am I going to want?  The traditional cake, with gluten white sugar, and lord knows what else.

Those cravings were just getting out of control.  Sure, I could kid myself and act like I’d only eat some super clean blueberry muffins that I whipped up, but then slowly I’d “allow” myself candy or Halo Top or something once week, which would become twice a week.  Every savory meal left me wishing I had a sweet bit to finish it off. Sometimes I’d just have a piece of hard candy but other days that just set me off to wanting even more.

I just got tired of having a craving at all.  I believe a craving means you don’t have control over wanting something.   I don’t like feeling powerless, especially over something as small, and meaningless as sugar.  I kept pushing it off and saying I’d stop eating “next week” or after the weekend, etc.

After July 4th, I knew I had to kick the habit.  I had a “goodbye” bowl of ice cream and felt terrible after eating it.  When I go for awhile eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and overall clean food, a big serving of sugar affects me like crazy.

I swear my heard beat a little faster and I felt soooo sluggish.  I even woke up with what felt like a sugar hangover.  I had no energy!  It just reinforced exactly what I already knew.

Sugar was harming me.  It felt for about 5 minutes and then it went bad. IT really is an addiction.

So. Yesterday I decided to go cold turkey.

I made up my own challenge because I wasn’t finding any program I really cared to follow.

My  3 simple rules:

  • No added sugar
    • read this article for all the sneaky names of sugar!
  • Only 1 serving of fruit/day
    • before lunch
  • Follow for at least 30 days
    • preferably until the cravings are gone

I’ve done this type of sugar detoxing before and have pretty many tips and coping mechanisms.  It’s never easy but I know it will be worth it.

I’m going to share just how to get through those cravings this week and how to still have fun eating! Stay tuned!

~Whitney Victoria

No sugar spelled in magnetic letters

 

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Mocha Protein Muffins – Gluten Free & Vegan

Sometimes I want to eat cake for breakfast…but when I actually do that I end up on a downward spiral for the rest of the day, craving more sugar, more carbs, more unhealthy anything.  These muffins can be a great option for those days when I really want the cake without the crap.  IMG_7395

This is the nice middle ground between a muffin and a brownie.  I tweaked a recipe from Tone It Up. These aren’t dry like some gluten free recipes and they have a rich chocolate flavor because of the coffee.  Coffee brings out I learned that from Ina.

So easy. Tasty as a snack or dessert.

Mocha Protein Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 oat flour

3/4 cup vegan chocolate protein powder (using this kind at the moment)

1/4 cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/4 cup raw honey

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup coffee

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax dissolved in 2 tbsp water)

Instructions:

Mix dry ingredients together. Add all wet ingredients. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.  (I prefer coconut oil spray) Pour batter evenly Bake 24-28 minutes until just firm.

Let me know what you think!

~Whitney Victoria

 

Food In Review

First off, let me just say I’m pretty happy the Eagles finally did it again. I heard fireworks and people hooting and hollering in the neighborhood! But….. that doesn’t mean I watched any of it. I was refreshing the score a tad obsessively near the end though…Wait, I lie!  I watched this Chris Pratt commercial…twice, and I’m not apologizing.  He makes me happy.  Just following my bliss…hah.

It’s not news that I’m obsessed with grocery shopping.  The food, the endless new products, the coffee bars, , the mini carts with cupholders to carry the coffee I just bought…The only thing I don’t love is the freezing temperature that somehow is not just in the frozen aisles.  Another recent trip to Whole Foods was as delightful to be expected.

Also unsurprisingly, I love trying new healthy products and want to share whatever I learn.  As much fun as it is to do some testing, it’s not great fun to spend my hard-earned money on something I don’t like and end up ditching.  Thus, I’m a nerd who reads food reviews.  Here are some of my own!  Most of my new purchases are snacks.  You know snacks are the best.

