Sugar Detox Day 10: Use Your Carrot Greens

Greens help your body detox. The deeper the green, the better for you it’s supposed to be – and usually the more bitter. Remember when I talked about purple carrots helping to minimize your cravings because they’re so sweet? When you buy your next bunch of carrots, check their greens. If you buy a batch with really healthy greens on top, you can use the entire carrot plant and nothing goes to waste.

whole multi-colored carrots with greens

You can use carrot greens in a few ways.

- Preparation: after cutting the greens off the carrots, soak them in a bowl of water for a little bit and swish them around to get rid of some of the dirt that may be clinging to the leaves. Rinse the greens thoroughly, then pat them with a towel to get rid of excess water. Now you’re ready to use them!

carrot greens soaking

1. Sauté them up with onion and olive oil. Don’t even bother cutting them up into small pieces, just use a butcher’s knife and cut the whole bunch in thirds or even in half. They’ll cook down. If you’re really patient and hate bitter greens, separate the thinner stems from the thicker ones – the thicker ones are more bitter. I personally don’t mind at all. I eat raw dandelion leaves and mustard greens, etc. Start a sauté pan at medium heat with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Sauté the onion first until it’s about half done, then add the carrot greens and mix them up well. I like mine to be lightly cooked. I let them cook, stirring them twice, for about 3 minutes. If you like your greens cooked better, try 5 minutes. The more you cook them, the less bitter they are. Of course you can always add spices to make them more exciting, or even some vinegar. I like them plain.

cooked carrot greens and onions

2. Use them in place of parsley. Carrot greens have the uncanny taste of parsley, so you can separate the thinner stems from the thicker ones and put them into a dish to have some parsley flavor. They don’t seem to have an aroma like herbs do – you can smell rosemary far before you see it – so I’m not suggesting a spring of carrot greens will add loads of parsley flavor. Instead, you may want to include them in a larger proportion than parsley in a chicken dish, for example. And if you use them in soup, you may not want to strain them out.

3. Juices and smoothies. I have seen this recipe for beet and carrot greens juice that has been posted and reposted a few times (although the instructions aren’t as clear as I would like). I haven’t tried this myself, but I’m sure it’s amazingly good for cleansing your body.

Do you detox with specific greens? How do you prepare them? Which ones are the best in your opinion?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 9: When Not To Detox

You’d think that starting a detox would be a good thing any time, but there are certain times in life you may be making things too difficult on yourself. If you can foresee any of these circumstances, don’t start a detox! You may end up having a much harder time with both your detox and your situation than you would have.

1. Holidays. If you detox during a holiday you will either (a) fall off the detox wagon or (b) hate yourself. Just picture it: everyone is stuffing themselves with food you’ve been looking forward to all year, food you enjoy, food you expect to stuff your own self with, and there you are, on a detox. Not only will it be that much harder to control yourself, but you’ll have to explain your picky eating to EVERYONE. That’s hard enough if you have an allergy, never mind if you’re doing something “optional”, or what some people call “unnecessary”. You’ll have to deal with more than is fair, and detoxing can be hard enough at times. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Enjoy your holiday and start your detox right afterwards. A good cleanse after too much food is great anyway.

homemade kale chips

Have snacks at the ready – easy recipe for kale chips to come!

2. During or before a breakup. You thought the breakup would go smoothly, but now your former significant other is giving you a hard time about it, maybe even throwing some things in your face that are hurtful. Maybe that person ends up texting or calling you afterwards, making you feel…well…like you need a little help from your food friends. This is the worst time to detox. It’s one thing if that person breaks up with you – you probably didn’t see it coming, so you couldn’t prepare. But if it’s your own choice, even if you know it’s the right thing to do, you may feel a strong need for food comfort. You will have an even harder time resisting while on a detox, plus detoxing can cause bad moods to feel worse. Don’t put yourself in a situation where something bad ends up feeling like something horrible. Start your detox after that pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

