Thanksgiving ala No Added Sugar

November 20, 2018 § Leave a comment

Forget that stuffing in a box! Re-posting this video from two years ago, so you can follow along to make my favorite stuffing, with No Added Sugar. A holiday without a boatload of added sugar is not only possible but it is delicious and something you don’t have to feel guilty about afterwards!

Important note:Make the stuffing the day before, allowing the flavors to combine nicely.

Link to a post that has the full recipe for the Oyster Stuffing: https://eveschaub.com/2016/11/17/thanksgiving-stuffing-without-all-the-stuff/

Year of No Sugar on WCAX TV Interview

May 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Did Julie Kelley find a severed hand in my fridge? Clutching a donut? These questions and more answered in this lovely interview on WCAX TV! Click below to watch interview Part One, Part Two, and for Yet Still More Eve-talking-about-the-“S”-word, click on “Entire Interview” for the full half-hour Q & A.

Julie Kelley and Eve Schaub Author Year of No Sugar

Vermont family’s year with no sugar. Part 1

Year of No Sugar, Part 2.

‘Year of No Sugar’: Entire interview with Author Eve Schaub. 30 Min Q&A

A Year Of No Sugar: Post 87

December 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

There are times when I think we live in our own little small-town Vermont oasis, cushioned from the crazy things that are going on in the modern world. And then there are times that I know we do.

Take last Friday night for example. We took our kids to a city forty minutes away in New York, because we had see the Muppet Movie… and that was the closest place to see it. We had to navigate the run-of-the-mill-mall, of course, that post-apocalyptic wasteland of crap you don’t need and stuff to eat that isn’t food. It was fine- we have yucky malls in Vermont too.

Then there was the theatre: each movie was allotted what I would call a large walk-in closet of a seating area, presumably so that they have room to show forty-seven different movies simultaneously. I was surprised to be treated to an incessant stream of commercials jabbering away on the screen, instead of the customary silence before the previews start, or the local powerpoint slide show that graces our local two-screen theatre in Vermont.

Then there were the previews. A full half-hour of them. Huh. Would they show commercials during the movie too, I wondered?

At long last we got to the part in which sky-scraper-sized containers of Coke and monster-truck-sized boxes of Sour Patch Kids float cheerfully through space, alterting audience members to something they have surely overlooked: that the football-field sized counter in the lobby- you know, that sensory assault of colors and chemicals you walked past to get in here? Yeah- you can buy “refreshments” there.

It was there, I noticed, that you can now buy a tub of popcorn larger than your head– it’s about the size of a horse’s grain bucket. To go with it, you can buy a soda of Brobdignagian proportions that takes two hands to carry.

Lucky for us, we had already eaten. But after the movie ended my older daughter Greta really REALLY wanted a drink, so I approached the neon counter and ordered a small bottle of water.

“That’ll be $4.75, please.”

??

“Yes, $4.75.”

!!

Pause.

“Greta honey, we’re going to have to have to find you a drink somewhere else.” On the way out I explained to her the definition of the phrase “captive audience.”

Is it me, or is the world just getting too obscene to believe? Since when does a bottle of water cost nearly five dollars? (The large, in case you were wondering, was $6.75) Using this principle, a shower should cost about a thousand dollars.

And speaking of general societal insanity, let’s talk about the holidays. At our house, we’ve been inundated with reams of Christmas catalogs, a good third of which exclusively feature pornographic desserts- A cheesecake composed of fourteen distinct flavors! Brownies with caramel dipping sauce! A pudding inside a cookie inside a cake! The copy features slogans like “Chocolate: Happiness that you can eat!” and “Have one of each!”

Inundated

But the craziness doesn’t end there: it’s also at school. Holiday fundraising catalogs come home featuring “great gifts” such as cheap chocolates, chemical-laden soup packets, and mixes for cakes and cookies which aren’t hard to make in the first place. Flyers supplied by the local supermarkets encourage us to buy certain name brands to “Help Our Schools!”: “Bagel Bites,” “TGI Fridays” appetizers, and “Yoplait” yogurts filled with high fructose corn syrup. I love our school, but I resent the fact that I’m being encouraged to buy crap for our kids in the name of school spirit.

