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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
Summer is here, and temperatures just keep rising and rising. Along with the heat, the urge for a refreshingly cold treat also tends to increase on a daily basis. Thankfully, July is National Ice Cream Month. In honor of the celebration, here at Parents we’ve taste tested a variety of flavors and brands to bring you our absolute favorites! (Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.) Be sure to check back every week during the month of July for even more yumminess.
Most of us have two assumptions about ice cream: First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s a dairy product. And while that’s true, there are many scrumptious dairy-free options that can fulfill an ice cream craving without the allergy worries. (P.S. These are delicious even if you don’t have a milk allergy!) Here are our favorites:
The brand you loved as a child is now available for your little munchkins to enjoy. TCBY has partnered with Silk Soy Milk to create a delicious dairy-free frozen yogurt option available in all its locations. Since Silk is available as a soft-serve, customers can still customize and add their favorite toppings.
Flavors: Coconut, Chocolate, and Vanilla
Sold: TCBY Stores Nationwide
“Mmmmm, I tried the coconut and loved it! Not too sweet or too rich. Definitely a keeper.” – Allison Berry, editorial assistant
New Yorkers have enjoyed Alchemy Creamery’s unique dairy-free goodies for years. Recently, the team behind the brand launched nationwide-shipping so every one can experience their unique mix of flavors.
Flavors: Green Tea & Coconut, Chocolate Chai, Salted Peanut Butter, Almond Marzipan, and Strawberries & Cream
Sold: Smorgesburg and Fairway Markets in New York City, shipped nationwide via their website
“I loved the almond marzipan. It tasted just like crushed almonds. It was creamy and tasted naturally sweet, not overly sweetened.” – Ruthie Fierberg, editorial assistant to the Editor in Chief
Sorbabes Gourmet Sorbet
Sorbabes prides itself on combining farm-fresh ingredients, filtered water, and peak-season fruits to create a delicious mix of exciting summer flavors.
Flavors: Pistachio with Sea Salted Caramel, Peanut with Banana and Chocolate Fudge, Juicy Orange Passionfruit with Lychees, Lemon with Candied Zest, and Raspberry with Dark Chocolate.
Sold: Primarily on the East Coast but constantly expanding
“Passionfruit with lynchee was refreshing, light, and tangy. Both flavors were present and I liked that the tart balanced the sweetness.” – Mia Song, senior designer
Click here for dairy-free desserts you can make at home!
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Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream!” Once you start singing the tune you can’t stop…and you automatically want your favorite treat! Whether you stay inside and scoop yourself a bowl, or go out with friends and family to your local ice cream spot, eating ice cream will always remain a popular pastime in the summer months. Plus, July is National Ice Cream Month, so what are you waiting for? Grab your spoons and dig in!
Unilever is giving ONE lucky winner this cute red Herschel backpack full of five Unilever Ice Cream Brand coupons, including Breyers (a great choice if you’re making our ice cream sandwich recipes), Fruttare Fruit Bars, Klondike, Popsicle and MAGNUM Ice Cream (a personal favorite at our office), an approximate $110 value. Score!
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day on Monday, July 7. More Qs about our giveaway? Read the official rules. Be sure to check back on July 8 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Have some fun and throw an ice cream themed party with decorations and all!
Congrats to our winner, Kelsey Mehrens! Please check your “other” message folder on Facebook to claim your prize!
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backpacks, Giveaway, Herschel, ice cream, National Ice Cream Day, national ice cream month, Summer treats, Unilever | Categories:
Food, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Must Read, Time for Fun
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
I have two daughters, ages 8 and 5. My girls like to make a lot of lists. Any topic is worthy of a list: colors, teachers, names (not even “favorite names,” mind you–just plain old names). The only time we get into favorites is when the subject turns to food–favorite breakfast, favorite snack, favorite candy, favorite dessert, and favorite ice cream flavor. (I wish I could say fruits and veggies make the cut, but they don’t.) So I’ve had lots of chances to ponder my favorite treat, and I’ve decided that above all else, there’s nothing I love more than a great chocolate chip cookie.
