The 21-Day Sugar Detox (Week 2)

It's a little late, but here's my recap of Week 2 of The 21-Day Sugar Detox.

Just two weeks ago, I thought I was dying from this sugar detox. I had some serious withdrawal symptoms: shaking, dizziness, nausea, headache, exhaustion...you name it! Thankfully, it was only one day. I survived it. Cut to...today: Day 19. I. Feel. Great!

As I write this, I'm munching on carrots - they've been a pretty standard snack for me throughout this detox, mostly because they're easy to prep, and I can eat them no matter where I am. Also, you'll notice in my food journal below that pecans and raw milk cheddar are staples. But the rest of my diet has been pretty varied. As I mentioned in my 21DSD Week 1 post, I have viewed this detox as a culinary challenge...a chance to try some new dishes and get the dinner menu out of the boring rut in which we'd been stuck. And I think I've done a pretty good job. I've even got The Man eating some of my creations, though I don't think Mr. Cherry Pepsi will ever tackle a sugar detox! LOL

If you had told me a year ago that I would attempt a technically low-carb/Paleo diet, I would have laughed in your face. I've never been a fan of the Atkins-type low-carb diet, simply because there's so much emphasis on "0 carb" processed foods and less emphasis on whole foods and healthy carbs.

And the Paleo diet bugged me because it eliminated entire food groups (dairy & grains). Granted, these food groups are very irritating to some, myself included, but that doesn't make it a "one size fits all" solution. I typically do fine with grains (though I think the shrinking size of my belly might prove otherwise), and as long as the dairy I consume is *not* pasteurized, it doesn't bother me at all. So, at least for myself, I don't think it's necessary to follow the Paleo plan in its entirety.

But, the 21-Day Detox is a bit of a combination of both low-carb and Paleo, and I've loved (mostly) every minute of it. Day 3 was the big exception! But do I think I could do it long-term? Probably not. I'm tiring of eggs for breakfast...I miss my Quinoa Breakfast Porridge. And I miss fruit...mostly because of it's convenience and ease...the original fast food! And quite honestly, I kind of want a PB&J...and Hawaiian BBQ...and probably a bunch of other things I can't think of right now! But most importantly, I've learned that I can have these things in moderation, and I don't *need* sugar in order to survive. Nor do I need to swear it off completely. It's all about balance, kids...yep! I believe that's the key!

So, here's what I ate last week...interesting, I know. :)

Day 8: 
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, bacon, black coffee
Lunch - spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara
Dinner - Almond-crusted cajun chicken, cauliflower rice, grilled asparagus
Snacks - carrot sticks, raw milk cheddar, pecans

Day 9: 
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, bacon, black coffee
Lunch - leftover almond-crusted cajun chicken, cauliflower rice, green beans
Dinner - grass-fed hamburger with raw milk cheddar on a bed of lettuce with homemade pickles, homemade mayo, tomato, and onion
Snacks - carrot sticks with almond butter

Day 10: 
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, bacon, black coffee
Lunch - Chicken salad in lettuce cups, avocado, snap peas
Dinner - Steak with balsamic reduction, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and browned butter
Snacks - carrot sticks, raw milk cheddar, pecans, sugar snap peas

Day 11: 
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, bacon, black coffee
Lunch - Taco Salad
Dinner - meatballs and marinara
Snacks - carrot sticks

Day 12: 
Breakfast - scrambled eggs, black coffee
Lunch - Chipotle salad
Dinner - second half of Chipotle salad
Snacks - raw milk cheddar, cauliflower, carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, a few salami cubes

Day 13:
Breakfast - scrambled eggs, black coffee
Lunch - Turkey Cranberry Waldrof salad from Cafe Moxo (minus the cranberries and with balsamic dressing)
Dinner - Krabby Patties from NomNomPaleo, grilled asparagus in lemon butter
Snacks - raw milk cheddar, raw veggies

Day 14: 
Breakfast - scrambled eggs, black coffee
Lunch - Chipotle salad
Dinner - eggs, bacon
Snacks - raw milk cheddar, pecans

So, there ya have it. I feel like I did really well last week, I began feeling fantastic, and the food was delicious!

Stay tuned for week 3, my end results, and my maintenance plan (if I have one)! :)


The 21-Day Sugar Detox (Week 1)

A week ago, I decided to advance my diet transformation one more step...a sugar detox. I mentioned this the week before while having lunch with a friend, to which he replied, "You're always changing your diet to something else." It bothered me a bit, so I'd like to take a moment, before diving into the detox details, to provide some history of what I refer to as my diet transformation.