How are we supposed to eat healthy when so many forces are conspiring to make us just go along with the status quo? When a bottle of water costs five dollars? When the celebration of Christmas- or anything, really- is equated with eating dessert? When getting a snack from the concession stand requires the use of a hand-truck?

It’s one of the hard questions that never goes away… how do I raise a healthy child, in every sense, in mind, body and spirit? If we focus too much on good nutrition, will it backfire? How much are we willing to pull back from society at large, in order to eat healthy? For my part, I can only hope that our Year of No Sugar hasn’t backfired terribly, turning my kids into life-long sugarholics just to get back at me for it. We’ll see.

But I have hope. Just before the movie began, as the giant-junk-food-in space floated across the screen, Greta leaned over to me and whispered with a conspiratorial gleam in her eye, “Hey- It’s Sugar Heaven!

A Year Of No Sugar: Post 76

October 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s been a lot going on around here. Too much, really. First of all, a week and a half ago we made the heartbreaking decision to put down Tigger, our beloved dog who we’ve had ever since we moved to Vermont fourteen years ago. After years of struggling with arthritis and nerve damage, his back legs finally gave out and just wouldn’t work any more at all. The vet paid us a final visit; Steve dug a hole in the backyard for him and we buried him with his big floor pillow. Sigh.

A thing of beauty!

And then… remember how miserably sick I was recently? Well, it turns out whatever-it-is hasn’t entirely finished with me yet- for the past three weeks its been coming and going- waves of nausea hitting me when I least expect it and throwing me down for the count. And then- after a few minutes or hours- I’ll be fine again. I leave half-finished projects and half-finished meals behind me everywhere I go. It’s really bloody annoying.

Between these two tough events, it’s been pretty challenging keeping my eye on the No Sugar ball. We’re doing it, of course, but my heart isn’t always in it. Frequently, I’ve been desperate to have a meal that didn’t make me feel ill, and having to ask a waitress if there was a teaspoon of sugar in the soup or the sauce really seemed beside the point. In fact, it struck me as slightly inane. Once, in a last-ditch attempt to calm my unhappy stomach I ordered a soda in a restaurant and suddenly realized I didn’t even know if this establishment carried soda- it had been so long since I had even looked at a beverage menu. Why, of course they had soda! Where did I think we were, Mars? True confessions: I drank a third of an RC cola as “medicine” that day. It did seem to help.

I’ve been craving other weird stuff that seems appealing out of the corner of my eye- stuff I haven’t even looked at in months like… like… candy bars. I know! Weird right? I might as well be craving soap chips for all the likelihood that I’m going to eat that. I’m not pregnant, but it reminds me a lot of that time, and feeling crazy to eat something- anything that would taste good and feel good in my system.

Cooking at home has been especially tough since I often don’t feel well enough to stand for a whole hour composing our usual protein-starch-vegetable. Instead, I crave convenience-comfort food- all that great, easy, ready-in-twenty-minutes stuff that’s laden with four-million ingredients- (preferably if someone else has gone out, bought it and heated it up and placed it before me on a nice clean plate that someone else has washed) and of course that’s not going to happen anytime soon either, is it?

I know, I know- poor me, right? The fact that our family project is self-imposed, (not to mention my idea) and that there are billions of problems in the world right now that our family is lucky enough not to have is something I remind myself of regularly. Still, when you can’t enjoy your food, it is amazing how quickly your mood turns sour on everything.

But the stars were shining on me yesterday and I felt good pretty much all day… which was especially nice since it was my forty-first birthday. In our house, not only did this mean I got to have the usual hubbub of presents and balloons and your favorite meal for dinner… it also mean I got to pick the dessert– the official October dessert. I had been looking forward to this.

I was ready. I knew what I wanted: Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pie.

Have you ever had this? The best one of these I ever had is made by Sissy Hicks who now runs Sissy’s Kitchen in nearby Middletown Springs… the first time I had it at her former restaurant I thought I would pass out from delight. My husband Steve and I went to lunch there over and over again hoping to find it on the dessert menu again, only to be disappointed. Finally, Steve called Sissy and ordered a whole pie for my birthday celebration, which was great! Until it turned out to be a problem since it was soooooooo good that I couldn’t stop eating it. I had NO self-control: I would eat it and eat it until I literally felt ill. Remember when Miranda from Sex in the City puts her homemade chocolate cake in the garbage and then pours dish detergent over it to make herself stop eating it? This was kind of like that.