I’m not picky–I’ll eat soft ones, crispy ones, store-bought, homemade, ones with nuts, ones with oatmeal. I thought I’d tried all the permutations until I was introduced to HannahMax Baking Cookie Chips, which are thin, mega-crunchy, and delicious. They’re also somewhat lo-cal, totaling only 120 calories and 6g of fat for 5 cookies (each one’s about the diameter of a Chips Ahoy). Not often I can eat–or serve my kids–five cookies relatively guilt-free. The Cookie Chips team was nice enough to send the Parents staff a big box of all five flavors, which included Cinnamon Sugar, Original Cookie (basically chocolate chip cookies minus the chocolate chips), Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Sea Salted Peanut Butter. I put them in our kitchen for my colleagues to enjoy, and within minutes all that was left on the counter were flattened bags and an array of crumbs.
Here’s a list of stores that sell Cookie Chips. But starting today and running through May 20, if you buy (only) Chocolate Chip Cookie Chips from the site and enter the promo code BRIBE, you’ll get 20 percent off in honor of holiday I never knew existed, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I know how I’ll be celebrating this May 15!
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Friday, May 9th, 2014
Over the years we have heard a lot about the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. But Fed Up, a new documentary produced and narrated by Katie Couric, suggests that we’ve been battling this disease in all the wrong ways.
Instead of blaming a lack of will power and pushing kids to exercise more, Fed Up puts the responsibility squarely on the sugary processed foods so many kids and families rely on for their daily nutrition.
The doc follows four overweight children who are struggling with their weight, and, frankly, it’s heartbreaking. These kids desperately want to be healthy and accepted by the other students at school. They are afraid of getting diabetes or cancer or even dying young. But they are confronted at every turn—at school, at home, on TV, and online—by the foods that are making them fat. As one of the kids says, alcoholics don’t have to keep liquor in the house, but everyone needs to eat.
Here are just a few of the shocking things I learned while watching:
A calorie is not a calorie. One hundred and sixty calories of almonds is not equal to 160 calories of soda. One provides healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber. The other is absorbed instantly by the liver and turned immediately to fat. Guess which is which.
Based on lab studies, sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine. For this reason alone parents should go easy on the added sugars given to babies and toddlers. The more sugar kids consume at this age, the more they’ll crave it as they grow up.
In 1980 there were no reported cases of Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. In 2010, that number was 57,638.
There are 600,000 packaged food items in America. Eighty percent of them contain added sugar. As Dr. Robert Lustig recently told Parents, naturally occurring sugars in fruits are perfectly healthy since they come with fiber to balance it out. But most added sugars enter our bodies with little fiber and go straight to our liver where they’re turned into fat.
One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and 80% of America’s public schools have a deal with Coke or Pepsi. Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist, calls soda “the cigarettes of the 21st century.”
When it comes to school lunches the federal government considers tomato paste a vegetable; thus a slice of pizza can help meet a lunch’s produce requirement. I love pizza, but it doesn’t look like a vegetable to me.
It is possible to be “TOFI”, or thin on the outside and fat on the inside. Meaning, thin people who eat junk food are still at risk for major health problems.
What does this mean for me and you and our families? The prescription is simple: eat more real food. Cook at home and rely less on processed foods that are typically sugar-laden and nutrient-poor. Home-cooked food doesn’t need to take a long time or be fancy. Here are some of my favorite recipes from Parents.com:
• Get recipes for three weeks of easy, weeknight dinners, plus a grocery list.
• Try a stir-fry kids will love.
• Make ahead parts of your meal for easy family dinners.
Fed Up opens in movie theaters today. Learn more about the film and how we can feed our kids better.
Image via Fed Up
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addiction, childhood obesity, coke, fed up, Katie Couric, movie, obesity, sugar, sugary drinks | Categories:
Food, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Must Read
Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Has this ever happened to you? You see a recipe in a magazine, and the dish looks spectacular. You make it at home, and while the food tastes good it looks nowhere near as beautiful as it did in the photo.
It’s certainly happened to me (and I’m a food editor!). Here’s the truth: It’s not our fault. The food in Parents and other magazines looks amazing thanks to talented food stylists and photographers like Liza Jernow and Tara Donne. Liza is a food stylist extraordinaire. You can see some of her recent work for Parents on cookies and birthday cakes. Photographer Tara Donne recently shot our gorgeous Easter Lunch story.
Now these two are starting Wild Apple, a magazine devoted to gluten-free living. I recently chatted with them about the magazine, and they graciously shared a recipe for a scrumptious allergen-free cupcake.
This is a big undertaking! Why did you decide to publish a magazine?
Being gluten-free for a collective 13 years now, we’ve really seen the market for gluten-free goods change shape. We saw a hole in this expanding category and felt that with our experience in magazines and food we could offer readers something really special.
What will Wild Apple cover?
