Sugar-Free September Recap

Fall is here

It’s October, and that means it’s officially full on pumpkin season and the end of Sugar-Free September. Although I intended to celebrate with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, I had such a successful sugar-free experience that I’m planning to continue on with this low-sugar lifestyle.

I managed to avoid most added sugars, and definitely reduced my intake of those sneaky added sugars in products like cereal, bread, dressings and sauces. When I did indulge in some sugar, it was the obvious kind including desserts when I visited my friends in Ottawa, and at the wedding I went to this past weekend.

Looking back at the month, I ate added sugars only on 5 occasions, which is a huge accomplishment once you realize how many products have added sugars that many of us eat each day.

By avoiding added sugars during Sugar-Free September, I lost 5 pounds, fit back into my skinny jeans, and got through most of the month entirely craving free! Like last year, I definitely feel like abstaining from sugar has a big effect on my mood and energy. I found that I was having an easier time waking up, and hitting snooze less often. I also felt that I wasn’t experiencing many emotional ups and downs and felt consistently good all month despite quite a lot of stress at work and with the wedding.

I’m going to continue avoiding added sugars as much as possible. While I’m not aiming for 100% adherence, I’m going to continue checking labels at the grocery store, and avoiding products with added sugars. I think I’ll ease up on my Stevia ban though.

This year, with the wedding planning craziness, I didn’t have as much time to experiment with sugar-free recipes. Last year I made some fun ones like Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie and Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice “Nice” Cream, which I served up at Sugar-Free Thanksgiving.

pumpkin pie - sugar-free

This year I mostly stuck to the basics and avoided products with added sugars without trying to find sugar-free substitutes. While a lot of products contain added sugars, fortunately plenty of foods don’t, so I didn’t struggle with finding foods to eat. It just meant that I avoided most packaged, processed foods and stuck to the good stuff: lots of healthy veg, fruit and protein.

For more on quitting sugar, check out these links from around the web:

Quitting sugar for weight loss
Giving up sugar with the team up technique
Lots of sugar-free recipes
Tips from a sugar-addict
Sugar-free pumpkin recipes for fall
This blogger went sugar-free and loved it
An interview about quitting sugar
These people quit sugar
An e-book guide to going sugar-free in 5 weeks
Are you a serious sugar addict? There’s an inpatient program for that!

Saying ‘I do': New Year’s Eve Wedding Decor – Choosing a theme

End the party with a sparkler send-off.    Kellee Khalil: How To Host A Glamourous New Year's Eve Wedding:

I absolutely love decorating. Home decor, holiday decor, party decor–I love it all. When we decided on our New Year’s Eve date, I knew I was going to have so much fun with the decor. I already think weddings are one of the occasions where it’s totally ok to be a little over the top, and NYE was going to take it to a whole new level.

One of the discussions Mike had early on in the wedding planning process was whether we wanted to go with winter decor or NYE decor. That decision could take us in totally different directions. And we went back and forth on it a lot! I’d come across an item like anter place card holders and want to go winter and then I’d see photos like these and want to go NYE.

There’s so much you can do with a winter theme! A winter wedding can be so glamorous and romantic. Imagine walking into a winter wonderland.

My wedding prob won't be in the winter so "winter wonderland" won't really apply but I think this would be cute with regular green trees anyway:

Winter Wonderland Wedding • Photography by: de Belle Photography | Concept and design by: Carte Blanche |  Dishware, stemware & flatware by: Bravo Rentals Table & chairs by: Joe’s Prop House |  Cake by: Sweet Couture |  Location: Snow Village / Parc Jean-Drapeau - See more at:


My preferred look is more the rustic side of winter decor. I remember describing my early ideas for our wedding decor as ‘cabin chic’. I imagined pine cones and furs, welcome hot chocolates, and the coziness of a ski lodge.