Ripple Half and Half

I’m usually into black coffee but lately I’ve been wanting just little bit of milk to smooth it out.  If I ever add something to my coffee, I prefer real half and half for the richness it adds without the sweetness.  There are a lot non-dairy creamers out there and I am underwhelmed by most of them.  I recently discovered Califia Farms line and enjoy it but I’m not settled enough to stop trying new ones.  I’ve seen Ripple milk for awhile but never saw the half and half until this weekend.  Pleased to say it’s great for a creamy touch with only 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon and clean, pea protein.

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Verdict: Great as a non-dairy sub for half and half. Not so great if you’re into sugary creamers.

Whole Foods Americano 

IMG_7474Wow, I can’t believe I waited this long to get an Americano from the WF coffee bar.  It was delicious just straight up, no cream. I’m still finishing it up cold because I’m weird and drink coffee any way I can get it.

Verdict: Bold.  Yes, please.  Trading it in for the Costa Rican blend I usually go for.

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I love salt.  I used to be a cracker addict.  I could finish half a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting.  The problem with that is it’s all chemicals, gluten, and artificial dyes. These rice snaps are not low sodium but they are gluten-free, crispy, and richly flavorful.  The first word that comes to mind when I try to describe the taste is umami. According to Urban Dictionary, it’s definition is the pretentious way of saying the 5th human taste (salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory, aka “umami”) Sorry, I watch a lot of Top Chef…

Verdict: Satisfying as lunch topped with tuna and good with hummus or avocado as a snack.

Hail Merry Sea Salt Caramel Bites

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I am doing a gluten detox for at least three months to get it out of my system and I really wanted something cake-like yesterday.  It’s not that easy to find, even at a Whole Foods.  No, this wasn’t the heavenly WF carrot cake that I was craving but these little, refrigerated cookies were good.  Butttt, these were an impulse buy, fueled by hunger so I didn’t realize they were coconut macaroons.  I was hoping for more of a crumbly/pastry-type cookie.

Verdict: I’d buy them again if I’m looking for a coconut taste and texture.  The sweet caramel flavor was nice and I only needed one to feel like I had dessert.

P.S. This Cookie Dough Is Good Ror You

It’s edible, protein-packed, chickpea-based cookie dough.  Um, duh.  And, it’s in a nice little container for 190 calories.  This is nice because I’ll admit I’ve bought those terrible, break-off pre-made cookie dough packs and popped them like candy…like you haven’t.  I’m glad this is one serving.  No need to have an endless supply of dough in my fridge.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH

Verdict: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough flavor was pretty amazing. If I didn’t know it was chickpeas, I don’t think I would have guessed it was conventional cookie dough.

Anyone buy any random new foods lately?  Obviously, I’m always open to suggestions!

~Whitney Victoria Eating well is a form of self respect - AZENDA.com

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Friday Faves and Peppermint Protein Smoothies

There are a lot of things I’m excited for right now and spinning is one of them again. I found myself smiling while we were going up a hill and felt too silly about it to stop.  Super crazy ready to try Sprint!  It’s coming to my gym and I can’t wait to try it.  The fact that it’s only 30 minutes should seem nice but I know that means it’s intense.  You’re fitting an hour’s worth of speed, resistance, and cardio into half the time. Check it out people.

 

My Taylor Swift tickets…I worked hard all November getting ticket “boosts” for a closer place in the virtual box office line.  My spot opened and I took too much time texting with my sister on what type of seats, pricing, etc. we wanted.  I was about to select the seats when the entire Ticketmaster site said there were no tickets available for that event.  I kept thinking it was just a glitch and even if they somehow were sold-out, I’d get to go.  I checked back every few minutes and suddenly they were back!  I didn’t waste anymore time and bought them.  Whew.  Seriously, the best two concerts I’ve ever been to so I cannot wait for this one on July 14. img_6737.jpg

Macarons!  They’re the best, chic, decadent treat. My mom and I absolutely adore them.  They’re so instagramable…I haven’t tried these new flavors yet because I can’t think of not sharing them.  They are in the freezer!  I love this little company who does pop-up shops in the area!  They have a bunch of holiday flavors.  My selection this time was peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog, cinnamon bun, cookie dough, and strawberry cheesecake.