Wild Apple will share simple snack ideas, well-tested recipes for classics, and menus with which to entertain friends or easily create weeknight meals. It will also feature travel, city guides, profiles on interesting creative people, and roundups of beauty products—all, of course, gluten-free.
• Learn how to stock an allergen-free pantry.
What’s your plan to get Wild Apple off the ground?
Our Kickstarter campaign launches today and our goal is to raise the funds required to launch our inaugural issue this fall. We then plan to develop relationships with brands we believe in to carry the magazine forward. Visit Wild Apple’s Kickstarter page.
What are your biggest challenges living gluten-free?
Eating in restaurants and finding on-the-go snacks. When eating out, we make sure our servers know our limitations and that cross-contamination is an issue, especially with deep fryers.
Regarding snacks, it’s always good to keep a bag of almonds – or another nut your kids like – in your purse. We also like to pick up extra in-season fruit at the farmer’s market to have on hand at home. On road trips we stop at grocery stores whenever possible as opposed to fast food options. Here we might pick up snack packs of almond butter, carrots and hummus, or a yogurt. The key with the latter two is to check the ingredient list or look for a “GF” symbol.
What are a few tips for families with kids who are making the switch to gluten-free foods?
Our biggest tip is to become vigilant about reading ingredient lists. Forming this habit is a game changer. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, farro, kamut, oats, rye, and spelt. In addition to these grains, gluten is sometimes used to make other foods like soy sauce, some vinegars, malt, seitan, salad dressings, and more. Other foods to look out for include crackers, bread, pasta, cream sauces and soups, candy bars, cookies, flavored potato chips and rice mixes. It is also often added to cosmetics, hair creams, and lipsticks.
Focusing on naturally gluten-free foods is also a good way to save money instead of paying big bucks for processed gluten-replacement foods. A homemade meal like roasted chicken, potatoes, and vegetables is already gluten-free and your family will not wonder where the gluten went. This way everyone can enjoy the same meal, which will save you time.
Many kids’ breakfasts, for example, have gluten in them — any quick ideas for moms?
There are lots of options. A few of our favorites are gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa porridge, cream of rice cereal, breakfast taco with egg and corn tortilla, corn tortilla quesadilla, or apple wedges with nut butter.
Tell us about this cupcake recipe.
In a group of children there will always be someone with an allergy so we think it’s easier to just avoid the major players and go straight to something everyone can enjoy. So this recipe is as allergen-free as it gets; there’s no milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, or wheat. When baking for others with allergies make sure you’re careful with cross-contamination. Use a fresh sponge and clean everything you’ll be using thoroughly before you start.
Chocolate Chip Allergen-Free Cupcakes
(From Wild Apple Magazine)
Makes 2 dozen
These cupcakes have a great flavor and they’re speckled with chocolate chips. They also happen to avoid some of the most common food allergens: tree nuts, egg, lactose, and gluten. Gluten-free baked goods store well in the freezer. If they are made ahead, freeze them unfrosted and tightly wrapped for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and frost them just before serving. Use organic ingredients to enhance the flavor.
When cooking for people who have very sensitive food allergies, avoid buying ingredients that are processed in a facility that manufactures other products containing soy, milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
• 2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flax meal
• 1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder (found online or in natural foods stores)
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (that does not contain guar or xanthan gums)
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
• 1 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 1 1/4 cups rice or soy milk
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/3 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk together first seven ingredients, set aside. With an electric mixer beat the coconut oil, brown sugar, and vegetable oil together until fluffy, about 3 minutes on high. Add the milk, vanilla and dry ingredients. Beat for 3 minutes on high speed until well-combined.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the batter sit until the oven is hot, about 20 minutes, to allow the flax to thicken the batter. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Fill the cups 2/3 full and add a pinch of chocolate chips to the top of each cupcake. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in their center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely before removing from pan.
Chocolate-y Coconut Frosting
Enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes
When you refrigerate a can of coconut milk, the coconut water separates to the bottom and the cream rises to the top. Refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight.
• 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
• 1 cup cream from the top of a can of unsweetened coconut milk
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
• 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
• Pinch fine sea salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the chocolate with half the coconut cream until melted. Let it cool to room temperature. With an electric mixer beat the remaining coconut oil and vegetable shortening together. Beat in the chocolate mixture. Add the salt and vanilla. Place the bowl in freezer for 10 minutes, until it begins to set up. Continue beating on high until light and fluffy.
Interview has been edited and condensed.
