TAMMY’S NOTE: This No-Sugar challenge documents Ashley’s 30-day attempt to remove PROCESSED SUGAR from their diet. This challenge allows her to use natural sugars such as fruit, honey or true maple syrup, therefore it’s not meant for a diabetic alternative, simply a personal-health challenge.
by Ashley Ashley
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It’s official! The challenge has been completed. I can’t believe it has been a whole month without any refined sugar. There has been some discussion over the past weeks about what constitutes sugar during the challenge. Some people don’t think honey and 100% maple sugar should be allowed during the challenge, but this is simply what worked for me during my challenge. I have felt that in a very small moderation that honey has added enough of the sweetness that I craved so hard for the first half of the challenge that it made it an easier transition. If I decide to be as rigid in the future with the sugar-free diet, I may eventually cut those sweeteners out as well. This whole process has been one big learning experience the whole way through, but it has been a lot of fun learning along the way. If you have missed the previous weeks I urge you to check out week 1, week 2, and week 3. But now join me for the last bit of my challenge and check out the chocolate, chocolate, chocolate recipes below that are free from refined sugar!
A big question that kept popping up in the comments was “Have you been losing weight?” or some variation of that. Since weight was not a primary factor for me to begin this challenge I didn’t follow any weight loss too closely. I did, however, weigh myself on day 1 of the challenge and again now on day 30. May I have a drum roll please? Total weight loss for me was a total of 14 lbs! My husband came in at 17 lbs! Holy moly! This is entirely without calorie counting or feeling hunger at any point during the day. This was simply cutting out the sugary and processed foods that we were used to snacking on! I just could not believe the scale when I stepped on it. Both of us were in a healthy weight-to-height ratio to begin with, but are now a couple of steps lower on that scale. We are both still within a healthy weight-to-height ratio, but we love the end results! To anyone wishing to lose a few pounds quickly, I would highly recommend tackling this challenge for a month!
Now that the challenge is complete I guess I don’t need to throw any more tips out there, but I’ve learned so much this month that I’m going to throw them out there anyways. Here they are:
1. Remember that the foods you “gave up” weren’t nourishing to your body. At this point you may have no desire to go back to what you were eating before, but if you do decide to eat sugar, do it in moderation.
2. If you don’t have a slow cooker I highly recommend getting one. I used mine as often as I could. Eating completely sugar free took a lot of extra time and if I was able to prepare meals without me even being around….yes please!
3. Continue to learn! This whole thing has been one giant learning process for me. I don’t want to stop learning great ways to eat well while saving time and money. Continue to search and learn what works best for you!
4. No matter the reason you decided to cut out sugar to begin with, stick to your guns and take it one day at a time. It wasn’t always easy for to me stick to it. In fact, there were times that I wished I had never taken up the challenge to begin with. But it feels that much better now that I have made it all the way to the end.
5. Be proud of your accomplishments! No matter what the beginning reason or the end result ended up being, you have set and made your goal.
As I have mentioned before, this is an ongoing process…one that has gotten a lot easier throughout the month, but a learning process all the same. One of the things that has kept me sane through the month of switching my diet so drastically is finding desserts that were free of refined sugar. One of my favorite childhood memories was my mother filling a cake plate with No-Bake Chocolate cookies. This recipe has it all! No oven time heating up the house during the summertime and CHOCOLATE. It’s so quick and easy that it can cure the strongest craving in no time at all!
No-Bake Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
So this recipe is not new, it has certainly been floating around the internet forever and my mom made them for me growing up, but they don’t require baking and more importantly, don’t require sugar. I like to think that I threw a tasty spin on them as my husband told me they were the best he has ever tasted. It’s simple. Here’s all you do:
1 c natural peanut butter (I used chunky, but smooth is fine too)
½ c coconut oil
½ c honey
¼ c 100% maple syrup (I think this gives it a special flavor, but you can do all honey instead)
3 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ c rolled oats (you could probably use quick oats for this but I prefer the rolled)
6 tbsp cocoa powder (I may or may not have measured a little heavy on this and got closer to 7 tbsp) 😉
Ok, are you guys ready for this? You combine all of your ingredients until evenly mixed and spoon the mixture onto wax paper or a cookie sheet. I used this 2-tablespoon *cookie scoop for mine – so worth it if you don’t have one already! If your coconut oil is solid, you may need to heat it up just enough to make it liquid, but that’s it! You’re done! Since the coconut oil melts at room temperature, you need to store these in the refrigerator. Trust me, it’s worth it.
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Sticking to the theme of chocolate and healthy, who would have ever thought that you could pair vegetables and cocoa powder to make delicious brownies?! Sweet potatoes are full of amazing nutrients for your body and…well…you know, you can add chocolate. 🙂 You just can’t go wrong with this recipe! You can even sneak this one in on others who love their sweet treats and they’ll never know they’re eating HEALTHY! Whoever said healthy was synonymous with gross anyways? Check out this super-easy recipe!
Sweet Potato Brownies
Whaaaat?! Is this a vegetable or a dessert? Well why can’t you just have both? These brownies are so moist and delicious and, of course, completely free of refined sugar. I used some fall-like spices in mine to get them to taste a little like spiced brownies. I might be jumping the gun a bit on the fall foods – but why not? Here you go, folks!
1 ½ plain mashed sweet potato
1 c peanut butter (I used chunky because it’s my favorite, but smooth or any nut butter will do)
3 tbsp unsweetened coco powder
¼ c 100% maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
a sprinkle of allspice (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
Bake 2 large sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for an hour, or until soft and the peel easily comes off. Peel your sweet potatoes and mash them until smooth. Here’s another easy one folks! Throw all of your ingredients in a bowl and mix until even distributed. Hmmm…I’m seeing a pattern now. 🙂
Set your oven at 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 glass pan. Pour your batter into the dish and spread it out evenly. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until nicely browned on top and the corners are crispy. Enjoy after they have cooled down.
NOTE: You’re encouraged to read all four weeks of her Sugar-Free Challenge Journey where she shares tips & sugar-free recipes:
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