3. Directly after a difficult time. If you’ve just lost your job, now’s not the time to detox. Even if you feel positive, it’s much easier to slip up and then feel worse about yourself if you’ve got a difficult situation on your hands. Imagine this: you lose your job but get an interview with another company right away. You think it’s the perfect time to start a detox – a fresh start for your life and your body. But then the interview doesn’t go so well, and now you’re upset, anxious, and you’re craving unhealthy things. If you can stay strong, that’s great, but sometimes things like detoxing are a step too far. Sometimes, you just need to comfort yourself without feeling guilty. The last thing you need is to feel extra bad about yourself because you broke your detox. Have that slice of chocolate cake to pick up your mood and move on.

4. During PMS. Do I need to explain this?

5. If you are unprepared. The worst thing you can do is say, “I’m going on a 30-day detox!”, then look in your fridge right before dinner and have nothing to eat. Decide you’re going on a detox, think about what you’ll allow yourself to eat and drink, go shopping, then start the detox. I once tried to start a sugar detox randomly and had absolutely nothing to snack on. I was practically gnawing on the table and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. It was not a good start.

What’s the moral of the story? The best detoxes are planned detoxes. I’m not talking about a one-day flush, I’m talking about 14-30+ day detoxes. Look at your calendar. Make sure none of the above are about to happen (as far as you know). Plan your food, especially your snacks. For your first detox especially, keep a list of the foods you can eat to create a feeling of plenty instead of deprivation. Did I mention having many, many snacks at the ready?

What kind of preparations do you make before starting a detox?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 8: Quash Your Cravings

Cravings are the worst part of sugar detoxes. Some of the time, you don’t even crave the taste, just the snack or the full feeling sugar can help give you. So the idea is to replace that with other food and other strategies.

1. Have citrus on hand. For some reason, citrus tends to eliminate sugar cravings for me, and others have confirmed this works for them as well. I haven’t done the research yet to find out why it works, but when I’d do anything for some chocolate, I don’t care.

2. Work out. When you’re suffering from cravings, shifting your focus helps a lot, especially if you’re doing an activity that doesn’t allow you to eat. If possible, go to the gym to help your body feel good, your Don't panicmood improve, and your resolve strengthen.

3. Change your routine. Do you usually follow a certain routine at work? First deal with emails, then work on a project, next make some calls, then have a meeting, etc. I know I tend to do the same old, same old at the office, and that makes my cravings worse, especially since my body has become used to expecting some sugar at a certain time of the day and at a certain point in my routine. If possible, break your routine. Reverse your order of doing things or take a lunch break you normally wouldn’t. Switching things up can help distract you (and your body) from cravings.

4. Go talk to someone. Seriously. If you feel a sudden craving come on and it’s hard to control, get up from your desk and go talk to someone. You’ll most likely get lost in conversation and forget about your cravings, or at least they’ll have a chance to pass. Even better if you have a friend or coworker who knows about your detox so you can talk to them about it. The buddy system works even if the other person isn’t doing a detox – just having someone who understands or knows about it helps.

5. Have tea, coffee, or juice. Drink something flavorful that you really like. Some coffees have such wonderful flavors, they’re like eating a dessert. Teas like green tea taste so extremely different from sugar that they can change your tastebuds’ concentration on getting something sweet. Juices can act as a pretty good replacement to having something sugary because they have such full flavor and can also be naturally sweet.

If all else fails, drink a lot of water quickly so your stomach will get full fast. This can help you feel like you simply can’t handle any food at all, even the yummy stuff.

Do you have different strategies for eradicating your sugar cravings?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 7: Help Your System Detox

Eliminating refined sugars and high-glycemic fruits from your diet is great, and it’s the most important part of a sugar detox. But why not help your body detox faster? Of course your body is already great at its job, but everyone could use a little help now and then. So could your stomach.

