Hi, I’m Bettina. What I'm working on : Forget to slouch. Relaxing is freedom. Choose life.

Articles tagged “eating consciously”

Fusion Coconut Milk Soup Recipe

Vegan Coconut Milk Soup Recipe

 

When I made my list of superstar vegan ingredients, I forgot another secret weapon in the vegan chef’s arsenal : coconut milk. Coconut milk just makes everything taste better, even if you don’t like the taste of coconut (like me!). Because it doesn’t taste particularly coconut-y, it’s actually quite versatile.

One of my favorite quick recipes is using coconut milk as well as garam masala or Thai curry paste as the base for a soup. I toss in whatever vegetables I have at hand, adding noodles and tofu if I have them around.

For today’s lunch I made one of these fusion soups.

INGREDIENTS

coconut oil

onion, chopped up

garam masala* / Thai curry paste

3 small carrots, chopped

half a bell pepper, chopped

7 stalks of chard (my CSA won’t stop sending me these, so I’ve been featuring chard shows up in my recipes a lot), chopped

whole-grain noodles

coconut milk and water

salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot until it melts.

2.  Add onions and garam masala* or a Thai curry paste.

3. When the onions have browned, add the carrots, bell pepper, chard, and noodles. I like whole-grain because you can boil them a bit more than white noodles, and they still retain their texture.

4. Add coconut milk and water to taste as well as salt and freshly ground pepper.

What I love about this recipe is that you can eat it hot or cold.

Enjoy!

* Garam masala just means a mix of Indian spices. You can find these spices pre-mixed at your local Indian grocery.

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I Quit Sugar Postmortem : 5 things I’ve learned from quitting sugar

Quitting sugar

My eight weeks of quitting sugar has finally come to an end.

So what have I learned?

  1. Frankly, I hardly missed sugar. I was fine without sugar as long as I kept eating fat and didn’t ever get ferociously hungry. As long as I kept my body fed and happy, I could decide whether to say yes or no to sweets. Finally, I’m in control rather than sugar.
  2. My sensitivity to sugar has increased. I eat half the amount of cake as I would before. I never found milk sweet before, but now I can taste its natural gentle sweetness from lactose.
  3. I’ve learned that sugar is hidden everywhere : Dijon mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, pasta sauces, salty chips, sushi rice, almost everything in a package.
  4. People either found it totally weird and extreme that I wasn’t eating sugar or else they thought it was awesome but not something that they could ever do.
  5. That said, doing something hard with other people makes it way easier. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one who’s lapsed into a sweet indulgence or being inspired by their sugar-free recipes kept me going after I got off track.

If you want to quit sugar too, follow my journey of quitting sugar week by week :

If you want to more support in quitting sugar, buy like I did Sarah Wilson’s how-to manual on quitting sugar:

I Quit Sugar Book Cover by Sarah Wilson

If you buy through my link–THANK YOU–I get $6 from her, and it’s the same price for you but you also get my bonus PDF detailing where to get some of the supplies that’s hard to find outside of Australia. Once you make your purchase through my link, please contact me with your order number, I’ll send you my bonus PDF.

Illustration of Anti-saccharrites by James Gillray (which I first saw at Berlin’s Sugar Museum)
 

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I Quit Sugar Week 8 : Choosing Sugar Consciously

Sugar in my bowl

So it’s the last week of quitting sugar, but I’ve already started to experiment with adding sugar back to my diet about a week and a half ago.

Usually when I’ve been integrating sugar back into my diet, I try not eat too much of the sugary stuff–just one bite or as little as I can. Over the weekend, however, I was invited to a traditionally German coffee-and-cake afternoon party where there’s basically tons of cakes, coffee, and tea. I decided that I was really going to eat as much cake as I wanted, like I used to before I quit sugar. Back before I quit sugar, I’d definitely eat a slice from each cake and then go back for seconds or thirds from my favorite/s. I thought that perhaps I’d revert back to my sugar-loving ways.

I was pleasantly surprised by what my body told me I wanted once I gave myself full permission to eat as much sugar as I wanted : I had a slice from two of the cakes and four or five waffle hearts, but I never even made it to the third cake. I was repulsed by the taste the way Sarah Wilson is. I really enjoyed the cakes as indulgences. I just didn’t need as much as before to be satisfied. Unfortunately, my body was not used to all that sugar,  and after that party I could not fall asleep until 3 or 4AM due to the sugar high.