Several years ago, The Man and I ran into trouble trying to get pregnant...I was eventually diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which was basically screwing with my fertility and also linked to insulin resistance), and put on meds to help us conceive. After a few rounds of the meds, I realized I wasn't comfortable with them, so The Man and I decided I would stop taking them. At that point, I took a long hard look at my diet, and all the crap I was putting in, on, and around my body. I did LOTS of research and discovered that many chemicals, including pesticides and ingredients in processed foods, cleaning products, and even body care and cosmetics can disrupt hormones and cause all sorts of problems. It was at this point that I eliminated many processed foods from my diet and began seeking out organic produce.

After 3 1/2 years of trying, The Man and I finally got pregnant!! Once I started thinking about The Munchkin's arrival, I decided I wanted to make her baby food to try to spare her the same kind of heartache we had experienced while trying to get her here. It was then that I became a religious farmers' market shopper. Seriously, the first day of the market is like opening day of baseball for me. I. MUST. ATTEND. It was at the market where I discovered a number of local farmers growing delicious, beautiful, organic produce, and I began buying the bulk of our groceries there...mostly organic.

Sometime last year, I asked my doctor if there were any tests I needed to have done now that I'd reached the ripe old age of...*GASP*...thirty. He noted my family history of high cholesterol and suggested a lipid panel. Much to my dismay, the results were not great. Three months after not following the prescribed changes (diet, exercise, supplements), my test results were even worse. So, I decided to heed the doctors advice and cut back on my dietary cholesterol. This led to experimentation with vegetarianism, which I quickly realized I couldn't maintain. I missed steak...and burgers...and BACON! So, I did some more research and discovered cholesterol's role in the body (read "The Great Cholesterol Myth" for this enlightening information), and I changed my diet, yet again...and drastically. I began eating grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, and eggs from those chickens (two of them a day!). My research taught me that these animals, as opposed to conventionally-raised "feedlot" animals, were healthier, packing more nutrients into the same amount of food...nutrients my body needed...all because they were allowed to soak up the sun all day and eat their natural diets. And I got to eat bacon again. :) As of June, my cholesterol had dropped 54 points! Woohoo!

Then, in December, I discovered a dairy intolerance...casein, to be exact. It's a protein that my body can't digest, so it creates killer headaches and miserable sinus congestion instead. It's not very awesome. So, I cut out dairy...all of it. I read labels more than ever, asked waiters for details about dishes before I ordered...I irritated myself. Annoyed, I researched again. I found that pasteurized dairy is very problematic for many because pasteurization kills all the enzymes that aid digestion. (But pasteurization is necessary and raw milk is dangerous, right? Wrong. Google it.) Then, I remembered some cheese I had joyously eaten before I got pregnant. It was Ropp Raw Milk Cheddar, and it was phenomenal! I decided to experiment, so I bought some, ate a little bit, and waited to see how I felt. And then nothing happened. I felt fine. Now it was time to find sources of raw milk to try! (It's worth noting that, in Illinois, one must purchase raw milk directly from the farm and supply the containers. These laws vary from state to state.) I found out that, twenty minutes from my house, there is a couple who sells raw milk. Phone call. Visit. Purchase. Wow, I missed milk! And this milk didn't make me feel awful. And The Man and The Munchkin like it too. Jackpot!

Fast forward to today and the sugar detox. You might ask yourself why. And so did I. For months, I've toyed with the idea of doing this. Even though my overall cholesterol is better, my triglycerides aren't, and, come to find out, that's linked to sugar consumption. My PCOS and insulin resistance is also linked to sugar consumption. And my sugar cravings after meals are so intense, I honestly don't have any self-control. This sugar detox is an attempt to curb some of those issues. I fully understand they may not be completely resolved, but who knows...maybe they will. Here are the very basic details of the detox (more details can be found at The 21-Day Sugar Detox:

  • 21 days
  • No sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No grains (bread, pasta, etc)
  • No white or sweet potatoes
  • No winter squash (I know...this is a bad time to live without pumpkin!)
  • No fruit (except either a green apple or green-tipped banana per day)
Sounds fun, right? No? I didn't think so either. And it's been rough at times. REALLY ROUGH! But I have survived those moments, and I'm beginning to feel better. Here's my journal of meals and "feelings" as I've tracked them throughout the past week.