Scrape down your gut with minimal effort:

- First thing in the morning, drink strong green tea. My favorite is Choice Organic Premium Japanese Green Tea (I love all their teas). Don’t eat anything at all, just make a cup of green tea, let it steep for a green tea baggood long time (at least 10 minutes), and drink it on down. It can be quite bitter, so you may need to close your nose off or have an apple ready to bite into to get the taste out of your mouth. Some days I drink it with no problem, but other days I gag because it tastes too bitter. Ah the ever-changing body.

- During (or better yet before) your next meal, squeeze lemon into your water. If you’re in a restaurant, just ask the water for some lemon if it doesn’t come with your water. Drink the lemon water down before your meal, then continue to drink your second glass of lemon water with your meal. For those of you who can’t handle that much water in a short period of time, drink half your lemon water before you eat and the other half during/after. The more lemon you can take in the water, the better.

- Dandelion tea is something you can have any time and it will help flush your system. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day or whether I’ve eaten, it does just as good of a job. You can have it a few times a day, but I prefer not to overdo anything and have it once a day. My preferred dandelion tea is Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root Herbal Tea.

With these three drinks, you can help your stomach not only detox when you want to, but help flush of foods that might bother it or have a hard time digesting. These drinks are good habits to get into, but at the very least, keep them in mind for when you want to clean out your system.

Do you have any other detox drink suggestions?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 6: Dessert Time!

Okay, you’ve gone through five grueling days of sugar detox with no desserts. You deserve an awesome dessert recipe that will taste like you’re eating sugar. And because I’ve been desperate for a sugary-tasting but still detox-focused dessert, I came up with a really simple one.

Sautéed bananas.

Sounds weird, right? If you’ve been off of sugar and high glycemic fruits for 5 days, bananas are like eating sugar. Coat them in shredded unsweetened coconut and/or plain cocoa and you’ll enter a world of joyous sweetness you didn’t know you could have without sugar or at least major effort.

If your detox includes staying off of high glycemic fruits altogether (mine is staying off refined sugars and having a small treat per week of high glycemic fruit if I want), you can just do the cocoa and leave out the coconut. It actually tastes like you’re eating real chocolate, so you’re not missing anything!

In case you’re wondering, bananas do count as a low glycemic fruit, and the less ripe they are, the lower the glycemic index. Check out Livestrong for details. I used an in-between banana for this recipe – just a smattering of brown spots, still pretty firm. You could also use an underripe banana to keep the glycemic level as low as possible. Don’t use a really ripe banana because it’s going to turn a little mushy anyway. A super ripe banana will probably fall apart.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 12.01.25 PM

 

Peel the banana and cut it into 1/4 inch slices.

Sliced bananas with coconut and cocoa

Take 1/3 of the slices and coat them in the cocoa powder so that the slices are covered on all sides. Do the same with 1/3 of the slices in the coconut. Mix the leftover cocoa and coconut together well, then coat the remaining slices in that mix. You will probably need to pat it on because the cocoa sticks better than the coconut when mixed together.

Cocoa covered banana slices

Coat a sauté pan with your choice of oil (I used virgin coconut oil to add a little flavor) and turn the stove to low-medium heat. When the oil is hot, put the banana slices in. The cocoa will spread a bit, so the banana slices coated in just coconut should be kept separate.

Sautéing bananas

Flip the slices over in about 2 minutes and let them cook for another 2 minutes. When you take them out, do it gently; the slices will now be a little delicate. Put them on a paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

Banana slices three ways

Voila! There you have it. A recipe that’s really easy and will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and also let me know if you have any sugar detox desserts you love.

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 5: Detox Depression and Mood Swings

I feel like crap, especially at the beginning of a sugar detox. I have serious “lows” that act as pseudo depressions and make me want to cry for absolutely no reason. I tend to feel like everything is wrong with my life even though nothing is. And my mood swings are horrendous. One minute I’m feeling fine and accomplishing things, the next I’m close to tears and feeling lonely while out with friends. It’s not fun. But it is natural. As proven by this T-shirt.