I had the same reaction with the fructose-free chocolates I ordered. Previously, I finished bars of chocolate in two-three days. It’s been about ten days since my chocolates arrived, and I still have yet to finish a bar, even though I allow myself to have as much as I want. I just don’t crave them like I used to. In Sarah Wilson’s words, “The enemy just leaves the battlefield.” It’s just no longer an issue.

Results from quitting sugar

Even though other people report weight loss from quitting sugar, I don’t have a scale and don’t know if I gained or lost weight. I can testify, however, that my tummy was flatter when I quit sugar 100%, because I wasn’t retaining water. I did have a clearer head throughout the entire day, and I rarely got slumps when I needed something to pick me up.

Going forward, I’ll be back to eating fruit, chocolate (fructose-free for a while until I finish the many, many chocolate bars I ordered), and sweets.

The changes I’ll stick to from my eight weeks of quitting sugar are

  • drinking coffee and tea without added sweetness
  • not drinking fruit juice or fizzy sweet drinks at bars–just ordering water!
  • eating fat-full snacks when I’m hungry rather than reaching for a sugar-laden pick-me-up
  • adding flaxseed oil to my dinners to get happily full and to get my fatty acids
  • reading labels to see how much fructose is present and trying to stay below 3-6 grams of sugar per 100 g serving

I don’t want to become an anti-sugar bore, but quitting sugar has really improved my mental and physical health. If you’re interested, you can start the journey by finding out more from my first blog post about quitting sugar.

 

 

Illustration by noodlehug
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I Quit Sugar Week 7 : Sugar’s back!

Sugar Free Cakes

So I’ve been adding sugar back to my diet slowly but gleefully after a few weeks of not having any sugar at all.

The plan is that I’m supposed to add some low-sugar fruits first, but I’ve just been eating sugar as they pop up in my life.

For example, today I went out for Thai food with my coworkers. And now I can really taste the sugar in the yellow curry sauce. Before I would have been surprised if you told me that Thai curry sauces were sweetened, but after a few weeks of very limited sugar I can actually taste its sweetness.

Because it was part of our set menu, I had a blackberry-juice-based sparkler at dinner last week.

And tomorrow I will eat a slice of cake to celebrate a birthday.

marie-antoinette-cake

I don’t know if its just coincidence, but a few hours after I drank the sugary juice drink last week I had a slight buzzy headache. And today after I ate the sugar-laden Thai curry, I got the same kind of headache in the afternoon. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow after the birthday cake if sugar really gives me headaches.

Meanwhile, my huge box of chocolate bars from Frusano arrived! Frusano is the only company offering chocolates sweetened with dextrose. The chocolates taste silky smooth, almost normal.

If you don’t live in Germany and find international shipping prohibitively expensive, I found a recipe to make Chocolate Toffee Drops with dextrose from Sugar is Poison:

 

Sugar Free Dextrose Chocolate

125 g solidified coconut oil
3/4 cup dextrose
6 T cocoa
4 T full cream milk powder
a pinch of salt

Melt 125g of solidified coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve 3/4 cup dextrose in some water on the stove and then add the coconut oil. Sift the 6 tablespoons cocoa, 4 tablespoons full cream milk powder and a pinch of salt together, and then add to the liquid. Spoon into moulds, a tin or just spread it out on a piece of foil and refrigerate till set.

Thank you if you’re reading this. Thank you if you’ve been on the journey with me. It’s you who keep me honest…just two more weeks! And then back to chocolates and cakes!

Photo sources from top to bottom: Ann Mah, Australia Entertains, and Sugar is Poison
 
 
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I Quit Sugar Week 6 : Time to add sugar back to my diet?

Mushrooms

After six weeks of quitting sugar, of which four weeks were cold turkey–that means, no honey, no stevia, no fruit, Sarah Wilson‘s program allows for adding fruit back in.

