Okay, so I am one week into my second round of the 21 Day Sugar Detox, feel free to read about my first experience here. This time I did very little planning, this is because I knew exactly what I was getting into, and because I am almost already 100% gluten free (I say almost because there are times that you just can't be sure) and I ate mostly paleo meals, not to say I am paleo, I am not, but I knew that level 3 would be easier this time around than before.
So far so good, not planning things is nice, makes things feel more sustainable, but I still have cravings, mostly for fruit, strawberries in particular. Also, I went to the fair, and truth be told I didn't exactly follow the detox, and realized how fast I can slip into the world of sweets.
I find that I lack self control if I am not being conscious about it, so I need to be more conscious about that. One thing I wanted was a quick snack, high in fat and protein, low in carbohydrates and more interesting then just plain nuts. I created this sugar-free no-fuss paleo "granola."
It is sort of pumpkin-ish, it tastes nothing like pumpkin, but I used gingerbread spice and a scoop or two of pumpkin puree, so it is sort of pumpkin, I am not sure, it all made sense when I was making it.
This turned out crispy and flavourful, not sweet at all (be mindful, granola traditionally is just oats masquerading as candy, this granola has ZERO sweetness, you were warned), but I am excited about the possibilities. I plan on using bananas or apple sauce in the future to add to the mix (but I didn't want to waste my daily fruit option on granola), and potentially add in some raisins after cooking to make it just a touch sweet without a sweetener. It makes a yummy topping to a chia pudding (chia seeds + nut milk) or as a cereal substitute, I think it will look cute on top of a smoothie as well for photo purposes.
Sugar-Free Pumpkin "Granola"
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups nuts* (I used hazelnuts and walnuts)
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 egg white, whisked
1 tbsp gingerbread spice blend
2 tbsp pure pumpkin puree (I used canned, nothing added)
Have you done a sugar detox? What would be the most challenging thing for you to have to give up?
I love green smoothies, they are my go to breakfast. I make one almost every day, and while I try to make my smoothies different to keep my body supplied with the most amounts of nutrients, I usually follow the same formula to get a great full meal smoothie.
Sometimes smoothies get a bad wrap because they are “high in sugar” but that is not always true, there are easy (and yummy) ways to enjoy a smoothie in the morning while keeping it low sugar. Also, if you are concerned about not “chewing” your breakfast, you can make a thick smoothie (reduce liquid, use frozen ingredients) and eat your smoothie with a spoon! If you suffer digestive issues, consider not using a straw, sometimes this causes us to drink something too quick, or swallow lots of air, so stick to drinking it like you would any other liquid, or use a spoon.
Start by choosing your smoothie base
I always use a liquid to start my smoothies. I put the liquid in first to ensure great smooth results every time. You can use any kind of liquid, here are my go to choices!
I usually go with ½-1 ½ cups of liquid depending on the rest of my ingedients
Grab a little Green
I almost always use leafy greens in my smoothie, but it is important to rotate and choose different greens. I like to rotate between chard in the summer from the garden, spinach, kale, mixed greens, bok choy, and anything else I have.
You can also add in celery (a personal favorite!) or cucumber, or anything else you like the taste of or that is mild. I sometime throw in a few pieces of broccoli if I have it too.
Another option is to add greens powder, there are many options out there. This is a good choice on the run or to use when you don’t have any greens to spare. I always think it is best to use the real stuff.
I go for 2-3 cups of fresh greens or a large handful, use your green powder as directed (usually a tsp or two)
Choose something tasty
I like to use some frozen fruit most of the time, but you can use any kind of fruit. Pineapple is so yummy in the summer time, and strawberries lead a great taste. A banana is also a good choice; it is a strong flavor but offers a creamy texture too.
I will go with ½-1 cup of fruit, a variety, or ½-1 banana.
Add in Fats and Protein
I recommend that meals have a mix of protein and fat, so it’s a good idea to add some things into your smoothie to up the nutritional value. Fat can come from the coconut milk you used, too.
¼ to ½ (or even a full) avocado depending on your needs, I will use 1 tbsp of chia and 1 tbsp of hemp in mine, but do what works for you, just remember that these can sometimes change the texture, so keep that in mind.
This is totally an option. Depending on your lifestyle and health status, superfoods can be added to help boost an already nutritious smoothie. Maca, spirulina, bee pollen, cacao nibs, cacao powder, golgi etc., can all be added for a whole variety of nutritional support. Personally I don’t often add in these additional things unless I am in need of something extra.
Follow the dose that the superfood suggests, some can have strong flavors (maca, spirulina, cacao, bee pollen), which will change the taste of the smoothie. These shouldn’t be providing the bulk of the smoothie nutrition, so stick to the smallest amount, unless you follow a strict diet needing more.
Here is my two favorite smoothie recipes:
Low-Sugar Green Smoothie (Serves 1)
1 cup homemade almond milk
2 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup raspberries/blueberries/blackberries (frozen)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
Put everything into a high powdered blender (I use my Blendtec) in the order listed, and blend until smooth. Add ice if your berries are not frozen.