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Short hair!  I totally feel like I lost some dead weight, not just the hair but also the weight of whatever I don’t need from the last year or so.  I feel more chic and sassy (best word I can find to describe my feels but not my favorite…)

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Peppermint everything!  I found this candy cane smoothie on instagram and new I needed to make it ASAP.  My weird banana intolerance meant I had to adjust the recipe a tiny bit.  I put it in the freezer so it could be thicker and I’d have to eat it with a spoon. I was hungry so it didn’t freeze long but it was just long enough to form a frozen crust.  I had to crack the surface like I was eating creme brule. It’s fun to trick myself into thinking Im eating some delectable bowl full of protein.  It turned out wonderful and refreshing and basically better than ice cream.

My version:

Peppermint Cacao Protein Smoothie Bowl!

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup frozen cauliflower (you won’t taste it, I promise!)

1/4 tsp peppermint extract

1 tbs cacao or cocoa powder

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used this one)

Garnish with 1 crushed mini candy cane and 1 tsp mini chocolate chips (My faves!)

Lick the bowl.  img_6769.jpg

I’m in love with this bed.  Totally going on my vision board.  I love the high headboard and that it’s modernish but still sort of homey feeling.IMG_5076

Some Black Friday deals that are even better than expected.  That blanket I randomly got of $12 at Sears, of all places.  Hello, those owls are drinking coffee…and wearing scarves…and some have ear muffs.  Of course I love it. It is so soft and oversized that I’ve been covering up with it while watching tv and then taking it to bed with me!  The pillow was an impulse buy from TJ MAXX and I’m equally in love with both.  (Pictured with a Godiva Santa bear from 2000.  For real.  I’ve been a semi-hoarder since a child.)IMG_6559

 I can a bracelet that says “You are Magic” on it in Connecticut so this pic makes me happy.  I’m telling you to believe it too.IMG_6395~Whitney Victoria

 

 

Festivities – Food and Facials

Festiveness is everywhere!  In my food and self-care practices…

Festivity Part One: I had a facial today here.  It was heaven.   I chose the spa because they focus on natural ingredients.  I didn’t want harsh products on my poor face.  After my first facial I felt super red and slightly in pain and I’ve never had super bad skin so I can imagine what it’s like for other people.  This time was going to be different.  I had already decided that before booking an appointment.

Other than my skin looking a little lackluster lately, I didn’t have any major concerns to addresss.  I mainly wanted some advice on my type of skin and some sort of cleansing relaxation.  The “seasonal facial” was right up my alley.

This was the description: “A botanical experience perfect for all skin types featuring vitamin-rich holistic products that enhance your skin’s natural balance and vitality.  While your skin absorbs the healing properties of our masques, we’ll delight you with a decollete, full hand & arm exfoliation and body butter application followed by a warm tower hand wrap.”

The esthetician used hot buttered rum exfoliant, peppermint oil in my scalp massage, and some amazing cocoa face mask…yes.  It was like I was getting a facial in Christmas land.  So many hot towels draped over my eyes and my hands wrapped up.  It was so relaxing and my face was a tad red (as to be expected) but it also looked dewy and renewed.

She did tell me that I had small blocks all over and it wasn’t super noticeable to me because I have small pores.  She said that it was most likely caused by something topical.  I literally never wear foundation so I knew it must be my face cream.  Another fact I loved about the process was that I was given a “prescription sheet” of all the products she used on me in case I loved it and wanted to use something at home.  It was completely this brand, Eminence Organic Skincare, which I have never heard of before now.  It’s so tough for me to find something natural that also doesn’t cause any negative reactions or clogged pores.  The “calm” line was recommended since I’m pretty sensitive…of course I am.I’m not one to be talked into a ton of products but I want my skin to be something I’m proud of.  Instead of just choosing say the cleanser, or just the cream, I am trying this starter set so see how I like it.