But I don’t feel ready yet for sugar. The idea of quitting sugar cold turkey is to get the addiction to the sweet fix out of my system, but I’ve lapsed a few times during my four weeks. Two times I did so consciously, but two other times…well, let me just tell you that it is dangerous to have a box of chocolates from out-of-town guests just standing around innocently in my living room. And ever since I lapsed and had a chocolate, I’ve been back to craving chocolate every night : chocolate bonbons, cake, mousse, hot cacao.

It’s funny, because in Sarah’s experience she was ‘repulsed by the taste [of sugar]…it seemed so acidic and cloying’. As for me, sugar in the form of dark chocolate still rocks my world. So I ordered more than 60 euros’ worth of 100% glucose chocolates from Frusano. It’s the only recommended sugar, because it contains no fructose. I can’t wait until my box arrives…

If you’re also on the journey of quitting sugar, how are you dealing with sugar addiction or withdrawal? How do you know when you’re over it? Do share your tips with me!

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

 

Illustration from Lucileskitchen
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I Quit Sugar Week 3 : Breaking Up with Sugar

Breaking Up with Sugar

 

Dear Sugar,

I’m terribly sorry I had to do this through a letter. Our relationship has run its course. Don’t let it get you all upset inside; we are just not a good match.

Thanks for the years of happiness you gave me. We had a great run together, didn’t we? The birthday cakes, the Halloween candy, the chocolates on Valentines from my childhood–all happy memories. When I grew older and moved to Paris, you beckoned from pastries made by masters of sugar and deliciousness. I had a sugary snack almost every afternoon in Paris since nothing else was open other than bakeries between lunch and dinner. In Paris, you were beautiful, lit up like a jewel behind glass windows.

But it’s not working anymore for me. I expect too much of you. I’m depending too much on you to cheer me up when I’m sad or blue or just down. In these past two weeks when I’ve tried living my life without you, it’s been hard. And those times when I invited you back into my life, you still have a way of touching me deeply in my sweet spot.

But I need to outgrow you: for all the highs we have together, you also give me the lows. I always have to run back into your arms again to feel back on top. I depend on you to make me happy, and I need to find out how to do that for myself. Before I tried taking a break with you, I wouldn’t be able to walk by the chocolate aisle in the grocery store without picking you up so that you–my secret weapons–will be waiting in my bag no matter what else happens for the day. (Yes, I love you most when you’re combined with dark chocolate.)

Frankly, even though emotionally you make me feel great, you don’t do much for me physically. You turn immediately into stored fat. You’re chemically addictive. I don’t want to go down the list again of why you’re no good for me, even though the last time I forgot one more evil thing about you: the history of your cultivation goes hand in hand with the story of the evils of colonialism.

Look, I’m not saying that I want to break up with you forever. It’s not like I’ve been cheating on you or want to replace you with anyone. I don’t want to have a chemical relationship with any other substance, even though caffeine could rival your importance in my life. After the next six weeks, I’m pretty sure I want you back in my life again though probably not as my bestie like you are now. I just need a complete break to break my dependence on you so that I can be in control of my life again.

After our six weeks’ separation, I’d like to be in control. I’d like to moderate the highs and lows you give me. I’d like to feel my down feelings rather than smother them with your sweetness. Before I used to think that you were a treat for myself, as a way of taking care of and treating myself. But I see you now for what you are: you make things better like a shiny bow wrapped around a trash pile, but you don’t address the underlying problems. When I’m tired I will just take a nap. When I’m blue I will talk to a friend about it rather than turning to you.

I know that it’s going to be hard not turning to you in the next six weeks, but I’m doing this for myself—so that I can be free and autonomous, fully in control of my own body and mind. It would be great if you understood, sugar, that it’s not you; it’s me. Really.

Sorry,

Bettina

PS: Sugar honey, give me back my keys. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, if you’re ok with it, but I have to be the one who decides when and where and how.

PPS: In case you’re new around here, I quit sugar two weeks ago.

I am following Sarah Wilson‘s 8-week sugar quitting program, as outlined in her $15 handbook.

If you buy the handbook by clicking on this link, THANK YOU! I get a commission, but the price is the same no matter where you buy it. Once you make your purchase through my link, please contact me with your order receipt, and I’ll send you my bonus PDF detailing where to get some of the supplies in Germany and in the US that Sarah Wilson recommends on her Australian-based shopping list.