Day 1:
Breakfast - Egg cup & black coffee
Lunch - Salad w/ steak, 1/2 avocado, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, lime juice, olive oil
Dinner - Chicken kabobs with bell peppers and onions, rutabaga (yuck)
Snacks - carrot sticks, iced tea, raw almonds

- Immediately after breakfast, I found myself having an intense chocolate craving. I ignored it.
- Around 10 am, I began yawning, feeling tired, and had difficulty maintaining focus.
- Immediately after lunch, I was craving chocolate again, so I went for a short walk to help wake me up and distract me. I walked to Walgreens to pickup a prescription and get a bottle of tea to drink, and I survived - walking out with no sugary items!
- 2:30 pm - ME. WANT. COOKIES!!! (I ate almonds instead.)
- Got a headache on the way home from work, but eating dinner seemed to fixed it.
- No one died. Yay!

Day 2:
Breakfast - 1/2 egg cup, black coffee
Lunch - Leftover chicken kebobs, 1/2 avocado, pecans
Dinner - hamburger with raw milk cheddar on a bed of mixed greens with homemade lacto dill pickles, tomatoes, and onions
Snacks - raw milk cheddar, carrots, egg fried in bacon grease

- I wasn't falling asleep at my desk this morning.
- I probably didn't pack enough lunch...it's 1pm, and I'm still hungry.
- I'm resisting the temptation to eat the remainder of The Munchkin's banana from this morning..."Not Gonn' Do It"...based on principle alone...
- I got another headache on the way home from work...I think I was just hungry.

Day 3:
Breakfast - egg cup, pecans, black coffee
Lunch - egg salad in endive boats, 1/2 avocado, carrot sticks
Dinner - baked lemon-garlic tilapia, cauliflower "rice", brussels sprouts w/ butter and bacon
Snacks - meatballs (I had to do QA!)

- soooooo tired this morning...slightly dizzy...can't focus...feel disoriented.
- late morning/lunch time: began feeling really awful...headache, dizzy, nauseated, lack of appetite...just want to lay down
- got a second wind that at least allowed me to cook dinner and prep for Day 4
- I LOVED the cauliflower "rice"...all this experimenting is a lot of fun, and I'm trying new foods I wouldn't have otherwise thought to try

Day 4:
Breakfast - scrambled eggs, bacon, black coffee
Lunch - leftover tilapia, cauliflower "rice", brussels sprouts
Dinner - meatballs in marinara, steamed veggies
Snacks - carrots, pecans, raw milk cheddar

- I slept terribly last night! After The Munchkin came in around 1:30, I could not go back to sleep...
- still having some sugar cravings after meals, but I'm noticing they aren't immediate...they're delayed by about an hour
- even on 3 hours of sleep, I functioned pretty well all day, through The Munchkin's swim lessons and all the way home, but as soon as I sat on the couch, it sucked all the energy from my body. I went to bed at 8:45pm.

Day 5:
Breakfast - quinoa cooked w/ granny smith apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts, black coffee
Lunch - Chipotle Salad with very small scoop of black beans, extra veggies, chicken, mild tomato salsa and guac - YUM!
Dinner - Roast, roasted veggies
Snacks - pecans, carrots, raw milk cheddar

- I'm beginning to feel human again!
- I have a decent amount of energy this evening, though I'm mentally exhausted from my day.

Day 6:
Breakfast - scrambled eggs, bacon, black coffee
Lunch - Salad w/ steak, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, balsamic vinegar, olive oil
Dinner - Taco salad with mixed greens, taco meat, raw milk cheddar, garden tomato, green onions, and an avocado
Snacks - chocolate chia pudding (FAIL!), pecans

- Feeling as human as ever
- seemed to have more stamina to tackle things in the kitchen and around the house
- no more grogginess, dizziness, midday headaches, etc

Day 7:
Breakfast - quinoa cooked w/ granny smith apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts, black coffee
Lunch - Spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara
Dinner - Fried eggs and bacon
Snacks - pecans, salted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, raw milk cheddar

- It was a lazy Sunday, but I didn't feel lethargic or unmotivated
- I'm sleeping a TON better...as in, all night!
- drinking less and less coffee each day...not on purpose, but I've noticed I'm dumping out more each day once it's cold

There you have it! That's everything I've eaten in the last seven days. No chocolate. No honey. No popcorn. No ice cream. No cookies. No lemon buttermilk pound cake. *DROOL*

Do I miss those things? Yes. Have I realized I can survive without them? YES! I'm proud of myself. The Man told me tonight that he can tell how proud I am...he said he sees it on my face when I talk about it.

Also, this detox has given me the opportunity to try foods I probably wouldn't have otherwise tried like rutabaga, cauliflower "rice", spaghetti squash, and chocolate chia pudding (which I hated, by the way, and did not eat). It's also been fun, as a foodie, to get creative with our household dinner menu again. And I must give big kudos to The Man for at least trying a bite of each new thing I've prepared, even though I've made "regular food" for him and The Munchkin. He even admitted tonight that he likes the cauliflower rice, and he could eat it regularly! :)

Stay tuned for week 2!



