It’s a funny thing sugar.
I think it is probably one of the most loved and most hated foods that we eat. One look on Pinterest and you will find more sweet and decadent treats than you could ever possible eat. (A few of them may have even come from this site.) But, you’ll also find equally many people posting about how sugar is addictive and the root of all evil… At least, the root of all health evils.
It can be hard to navigate it all, and I certainly don’t have all of the answers. But, I’m working on figuring out what works for me.
Until very recently, I ate a lot more sugar than I’d like to admit. At first, it stemmed from baking on a regular basis, often to post recipes here. Then, as I had less time to bake and write, I found myself needing a sweet treat in the afternoon. I’d munch on anything from cookies to candy to chocolate chips straight from the bag. I knew it wasn’t real healthy, but I also felt like I couldn’t stop. I craved it constantly.
Eventually, I decided it was time to stop. I was determined. While I’m not necessarily convinced that sugar is the root of all evil, I certainly knew that I needed to cut back. That was the primary reason I decided to do a 10 day detox from sugar, gluten, dairy, and caffeine a few weeks ago (more about that coming soon, I promise!). I knew my habits and I knew that I was having trouble just “cutting back” on my own.
Since I knew that sugar was definitely going to be the hardest part of the detox for me, I decided to give it up a few days early so that I had time to work through the cravings and headaches before having to cut out dairy and gluten, as well. The first few days were rough. I think I had a headache for about 4 days straight. But, then I suddenly started to feel better. Not only did my headaches stop, but I gradually stopped craving sugar.
It’s now been close to 3 weeks since I decided to quit sugar. I’ve had a trace of sugar here and there (after the detox was done)… Did you know that sriracha contains sugar? Yup, it does. But, I decided that I’m OK with that. I also had whole grain pancakes with a little bit of maple syrup as a “treat” the other evening. That “treat” used to be breakfast 3 – 4 days a week. Not anymore.
Here’s the best part… Now that I’ve been eating very little sugar, I’m finding that other things taste much sweeter. I used to laugh when people suggested eating a piece of fruit as a sweet treat. But, now I find that a smoothie made with a ripe banana is extremely sweet… Almost too sweet at times. I’m perfectly content to snack on a handful of raw almonds in the afternoon, and I’ve replaced my chocolate chip binges with an apple dipped in natural peanut butter or almond butter.
So why am I telling you all of this? I’m not trying to convince you that you need to stop eating sugar altogether. You have to figure out what is best for you. But, if you feel like you should cut back on sugar, I’m here to tell you that you can do it. I never thought it was possible for me to feel this way, but I do. It might be rough at first, but it will get better. And, isn’t it so much better to really enjoy an occasional sweet treat instead of just eating sugar because you feel like you have to? I certainly think so.
Ready to give it a go? Healthy snacks are key. I highly recommend making your own nut butters to snack on. The nuts have protein which will help you get through the day (or, more importantly, through your cravings and headaches). I especially enjoyed this version that’s got just a touch of cocoa and cinnamon because I still got to enjoy a little bit of chocolate. It’s easy to make and you’ll find it’s much cheaper to make your own than to buy it at the store. I skip the honey when I make it, but you can add a bit of raw honey (or maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, etc.) for a sweeter version.
Almond Pecan Butter with Cocoa and Cinnamon
Makes a generous 2 cups
- 1 ½ cups pecans
- 1 ½ cups almonds
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the pecans and almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 – 6 minutes, until warm and fragrant. (Be careful… Nuts go from toasty and delicious to burnt and not-so-delicious very quickly.)
Allow the nuts to cool slightly before transferring them to your blender (I used my Vitamix) or food processor. Add the cocoa powder, coconut oil, ground cinnamon, and sea salt. Pulse to break up the nuts and combine the ingredients. The mixture will be crumbly. Switch to a low speed on the blender or food processor, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Once the nuts start to release their oils and the mixture starts to flow through the blender or food processor, turn up the speed and blend until the mixture is smooth.
If you’re adding the honey, add it to taste at this point and blend until it is well incorporated.
Store the nut butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week or two.