Sugar-Detox Meal Plan: Week #7

It's the last leg of the Sugar-Detox Challenge folks!! Woot! Or as Ryan Lochte would say, JEAH! Let's kick it into high gear and finish this thing off on a high note! We don't even have a full seven days left, just a measly four. You got this.

I have another handful of healthful recipe ideas to inspire you in the kitchen. I've picked ones that are especially packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to get your body working like a finely tuned machine before this is over. If you havn't tried a green smoothie yet, do it this week. You will notice a drastic improvement in your daily digestion when you start out your day with hydration, fiber and a huge dose of nutrients. I've included both a green starter smoothie for newbies and my standard tropical green smoothie that I LOVE and go back to time and time again.

I'll be having my lemon-ginger detox drink first thing in the morning and absolutely recommend you try it out too! Having it right after you wake will get your metabolism and digestive system up and going. If you don't have time to fuss around in the morning, keep it simple and just squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a glass of water. It works wonders! Hope you all have a great week and are feeling fantastic! Make sure to check out my last post here if you are wondering how to handle coming off the sugar detox.


Dill and Asparagus Potato Salad with Grilled Veggies or Meat
Recipes from other bloggers
(Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth)

Romaine Fajita Boats
(Running on Real Food)



So... What Now?

We are in the homestretch of the Sugar-Detox Challenge! There's less than a week to go! I for one am so proud of myself and everyone who decided to give this challenge try. Before it ends and we all dive into our Easter baskets, I want to take a moment to step back with you and reflect on the experience. And perhaps offer some guidance as to how to proceed from here, because last year when I got to this point I found myself both full of excitement and anticipation, but, if I'm honest, a little anxiety too. I didn't want to undo all the good I had done, but I wasn't ready to make the diet my lifestyle just yet.

First off, take a private moment to appreciate what an amazing thing you have done for yourself. Our health is truly everything we have. Without it we have nothing. This became crystal clear to me this year when I came down with viral meningitis (see blogpost on it here). Making smart decisions now before it's too late is the greatest gift you can give yourself. 

That said, it takes so much willpower to change your eating habits, not just because they are habits, but because they are reinforced by our culture, the food industry and immediate gratification. If it's not friends and family giving you a hard time for no longer eating like they do, it's a commercial telling you to treat yourself to ice cream on a hot day. To make matters worse, we are just wired to crave that white stuff. Sugar stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which activates the reward (think addiction) pathways in our brain. While sugar isn't nearly as addictive or dangerous of drugs like cocaine, it's still incredibly hard for us to turn down and damaging to our health. 

In short, giving up sugar is not easy and you should be proud. I cannot say this enough. Even if you fell off the bandwagon for a meal or two or even a few days, take a moment to realize what you have accomplished. I'm sure you have consciously and consistently made so many better nutritional decisions over the last 40 days and your body is thanking you.

Last year, I got to this point and after my pride and excitement settled down, I found myself wondering "So...what now?" I didn't want to throw all my hard work out the window, because I knew simply going back to my old ways would undo all the positive changes I had experienced. However, I was not ready to never have another piece of chocolate again (because let's face it, who is?). I also knew that if I did want to make a permanent positive change in my diet, there was never going to be a better time than now. I had put in all the hard work, overcome cravings and figured out how to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate this new diet. All this left me rather conflicted. It took me a little bit of self reflection to decide what I wanted to do. The following 10 questions are there to help you do the same. You can read more about what permanent changes I decided to make and why here.  

1. Why did you decide to do the Sugar-Detox Challenge? 

2. What positive changes have you noticed in yourself since the start of the Sugar-Detox Challenge? Physically, mentally, emotionally?

3. What was the easiest thing to give up? Why?

4. What was the hardest thing to give up? Why?

5. What healthy recipes have you really enjoyed over the last 40 days and would consider cooking again?

6. What small changes could you easily make to decrease the amount of sugar you consume?

7. What did you learn about yourself along the way?

8. What surprised you most over the course of this challenge?

9. What sugary foods are the least rewarding/important to you? Would you be willing to cut these out or reduce how often you consume them?

10. What sugary foods are the most rewarding/important to you? Why?

For me, the answers to these questions helped me realize what I wanted, why I wanted and what I was willing to change to achieve it. They also helped me identify what changes were realistic for me and what was still holding me back.

I hope that from the vantage point of improved health all of you feel inspired to make at least some small permanent change in your diet. This could be as simple as no longer buying sugary cereal or flavored, sweetened yogurt or as significant as no longer using processed products with added sugar when cooking at home. Anything and everything makes a difference! I would love to hear your thoughts on the entire experience, any of your answers to the questions above and what permanent changes you would like to make!