So when my husband proposed contacting Sissy again for my birthday dessert I got a little nervous. Plus, shouldn’t I be the one to make it? After all, I’ve made all of the Desert Island Desserts we’ve had this year with the exception of Steve’s Father’s Day A&W Root Beer Floats…

This is the point at which my good friend Katrina stepped in.

“You can’t make your own birthday cake!” she exclaimed, “Give me the recipe. I’ll make it.” And that is what she did. Consequently, last night we had one of the cheeriest birthday celebrations I can remember. Katrina and her kids joined our family for a lovely dinner. It wasn’t big or fancy or elaborate or expensive. It was just my favorite meal (beef stroganoff- thank you Steve!) followed by my favorite dessert (made with gluten-free graham cracker crust so even Katrina could have it!) in the company of some of my favorite people in the world. The kids were running around trying to make water balloons and squealing at everything. The phone kept ringing with birthday wishes. I felt very celebrated.

So the next time I feel tempted to feel sorry for myself, when I feel icky or deprived or sad at the inevitabilities of life- illness, death- I should definitely remember this night. Sometimes happiness can be so elusive. Other times, it just shows up.

A Year Of No Sugar: Post 65

August 13, 2011 § 1 Comment

This week a dream of mine came true. I didn’t go skydiving or meet the Dalai Lama or get better at hacky sack. No- I’ve spent the entire week in Putney, Vermont learning to weave.

It was all Katrina’s idea; Katrina, of course, is my DFFFF (Dear Friend and Fellow Fiber Freak.) Consequently, she and I have been on the campus of a private boarding school, living a college-like existence: dorm rooms, communal bathrooms, dining hall meals. Once-upon-a-time a decade or two ago I recall being vaguely impatient with such circumstances, longing for my own first apartment, my own private bathroom, my very own kitchen to cook in. This week however, I’m older and wiser, and I’m definitely not complaining.

Here, instead of being “mom,” I’m the one being cooked and cleaned for, the one being asked “What would you like to do?” and “Would this be fun?” People give me emergency cell phone numbers to call in case I need anything. (!) All day long the choices I make aren’t which errands are the most life-threateningly in need of getting done, or which rooms of the house are so dirty that we should just shut the doors to them and pretend they don’t exist anymore, or whether putting in another video for the kids so I can write will mean I will win the Bad Mom Award. Instead I wonder: should I read?… Or go back to the weaving studio? Then again, maybe I should knit.

I’m feeling very luxurious and pampered here in my dorm room (in which nothing is overflowing, lost, or mouldering), with my communal bathroom (that I don’t have to clean) and the dining hall that provides balanced meals three times per day like clockwork and requires no clean up on my part! Now this is a vacation.

But wait, there’s more! The food? It’s good. You might already know this since I’ve been enthusiastically tweeting about it all week. Turns out Putney School food is not only exceptionally good for what is- essentially- a high school cafeteria, but is remarkably easy for No-Added-Sugar-me to eat. And the reason why is simple: they make virtually everything here.

They get milk from cows on the campus. They have an imposing brick oven for baking wonderful homemade bread and foccacia. They make all their own salad dressings. They make their own rolls and sauces and desserts… all the danger zones one encounters in other public eating situations in which the people who work there have no idea what is in the food.

Let’s stop and think about that for a moment because I think this very bizarre concept bears repeating: many, if not most restaurants, cafeterias, delis, snack bars and diners have no idea what is in the food. I know because I’ve been asking all year long. The reason they don’t know is because much of the food you’re getting in these establishments is being bought from someone else in huge quantities, in bulk packaging, with dozens of ingredients in them. You can bet sugar, in it’s myriad forms, is in there in all kinds of places we wouldn’t expect, as well as a lot of other crap we’d rather not think about.

Not here. Elsewhere, my sugar questions are often met with strange looks, and my hopes of eating a particular item are usually dashed when they do check on it in the kitchen. Here, the chef’s assistant inevitably laughs good-naturedly at me.