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Seriously.  I loved every minute of it.  I’m currently working them into my schedule because this needs to happen every six weeks or so.

Festivity Part Two:

Oh man.  I had the best idea yesterday morning.  I had some time to actually use the stove for breakfast.  Normally I prep oatmeal the night before or  so I wanted good pancakes.  You know, with the little crispy edges that show up when you bake something in a pan?  I use coconut oil usually but there’s nothing wrong with real butter!  My stomach does not do well with egg yolks and I’m always on the lookout for something gluten free. My search led me to this easy recipe.  It’s actually a waffle recipe but they’re always the same and I was not dusting my waffle iron off for a batch of 2.

It was so simple yet I was almost out of my regular almond milk and didn’t think I could squeeze a 1/2 cup out of it.  I thought, “Hey!  Who says I can’t substitute that for my beloved Good Karma Holiday Nog?”

Let me tell you.  It’s one of the best “nogs” on the market right now.  I’ve tried most dairy-free kinds so that’s saying something.  It’s great straight up.  I can’t wait to down a glass with a little plateful of gluten-free almond cookies this season.  So…it had to be a great addition to my pancakes, right?

SOOO much better than I expected!  My pancakes tastes like sugar cookies!  I added just a hint of coconut oil at the end and drizzled some maple syrup but next time I wouldn’t even need that! The nog added its own sweetness.

Please try this recipe out!  I got my nog at Wegmans but this time of year it’s usually at Giant and Target too! You can use any kind of dairy-free nog (or any kind of milk, I think) but I think you’ll love the festive feel to this breakfast.

Holiday Nog Pancakes

(Makes 2 large pancakes)

1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill gf blend.)

1/2 cup Good Karma Holiday Nog

2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

Mix all ingredients together. Cook on medium heat in pan with melted coconut oil.  Flip once, when you see bubbles on the surface. It will take awhile!  Practice patience.

fullsizeoutput_20c4I’ll be making these all winter long.  Or at least as long as I can find great dairy-free, healthy drinks.

My favorite way to drink “egg” nog of the season.  Christmas Vacation will forever hold a place in my happy holiday heart.

~Whitney Victoria

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Walnut Apple Oat Muffins (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Funny story.  I’m making a pecan pie for Thanksgiving and had all my ingredients last week.  I was super proud of myself for having everything ready to go so early.  I was in the kitchen and glanced at the counter where I had that bags and noticed my pecans said “walnuts” on the bag!  Hah, I thought it was a little hilarious that I got everything but the pecans for a pecan pie.  I’m actually excited for this pie.  It’s a Whitney creation…Suffice it say, I had a large bag of chopped walnuts burning a hole in my pocket.

Enter these muffins.  I wanted to make something breakfast-worthy.  That means filling, with some fiber and protein, and not loaded with sugar.  I found this recipe then added my own spin, like I do.

These muffins are moist, hearty, and just sweet enough to still taste like a treat!  The nutty topping adds an extra crunch.

There were pretty many ingredients but they most things you probably have on hand.
img_8131.jpgPre-baked muffins.IMG_9597Post-baked muffins!img_2983.jpgI had some overflow onto another pan since the apples bulked it up.  I think next time I’ll split the batter for exactly 12 muffins.  I like high muffins that rise up over the paper edges.  It makes them look more like bakery-style ones!  img_6845.jpg

Another option could be pear and almond!  That might be good actually.

Walnut Apple Oat Muffins

(Approx. 12-16 muffins)

Ingredients:

     Muffins:

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax with 2 tbsp water)
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
  • 1-1/4 cups gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 apples, chopped

     Topping:

  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (use salted butter if you’re not following a vegan diet)

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Fill muffin tins with liners
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the applesauce, milk, melted coconut oil and flax egg until blended.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients (oats, flour, walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).
  5. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Fold in chopped apple.
  7. Fill muffin cups until they’re full.
  8. In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients.
  9. Gently press topping over the batter in each cup.
  10. Bake for 16 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  Let’s be real and think of some things to appreciate.