Greenery Garland Tabletop Continue Reading

Bye, bye sugar cravings – Sugar-Free September Update

I’m 3 weeks into Sugar-Free September, so it’s time for an update. Since January, I’ve lost just about 19 pounds! (almost 20 lbs! crazy!) Almost 5 of those pounds have dropped off in just the last 3 weeks since I quit sugar with Sugar-Free September.

How has dropping sugar helped me drop the pounds?

Since I’ve been consistently logging my food on MyFitnessPal all year, I was excited to pull up the report that showed my sugar intake. I was sure that even though I hadn’t cut out natural sugars, cutting out those added sugars would have made a big impact. When I pulled up my report, I was actually a little bit disappointed!

I’ve been doing such a good job of avoiding added sugars. Not a single candy has passed these lips! But looking at this little graph, my sugar intake doesn’t really seem any different than the previous couple months when I wasn’t avoiding added sugars.sugar

When I looked a bit more closely, I did see some interesting things. My (added) sugar-free period is only 3 weeks long so far, so I don’t have a whole lot of data to go on, but it does seem to me like my sugar consumption is a little more steady. In the preceding weeks, it seems like every few days, my sugar consumption would spike up before dropping down again. I think that this is illustrating in a nice graphical form, my pattern of diligently sticking to my healthy diet before finally giving in to those sugar cravings before again re-committing to my diet.

Could avoiding added sugars be helping me avoid that sugar cravings cycle even if it hasn’t drastically reduced my overall sugar intake? Continue Reading

Saying ‘I do': NYE wedding invitations

New Year's Eve Wedding Invitations

The wedding invites came in this week and they turned out exactly as I’d hoped! While I won’t share the final product here until my guests have received them, since I’m pretty excited about them, I thought I’d do a quick blog about the process.

Way back in March, I sent out e-Save the Date cards using When guests received the Save the Date in their email, they were prompted to enter their mailing address, so that we’d have them ready to go for the formal invitations. While about 60% of our guests responded with their addresses, I recently used to send the remaining non-responders a reminder and request to complete their address information. Now I have 90% of the addresses, which makes following up individually with those last few people a pretty easy process. A few people did have a bit of trouble with the cards and couldn’t figure out how to open them or how to enter their addresses, but the large majority had no issue at all. As a side note, it wasn’t our older guests who had trouble with it, either :)New Year's Eve Wedding Invitations

When it came time to order my invitations, I had hoped to order them through, too, since despite their name, they do offer paper cards. However, it turns out that they don’t ship to Canada. Continue Reading

Oven-Roasted Drumsticks & Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts GIVEAWAY

I received a free package of Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Havest to review on the blog. All opinions described in this review are my own.

Oven-roasted chicken drumsticks breaded with hemp heartsSince my last weight-loss update, I’m now down another 3 lbs for a total loss of 18 lbs since January. Woohoo! As I’ve mentioned before, increasing protein intake has really helped me feel full longer, and it has gone a long way in helping me stick to my weight-loss goals.

In addition to filling up on healthy high protein foods like meat, eggs, yogurt, and nuts, I’d started regularly using protein powder, which I added to my low-sugar green smoothies. My favourite protein powders are from Kaizen and Vega, both of which offer delicious protein powders in a whole variety of flavours (I usually stick with vanilla or chocolate).

But for Sugar-Free September, I’m avoiding Stevia in addition to other added sugars and sweeteners, so my usual protein powders are off limits for the month.

Just in time for Sugar-Free September, Manitoba Harvest generously sent me a package of their hemp hearts to try. Hemp seeds are a great, sugar-free source of plant-based protein. Each 30 gram serving contains 10 grams of protein. Hemp hearts have a subtle nutty flavour and can be blended into smoothies, stirred into sauces and soups, and baked into muffins and cakes. I’ve been enjoying them sprinkled on salads, stirred into oatmeal and today I’m sharing a recipe for Oven-Roasted Drumsticks with a hemp heart breading. Hemp Hearts are a great protein sourceHemp breaded chicken drumsticks

For even more protein, Manitoba Harvest offers a selection of protein powders. (Also, looking forward to trying these hemp snack bites!) Manitoba Harvest’s manufacturing facilities are exclusively dedicated to hemp products, which eliminates the risk of cross-contamination with allergens, including peanuts, which can be a challenge with other protein powders.