Mint & Chinese Cabbage Chicken Salad

When it starts to get warm outside I want something light and fresh to eat, but it also needs to fill me up. This low-carb, Asian-inspired cold chicken salad absolutely fits the bill. It's packed with protein and fiber that will keep you going for hours and the lime and mint brighten up everything. Oh yeah... and the dressing is to die for. It's the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, tangy and salty and the peanut butter gives it some real body.
The cabbage itself is also mildly sweet with a fresh crunch. Many people don't realize that this delicious green (and purple) vegetable is part of the same family as nutritional superstars like kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts and chard. And for good reason:

  • It contains the phytochemical indoles, which help reduce the risk of cancer due to the way they alter estrogen metabolism and protect our bodies against the carcinogenic effect of pesticides
  • Cabbage is also full of antioxidant plant compounds, such as carotenes, thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates, that protect the body against carcinogens and free radicals that promote aging. 
  • Abundant source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which helps reduce levels of bad cholesterol, improve digestion and boost nutrition absorption
  • Good source of vitamin C and folates and contains calcium, magnesium, potassium as well as electrolytes.  


Asparagus and Dill Potato Salad

The weather in here is finally warming up (hopefully for good) and this means two things: it's asparagus season and the grill is being dusted off. This potato salad is a delicious way to celebrate both! It makes use of this incredibly healthy seasonal vegetable and goes great with a freshly grilled meat or veggies. The dish comes together fast, is easy to make ahead and keeps in the fridge if you're planning on inviting people over to grill.
In case you haven’t heard, asparagus is a powerhouse! Click here for its nutrition data and read on for the lowdown on the nutritional and health benefits this veggie offers:
  • Ridiculously low in calories, cholesterol and fat: One cup of cooked asparagus is only 40 calories and contains no cholesterol or fat.
  • Fights bloating and puffy eyes: The ratio of potassium (high) to soidum (low) creates the perfect electrolyte balance in your body so it lets go of excess water.
  • Contains cancer-fighting, antiflammatory flavonoid quercetin. Inflammatory is considered the cause of pretty much every serious disease. Keep it low for good health!
  • Helps protect blood vessels thanks to compound called rutin.
  • Great source of fiber, which improves digestion, boosts nutrition absorption and lowers cholesterol. Thanks to a special kind of fiber called inulin, asparagus also feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Surprisingly high protein: Just 1 cup is packed with 4 grams of protein at a mere 40 calories!
  • High in vitamins A&C: These antioxidants support eye health, boost the immune system and promote cell growth repair.
  • Great for heart and circulatory system: Contains Vitamins E (treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels) and K (essential for healthy blood clotting and strong bones) as well as folate, iron (helps blood transports oxygen to body and brain) and potassium (heart health, helps prevent cramps and consumption linked with lower cholesterol).
  • It is also a good source of Vitamin B6 (promotes metabolism, boosts immune system, lowers harmful levels of homocystine in blood), Calcium (strengthens bones), Magnesium (prevents cramping) and Zinc (great for skin/cell repair).


Sugar-Detox Meal Plan: Week #6

We are in the home stretch here! It's been over a month since I decided to cut out processed sugar and carbs along with alcohol and caffeine and invited you all to join me. I'm feeling great and hope you are too! Minus the allergies that have hit me like a brick wall. Thanks spring! But I'm kind of so excited about this warm weather and the fact that I don't have to wear boots all the time that I don't even mind.

This week there are a few repeat recipes, but a handful of new ones as well. My personal favorites are the lime-honey grilled chicken on strawberry spinach salad and the carrot cake. Something about Easter makes me crave that dessert! My version with maple-syrup sweetened cream cheese frosting is free of processed sugar and gluten. Plus it does not have any added butter or oil so it doubles as a great breakfast option as well! Hope you enjoy!


Lime-Honey Grilled Chicken over Strawberry Spinach Salad

Sesame Carrot-Cabbage Pancakes

*Replace rice noodles with shredded chinese cabbage. For the dressing, omit fish sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha and add 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or chili oil and 1 T. honey.
Carrot Cake Oatmeal Bake*

Raspberry Oatmeal with Sauteed Bananas

*Turn it into a delicious dessert with maple syrup-sweetened cream cheese or whipped cream
Recipes from other bloggers
Avocado-Hummus Dip with Veggies
(The Lovely Cupboard)

Curried Chicken and Wheat Berry Salad (omit sugar)
(The Endless Meal)

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Since I started my Sugar Detox, I've been trying to cut out processed sugars and processed carbs. I've also been on a mission to reinvent some of my favorite desserts so that they are no longer filled with empty calories that don't serve me. This moist carrot cake is one of my proud creations! It's made without gluten, processed sugars or butter/oil. 100% natural sweetness.
So what exactly is so much better about this recipe than your standard carrot cake? Besides cutting out all the empty calories from the 2 cups of granulated sugar and 11/2 cups of oil, the oats offer plenty of fiber that help regulate your blood sugar and prevent insulin release (fat storage). The carrots, mashed banana, dates and a little maple syrup not only add all the natural sweetness you need, they give you eye-healthy carontenoids, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and iron. The walnuts are full of brain-healthy omega-3s fats. So enjoy!
I use milk in the recipe and cream cheese for the frosting, but you can easily subsitute them for  almond milk and coconut cream/cashew cream. Sometimes I leave off the frosting and just serve it with whipped cream, have it warm with a splash of milk for breakfast or eat it like a bar. It's delicious and so easy to throw together!


Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken on Strawberry Spinach Salad

 Grill season has started and I could not be more excited. While steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs have their place in my heart, sometimes I just want something healthier to throw on the grill. This honey-lime chicken marinade is one of my favorite go-to recipes for summer barbeques. It's sweet, tangy and a pinch of cayenne pepper adds a little spice!

The salad is also low in fat, high in protein, fiber, immune-system boosting vitamin C and a great source of tons of other vitamins and minerals. You get brain- and heart-healthy omega-3s from the avocado. The carrots are packed with carotenoids that are great for eye health. Strawberries have exceptional antioxidant properties as well as phytochemicals that are believed to help significantly inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells


Sugar-Detox Meal Plan: Week #5

Better late than never! I had wanted to get this meal plan up Friday, but sometimes life gets in the way. Friday night I found myself on a train to Switzerland to visit my father who was only there for a few days on business. It was a whirlwind trip filled with everything that is Switzerland to me: extended family, mountain hikes, quiet villages, the Alps, happy animals grazing on green pastures and, of course, cheese, rösti and chocolate. Don't worry, I didn't eat any chocolate (yet). I did bring home a huge milk chocolate bunny for later, though.

Speaking of chocolate, though, I also knew the weekend would presented some challenges in terms of staying on track with regard to the sugar detox. As a guest in someone else's home, I couldn't control my diet 100%. And I'm sure some if not all of you have found yourself in similar situations over the last few weeks or expect to be in one soon. Company events, family gatherings or special milestone celebrations. Life happens and I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't let your diet get in the way. You don't want pursuing healthy dietary choices to turn into an obsession that causes you more anxiety and guilt than good, because those can wreak havoc on your overall health as well. Nobody is perfect and you can't always control everything.

That said, you don't have to throw your diet completely into the wind when this happens. Make smart choices when you can, come prepared with healthy snacks and indulge on stuff that really matters to you and then get back to business when it's over. In short: be intentional and thoughtful in your choices. Over the weekend, I decided to try to adhere to the points below.

  • Come prepared: I brought along nuts and various fruits so I had emergency food on hand.
  • Take initiative: Since I was visiting family, I offered to cook one of the nights so that at least one of my main meals would be detox friendly... and of course, because I just love cooking. The next morning, I went out and brought the stuff for the dinner along with a few breakfast items that were detox-approved (oats and yogurt).
  • Make smart decisions: At a resturant, I ordered a delicious rösti (massive hash brown pancake) with raclette cheese and veggies. I didn't have to miss out on anything and it was so, so delicious.
  • Indulge on stuff that matters to you: I passed on a store-bought Black Forest Cake and made myself a bowl of strawberries and greek yogurt. If it had been homemade, I would have had to reconsider that decision.
  • Be gracious and realize when to go with the flow: When my grandmother cooked up chicken pasta for lunch, I was not about to pick around the individual noodles. Just dig in, smile and enjoy the food in those situations.
In the end, five of my six meals were sugar-free and filled with healthy fruits and veggies. I feel guilt-free and had a great time, no feelings were hurt, and the world continues to turn. Hopefully the points above will help you decide how to handle similar situations and the recipes below will provide more inspiration for healthy meals.



Green Starter Smoothie*

*For those who arn't convinced spinach belongs in smoothies just yet, but are open to the idea.
Recipes from other bloggers

Green Starter Smoothie

For my birthday last year, I got a blender. To some this may sound like a dull 25th birthday present, but I could not have been more excited. As silly as it sounds, that kitchen appliance changed my life. I'm not exaggerating when I say I use it four or five times a week. It is one of the best presents I have received.

For the first few months, I stuck solely to fruits. Then one day when I was feeling brave, I decided to try those green smoothies everyone was raving about. While the idea of downing a green drink did not really appeal to me the promise of a healthier, brighter complexion certainly did. After my first sip, I was hooked. If that was health, sign me up! I can do this all day, everyday.

And since then, green smoothies have become a staple breakfast at my house. I experiment with just about every green I can get my hands on: romaine, endive, kale, swiss chard, parsley, basil, dandelion greens, arugula. But my one true love, the one I will always, always come back to is spinach. It's also the green I pick when I'm trying to convince my friends and family to convert to the green side. The flavor is extremely mild and it blends into a smooth, creamy texture without one of those freaklishly high-performance blenders. This is why it's the star of my green smoothie for starters. This recipe is perfect if you want to get into green smoothies, but find them a little outside your comfort zone. Start with more fruit and less spinach if you are worried about the taste and remember you can always add honey to bump up the sweetness, but the ripe fruits alone should offer plenty of fructose to please your palate.