~Whitney Victoria

Brownies That Make You Feel Amazing

I made some brownies.  Some super-food, gluten-free, vegan, refined-sugar free brownies.

But before we talk chocolate,  I want to talk about a guilty pleasure.  Just a pleasure really, because I’m not at all guilty about it.  I’ve been watching Cheers…if you know me, you won’t be surprised.  I’ve been known to be into nostalgia.  The 80s make me happy.   This is pretty hilarious. They’re talking meditation in 1981.  I’m impressed.  Cheers jokes stand the test of time and I’m into Sam’s Nike shirts.

Back on task.  For the dessert I’m bringing to a Labor day picnic, I started with this recipe and added a few of my tweaks.

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I’m all about finding something amazing and “guilty” tasting that’s actually full of healthy ingredients.  But, I have been a little uninspired lately with all the smoothies and oatmeal.  I also had some cooked black beans sitting in the fridge and I was not feeling them.  Wasting food makes me sad so I knew I add to act.

Confession: I’ve never made black bean brownies even though that screams healthy Whitney. (There was an ill-fated chickpea blondie recipe that I’m still reliving…) I know they were all the rage for the last few years but I never had an interest in them until today that is. Necessity is the mother of all invention, right? 

So I Googled and Pinterested until I found something close enough to fit my needs. I wanted gluten-free, cocoa/cacao instead of real chocolate, and preferably little to no sugar.  Boom.  There it was. Something I could work with.

There are no eggs in this, thus making it vegan, if you care.  Instead, I used “flax eggs.”  You just use one part ground flax, two parts water.  It’s a one-to-one substitute for eggs in almost any recipe!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t just want something that’s not unhealthy; I also want something that benefits me somehow.  There are tons of nutrients in these little babies so I’m extra excited to share them.

  • Cacao is a superfood with antioxidants, magnesium, iron and calcium
  • Healthy fats – flax and coconut oil working its magic, yet again
  • Protein – oat flour and the black beans, duh!

Now, if you’re used to super sweet things, you might want to add more coconut sugar but I think the glaze ups the sweet factor.  Try it out first and then add more the next time you bake these.

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This is so easy!  You’re pretty much just throwing everything into a food processor and going full speed!  I hope you’re lucky and own a food processor because I used a Magic Bullet and it was pure hell…

My silicon muffin cups are wonderful.  I highly recommend getting some.  Paper sometimes sticks and you’re totally saving the environment with reusable liners like these. IMG_4458

You might want to bake them in a 9×9 glass baking dish but I prefer individual delights.  It’s less hassle and cleaner.  Plus, I’m a little concerned when I have to share food out of a public trough like a buffet…this solves that.

You could easily eat these right out of the oven with some ice cream on top if you’re not thrilled by my tahini attempt to make them fancy.

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They look like tiny chunks of coal, I know, but they don’t taste like it!

Brownies with Tahini Glaze 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can (1 3/4 cups) black beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds + 6 tablespoons water)
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • ½ cup gluten-free oat flour
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil – melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Tahini Glaze: 

  • 1 tbsp tahini (or creamy nut butter of choice!)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a small bowl add ground flaxseeds & water, stir & let sit to create a gelatinous “egg”
  3. Add all ingredients into the food processor
  4. Pulse until a sticky batter is formed
  5. Spoon batter into sprayed muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes
  7. Melt honey and tahini for a few seconds, stirring until it’s thin enough to drizzle with a spoon. Add water and cinnamon.  Drizzle over top of cooled brownies.
  8. Let cool & drizzle tahini mixture over top.

 

Enjoy your super brownies and let me know when you whip up a batch!

~Whitney Victoria