 

Photo from buzzfeed
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I Quit Sugar : Progress Notes from Week 2

Yogurt

Thank you, dear readers, for keeping me on track with quitting sugar for eight weeks. When I feel totally alone in quitting sugar, I just think of you on the other side of the screen and how I have to report back about my weekly progress.

Quitting Sugar : Success Story from cutting back

First, a success story before I tell you about my cake attack breakdown. So the first week was to cut down on sugar, which for me meant drinking espresso black or with plain milk. Surprise! I wanted to drink fewer espressos throughout the day once they weren’t so tasty anymore. But for the entire week I stuck to this, about which I’m happy.

Cake Attack : Lessons Learned from cutting back on sugar

Going into quitting sugar, I knew that sugary snacks were ways I’d pick myself up after a long, tiring day. So yesterday I had a long, tiring day, and I just had to have something junky in my system. Now that I can’t eat cookies or cakes, I decided to buy some chips because those salty suckers must not have sugar, right? Guess what? Every single package of chips whose ingredients I read had sugar. Or else lactose or dextrose or another sugar. Who knew that to make paprika, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, ‘Mexican’ flavors, you need sugar?!

In any case, I went home disappointed without a snack to treat myself, thinking that not eating sugar means not eating any junk food–treats–at all. This was perhaps my mistake.

Cake

A few hours later at home, my crazy monkey mind and will power just got tired of resisting–did you know that will power really is like a muscle? When your will power gets tired from being tested too much, at the end of the day, you just give in. As proof of that last night I polished off a jar of chocolate brownie cake (see photo above) that I had bought from Emma at the dessert market / Naschmarkt in late December that was standing around in my kitchen.

So instead of eating a jar of cake with a spoon like it was Ben and Jerry’s, what I should have done is anticipated my impeding lack of willpower and bought a substitute treat like full-fat yogurt with cacao nibs at the store. No judgments, however. I really needed a pick-me-up last night, so I gave myself what was convenient. Compassion leads to sustainable changes.

From week one of quitting sugar, I learned that I need to have alternative treats around so that I don’t just treat myself with cakes and cookies. In fact, I may need to have two treats–one food treat and one non-food treat so that I can start thinking of food as fuel for my body and not as ways of being nice to myself.

How do you treat yourself well in ways that are not related in food but is accessible at any time and / or portable ?

Let me know in the comments section!

And for week two of quitting sugar I’ll be eating more fat and protein so that I feel full rather than deprived. For breakfast I eat one or two hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper instead of my usual fruit smoothies. In fact, I’ll be trying to eat fat and protein with every meal.

If you want to join me, you can read my progress notes from week 1, follow along by buying for $15 Sarah Wilson’s how-to manual on quitting sugar, or read Sarah Wilson’s blog about her Quitting Sugar program.

Edited to say: Those of you who bought Sarah Wilson’s quitting sugar manual by clicking my link (you get the same price, and I get a commission from her), THANK YOU! I had promised that I’d share with you where I buy in Germany and the US the supplies Sarah Wilson recommends in her quitting sugar shopping list, since Sarah is based in Australia.

Since this is my first time working as an affiliate, I didn’t realize when I made that promise that I don’t get a list of people who bought through my link. So if you want my German and/or American version of the quitting sugar shopping list, please contact me with your order receipt. Sorry for the extra trouble! But it may be worth it: having a shopping list has helped me stay focused at the grocery store!

First photo from Michele Amato; second photo Südwind-Shop
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I Quit Sugar : Progress Notes from Week 1

Sugar

About two years ago I tried to quit sugar. I lasted about two days before I succumbed. Not that I haven’t quit successfully before : 2010 was a year of quitting. I quit coffee for a month. I quit dairy products for a month. And I have not eaten meat consciously (unless I was an unexpected guest of strangers who are doing their best to host me on my travels) since more than 15 years.

But sugar! Even the idea of quitting sugar makes something inside me scream in frustration. One, I love autonomy and I hate the idea of limitations. Two, sugar is my beloved. I use it to motivate myself to finish projects. I celebrate milestones with cake. Pastries was how I got to know French culture when I lived there for almost three years, how I got inculcated in their culture of pleasure of the senses. I love ice cream, cookies, chocolate, sweet coffee.