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Photos by Tara Donne; food styling and recipe by Liza Jernow
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allergen, allergy, allergy-safe, cupcake, cupcakes, gluten, gluten-free, Liza Jernow, Tara Donne, wild apple | Categories:
Entertainment, Food, Must Read
Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Chef Tino Feliciano with his family.
Monday is Cinco de Mayo, and while moms and dads might not be able to indulge with multiple margaritas (like we used to) we can still celebrate with our kids. This special occasion drink recipe from Chef Tino Feliciano is a perfect treat with a Latin-style supper.
Kids’ Coconut Mojito
• 10 mint leaves
• 2 limes, cut into wedges
• 4 Tbs. sugar
• 16 oz. lemon-lime soda (regular or diet for a lower-sugar version)
• 4 oz. sweet cream of coconut
• 2 Tbs. grated coconut
Place the mint leaves, lime wedges, and sugar in a large pitcher. Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, lightly mash the ingredients together until they are roughly incorporated. Add the soda and cream of coconut and mix well. Serve in glasses with ice and garnish with the grated coconut.
Find easy Mexican dishes to make for dinner tonight.
The father of two girls and one boy, Chef Tino is a restaurant-owner in Puerto Rico. On Cinco de Mayo he brings his culinary (and people) skills to the mainland in the premiere of his Cooking Channel special The Fixer with Chef Tino at 9 PM (check local listings). Tino’s mission: to turn around a family-run Mexican restaurant in New Jersey. I had the pleasure of working with Tino and the production company on Monday’s night special, and one thing’s for sure—watch and you will crave Mexican food! Tino’s creamy cocktail will be the perfect accompaniment. And once the kids go to bed feel free to add a drop of two of rum. I won’t tell.
Click to find fun activities your family can play at home tonight.
Image courtesy Engel Entertainment
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Friday, April 25th, 2014
Self-taught baker, blogger, and mother of five Amanda Rettke created her first surprise-inside cake four years ago. Since then, she has crafted countless confections that reveal rainbow hearts, butterflies, balloons, and even houses (!). The busy baker also homeschools her children, writes for FoodNetwork.com, and recently released her debut book, Surprise-Inside Cakes. Amanda’s recipes range from simple to intricate, so you can recreate her inventive designs no matter your level of kitchen experience. Read on for her tips for whipping up better-than-the-bakery desserts—it’s a piece of cake!
You were first inspired to bake a surprise-inside cake while preparing for a potluck. Where in the world did this idea come from?
To put it simply, I wanted to bring something completely different. It was Halloween and I knew everyone would have run-of-the-mill seasonal desserts. I knew I could make a pumpkin-shaped cake, but that wasn’t unique enough. When I saw a few white cupcakes sitting on my counter, the idea just hit me: pop them inside, in the shape of a candle. Honestly, I was shocked that it worked. And, ironically, that cake never made it to the potluck—we ate the entire thing at home!
And you had never done this before?
That’s right. In the kitchen, I had no formal—or even informal—training whatsoever. In fact, my husband did all the cooking when we first got married. So I had to teach myself everything. I was so terrible that the first time I tried to make a cake that I forgot to add some of the wet ingredients. Whoops!
So what’s the process like in creating one of these confections?
I use three general techniques. The first is deconstruction, when I stack multiple layers, cut shapes out, and fill in the holes with another piece of cake or a cake mixture [Rainbow Cake, page 41]. The second is batter manipulation, where I place different colored batters into the pan in a specific pattern [Leopard Cake, page 109]. And then there’s the twice-bake method [Candle Rose Cake, page 131], where I stick hand-molded cake shapes into new batter.
Okay, you’ve got me hooked. How do I begin?
Twice-baked is where to start. Cut a design from a sheet cake (like the hearts in my Candle Rose Cake) and place it in a clean cake pan. Then surround your shapes with cake batter, which acts as insulation and keeps everything moist.
And once I’ve mastered the twice-baked method, what’s next?
Move on to a layer cake. It seems simple, but it really does challenge your cutting, leveling, and frosting skills. Plus you’ll learn how to physically handle a cake and, in turn, build a strong comfort level required to move forward with other designs.
That’s easy enough. But with the other, more intricate cakes, it seems there is a lot of measuring and geometry involved…
Actually, there are only a few cakes that I’ve measured beforehand. Most others require such a trial and error process that I typically just get right into it: I dig in, cut out shapes, and add new colors and textures. To me, cake is a form of art.