Manitoba Harvest is offering one lucky reader the opportunity to try their Hemp Hearts, too. For your chance to win, enter the contest with Rafflecopter below. Winners must be from Canada or the US.

A winner will be randomly selected on September 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oven-Roasted Drumsticks Breaded w/ Hemp Hearts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Chicken drumsticks are coated with Dijon mustard and crushed garlic then breaded with hemp hearts and oven-roasted for a simple, crispy yet tender, high-protein dish.
Serves: 4
  • 8 chicken drumsticks (bone-in with skin)
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts
  • 2 tbs bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel
  3. In a shallow bowl, mix mustard with crushed garlic
  4. In another bowl, combine hemp hearts, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper
  5. Roll chicken in mustard mixture and then thoroughly coat with bread crumb mixture
  6. Place chicken on pan greased with coconut oil
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 30 minutes
  8. For extra crispiness, broil for 2 minutes

Hemp-Breaded Chicken Drumsticks

What about Stevia? – Sugar-Free September

For Sugar-Free September, I set out guidelines that prohibited all added sugars, including added natural sugars like dried fruit and fruit juice. I also chose to eliminate Stevia. Extracted from a plant, Stevia is a natural and zero calories sweetener that can be used in granular or liquid form, and can be substituted for refined sugar in just about everything. So why did I eliminate Stevia for Sugar-Free September?


Current evidence tells us that Stevia looks pretty ideal when it comes to sweeteners. While older studies were a bit disconcerting, based on the most recent studies, Stevia doesn’t increase appetite or mess with insulin resistance, Stevia doesn’t damage DNA, and despite some concerns, Stevia doesn’t cause infertility (phew!). But it might be a bit of a problem for people with low blood pressure. Continue Reading

LOW-CALORIE Grilled Chicken Fettuccine w/ Almond-Basil Pesto | nuPasta

low-calorie pasta

Last week, Mike and I went to the Ex. I really don’t like rides because they’re terrifying and I just end up feeling nauseous, but I promised I’d go on at least one ride, so I did. And it was awful and I felt nauseous for the rest of the night. So since I hate rides, the thing I usually look forward to at the fair is all the food! With Sugar-Free September in full swing, funnel cake, soft-serve and deep-fried Mars bars were obviously off limits. It was a bit of a bummer :( But the other thing I really enjoy about the Ex, are all the vendor booths selling all their As Seen on TV-style products. A couple years ago we got a great deal on our Vitamix, which totally changed my smoothie-making life.

This year, I picked up two new products. The first was a jewelry cleaner, which made my ring super sparkly, and the second is this super low calorie pasta called nuPasta.

low-calorie pasta

Since I’ve been calorie counting, I usually avoid pasta, since it’s such a calorie bomb. I’d much rather eat spaghetti squash or spiralized veg noodles, since that saves me a whole lot of calories that are better put towards a nice sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan (or dessert).

I’d heard about “miracle noodles” before, some sort of super low-cal pasta that I’d also heard smelled pretty fishy. When I saw the nuPasta booth at the Ex, I was excited to try the sample they were dishing out. I gave nuPasta a try, and with no hint of fishy smell, I was quickly sold and I picked up a box of each: spaghetti, fettuccine, and angel hair. Continue Reading

Kicking off Sugar-Free September 2015

If you haven’t checked your calendar yet, it’s September 1st today! That means it’s the first day of Sugar-Free September. It also means that we’re now 4 months away from my wedding. Crunch time! We still have so much to do. Ahhhh!

