The weather here has been jumping back and forth between the 40s and 80s, which is a total tease for my hot-climate-loving self. I’ve been able to take advantage of a bit of the heat and sun by swapping out my favorite drink (hot green tea) for these tasty blended treats to sip on while studying on my back deck. These fruit drinks are refreshing, easy, and low-calorie for some guilt-free drinking.
I’m actually going to let you in on a little secret — I’ve went added-sugar-free for several weeks, cutting out everything from granulated white sugar to natural refined sugars such as honey, agave nectar, etc. Really, almost two months, if you count a few big cheats: coconut chess pie at Allen and Son’s BBQ with Kristy (worth it!), my week in San Diego, and half a box of chocolates on a particularly emotional day a bit ago. Hey, I’m not perfect 🙂 [On a sidenote, the fastest way to finish up half a pound of chocolates (other than eating them myself), is to set them out for two female roommates with a post-it saying “Help Yourself!” ;)]
You might wonder why (and trust me, my sweet-tooth self has been wondering that as well)! I am not here to preach, but just wanted to say that it’s part of a longer experiment in Paleo eating as well as a general shift to reduce my sugar intake. Paleo describes a diet/lifestyle that mimics pre-agricultural, whole-food eating habits, staying away from processed foods, dairy, grains, legumes, starchy foods, and sugars. There are plenty of resources online if you’re interested in learning more.
My reasons for going generally Paleo (I wasn’t 100% strict, and like I said, I cheated!) are more due to curiosity than anything else — I wondered if I could take on the challenge of cutting out some key food groups, such as rice/wheat, and whether I’d feel the difference. As someone who already has a diet low in processed foods and sugars (thanks, Mom, for setting a great example of a healthy diet!), but who recognizes that America’s overuse of refined sugars and carbs is a factor in the obesity and health problems that plague this country, I wondered if it would be difficult to do — and it surprisingly was! Yet doing this has helped me to be aware of mindless snacking and I have to say, I felt good, dare I say, great? My energy levels were high and stable, and I liked the feeling of “running clean.”
Do I believe all claims made by the diet? Although I understand generally where they are coming from, I am definitely on the fence about many. (Case in point: no legumes? No thanks. I’d like my tofu and lentils back, please!) Will I be refined-sugar-free for life? No, highly unlikely. I’ve been adding moderate amounts of sugar into my diet again, and I have to say I can tell the difference in both how I feel (it was very difficult at first, with sugar giving me bad headaches) and how I look (gained back the five pounds lost almost instantly). Although evidence is mounting on the ills of sugar (NYTimes: Is Sugar Toxic? 4/13/2011), I’m not sure I have the willpower to always say no to the sweets. Then again, I did do it for almost two months, so maybe I do.
This medium-term experiment has, however, made me much more conscious of what I put into my body, the ingredients in the few processed foods I do eat, what I cook and bake for myself, as well as alternatives to what I think of as “normal” foods. I’ve decided to try to minimize the amount of sugar I consume from here on out, although I will allow myself occasional treats and not stress about every gram.
You’ll likely see some of this experiment’s influence come up on future DtA posts. If you’re interested in a Paleo kick-start, try TheWhole30 challenge, a monthlong clean eating program.
Back to the recipes in this post: the grapefruit ginger slushie has just a hint of ginger for a bit of warmth and interest. You can alternately make it by infusing the grapefruit with some ginger slices (then removing the ginger), or making a ginger syrup (boil a little bit of water, sugar, and ginger slices). The easiest and laziest way, although it is may be too much for some tastes, is to just toss in a little bit of finely grated fresh ginger. I made the easy strawberry lemon tea with my favorite black looseleaf, Malaysia’s fragrant Boh.
Grapefruit Ginger Slushie
- 2 cups ice
- 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented (I try to keep as much of the white pith as possible for added fiber!)
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 a cup water or juice
- Sweetener to taste (if desired)
- Blend! Add more liquid if it isn’t cooperating.
Strawberry Lemon Iced Tea
- 4 tablespoons looseleaf black tea
- 1 pint of strawberries, hulled
- Juice of two lemons
- Sweetener, to taste
- In a large pot, pour 8 cups of boiling water over the black tea. Steep for ~3 minutes so that the tea doesn’t become bitter (adjust according to the tea you use), strain tea leaves out.
- Blend strawberries and lemon juice together until pureed — add sweetener to taste.
- If desired, strain fruit puree with a fine mesh strainer (recommended). Add to the tea and chill.