I'd like to preface this post by saying that I am not an expert on high-quality, pastured meats or where to find them in central Illinois. And I have not, by any means, researched all the options and pricing, so I encourage you to do so.

Surprisingly, I am frequently asked where we purchase our meat and eggs. My goal with this post is to share the names of the farms where we have recently purchased locally-raised, organic, and pastured meats and eggs.

So, here it is...

Our most recent purchase of 1/4 beef came from R & K Beef. They are located in Pike County, IL, and their products are grass-fed and free of hormones and antibiotics. So far, we've sampled the sirloin, ribeye, t-bone, and burger. Each cut has been extremely tender, and the difference in taste over grocery store beef is phenomenal. It's how beef is supposed to taste! You can find out more at the R & K Beef website or find R & K Beef on Facebook.

R & K Beef also sells pork products, but we haven't tried them yet. Currently, we get our pork products from Oak Tree Organics in Ashland, IL. They frequently finish their pigs on apples, which gives the meat a wonderful flavor. They have a year-round online market with convenient weekly delivery locations in Jacksonville and Springfield. For more information and to sign up for the online market, you can find Oak Tree Organics on Facebook.

Recently, Oak Tree Organics began raising broilers as a trial run. We haven't yet received our order, but we should be getting it in the next week or so. Prior to placing our order with Oak Tree Organics, we purchased chickens from Bear Creek Farm & Ranch. They're located in Palmer, IL, their prices are very competitive, and their chickens can be purchased fresh, frozen, cut up, whole, or by individual cut, depending on availability. You can find Bear Creek Farm & Ranch on Facebook.

We buy wonderfully orange-yolked, delicious eggs from either Oak Tree Organics or Bear Creek Farm & Ranch. See the links above for more information.

Do you have any farms to add to list? How about sources of other meat products?

Mangia bene!


My Daily Struggle - ADHD

Warning: This is not a fluffy, happy-go-lucky food post. Instead, I felt compelled to share something completely different with you...a snapshot of my daily struggle with ADHD. Today is a bad day...

Sometimes my stubbornness and unwillingness to take medication for my ADHD come back to bite me, and today, I got bitten badly.

I woke up to an overwhelming, almost suffocating anxiety about things most people manage easily - without a second thought. Day by day, I feel like I'm doing fine, then one day something draws my attention to a crack in my world, something important I've forgotten to do. As soon as I acknowledge the crack, the whole thing explodes, my world comes crashing down around me, and I struggle to keep myself from slipping into a depression. 

In the midst of all of this, I'm trying to pick up my exploded-world-shrapnel, make sense of each piece, figure out where things went awry, and make a plan to forge onward. I try really hard not to stay in that place of anxiety and depression. I know where that road leads, and it is not fun. I can't go there...I have a family to care for and a household to maintain. So I put my world back together with whatever "glue" I can find, and I hope with every fiber of my being that this time it will hold together.

I took what I call a "mental health day" today...I marked myself out at work, took The Munchkin to my mom's like I normally would on a Monday, and I came home and made a list. I make lists...lots of them. But the post-explosion list is always different. For me, it feels like a matter of life and death. You see, my ADHD life is a series of piles, and most days I'm just shuffling the piles around from here to there, dutifully rearranging them in a way that makes sense to me but probably seems crazy to everyone else. Today, all my piles fell over on me (like they do every so often), and I felt like I was drowning in them. So the post-explosion list is a detailed, step-by-step instruction manual for digging my way out of the piles. And it's exhausting!

I got started on my list this morning, and nearly everything is done. I'm going to ask The Man for help with the rest when he gets home from work. But it's just small stuff, and the highest priority items are finished. I could definitely add more to the list - there's always more to be done - but I know I've reached my limit, and it's time to rest so I have the energy, motivation, and brain power to make dinner and enjoy some time with The Man and The Munchkin this evening.

I'm sure you're thinking this would all just be easier with meds, and I won't lie, it is...sort of. But the meds come with their own demons for me...the "medicated me" isn't really me at all. It feels like a hologram of me, going through the motions of life the way the world thinks I should. There is no enjoyment, no creativity, no passion, no laugh-til-I-cry moments. To me, that's not a life. To quote Eddie Izzard, it's very "Einz zwei, einz zwei".

So I stay on this rollercoaster...because when it's going well, it's an absolute blast! And when it goes through the scary loop-de-loops and dramatic drops, I am lucky to have people around me to keep me focused on the thrilling times and get me back on track.