Last year, I was a lot more organized going into Sugar-Free September, and I cleared my cupboards and fridge of all the foods that didn’t follow the guidelines. Remember the shocking amount of groceries that I had that contained sugar?

Sugar-Free September

This year, I haven’t gotten around to doing that, and it almost got be caught up. I was quickly throwing together a salad to bring to work for lunch, and I tossed in a packet of Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. Hey, wait a minute! Even in my sleepy state, it fortunately occurred to me that those salad dressings definitely contain sugar. That wouldn’t have been a good start to Sugar-Free September. I quickly mixed up my own sugar-free Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (2 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, a little Dijon mustard). Ta-da! Quick and easy and absolutely no sugar required!


Making my own salad dressings is one of those things that I get into the habit of doing until I totally fall out of the habit again. Here’s to 30 days of making my own salad dressings!

Happy (Sugar-Free) September!

Don’t think you can give up sugar for 30 days? Read some of my tips for sticking to your diet (without really trying). Continue Reading

Saying ‘I do': Wearing a veil – yes or no?

Bride's 1.8-mile veil is world's longest

Would (did) you wear a veil on your wedding day?

There’s a reason that they always jack a bride up with a veil on Say Yes to the Dress. If the white gown doesn’t do the trick, then the veil definitely screams bride.

Like wedding bands, a veil is something I vaguely knew I’d consider during my wedding planning, but it certainly wasn’t anything I had any very defined opinions on. At some point during my wedding dress shopping, I decided that I was going to wear one. There’s just something about a veil that really pulled the look together for me. Once that was decided, I realized that it wasn’t as easy as that, since there are countless styles to choose from!

Who knew that sticking a piece of tulle on my head could get so complicated?

Veil styles.

There are a few consideration when it comes to choosing the right veil; length, number of tiers and embellishments are among those choices.

One tier or two? Short or long? Lace or rhinestones?

One of my favourite looks is a simple, raw edge fingertip veil.

Bride with fingertip veil and trumpet gown. See more stunning veil trends here:

[source] Continue Reading

Sugar-free for 30 days!

It is completely blowing my mind that it’s already the end of August and September is just around the corner. Where has this summer gone?!

You might remember that last year, I went sugar-free for 30 days last September. It was a great experience because it caused me to pay close attention to how much sugar I was really eating every day in the form of sneaky hidden sugars. Since my last Sugar-Free September, I’ve kept up the habit of avoiding unnecessary added sugars in products like yogurt, pasta sauce and especially cereal.

I don’t think we’ve bought a single box of cereal with added sugar all year! Cereal is just one of the many products that contains added sugar, but it’s a great example of how a small decision to avoid added sugars can have a big impact on your overall sugar intake.

Before Sugar-Free September 2014, one of my favourite breakfast cereals was Quaker Oats Harvest Crunch Raisin Almond Granola Cereal. I knew it wasn’t the healthiest breakfast option ever, but I’d eat it pretty often.

Each serving contains 200 calories and 14 grams of sugar.


I swapped out the Harvest Crunch for Post Shredded Wheat Cereal, which contains 170 calories and 0 grams of sugar!

I don’t eat cereal every day, but if I were to eat the sugary cereal 5 days per week, that’s 3,640 grams of sugar per year. At 4 calories per gram of sugar, that’s 14,560 calories per year, which can equal 4 pounds of fat on your body! That’s 4 pounds just in the sugar from breakfast cereal. Just the small change of opting for sugar-free cereal instead of the cereal with 14 grams of sugar can shave 2 pounds off your body.


While avoiding added sugars is a challenge, doing it for 30 days is an eye-opening experience. Last year I managed to for sugar-free for 30 days and even hosted a Sugar-Free Thanksgiving dinner complete with a sugar-free pumpkin pie.

Now I’m going to do it again! If you want to go sugar-free for 30 days, too, join me for Sugar-Free September. Who’s in?