During the month of January, I did a 30 day eating challenge, where I cut out sugar, grains, meat, most dairy, and processed food. I allowed myself a few sharp cheeses, Greek yogurt, and some natural sugar when used in savory meals. I ate vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and eggs. I did this mostly to kick some of my cravings for unhealthy foods like sugar and processed carbs. I wasn’t perfect. I allowed myself an exception for a fancy work dinner I knew I had that month and I caved a few other times. One time a friend brought me a fresh hot cherry empanada with ice cream and I couldn’t just throw that away! And it was worth it. It was delicious. My husband and I also threw a milkshake party for the kids he teaches in church and I had a small milkshake. I made homemade eggless cookie dough and I had to taste it to make sure it turned out. That was my mistake. It was so delicious and I just kept snitching it. So I decided to just have a milkshake and do better the next day. It was worth it, too.
Here are some things I learned during my food challenge:
- It took about 5 days of not eating any sugar and then my craving for sugary food was gone. I had way more ability to turn down sweets, because they just didn’t sound as good anymore. The first few days the sugar craving was strong, though.
- After doing the challenge for awhile, I had that empanada and it took about one or two days to get back to not craving sugar again. So it wasn’t a total reset when I messed up. This was helpful knowing, because when I decided to eat something with sugar I didn’t feel like I should just give up. I knew I could get back to where I wanted to be again. Same thing with the milkshake.
- My teeth felt super clean the whole month.
- I never got rid of my craving for carby, bready food. It actually got worse. I decided I do better not cutting the carbs. I did realize that I really like zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, and spaghetti squash noodles. I also realized that I can totally live without grocery store bread and be fine. I used to eat a ton of toast, but I found that when I stopped buying grocery store bread I found healthier breakfasts. I found my sweet spot when it comes to grain, though. Yes to whole grains like rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, and oats. Yes to frequently using veggie substitutes for noodles and rice. No to having grocery store bread on hand all the time.
- I don’t need to always have a bunch of cheese on hand. I have stopped buying bricks of cheese and the whole family eats better when there is no cheese in the fridge. I still buy smaller bricks of stronger cheese to add bits of flavor here and there. And I am not against buying cheddar cheese every once in awhile for specific recipes.
- Drinking lots of water helps a lot.
- I ate a bigger variety of healthy food.
- I lost five pounds. Not a massive amount, but my goal wasn’t to loose a ton of weight. Just to reset my habits. I was also doing Zumba a couple times a week.
- No, I am not still eating by the rules of my challenge. Two birthdays, Valentines Day, a trip to Disneyland, and a trip to visit my parents resulted in lots of indulgences in February. But I have kept a lot of the good habits overall. I am cooking with mostly unprocessed food, I have stopped the snacking of bread and cheese, I am trying to find creative healthier substitutes for things, and my sugar cravings are not nearly as strong. I am far from perfect, now and during the challenge. It was hard, but I am glad I did it.
During the challenge, I tried to avoid smoothies at breakfast time. Just a personal choice because I always feel like drinking my meal makes me feel like I still need a meal. I have noticed that it is different with a smoothie bowl. A smoothie bowl is a thick smoothie, poured into a bowl with TOPPINGS! The toppings are what make the difference for me. Putting a spoon in my mouth and chewing a little helps me feel like I am eating a meal.
It seems like Acai bowls and Pitaya bowls are all the rage these days. They are basically just smoothie bowls made from frozen acai or pitaya puree and its kind of like eating a healthy ice cream sundae. Pitaya is just another name for dragon fruit. You can buy these bowls at lots of different smoothie shops and other little trendy restaurants or you can make your own. When you buy the frozen pitaya puree it is hot pink. There are three varieties of dragon fruit/pitaya: yellow skin and white flesh, fuchsia skin and white flesh, and fuchsia skin and fuchsia flesh. The frozen puree is made from the variety with fuchsia flesh, but every time I have seen a dragon fruit at the store it has been of the fuchsia skin and white flesh variety. And its not that often that I see a dragon fruit at the store, but when I do I snatch one up. They taste kind of like a really fresh and sweet kiwi, with none of the tartness. To choose a ripe dragon fruit pick one that is soft to the touch, not firm and not mushy. Look for one without blotches.
I love making my own pitaya smoothie bowl out of a fresh dragonfruit. Its not hot pink, but it has such a fresh sweet taste. Then add some toppings and you have a filling breakfast that you eat with a spoon like an ice cream sundae.
- 1/2 dragon fruit, scooped out of outer skin
- 10-12 ice cubes
- 1 banana
- 1/2 C. frozen mango cubes
- 1/2 C. Greek yogurt
- 1/2 C. coconut water
- 1/8 C. raw almonds
- agave to taste (optional)
- toppings (chopped dragon fruit, bananas, toasted coconut, nuts, seeds, berries)
1. Place everything except the agave and toppings in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. If you want it thicker, use frozen banana and if you want it runnier, use more coconut water. Taste and add a drizzle of agave or other natural liquid sweetener to taste if you want it sweeter.
2. Pour smoothie into bowls and arrange toppings on top. I would say that chopped dragon fruit from the other half is essential for topping. Its just so good. Bananas are my other favorite on this one. I also added toasted coconut, sliced strawberries, and sun flower seeds. You can add what ever toppings you have on hand. I like to keep extra toppings to the side because I usually get halfway through and want to add a little more to the bowl.
Recipe by Edible Experiments