Sugar helps us raise our spirits and our energy temporarily, and we often ingest much more than we think, resulting in a sort of dependence on it for good moods. Chocolate is even worse in that way because it’s not just sugar, it’s caffeine. When I’m not feeling a little low on an average (non-detoxing) day, I usually have some chocolate to quickly boost my mood. If I’m feeling a little draggy, I have some chocolate. Hungry, chocolate. It has become quite the little fix-all for me, and I’ve been binging like crazy lately. There’s nothing in it that bothers me or is actually bad for me – I eat Enjoy Life, which has no allergens and only four ingredients (and the morsels have only two!). But when I become too dependent on something, I figure it’s time to take myself off it for a while. Hence the detox.radacina_the_sad_little_emo

Originally I had also wanted to detox because I had a tiny rash, but it turned out that was from something I’d eaten that didn’t taste bad but wasn’t as fresh as it should have been.

Yes, I’m that sensitive.

ANYWAY, don’t worry, the mood swings and pseudo depressions clear up after a short time. They’re just your body’s reaction to going cold turkey on things it has become addicted to, which is a natural thing that happens with sugar, especially an overconsumption of sugar.

To help with needing a caffeine boost, turn to coffee or green tea or even cold water. To help with your mood, there’s no great food-related way to help with this that I know of. You can combine cocoa with something sweet to get the chocolate taste, though, and that can help. I’ll have a recipe to help you with that very soon! Otherwise, things like backing away from your computer and taking a second for yourself, giving yourself a real lunch break instead of eating at your desk, and hanging out with friends whenever possible are the best solutions to bad moods. Playing happy music and games also help a lot.

Have you had this kind of reaction to sugar detox, or any other kind of detox for that matter?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 4: Veggies, Sweet Veggies

Most people don’t think of veggies as being sweet per se, but some of them are. They can help satisfy your sweet tooth during your meal so that you crave sweets afterward less. Here are some ways to sweeten your meals:

Caramelized onions are quite sweet, and my favorite way to eat them is in salad. A good, sweet salad will help curb those refined sugar cravings.

To make the onions, just sauté them in a pan with some olive oil. If you like balsamic vinegar, sauté the onions in it to add to their already wonderful flavor. Refrigerate.beets

To make the salad, just tear up your preferred lettuce, chop up apples and/or pears, add your favorite salad veggies (carrots would go nicely in this), include any meat you have on hand (roast/grilled chicken or sliced steak work particularly well) and then add the caramelized onions. I’m a fan of balsamic and white balsamic vinegars, so I suggest sprinkling a dash of salt, a sprinkle of olive oil, and at least a tablespoon of balsamic or white balsamic vinegar. The measurements are up for interpretation – I generally like my salads with heavier vinegar than most people, so I use more than a tablespoon of it. Toss the salad well.

You can also make an orange dressing with just salt, olive oil, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a small bit of lemon juice.

Fresh loose multi-colored carrots are extremely helpful for sugar cravings as the different colors are sweeter than orange. Purple is the sweetest of all. Of course baby carrots are very sweet as well. I snack on multi-colored carrots or baby carrots when I get a craving. Of course it doesn’t replace chocolate, but it definitely helps to have something sweet to nosh on.

Roasted beets are often ignored as something you can make at home, but they’re actually very easy! Just wash them, wrap them in two layers of aluminum foil, roast them until they’re soft (about 40 minutes), let them cool, then peel them. This works for both red and gold beets, and they’re both extremely sweet. In fact, when I include them in smoothies, I have to be very careful about how much I include because their taste and sweetness easily overwhelm the whole smoothie. They’re great on salads, as their own salads (salt, pepper, olive oil, dill!), or just as a little snack. If you doubt whether beets can replace sugar, just remember that some companies use beet sugar instead of refined sugar for their sodas and chocolates.

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Do you agree that veggies can help lessen cravings for sweets? Which ones do you eat to replace sugars?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

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