Day Four of the Sugar Challenge and a Salad Discussion

March 11, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– Plain yogurt with frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries)

– 2 slices of banana bread with peanut butter (the very last of the banana bread! Sighs)

– My own “trail mix” of almonds and raisins (seriously, the raisins are so sweet!)

– Salad with spinach, tomatoes, celery, carrots, green pepper, asparagus, roast chicken, and homemade hummus

– 2 apples with cheddar cheese

– 1 1/2 bowls of garlicky quinoa with shrimp and chickpeas


– 1 glass of a smoothie (made with plain yogurt, banana, frozen berries, and POM juice, of which there will be a product review for in the future!)

– A plate of leftover roast chicken with roast potatoes and carrots

– A very little taste of pasta made with goat cheese, tomatoes, spinach, and asparagus

– Spoonful of peanut butter (I’m pretty sure that peanut butter is the answer to all of life’s sugar problems)

So much for not being hungry… hehe.

In my last post, Rupal asked in the comments: Are you having any cravings for sweets at all?

Surprisingly, no. The first day I wanted something sweet after eating dinner, but it wasn’t a really strong craving. There wasn’t anything in particular that I wanted to eat, just a generalized “I could go for something sweet…” so the banana was a fine solution. The second day I came across a recipe for chocolate cupcakes dunked in ganache which looked amazing, but because I have been careful to eat enough food and my tummy was satisfied, the cravings weren’t intensely strong. Eating fattier foods like all the nut butters and cheese is also helping a lot, and the sweetness from the banana bread has been doing wonders to quench my sweet tooth. I have been craving more savory dishes, as well, than sweet ones. I think that my normal hankering for fruit has actually decreased these past few days; I’m used to eating about 5 servings of fruit alone each day (I know, it’s a bit excessive:)).


Normally I get in a lot of veggies by eating vegetable-laden sandwiches. That’s not an option this week, so salads it is! The base of the salad should, of course, be vegetables. Any kind of veggies will do. I love tomatoes especially because they are so juicy and can add a sauce-like aspect if you want to go sauce-free on your greens (don’t trust salad dressings!); a squeeze of lemon juice has the same effect (from a real lemon. Don’t trust bottles of lemon juice, either).

Try grilling or sauteing some of the vegetables to vary up the flavor a bit rather than just having all of them raw. Asparagus is nice grilled on the George Foreman. Lots of textures and even the change in smell of the vegetables can make it that much more appetizing.

I want my salads to be just as satisfying and filling as if there were a couple slices of bread thrown into the mix, so here are some ideas for jazzing up salads when bread isn’t an option and you don’t want potentially sugary dressings:

– Hard boiled egg

– Homemade hummus

– Crumbled cheese (think feta, brie, or goat cheese) or grated cheese (like cheddar or Parmesan)

– Quinoa or canned corn

– A mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil

– Herbs and spices (think of caprese salads with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella!)

– Fresh fruit (try apple or mango slices) or dried fruit (raisins and cranberries are nice)

– Chickpeas (straight from the can) or nuts/seeds (walnuts are a common salad topping)

– Smoked salmon, roast chicken or beef, canned tuna and a host of other meats are tasty; a little goes a long way in salads

I am not much of an avocado person unless it’s in my sushi but it is a good way to add creamy texture to salads if you enjoy it. Get creative; just a few spoonfuls of leftover stir fries or one-pot/pan dishes can add a really nice burst of flavor to your salad. Brown some ground turkey or beef, break up some homemade crackers and mix it all together with veggies and cheese for a new take on the classic taco salad.

Deconstructing Salads was a discussion we had way back in July, so check it out for some more salad ideas.

Questions about the sugar challenge? Suggestions or advice relating to any of this? You know where to leave them!


  1. I love hummus in my salads. In fact I always forgo the dressing for hummus, which usually has a ton more flavor than the dressing anyway!!

    You may not be a big fan of avacado’s but how about guacamole? Just mash up some avacados, add some salt, pepper, onions, tomatoes, lime juice and cayenne if you fancy and its a fab addition to any salad!!

    For sweets, have you tried frozen grapes? They are so delish!

    You’re doing great with this Sagan! Inspiring me to go suga-free! Maybe in a couple weeks (I have a vacation coming up, so maybe after that!)

    have a great day!

  2. Lovely quinoa-chickpea dish!!

  3. That quinoa dish looks soooo very good!

    Why didn’t I ever think of hummus in salads? I love hummus…and maybe that would motivate me to eat more salads?

    You are inspiring me…I love sugar so much, but I might give this a whirl in a few weeks. πŸ™‚ Great job!

