Food & Drink

FOOD: Life Hacks – How to Go Sugar-Free

by Carrie Epps


In the name of preparing for a duathlon, I recently gave up sugar for a month. Of those two, giving up sugar was the easiest. I survived both. You can, too. Here’s how:

(1) Stock up on ripe bananas, because if you’re an ice cream lover like me, you’re going to be making a lot of banana “ice cream.” Yes, this is the same concept as Yonanas, but seeing as how my very small studio kitchen is practically bursting at the seams with appliances, I use my trusty Ninja food processor. One frozen banana, various flavorings (cocoa and matcha powder are favorites) plus a little liquid — almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water, regular water, whatever — to get the whole shebang going, and a few minutes results in delicious sugar-free soft serve.

If you’re allergic to bananas or otherwise don’t like them, mangoes are a good sub, but really, any frozen fruit can be used to create a quick sorbet. Blueberries are a particular favorite.

(2) While you’re at it, stock up on dates and almonds. Maybe you don’t have a blender or a food processor. First, who are you? Go get one. Second, do like I said and stock up on dates and almonds. Stuff a pitted date with two or three almonds and dust with cocoa powder, and you have dessert in a pinch.  Dates are super sweet, so just two or three should be enough to sate you. This also makes a good substitute for energy bars — almonds are a good source of protein and dates are a high in glucose, your body’s main source of energy.

(3) But if you must have dessert, raw’s the way to go. Raw foods are made from raw (duh), unprocessed, whole-food ingredients and no dish is heated above 118 degrees. Technical, I know, but the main point is that raw desserts eschew refined sugar, since sugar is (duh) not raw. Visit your local Whole Foods or your friendly neighborhood organic market/co-op and pick up some of these, these, these, these (which I’m not even sure are raw, but they are freaking delicious and I ate a lot of these over four weeks) or these (which I discovered last weekend, which is a good because I would have eaten a lot of these, too). But let’s say you bought that blender or food processor. First, good for you! Second, try making your own raw desserts: try this carrot cake (which is now the only carrot cake I make, it’s so delicious) or this key lime pie (follow the instructions to a tee).

(4) Use fruit and spices to amp up your breakfast. If you’re as big of a fan of oatmeal and pancakes on the weekends as I am, use fresh fruit as a topping, or cook down some frozen berries with a little water for a quick fruit sauce. With enough ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, you won’t miss your old sacchariferous standbys.

(5) If you’re going to go out for drinks, look for cocktails made from fresh fruit juices. Going through Cinco de Mayo without a margarita was rough, but tequila and soda with a squeeze of lime helped me feel like I wasn’t missing out. (Also, DC’s El Rey taqueria makes a great one from lime juice, agave, Triple Sec and tequila.)

If alcohol’s not your thing, try infusing your water with some fruit and leafy herbs like mint for a refreshing alternative to plain old water. Use carbonated water to make a healthier alternative to sodas.