I know it’s been a while devoted readers, and for that I do apologize, however please understand that eating sugar-free does not generally make for interesting reading. There are plenty of blogs completely devoted to eating gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, paleo, and on and on and on (I know, I’ve been checking them out). However, this blog isn’t the place for that kind of zealous message, although I’m fully in favor of a recipe being more healthy if it can be and still remain tasty. Most of my clients prefer to eat “cleanly” – although I have a couple now who change their directives as often as the wind changes direction – so I knew quite a bit about nutrition before I started. Still, my favorite jobs are those which allow me free reign to be creative and cook without strict guidelines and limitations (I have a couple of those coming up soon which I’ll be sharing). However, while we struggle through these 8 weeks, I do hope you’ll bare with me. We are nearing the end of week 3 with a five day alcohol-free, caffeine-free, gluten-free stretch ahead of us next week. Sigh.
Sighing aside, I’ve been eating a relatively sugar-free diet for more than three months now, and have lost tons of weight and completely reshaped my body (I don’t know exact details because I don’t ever weigh myself but the fit on my jeans doesn’t lie). My skin is clearer, I have more energy, and I never suffer from the slumps and moods associated with blood sugar peaks and valleys. I plan on continuing to be mindful of my sugar intake after the 8 weeks are over and I will most certainly try to maintain the eating habits I’ve groomed over the past months and be mindful of sugar which seems to lurk everywhere! However, as a chef I hope to experiment with this new awareness at hand and still occasionally indulge in an old favorite.
The 8 week I Quit Sugar Program my dear husband and I are doing appears to be tailored for people who don’t really cook much, enjoy it, or have the time for it. This is its major downfall as far as I’m concerned as the menus aren’t particularly adventurous and the meal plans are designed so that you make double portions for dinner each night so that you can take the leftovers with you for lunch the next day. Some of you might recall my aversion to leftovers (exceptions being stews, lasagna, soups, braises, all of which taste better in the following days), so having the same chicken with some salad that I ate the night before just doesn’t do it for me. It is to this end that I’ve come up with my favorite healthy sugar-free lunch which I can mix up as much as I want depending on what’s hiding in the back of my fridge. This way I know I’m getting loads of protein, fats, and greens that are so important to a healthy diet and the perfect refuel mid-day.
Yes, I do have the luxury of working primarily from home, but I think that with a little foresight and organization anyone could put together one of these hearty salad bowls in a snap. I simply cook up a big batch of quinoa over the weekend and in the morning roast the vegetables that I have on hand and want to use in the salad (you could even do this over the weekend too). Today I’ve got some leftover zucchini that I’ll use with sweet potato and the one beet I have left from yesterday’s roast. Since I had eggs for breakfast, I’ll likely have some of the lovely tuna in olive oil I keep in the cupboard instead of another boiled egg. As with many of my recipes, I urge you to play around – trade the quinoa for lentils, avocado for feta cheese, sweet potato for butternut squash, little gems for arugula. The most special part of this recipe, I think, is the dressing I concocted from some leftover carrot juice I had. I love Asian flavors but have learned that most of Asian ingredients have some amount of sugar in them (even fish sauce!). So I used the carrot juice to add a little natural sweetness, grated ginger and garlic, cider vinegar, toasted sesame oil, olive oil, and lots of lime juice. It’s a lovely, light, zesty topper for this healthy treat that I’ve come to look forward to.
2 cups of lettuces, my favorite is little gem and spinach mixed
1/2 cup prepared quinoa
2 small roasted beets, quartered
1/2 sweet potato, roasted until crispy
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 tablespoons toasted seeds
1 egg, boiled for 7 minutes
3-4 leaves crispy kale crumbled on top
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves for garnish
drizzle of carrot ginger dressing
Please note that I prefer to take all of my salad ingredients out of the fridge a good hour before assembly. To me there’s nothing worse than ice cold salad! Combine it all in a large bowl and enjoy!
1/4 cup carrot juice
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, grated on microplane
1 teaspoon ginger, grated on microplane
salt and pepper to taste
Combine everything in a clean jar, give it a good shake and it’s ready!