My Dietary Depression...and Complete Recovery

It's been a while since I've written. To be honest, I haven't exactly felt like celebrating food lately. Upon discovering I could no longer eat dairy a few months ago, I had to completely rethink how I ate. Most of the meals I prepared in the kitchen involved some sort of diary...mostly cheese. We like cheese. But life without cheese?! Well, let's just say I had a really hard time coming to terms with this, and cooking has been more like homework than the exciting adventure it used to be...

Now that I've adjusted to a dairy-free life, I've noticed that I'm still experiencing headaches quite frequently. They're not the same as the sinus headaches caused by dairy...these are more of a piercing pain, but just as miserable. As a result, about 3 weeks ago, I removed gluten from diet. Talk about adding insult to injury! But...No More Headaches! (Did I mention that I've also lost over 8 pounds in those 3 weeks?! Hooray for unintended consequences!)

So now, no dairy and no gluten. What's a girl to do? You can see how it might be a bit difficult to get excited about food! My diet over the last few weeks has been very focused on fresh produce (salads, whole fruits and veggies, homemade guacamole, and lots of Mexican and Asian foods when dining out). It's also very easy to fall into a processed food trap when your diet gets flipped on its head with restrictions, and I'll admit, I've splurged on some GFDF junk food, simply so I can have a convenient little indulgence every now and then. But I've already grown tired of those things. The packaged items don't really taste that great, though I've found a few, and my food philosophy keeps me away from processed foods the majority of the time. I had reached an impasse...

Then, yesterday, I found myself staring at 3 overripe bananas. Traditional me instantly thought to make banana bread, but GF me cringed at the thought. I wanted to make something I could eat, but I've avoided GF baking because it has been so overwhelming with all of the foreign ingredients - things like "guar gum"...it sounds like something Harry Potter would chew if Orbit wasn't available at Hogwarts! (Yes, I just made a HP reference...The Man is proud!)

Luckily, a few weeks ago, I picked up a few pounds of GF all-purpose flour from the bulk bins at Food Fantasies - the "hippie", allergen-friendly grocery store in Springfield. Last night, my determination set in and the Googling began...I knew I wanted a banana bread recipe that didn't call for all the weirdness...just simple, GF all-purpose flour. Lo and behold, I found one from Taste of Home, of all places. And this morning, after The Man woke up and could help entertain The Munchkin, the kitchen destruction began. With my fingers and toes crossed, I embarked on my maiden GF baking voyage.

About an hour and a half later, I had what I hoped would resemble banana bread. It *looked* like banana bread, and it *smelled* like banana bread, but would it *taste* like banana bread?!

See? It certainly looks like bread!
I let the bread cool slightly, then I uncrossed my fingers so I could wield a knife and tentatively sliced a few pieces. It really was bread! I got excited, and my mouth watered. I did what anyone in their right mind would do and grabbed the butter...well, DF butter. LOL Then the samples were circulated. The Man and The Munchkin both approved, so I went for a taste. To my surprise, it was quite possibly the best banana bread I've ever eaten! Hooray! I wanted to bake more! But what?!

Last night, The Man mentioned having chocolate cravings. Cue Google again...this time for brownies. King Arthur Flour came to my rescue, and instead of crossing my fingers and toes, I actually felt a spark of excitement...the same excitement I used to have about trying a new, tasty recipe. I even had enough confidence to tinker with the recipe a bit, though nothing major. I simply cut back the cocoa powder a bit.

After a very anxious hour, the brownies were done. I (kinda) let them cool before I dug in for a taste. The Man got the first piece, and after the second bite, expressed his approval. So, I cut a small piece for myself. This was a fabulous brownie! Then, The Man came to the pan and cut out the rest of the row I had started, put it on a plate, and sprinkled it with powdered sugar. Then it got quiet. A few minutes later, he exclaimed "Approved!" as he set down an empty plate! Hooray! There is hope after all! I had achieved success! :)

I wanted to bake more, but alas, I am out of eggs! :( I guess I'll take a nap now and hope a group of kitchen gnomes will clean up the mess before I wake up. :)

Gluten-Free Brownies

(makes 9 brownies)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c cocoa
3 eggs
3/4 c gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 t baking powder

Place the sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and blend in the vanilla and cocoa. Add the eggs and mix well.

Blend in the flour and the baking powder.

Pour the batter into a greased 9x9" baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Notes: I made one modification to the original recipe from King Arthur Flour - I cut back the cocoa by 1/4 c, but I think next time, I will cream the butter and sugar instead of melting them, and I may increase the baking powder by 1/2 t with the hope of having a more cake-like result.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

(makes 2 loaves)
2 c gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
4 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c oil
1 t vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Transfer to two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans

Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

This recipe was modified from Taste of Home.