With all this creativity, do your kids like to join in on the fun?
This is one of the best things you can with your kids. For my kids, the idea of making a cake and then playing with it is thrilling. I’ve also found ways to incorporate baking into home-school lessons: measuring, cutting, and building three-dimensional designs.
I can see beginners (like myself) getting frustrated when their cakes aren’t executed perfectly. Did this happen to you? How did you overcome it?
I’ve had more failures than successes by far, yet we’ve always found a way to hide the evidence … haha. But in all seriousness, I had more than 60 cakes that didn’t make it into the book. Because I’ll have an idea that I then try to create and it turns out nothing like it’s supposed to. For an important event, practice making your cake at least once ahead of time. Get a sense of what you need to improve on when you go to polish the final product before the big day. The plus side is that no matter what the result, you get to eat cake!
One of my favorite lines from the introduction is: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated.” What does this mean to you?
You know, I really believe that mantra applies to all avenues of life, but especially with baking. There is a great debate between using boxed mixes and from-scratch recipes, but I just can’t embrace choosing sides. In my opinion the same amount of love goes into both. No one cares if you jazzed-up a store-bought treat or if your homemade cake slides halfway off in the car on the way there. When people bake and share their creations, they are simply spreading joy.
Where do you find the time to “practice, practice, practice,” as you advise, while balancing a high-traffic blog and busy family life?
The truth is everything doesn’t stay balanced. A typical day for me: We eat breakfast together as a family, and then the kids and I start school—sometimes that includes me holding a screaming baby, or changing a dirty diaper. Each day can be a struggle just as much as it can be a blessing. I can’t strive for perfection, but I do strive to make it through my day with peace. To us, the things that matter most are learning something at the end of every day, and figuring out how to be better the next.
Want more ideas? Try one of our super-simple birthday cakes.
Interview has been edited and condensed.
Images by Susan Powers; published with permission from William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publisher.
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Amanda Rettke, baking, birthday cake, cake decorating, cookbook author, cooking with kids, dessert, easy recipe, Q&A, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, Surprise Inside Cakes | Categories:
Birthdays, Food, Time for Fun
Friday, April 11th, 2014
We did it! We survived a day of no sugar. Inspired by Eve Schaub’s new book Year of No Sugar, several of my colleagues and I shunned the sweet stuff on Wednesday, part of a national #NoSugarChallenge. That meant no table sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, or any sugar in packaged foods. Sweet fruit and vegetables were still on the table.
While Eve and her family gave up sugar for an entire year, one day seemed like a manageable goal. But, for many of us, it was a tougher challenge than we anticipated, primarily because sugar is in so many foods—80 percent of products found in the supermarket in fact.
• Learn more about identifying added sugar and cutting processed food from your diet.
Here are our reports on what was easy, what was hard, and what we learned:
Laura Fenton, Lifestyle Director – So, I failed straight off the bat: I forgot it was no-sugar day and poured myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast (looking at the label after work, I saw that the brand contains both honey and molasses, a.k.a. sugar). But once I got to work and remembered my mission I had a steely reserve to resist sugar, including: Bagels, cookies at my cube mate’s desk, and jelly beans at my other cube mate’s desk. When I went for lunch, I actually looked at the label for the salad dressing to make sure it was sugar free (it seemed to be!) and said “no thank you” to the roll that was offered with my salad that was likely made with sugar.
Alexandra Johnston, Assistant Photo Editor – I thought by biggest struggle would be handling my after-lunch sweet tooth, but my sugar-free banana chocolate “ice cream” was amazing and it actually felt very indulgent. The rest of the day proved to be more difficult. I didn’t realize how many condiments and packaged ingredients actually had sugar in them. While I won’t be making this a permanent change at this time, it did open my eyes to the problem and I will be checking the labels more closely in the grocery store from now on.
Rheanna Bellomo, Editorial Assistant – I made it through breakfast, lunch, and dinner by making all my own fresh food (nothing processed) and snacking on a mango in the afternoon. What I found so funny was that once I settled in for the night with my book, the challenge completely slipped my mind and I had a piece of chocolate. It was so mindless! That’s what really stuck with me: the need to be more thoughtful about food.