Classic Green Smoothie (Serves 1)
1 cup pure water
2 cups mixed greens
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup strawberries (frozen)
1/2 banana (frozen)
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
Put everything into a high powered blender in the order listed, blend until smooth. Add ice if you don't use frozen banana/strawberries.
note: you can omit strawberries and use a full banana, try adding in homemade almond butter for a banana almond butter milkshake feel.
Have you experimented with green smoothies before? What do you love (or hate) about them?
Making your own almond milk seems intimidating at first, but it is actually really easy, and worth the time and effort. I don’t always make my own almond milk, but most of the time I am using my own homemade stuff, and it tastes so wonderful!
The reason I started making my own almond milk was because I read about how easy it is, and how making things yourself allows you to know exactly what goes into the things you put into your body. It is important to know that kind of stuff, and although store bought almond milk isn’t a terrible thing to drink (at all, I still do!), the real stuff is far better.
I used to have a cheap blender and I made almond milk myself, so don’t try to use excuses saying that your blender isn’t good enough to make some, it is, and I have some tips and tricks to get it perfect!
The stuff in the store has so many listed ingredients, which is a shame considering the stuff you can make at home is just two—almonds and water. Here are my 6 steps to making and enjoying homemade almond milk.
Soaking your almonds before hand is critical to the success of making almond milk. Soaking makes the nuts nice and soft, which allows them to fully get pulverized in the blender when it comes time to make the milk.
Not only is this step important for blending ability, but soaking the nuts is also important for helping with digestion. Nuts have something called phytic acid, which is also found in beans and legumes. Phytic acid is a protective mechanism for the plants, it helps them to deal with stressful times, and allows them a better chance of survival at those times. The problem is, phytic acid inhibits the absorption of nutrients, the very ones we are eating the nuts to get. So although you have to soak the almonds for milk making purposes, you should be enjoying soaked nuts all the time when you choose to eat nuts.
Soaking should be done overnight, or for 8 hours, in a jar of clean water. If you plan on soaking them for longer, be sure you store the nuts in the fridge.
This step is optional, but it is especially helpful for those who are not working with one of the fancy high-powered blenders. I would get a few unbroken chunks when I used my old blender, but this was all fixed once I started peeling the nuts after soaking.
I know, peeling nuts sounds like torture, but it is actually super easy, the white creamy inside of the almond will pop right out, so it only takes a few minutes, I like to do it watching tv, or chatting with my family. You can simply get rid of the peels once you are finished.
Like I said, you don’t need to peel the almonds, but when you do the result is the creamiest almond milk ever! The left over pulp is also very nice, fine ground and white, making it perfect to dehydrate and use as almond flour after. You can also use the unpeeled pulp to make flour later too.
This is the easy part, once you have the peeled (or unpeeled) almonds ready to go, add them to the blender with water. I usually soak less than one cup of almonds, and after soaking you will notice they are much bigger, about a cup. I use just over 4 cups of fresh pure water in my blender and let to go! I have a Blendtec and it takes less than one minute to get the milk nice and smooth.
You can use less (or more) water too, depending on how thick you like/need your almond milk, I think I might make mine a bit thinner next time, but choose as you like, if it is for drinking, this ratio works well.
While I don’t have a fancy nut milk bag, this is exactly what their purpose is! I use a clean foot of a stocking, but a fine mesh sieve would probably work too. Pour your milk through one of the above-mentioned options and squeeze out the liquid into a bowl. My tip: don’t squeeze it into something small; a large bowl is your best option, sometimes it sprays around, not cool.
5. Add Ins
This again, is optional. It really depends on what your almond milk will be used for and what kind you normally buy. If you want to add things to flavour your milk, this is the time to do it. Here are some of my ideas, but anything would work.
If you are choosing any of these you can rinse out your blender and put the strained milk in with your additions and blend. I usually just go for some salt and vanilla and whisk it in the bowl, but if you are using a date, you should probably use the blender!
6. Store and Use
I recommended you use the fresh almond milk within 5-7 days, it tastes best at this time. Mine has never made it past this amount of time either. Also, shake the almond milk before using, it will separate and settle because there is no emulsifiers to keep it mixed. I love to steam my almond milk and add it to my coffee, or use it in a smoothie after my Zumba classes!
Amanda’s Homemade Almond Milk (makes ~4 cups)
After soaking the almonds for 8-12 hours, remove the skin and add the nuts to the blender with the water. Blend on high until you can tell all the nuts have been pulverized. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag, a stocking, or a fine sieve into a large bowl. Add in the salt and the vanilla to the milk and whisk to incorporate. Store in a seal-able container in the fridge for up to 7 days (I love my mason jars).
You can follow this method for all nut milks, though I have not tried. If you are using cashews, you don’t even need to strain, they are so soft!
Don’t throw away the almond pulp, there are a ton of recipes out there for how to use it up, store it in the freezer until you have enough to make a recipe. You can also dehydrate the pulp to make it into almond flour, giving you more options!
If for some reason you don’t like almonds, you should be aware that homemade almond milk tastes a lot more like almonds then anything I have had from the store, so keep that in mind.
Have you ever made your own almond milk? What do you make at home instead of buy?
Amanda is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist out of Southwest Middlesex, and London ON. She works with clients to help them achieve their health and wellness goals!
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