Thoughts on 10 Days, No Sugar

Tonight is the final night in which I’ve resolved to eat no added sugar for ten days (also known as the Fed Up Challenge). While I don’t believe in dieting or needlessly restricting/eliminating certain foods and food groups from one’s diet, I don’t think doing a brief reset every once in a while is a terrible thing. Here’s what the challenge looked like for me:

  • No added sugars for 10 days. This included artificial sweeteners and sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. All sugars came from fruit.
  • No simple white carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, etc.). Whole grains, including oatmeal, were okay.
  • I didn’t give up alcohol, though many do while doing this challenge. I’ve done a dry month before and found no benefit or detriment from doing so.
  • If I was hungry, I ate. The point of this challenge wasn’t to restrict my eating.

This was a nice way to reset after the holidays, where most of us consume way more sugar than usual, and I felt like it helped me learn a lot about my dietary needs. These lessons included:

1. I definitely don’t eat a lot of added sugar normally.

One of the things you’ll read about when you look at others’ accounts of this challenge are how terrible the first few days are. Mood swings, weird dreams, etc. I never dealt with any of this. In fact, I really didn’t feel like I was drastically changing my normal eating habits at all. I slept fine and didn’t feel any crankier than usual, and the only thing I really craved was chocolate. I never had any problems with my energy, and, in fact, I generally felt more energetic in the afternoons than I normally do otherwise. More on that below.

2. This is not a sustainable long-term way to eat.

I definitely understand going through life with a highly-reduced sugar intake. Maybe you’re diabetic, maybe a lot of sugar doesn’t agree with your body in some way. That’s fine. But reflecting back on it on Day 10, I believe that cutting out all added sugar forever is at best impractical and, at worst, dangerous. Putting yourself in a constant restrictive mindset is not healthy. Food isn’t just about physical nourishment, it’s also about mental nourishment. Plus, a little added sugar here and there won’t kill you.

I also have yet to understand why maple syrup and honey aren’t allowed as part of this challenge. It might be to keep people from adding loads of maple syrup and honey to replace white sugar, but c’mon, they’re found in nature. They’re no less natural than sugar we find in fruit.

3. My body does best with different nutrients at different times of day.

This was actually one of the most interesting parts of the challenge to me! I feel like doing this gave me some real insight into my nutritional needs.

For example, the days I felt the best and stayed full the longest were the days I had oatmeal for breakfast. Apparently eggs and homemade veggie sausage won’t do it for more than a couple hours, but oatmeal (or smoothies with oats) kept me going until lunch time no problem. I also realized I haven’t been getting enough protein at lunch. We were formerly doing veggie and hummus wraps for lunch, but last week we ate this hatch chile egg bake for lunch, subbing sweet potatoes for regular, and it definitely kept me going strong all day. Lastly, having some fat with my last meal of the day seems to be key. I made a lot of smoothies for dessert, and the ones with the higher fat content were better at getting me through the night.

I’ll definitely be taking these lessons and applying them to my meals going forward. This was what I felt like made this challenge worth it, because otherwise…

4. The meal prep for this is absolutely bonkers.

It’s pretty much true what they say: sugar IS in everything. The only prepared foods I ate on this challenge were plain yogurt (if you can count that), Larabars, and some falafel patties I found. This meant that I was doing a crazy amount of meal preparation every couple of days. There wasn’t any added expense to doing this (I’d say we didn’t spend any more money than usual by not eating out), but the time! There was one day I spent literally three hours preparing things to eat, and it would be another hour or so every three or four days. Kudos to y’all who do hardcore meal prep like this every week. I love to cook, but I could not do this all the time.

5. No matter how hard you try and hope, cocoa powder is not chocolate.

This was the only thing I had a hardcore, terrible craving for while doing this challenge. Donuts at work? I’ll pass. Box of croissants on someone’s desk? Nah, they looked pretty sad anyway. But chocolate! Man, on Days 5 and 6, I was ready to kill someone for a piece of dark chocolate. The days after that, I basically accepted that there was no chocolate coming, but that didn’t make me want it any less.

In the end, I think this was worth doing, as it taught me a lot about my regular diet. I think if I did something similar again, I would include maple syrup and honey as part of it. If any one has any questions, feel free to comment!

 

Brewsday Tuesday – Tartastic

Brewsday Tuesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured brew is New Belgium’s Tartastic.

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Tartastic is soured with lactobacillus. It pours the color of lemon juice, complete with haze, and has very little head. Described by New Belgium as a lemon ginger sour, you’d expect it to super pucker-inducing and sharp-tasting. However, that’s not the case at all. This beer is very light and not at all aggressive. The lemon flavor definitely comes through, but I don’t get very much ginger – it’s more like drinking a slice of lemon meringue pie, but not as sugary. It’s definitely a sessionable beer, and it’s my go-to at trivia due to its low ABV and drinkability.

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(shoutout to Accomplice Beer Company, by the way)

This is a fantastic beer for introducing your sour-reluctant friends to just how good sours can be. It’s not terribly tart or aggressive and has a lovely, mellow flavor. This would be delicious with soft pretzels (Accomplice has great ones!) or buttery crackers, or even a flaky croissant if you feel like having a breakfast beer. Or, you know, an anytime beer, since croissants are good whenever. Cheese-wise, the delicate flavors of this beer would go super-well with mascarpone, either by itself or on a slice of baguette.

Happy Brewsday Tuesday, friends! Cheers!

Friday Things

Hey there friends, hope you’re surviving your Friday. I was hoping to have some fun links to share, but this day and week have just taken it out of me. On the plus side, I managed to get out to the trails last night since it’s been in the low 50s this week. The trails may have looked like this:

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But it was totally worth it. Just me, the cold, and the absolutely killer views of the night sky. Never mind definitely thinking I was going to slip on the ice, fall in the creek, and die of hypothermia at some point.