Karen Cicero, Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor – It was a lot harder than I expected—and we are really careful about added sugar to begin with. Breakfast was easy (eggs & fruit), but when packing lunch, I remembered that our whole-wheat bread has one gram of sugar per slice and the peanut butter has a gram per serving. I couldn’t do much about that last minute so Katie had three grams of added sugar in her lunch. I had a salad for lunch, and made my own balsamic vinaigrette so it would be sugar-free. But I blew my sugar-free day when I mindlessly tried a piece of a granola bar that came in the mail for an upcoming story—that was about three grams of sugar. For dinner, we had whole-grain pasta with a fresh sauce I made with heirloom tomatoes and red onions. Overall, it was a really good reminder about how pervasive added sugar is in foods that don’t taste at all sweet, and how deliciously sweet and satisfying fruit is. I’m going to try to do it once a week–a la Meatless Monday, maybe this is Sugar-Free Sunday. Starting the week after Easter, of course!
Allison Berry, Editorial Assistant – My goal of cooking vegan was unsuccessful (I didn’t realize how complicated some of the recipes could be!), but I was able to eat vegan for the day, which I loved! The hardest part was passing up a morning bagel and cream cheese, but I was surprised to find that during the workday especially, my sugar-free snacks of fruit, almonds, and tea kept me going between meals. After dinner did get hard for me, seeing as a lot of the snacks I go for after dinner have added sugar in them. If definitely opened my eyes to what even having a cookie after dinner can do to your sugar intake. The habit I’ll definitely continue is snacking on almonds and fruit through the workday. I bought a 1 bag of almonds at the drug store and they’ve kept me full and lasted all week.
Sherry Huang, Features Editor – The two toughest times of the day were the afternoon (when I usually eat a sugary snack) and the evening (when I usually have dessert after dinner). After eating a few Craisins by accident (shoot, added sugar!), Jenna rescued me with a no-sugar-added protein bar for a snack. Dessert was a little pitiful – plain saltine crackers and natural peanut butter. I did feel slightly more alert and energetic throughout the day, so that was a bonus. Overall, the challenge was slightly easier than I anticipated, in part because it was just for one day, and there were no tempting treats lying around the office! I do confess to waiting until midnight to eat some cake, but I’d be willing to try avoiding sugar for a few more days…but maybe not consecutive ones.
Ruthie Fierberg, Editorial Assistant – It took some planning, but turns out I have a good amount of meal options that I typically eat anyway that are sugar-free. The main component of my meals didn’t deviate from my norm (eggs over spinach with some nuts for breakfast, a salad with black beans and an apple for lunch, banana for an afternoon snack, chicken and rice and a small salad for dinner with blackberries for dessert). What DID surprise me is how many of my condiments had sugar in them. I couldn’t have my usual salad dressing – I opted for lemon juice instead – and I couldn’t have barbeque sauce on my chicken – that actually has a LOT of sugar in it. I think in the future I will pay more attention to the “sugars” listing on nutrition labels and opt for things with less sugar, but I have no plans to go sugar-free for good. I like my whole wheat pastas and multigrain breads and even that barbeque sauce. The challenge was certainly interesting and eye-opening!
Madeleine Burry, Associate Managing Editor – The best part of the sugar-free day was the need to be thoughtful about what I eat: Does that salad dressing have sugar added? What about that bottled tomato sauce? I prepped for the day with lots of tiny containers of fruits and veggies (apple slices in one, cut up cucumber in another, and grapes in the last little tupperware), and was able to escape the kitchen without trying the cookies temptingly laid out on the counter, and make it through the treacherous three to five p.m. window, when I’m most vulnerable to lure of the sugary snack. Will I quit sugar forever? No way! I quit sugar for a month once, and midway through, life felt dark and dreary. A little sweetness is a good thing, and sometimes an apple just doesn’t cut it. But I will definitely try to be more mindful when eating, especially about the presence of sugar in foods I don’t think of as being sweet (like ketchup, instant oatmeal packets, dried fruit, and salad dressing).
For my part, feeding my daughter sugar-free meals turned out to be the toughest challenge. She usually has a low-sugar cereal for breakfast, but we decided on eggs and whole grain crackers for breakfast—not something I’d want her to have everyday. I left a list of sugar-free snacks for the babysitter, and it was a little humdrum: dried plums, more crackers, fruit, milk.
Participating in this challenge made me realize just how hard it is to not eat sugar throughout the day, especially for kids. Since all the grams of sugar – in cereal, chocolate milk, yogurt, and granola bars – add up, even if I feel like I’m feeding my daughter a “healthy” diet, it is still very sugary. My new goal is to step up my game and find some delicious, sugar-free options for her everyday diet.
Could you or your kids ever go sugar-free—even just for a day?
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