  4. I eat a lot of large salads! Salad dressings are the challenge, like you said. I always use fat free, and do not use too much, but sugar, etc is the obvious problem with store bought. I could probably put something together, or make a decent dressing if I had the inclination.

    Thanks for the update, and encouragement!

  5. Great information for a salad eater like me! Thanks Sagan!!

  6. Wow! Thanks for all the good salad ideas! You’re doing so well on this no sugar trial, I’m starting to think I might be able to do it too!

  7. LOVE hummus as a salad dressing πŸ™‚ and great looking quinoa!

  8. love hummus as a salad dressing as, for some reason, dressings make me gag.

    TMI? sure.

    but youll have that from me πŸ˜‰

  9. I’ve been eating a lot of the same things.

    I didn’t realize you’d posted so much (going back to read the past posts).

  10. That quinoa dish sounds great! I really am racking up quite the “to make” list while reading blogs abroad :). Ha, anyway, I think this sugar challenge is such a good idea and I’m so glad to hear that it’s working out so well for you. Sounds like you’re really eating some nutritious sugar-free foods without deprivation. I would totally join in but I just brought some sweets back from my travels… next wee?k πŸ˜‰

  11. Rupal- thanks for the ideas! I’m not big on guacamole either but one day πŸ™‚

    VeggieGirl & ttfn300- it’s sooo good.

    Holly & Meg- if you do, let me know how it goes!

    MizFit- I don’t like most salad dressings, my nose wrinkles at them hehe.

    Tricia- its just for the food diary aspect of it- wanted to keep everyone posted on exactly the kinds of things I’m eating and to show that we don’t need added sugars to have a balanced diet πŸ™‚

    Danielle- maybe when you’re done traveling- you wouldn’t want to miss out on any exciting foods there!

  12. that’s what sugar does- it buirns off fast so it makes you crave more for quick energy. you dont get sugar cravings because you want sugar, your body wants energy, so if you give it healthy energy instead, it stops asking for sugar.

    i think the new nutrition postings are going to help people realize that salads are NOT always the best option

  13. Personally, I don’t see anything excessive about 5 servings of fruit per day. It’s perfectly normal. πŸ™‚

  14. We used to have salads for lunch all the time (not a big fan of day old bread so we almost never eat it) and they are really satisfying, even breakfast salads…mmmm…

    My favourite salad dressing is dijon mustard mixed with tahini and a bit of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and a dash of olive oil. Very creamy and adds alot of zing. Not sure if dijon mustard has sugar in it – I just ran to the fridge to find out by we’re all out.

  15. I love putting all sorts of things on my salad. I was wishing that I had some sunflower seeds the other day! πŸ™‚

  16. Peanut butter is the answer to most of life’s problems, not just the sugar-related ones!

  17. That quinoa looks delish!!! Do you have a recipe for it?

    Hard boiled eggs are my favourite thing to add to salads! They are so tasty!

  18. Enjoy reading about your progress. Testing the comment…

  19. I usually like pineapple, pears, or strawberries on my salads. Cottage cheese is a fun one. I also sometimes sprinkle a little garlic salt on top just to ad some flavor.

    The salad looks great. Especially the quinoa =) Yum!

  20. Kelly- Mmm. I do like the “taste” of energy πŸ˜‰

    Cammy- ooh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    Spring Girl- that sounds delicious. Dijon mustard is great in dressings and the creaminess would be lovely… just checked my own dijon and it is free of sugars! (but I don’t think I’ll be using it… not sure how long it’s been hiding in the back of my fridge for…)

    Natalia- heart. Salads.

    Mary Anne- Hear hear!

    Meaghen- the recipe is coming! Check back tomorrow and I’ll have a link to it.

    Fitness Surfer- ooh I like the garlic salt idea.

  21. I’m so proud of you! I love reading about all of the foods you’ve managed to eat despite not eating sugar. PS – I discovered carob when I went through a simliar phase. It isn’t for everyone since it is pretty unique in taste, but I absolutely love it!! πŸ™‚

  22. Awesome, I see we’re both on a salad kick! Yes, grilled veggie are AWESOME on salads. One thing I like to do is saute mushrooms, red onions and green peppers in a little olive oil, add some fresh parsley at the end, then dump that on a bed of greens and drizzle with balsamic vinegar plus some fresh parmesan cheese. SO good.

    Oh, and that chickpea/quinoa dish looks superb, by the way.

  23. Your quinoa dish looks delicious!

  24. Juliet- ooh must look for carob πŸ˜€

    Monica- oh wow that sounds tasty! You know how to make a REAL salad.

    Biz319- it tastes as good as it looks πŸ˜‰

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