Anyway, have some links:

Ahaha we’re all doomed. Especially considering that the earth tends to continue to set high record temperatures.

While I can’t exactly get behind of any of the new administrative heads, this profile on Ryan Zinke, the new Secretary of the Interior, at least didn’t horrify me. Unlike Besty DeVos, who is actually Dolores Umbridge.

Okay, okay, getting away from the political. One of our dinners this past week that we loved was this winter couscous and veggie bowl from Well and Full. The tahini sauce was really the star of the show. The recipe made more than we needed for the bowl, so we ended up eating it on some other meals and it was badass.

Trail Running Blog of the Week: I somehow only discovered Fast Cory this week and I don’t know how I’m so behind the curve. This guy’s enthusiasm and self-awareness is infectious. Plus, he makes me feel like I could go out and run 100 miles tomorrow if I just had enough determination and a positive attitude.

I’ll leave you all with my anthem for this week. Stay safe this weekend.

Brewsday Tuesday – Adobe Igloo

Well, I was hoping to get this up earlier, but better late than never? I mean, it’s still Tuesday, right?

Brewsday Tuesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a craft beer I’ve had lately. To kick off the first installment, we’re gonna talk about Adobe Igloo.

Adobe Igloo is the winter seasonal from Santa Fe Brewing Company, and it’s a winter ale with a New Mexico twist. Instead of using the normal winter warmer spices (cinnamon, allspice, orange peel), SFBC spices this bad girl with cacao nibs and red chile.

It pours beautifully and a bit darker than your usual winter warmer. Now, because of the color, the first time I tried this beer in 2015, I thought it was a stout and was not a fan. That is most definitely not the case. When I was able to recognize Adobe Igloo as a winter warmer, my appreciation of the beer greatly increased. This beer seems to be fairly divisive, but after a few tries, I’m solidly in the “love it” camp. It’s thick and malty, and the cacao nibs give it a nice chocolate flavor throughout. The red chile definitely comes through in the finish, but is more warming than actually spicy (that might be my Southwest palate talking). Plus, gotta love that can!

We picked up a six-pack of this while in Santa Fe for Christmas, and having one of these on a cold night definitely takes me home.

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Be warned that I haven’t seen this in Wyoming (SFBC doesn’t distribute up here – please?) or Colorado. However, my beer hunting is generally limited to the Fort Collins area, and I’ve seen Santa Fe’s beer up there.

Pairing-wise, this is definitely a beer for dark chocolate. If you’re lucky enough to be in Santa Fe, drink it alongside the dark chocolate crunch donut from Whoo’s Donuts for the ultimate indulgence. If you’re looking to pair with cheese, I’d say go for a soft, bloomy cheese with a mild sweet flavor. Winter warmers usually do well with cheeses that have a nutty, caramel flavor (think hard goudas), but the chile and chocolate here kind of throw that off.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s edition of Brewsday Tuesday – cheers!!

Kicking off 2017 by sinking into a snowdrift

Between getting 10-12 inches of snowpack out in the Snowy Range and being stuck inside with -5 degree temperatures all week, snowshoeing seemed like a good idea. We don’t ski, and with the weather forecast to be bright and sunny all weekend, it seemed like the perfect way to get outside in one of our favorite areas and beat the crowds.

Well, turns out that plowing the nordic trailheads isn’t exactly a priority. Even though we slept in, by the time we got to Centennial, both the Corner Mountain trailhead and the Little Laramie trailhead were still buried under 2-3 feet of snow. Since we knew the Little  Laramie area better, we decided to try to get on the loop over on that side. We ended up having to park by the side of the road, hop the road barrier, and make our way to the trail.

That ended up being the easy part.

We ended up being only the second pair of folks on the trail, and before us had come cross-country skiiers. This meant that there was no packed trail yet and we had to do our best to follow the cross-country ski tracks to make our way. Did I mention that we had never gone snowshoeing before this weekend? Hiking in Yaktrax, yes, but not snowshoeing.

We picked a whopper of a weekend to try it out, apparently. We ended up deciding we’d go for about 45 minutes, then turn around. We ended up what we thought was the end of the loop, and realized that it would be faster to go back to the trailhead. However, between the snow and the poorly broken trail, we were severely turned around. If you look at the linked map (http://www.justtrails.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Little-Laramie-Guide.pdf), we thought we were at 1 and 2, on the Lodgepole Loop. We were actually all the way over at 4 – on the River Loop.

I wish I had taken photos, but we were too busy just trying to get through the ordeal. My ankles were aching from trying to break trail and the husband kept sinking in up to his knees, even with snowshoes properly sized for his weight. He was moaning and groaning (with good reason!) and I was trying not to snap in frustration. When we finally saw the top of the North trailhead in the snow, we cheered. Even though we’d only made it to Sand Lake Road, the snowpack was so much easier to move through. As a couple on cross-country skis we met said, “we aren’t here to pack the trail – that’s what snowshoers are for!” They weren’t wrong, and we weren’t happy about it.

After over two hours of what the husband called the most physically demanding work he’d ever done, we finally made it back to the car. It was indeed physically exhausting, but I thought that mentally, it was even tougher. Considering how frustrating and tiring the whole experience was, I’m in no rush to do it again, but I know it was great mental training.

Plus, I don’t think pizza has ever tasted so good as it has post-snowshoe adventure. If you’re ever out in the Snowy Range in Southeast Wyoming, make sure you stop in Centennial at the Bear Tree (http://www.beartreetavernandcafe.com/) for a bite afterwards. Best food around, hands down.