I Quit Sugar: a few questions and misconceptions addressed

It was nice to get a little flurry of comments after my last post, in which I explained my having hopped aboard the I Quit Sugar bandwagon. A few comments and questions came out of that that I thought I would address for anyone considering taking part but feeling scared to*.

1. I can’t give up carbs!

Great, you don’t have to! I’ve eaten bread, pasta, noodles, rice (and rice crackers) and sundry other carbs throughout. While watching sugar will naturally reduce the amount of carbs you have overall, fructose is the only thing you’re really watching for. If you have had an indulgent day and want to get yourself back on track it can be helpful to also cut out grains for a day. Plus many of the carb-based recipes that are included are GF or paleo or reduced grain, because this also reduces sugars and increases fats. But it’s primarily not a low-carb diet.

2. I could just rule out processed sugar and have natural sugars…

Yeah, at least for me, for this shiz to work, I had to nix all sources of fructose, including fruit, for the cold turkey part of the programme. Otherwise I find that the cravings are just as severe – and now that I’ve started including the odd helping of fruit here and there I notice it immediately. Sarah Wilson specifically talks about reintroducing – and not demonsing – fruit but keeping it to no more than about two portions a day. This actually chimes with general health advice to get the bulk of your five (or eight, or whatever) a day from vegetables.

3. I couldn’t give up the occasional glass of wine.

You don’t have to do that either. I’ve had a glass here and there throughout (though I’ve found my inclination to drink has taken a nosedive and I’ll just have one drink – or even half – when I do). Wine is actually low-fructose, as are some spirits provided you stick to no-sugar mixers.

I actually had my first bite of dessert the other day at a family lunch, though technically I shouldn’t have for another two weeks. It was one of my favourite kinds of things, and I took a spoonful gladly. And then, having tasted it, I didn’t want any more. I tried one other mouthful – of something else I like but rarely get to eat – and that was quite enough too. It sated my desire for sweetness and being sociable, and then I was done. And, in fact, the next day I felt a bit snacky and substantially bloated, so I wasn’t in any vast hurry to try again.

This doesn’t sound so incredible unless you consider that prior to this I had virtually no impulse control when it came to sweet treats. I texted my friend who got me on the programme with the words “IS THIS HOW NORMAL PEOPLE EAT?!”. It feels really weird to see longer gaps appearing between meals, less snacking, fewer cravings and no propensity to eat until painfully stuffed.

I’m into week six now. I look forward to regrouping at the end of week eight and sharing my thoughts, observations and tips. But so far, so amazingly freakin’ good.

*Why are we so scared of this stuff? Me included! We want to cling to our routines like they’re the only possible way to live, even when they’re hurting us. Ah, humans.

Cooking with rhubarb and small children

Since my headline is anything but, I’d like to make it absolutely clear I didn’t cook Ramona. The idea is occasionally tempting.

So, for the full explanation of our adventures in growing rhubarb, and a great recipe for stuffing apples with rhubarb, see Great British Chefs. Because, yes, I’ve been lucky enough to get another post featured and I am One. Happy. Woman. With any luck – and if I can pull my finger out – this will be a slightly more regular occurrence. I’m feeling sufficiently buoyed by my unusually positive experience with an almost-three-year-old in the kitchen that I might let down my guard further and attempt something a bit more complicated.

It might also involve rhubarb, because I’m getting a little wee bit obsessed with it. Every time a tiny shoot of it gets large enough to munch on, I rip it up, slice it fairly thinly and simmer it in a small puddle of melted butter with a sprinkling of sugar so that it becomes a soft, eye-wateringly tart and delicious compote for porridge or yogurt – and even, one morning, a toast topping. Sadly, I can’t much get Ramona involved in this process – knives! hobs! hot butter! – though I did use the magic of Sam I Am to get her to try the resulting gloop after she announced without tasting it that she didn’t like it. She then stole the remainder in my bowl and snaffled it happily.

As an aside: she’s actually not at all a fussy eater – her key list of dislikes at the moment amounts to peanut butter and bell peppers, and even then she’d eat the latter if they were cooked and concealed. Not exactly things she can’t live without, anyway; we get no-sugar-added peanut butter, but it still has plenty of unnecessary salt.

My challenge now is how to eat more rhubarb without eating more sugar. I already eat far too much and am looking to make some reductions; nothing terrifying, just making sure most of the sugar I eat comes from vegetables and fruit, rather than being added, and that I reduce the amount of baked goods I eat in general, including bread.

So how is unsweetened rhubarb to be eaten, short of wincing and gulping until my battered taste buds learn to cope (that’s an option)? In a fit of attempted common-sense thinking, I loaded up the fruit bowl with apples, on the basis that perhaps mixing the ‘barb with sweeter fruit would increase the fructose content overall and balance out the tartness. Perhaps a few berries in there as well?

And what about potentially including it in savoury food? Or is that too Masterchef? All suggestions welcome.

When we moved in, back in September, there was still loads of rhubarb growing, so I’m hoping we’re going to get the Doctor Who of rapidly regenerating crops here. There are at least four crowns of it growing away, and one even survived my ill-conceived (and, it must be said, ill-intentioned) butchery in those days before I actually tried eating it and discovered its awesomeness. It’s possible Green Eggs and Ham has struck a chord with more than one Goldstein.

And to finish this vague ramble about what I reckon could be the most divisive vegetable since Brussels sprouts, some photos I didn’t use for GBC. Outtakes, if you will. No, I can’t explain the random heap of aubergines in the background, and yes, I would normally use actual butter but we’d run out.