But I know how bad sugar is. Doesn’t everyone? If you don’t think sugar is bad, consider that

SUGAR

  • becomes fat instantaneously
  • gives me mood swings as well as energy swings
  • makes me more liable to get sick since it compromises the immune system
  • ages me faster than normal
  • fuels inflammation needlessly
  • induces salt and water retention giving me a bloated mini-belly some times.

If you want a huge list of 146 reasons why sugar is the devil, visit the website of Nancy Appleton, author of Lick the Sugar Habit, by clicking here.

If you want to know the science of why sugar–all sugar, even fruit sugar and “brown” sugar and honey–is bad for you, watch the very long and informative lecture below.

YouTube Preview Image

So I sat about two years with the idea that sugar will run my life. It’s really not a problem to start the day with sweet coffee every single day. It’s not a big deal to indulge in a sweet treat craving of the chocolate variety every single day. Sometimes for a few nights straight I drink hot chocolate (but dark hot chocolate!) right before bed for the sweetness it gave my dreams. Or so I told myself. And I needed to motivate myself somehow, right?

I know that I’m addicted to sugar because the thought of quitting it gives rise to irrational irritation and incredible resistance. Until one of the women who inspires me with her lifestyle Sarah Wilson wrote the book I Quit Sugar, which made  me to commit to quitting sugar again for the next 8 weeks.

I Quit Sugar Book Cover by Sarah Wilson

 

In fact, she’s leading a 8-week program on her blog to guide people through her book I Quit Sugar. So if you’re looking to detox your body after the excesses of the holidays or just from fast living in general, come join us! You don’t have to buy the book; you can find lots of information on Sarah’s blog.

But the idea of quitting sugar was so hard for me to face that it’s easy to have a week-by-week schedule. As they say in other addiction programs, one day at a time. The 8 week schedule for quitting sugar is really gentle and moderate, unlike when I tried to go cold turkey back in 2010.

Week 1 : Start to cut back

Week 2 : Operation Eat Fat

Week 3 : Quit!

Week 4 : Face the demons

Week 5 : Get creative, experiment, and detox

Week 6 : Adding some sweetness back in

Week 7 : Recovering from lapses

Week 8: Refining and moving forward

Sugar Free Contents Page from Sarah Wilson

Yes, you can quit sugar without the book. You don’t need it to just. stop. eating. sugar. More power to you if you can just decide to do it and get it done.

But I recommend buying the book if you want Sarah Wilson’s shopping list of great supportive sugar replacements, her recipes for breakfast replacements, her tricks for making quitting sugar a fun-ish experience, and the general feeling that you are supporting your choice to quit sugar with the kindest and most researched advice possible. You can buy the $15 book from her site or from my link here. If you buy from me, I get a $6 commission but the price is the same to you no matter where you buy it form. That said, I’ll be working on a German-based and American-based version of her shopping list, which is full of products mainly from Australia. Once I finish my research, I’ll send it out to those of you in Germany or the US so that it’ll be easier to source some of the teas and supplements Sarah recommends.

I Quit Sugar Preview Inside by Sarah Wilson

Progress Notes from Week One of Quitting Sugar

So for week 1 of quitting sugar, the idea is to just cut back. I’ve started to drink coffee without sugar and stopped drinking a fruit smoothie every morning for breakfast. Nonetheless, during yesterday’s and today’s afternoon slump I’ve already had 5 or 6 chocolate chip cookies and a dark hot chocolate. Oh! And a chocolate mousse after dinner last night…but the point is to endure the 8 weeks, so I’m cutting myself some slack and am happy that I am not adding honey to my coffees for now.

Edited to say : If you buy the handbook by clicking on this link, THANK YOU! I get a commission, but the price is the same no matter where you buy it. Once you make your purchase through my link, please contact me with your order receipt, and I’ll send you my bonus PDF detailing where to get some of the supplies in Germany and in the US that Sarah Wilson recommends on her Australian-based shopping list.

Have you tried to quit sugar or any other addictive substances? Please share your tricks and tips with me in the comments section below so that I can quit sugar as joyfully as possible in the next 8 weeks!

Top photo from U.S. National Archives ; all others from Sarah Wilson
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