“The cream sauce? Sugar? Naw! Here’s what’s in it…” And he then proceeds to rattle off five or six ingredients, all of which are actual, normal food items you’d actually recognize.

Want more? Okay, one day they offered an alternative dessert: plain yogurt with blueberries. Wait- a dessert, not at home, that I can eat? Shut up! Really? Yes, it’s true. Remember how we saw this same dessert offered repeatedly in Northern Italy? Then I was in awe of the Italians. Now I am in awe of the Putney KDU. (Short for Kitchen and Dining Unit, of course.)

So needless to say, I’ve had fun, lots of it. And when I haven’t been enjoying the free time, independence and good, homemade meals, I actually did learn to weave too. But I’m happy to report that food can still be a simple, delicious, straightforward matter of fresh ingredients prepared well. Even in a high school cafeteria. Really.

A Year of No Sugar: Post 16

January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s funny, but the more I want to define “sugar-free,” the more elusive the concept becomes. It reminds me of the time in college when my roommate and I went to the local co-op. We were both delighted to find local milk in returnable glass bottles, but when the time came to buy more milk, she said, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just get milk at the regular store and pour it into the glass bottle?” Turns out, while I had been enamored of the environmentally-responsible aspect of using a returnable glass bottle, she had been enjoying the fact that the glass bottle was pretty. Lesson learned: the end does not necessarily define the means.

So it is with “sugar-free”: a term which may seem self-explanatory, but it’s definition may all depend on how you got there. You may be surprised to learn that often “sugar-free” does not, in fact, actually indicate an item or recipe that is free-of-sugar.

Let me give you a for-instance. A few days ago I started looking for recipes that might aid our family in our year without sugar- in particular recipes which might have a dessert-y feel to them. However, when you google “no sugar dessert recipes” you get everything from recipes containing agave, molasses, honey, or apple juice to recipes calling for your favorite “sugar substitute,” (Splenda, Sweet N’ Low, etc.) to those which call for “only” a tablespoon of sugar. So defining “sugar-free” is going to depend a lot on your reason for avoiding sugar in the first place. Are you avoiding sugar due to: diabetes? Trying to lose weight? Just generally trying to be more healthy?

As it turns out, our society is so sugar-saturated that the majority of “no-sugar” recipes I found… have sugar in them, or at least artificial sweeteners. Here’s an idea: how about including no sweeteners at all? But I’m being intentionally naïve, because the whole point of plastering the words “no-sugar” on a product/recipe is code for “but it’s still sweet– amazing!!”

Similarly, we all know when we peruse the aisles of the supermarket not to pick up the items labeled “sugar-free” unless we like consuming chemicals which cause a high percentage of laboratory rats to become amnesiac lepers with terrible foot odor. In restaurants, for maximum clarity, instead of asking for “sugar-free” anything, I say this: “I’m not eating sugar. I was wondering if the pickled beef tongue has any form of sugar as an ingredient?” which is about as clear as I can be.

On a related note, it finally occurred to me today to do a search to see if a project such as ours had been done before. And, like so many things involving sugar, the answer is a resounding yes, but no. I admit I trembled a bit when, after googling “year of no sugar” an entire page came up of seemingly similar bloggers who had gotten there before me- years before in some cases. But then I looked closer and was pleased to see that there are some very key differences.

For one thing, every no-sugar blog I found excluded only “man-made” or refined sugars such as white sugar, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. One blog entitled “my years without sugar” (myyearwithout.blogspot.com) lists 100% fruit juice, molasses and pure maple syrup as some of her favorite natural sweeteners. Another at healthylifestyleforu.com described savoring oatmeal raisin cookies containing honey and molasses.

For another thing, every blogger I found was going it alone- no baby, children or husbands on board. In our case, it’s our whole family, all four of us, which does indeed give me nightmares that I am torturing our children and giving them future eating complexes and therapy fodder, thanks for asking. But it seemed pretty much useless to me to do anything otherwise- we are a family, we eat as a family. If we can’t do this together- and if we can still remains to be seen- then that’s a more valuable insight to me than anything I could ever do successfully all by myself.

So I have to say, the fact that our project is forging, perhaps, some new ground makes me feel pretty good. Alone. But good.

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