Tag Archives: sugar free birthday

A Year of No Sugar: Post 11

Yesterday we had our (drumroll, please…) our first official dessert of the month– chocolate cupcakes with “strawberry” (well, okay, it was pink) cream cheese icing. And it was good. Just good. Not amazing, not oh-my-God good, but good. Fine. The unfortunate thing about waiting two weeks to have dessert is that once you finally have it, you’ve got a fairly high probability of being disappointed. The icing was very good, the cake was a little on the dry side, and my favorite part was the strawberry pieces on top- but hey- I can have those anytime!

Well… not anytime anytime. Ahem. In my effort to supplant real sweets for fake ones I have filled our house with fruit: apples, bananas, cherries, watermelon, clementines. It looks a little like Carmen Miranda exploded in our kitchen. However, we all know what too much fruit can do… right? Well, let’s just say we’ve had to be a little bit careful in the fruit department lately.

And there are other reasons to beware of fruit, too. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal Vegetable Miracle, makes an excellent case for eating locally on the basis of environmental responsibility. Perhaps just as compelling is the knowledge that other countries aren’t going to have the same pesticide regulations we do, and likely won’t define terms like “organic” the same way we do either. Sure, I can buy local apples at the farmer’s market and often at our supermarket… but the list of other available local fruit at this time of year? Stops abruptly there.

So many people I know struggle with this impossible balancing act on a daily basis: should we care more about buying organic or local? What about price: does getting a great deal at BJ’s Warehouse trump buying local and/or organic? What about if the organic produce looks like yesterday’s dish-water? Were animals tortured in the making of this product? Were they made even mildly uncomfortable? We scan the labels for increasingly long lists of alarm-bell ingredients: does it have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it? Preservatives? Dyes? MSG? What about endocrine disruptors? Hydrogenated oils? Poison? Is there any poison in it?

Since beginning this project only two weeks ago, I’ve been confronted with these contradicting forces seemingly constantly. I grudgingly put the Morningstar veggie sausage patties in my cart, feeling annoyed that a “health food” product has stuff like “disodium inosinate” in it, even while being delighted that the hundred and 12 ingredients listed do not include sugar. I purchase the shredded wheat cereal, delighted to have found it, yet irked at the use of BHT “added to the packaging material” as a preservative, (“Some embalming fluid with your breakfast cereal, madame?”) I attend the weekly Farmer’s Market and try valiantly not to blanch at the prices, only to find that when I cook my hard-won organic produce that the spinach tastes funny and the brussels sprouts have mysterious “black spot” disease. Ew.

It’s really enough to make any sane person throw in the towel altogether.

But we’re not throwing in the towel, we’re managing and that is something to celebrate, even at this early stage of the game. Maybe especially at this early stage of the game.

So, to sum up, the best thing about our daughter’s sixth birthday party was that she loved it. She was happy, her friends were happy- and to seal the deal they all had cake. If that isn’t a special occasion, I don’t know what is.


Information About The No Sugar Project


A Year of No Sugar: Post 9

Steve and Eve's Super Banana Sunday

You know, if I hadn’t been there myself, I would’ve said it wasn’t possible. But I am astounded to report that our now-six-year-old Ilsa had a lovely family birthday party Tuesday night, complete with presents, candles, her requested birthday meal, and a special dessert… which we really did do (drumroll please…) without sugar. YES!

Even better is the fact that she had no idea anything was afoot in the dessert department- which makes me SO glad. The last thing I want is to have my kids growing up feeling warped and deprived because of their crazy-ass mother’s hair-brained projects. Sure a “Year Without Sugar” means one thing to you and me- but to a six-year old? It might as well be forever.

On the other hand, it might as well be three seconds too. That’s the plus side- 99 percent of the time Ilsa forgets about the project entirely: she still asks for dessert regularly and tells me about eating cupcakes at school with an innocence that I find utterly charming. This morning we had oatmeal for breakfast, which I jazzed up by adding some lovely cut strawberries and blueberries. I was pretty impressed with myself, but she was not. After a few bites she said to me, “I wish we could have some maple syrup or something on this…” she thought for a moment, “But… we can’t? Because of the sugar…?” “Yes,” I said gently.

“But it’s not forever,” I added hopefully.

Now, promptly after this conversation I ‘m am fairly confident she went off to school and had her usual second breakfast of Frosted Flakes, (more about that in an upcoming post) so don’t fret too overly much on her behalf.

Meanwhile Greta, our ten year old, has a much more fully-developed consciousness about what it is we’re trying to do here and how she feels about all of it. Trouble is, that opinion varies from moment to moment. One minute she’s shocked, simply shocked that I am serving a frozen pizza to our family that has (gasp!) evaporated cane juice listed as the ninety-seventh ingredient… the next she’s eating Skittles at All School Meeting, or sneaking peppermints from the jar near a store cash register.

Hey- I’m no ogre. When Greta got that handful of Skittles, she reluctantly came over and asked me if she could eat them. She had been having an exceptionally hard day at school and a well-meaning soul had offered them in an attempt to cheer her up. I told her truthfully that I was going to leave it up to her- at which point she departed with lightning speed, presumably in case I decided to change my mind on that pronouncement.

I don’t think I’m going to though. We’re doing this project as a family, and for the most part the food of the family comes through one conduit: me. I do the vast majority of the menu planning, shopping and cooking in our house, not to mention lunch packing, so consequently the vast majority of what the kids eat is being affected by this experiment. In other words, while I am strict and very serious about sugar and it’s myriad faces, and following our rules to the fullest extent possible- am I going to be the Sugar Nazi? No. After all, this experiment is in part about teaching our children to make good, informed, conscious choices about what they put into their bodies. We have set up the guidelines, and already we’ve all learned a lot we didn’t know before about our food; but only they can figure out what this project specifically means for them.

Which for some reason makes a small victory like the other night’s birthday dessert all the more significant to me. After our traditional birthday meal of english muffin pizzas (after finding alternative, no-sugar brands of English Muffins and marinara sauce, or course) paired with some spinach, we stuck a candle in what I fervently hoped would be a delicious grand-finale… banana splits: bananas halved, banana ice cream (Steve’s famous single-ingredient recipe: frozen bananas he runs through the Champion juicer), topped with strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar (but omitting the called-for sugar), whipped cream (ditto) and a fresh cherry on top. PS- no added sugar.

It looked pretty decadent, but I was petrified. What if it was awful? What if it tasted like cardboard? I took a bite. Hey- wow! Happily, the girls were exclaiming as they ate- the banana ice cream was the key- perfect and sweet all on it’s own, creamy like the best gelato… and the cream and strawberries made it just the right amount more colorful and complex. I sighed a HUGE sigh of relief… and I began to think we might just make it through this project after all.


Information About The No Sugar Project