Healthy sugar-free apple muffins

breakfast

Two sugar-free weeks down! Woohoo! I’m halfway through Sugar-Free September and I’m feeling great. Although I haven’t felt very deprived at all, I’ve actually lost 4 pounds without even trying. I didn’t think I was eating that much sugar, so it’s pretty crazy that cutting it out has helped me drop a bit of extra weight. I’m not even sure what the biggest change in my diet has been. Other than avoiding store-bought salad dressing and steering clear of the candy aisle, I don’t feel like I’m missing all that much.

sugar free healthy muffins

But I guess usually I would have eaten a few store-bought baked goods, and I would have probably eaten out at a restaurant 2 or 3 times. Maybe some all-you-can-eat sushi or thin-crust pizza. There might have been a bowl of ice cream, maybe a few handfuls of chips. Definitely a chocolate bar. Then there would have been that drizzle of maple syrup on my granola and those extra bananas in my morning smoothies. Even a pumpkin spice latte.

I guess that all does add up!

Having cut all those things out, what has my typical day looked like? Thinking back to the last two weeks, here’s a sample of my recent meals:

Breakfast: low-sugar green smoothie

Snack: a piece of fruit (apple, grapefruit, peach)

Lunch: large salad of kale or mixed greens, lots of veg and topped with a sweet potato quinoa patty, avocado, or grilled chicken

Snack: salted nori or blueberries

Dinner: pasta primavera or a big bowl of spaghetti squash or a millet bowl

Late-Night Snack: sugar-free granola with almond milk, raspberries and cocoa nibs or chopped veggies and hummus or chia pudding with chocolate coconut mousse or a slice of sugar-free peach pie

Eating like this has left me feeling light, but energized. I’ll admit though, I have been fantasizing about the Nutella crepes I’m going to be enjoying next month while in Paris!

While I definitely won’t be avoiding sugar for ever, I am realizing that there are lots of places I can cut it out. Like these super easy healthy sugar-free apple muffins, which are perfect for ushering in the cooler fall weather with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Unsweetened apple sauce and a flax egg make for this easy muffin recipe that is vegan and contains absolutely zero added sugars.

I went with a pared down version, but these muffins are the perfect base for loads of fun mix-ins. Go crazy with blueberries, raisins or chocolate chips or add a smear of sugar-free chia jam and you won’t be missing any of the sugar or eggs at all.

basic muffin recipe

Healthy sugar-free apple muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: healthy, vegan, muffins, sugar-free, gluten-free
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 egg: use flax egg for vegan option (3 tbs warm water + 1 tbs ground flax seed)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • ½ vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free oatmeal
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a small bowl, mix ground flax with water and set aside to thicken for 2-3 minutes
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, vanilla, apple sauce
  4. Stir in flax egg
  5. Mix well
  6. Add remaining ingredients except apple and mix until smooth
  7. Gently stir in chopped apple
  8. Fill greased muffin tins ⅔ full
  9. Sprinkle small pinch of oatmeal on top
  10. Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean

sugar-free muffins

 

Spicy Indian Roasted Chickpeas

Today marks the completion of week 1 of Sugar-Free September!

Overall, I’ve been feeling great. I’ve managed to avoid all added sugars, mostly by preparing nearly all my meals at home. Fortunately it was one of those rare weeks where we didn’t have some type of birthday/retirement/going away celebration in the office, so I wasn’t faced with too much temptation.

Mike and I visited my sister since she moved away to start grad school (so proud!), but we chose a raw food restaurant that was vegan, gluten- and sugar-free, so it was definitely easier than going to your typical restaurant. I had soft tacos with a walnut ‘meat’ filling. So tasty! We all enjoyed out meals.

jill-laura-guelph

I have been feeling energetic enough for the most part, though both Mike and I had an energy slump one afternoon and we wondered if it was because of the no-sugar thing. We still went for a run later on, so it couldn’t have been that bad!

mike-jill-guelph

I’d say that so far the main benefit I’ve experienced is that I’ve felt great about my food choices all week. In addition to avoiding sugar, I’ve just been trying to make good choices and have been eating heavily plant-based meals. I’ve also been relying on seeds, nuts and nut-butters to keep me full. I definitely do find that I get hungry much more quickly only a couple hours after these sorts of meals, but the good part is that when I get hungry, I can just go eat more of the healthy stuff, but I’m still left feeling light.

spicy roasted chickpeas

My favourite snacks this week have been veggies and hummus, chia pudding and this batch of chickpeas I roasted up. This is basically the crunchy snack version of chana masala. So easy! Just use chickpeas out of the can, toss them in spices and roast.

If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, then try these Rosemary Garlic Roasted Chickpeas.

Click through for the recipe!

Continue Reading

Blueberry Chia Parfait with Chocolate Mousse, no dairy or added sugars

blueberry chia parfait

I had some chia seeds soaking overnight, since I knew that after being a couple days into Sugar-Free September, the need for a sweet treat wouldn’t be far off.

Layers of oats, vanilla chia, coconut whipped cream and fresh blueberries combine in this healthy snack that satisfies.

This blueberry chia parfait is a perfect dessert, snack or breakfast and is totally dairy-, gluten- and sugar-free. The added chocolate mousse makes it extra indulgent but the only cost to the velvety cream is a healthy dose of high quality fat.

blueberry chia parfait

Blueberry Chia Parfait with Chocolate Mousse, no dairy or added sugars
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Try this healthy chia parfait for breakfast or enjoy as dessert. Chia seeds require soaking for at least 30 mins.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert, snack
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • ½ cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 tbs raw cocoa nibs
  • Mousse: Mix ½ cup coconut cream, 1 tbs raw cacao
Instructions
  1. Soak chia seeds in almond milk and vanilla extract overnight or for at least 30 minutes
  2. Layer chia pudding, oats, berries and mousse.
  3. Top with cocoa nibs.

 

blueberry chia pudding

Lemon Basil Spaghetti Squash | Beauty Detox

For this week’s Beauty Detox Assignment, Kimberly Snyder asked us to come up with a recipe using squash. Her recipe for Baked Kabocha Squash with Mushroom Sauce inspired this dish. I looked for the kabocha squash, but it was quite expensive at Whole Foods, so I went with my favourite: spaghetti squash.

Simply tossed with a mix of zucchini, cherry tomatoes and diced onions, the squash was coated in a creamy lemon basil sauce.

Lemon Basil Spaghetti Squash

This dish would be so beautiful served as a Thanksgiving side. Sweet potato instead of zucchini, and quinoa and cranberries with a dash of cinnamon.

In this recipe, hemp seeds and nutritional yeast add a creaminess to the peppery lemon basil sauce. I topped the noodles with a poached egg for a complete dinner meal.

This is another great meal that satisfies while keeping to the Sugar-Free September guidelines.

Lemon Basil Spaghetti Squash
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Vegan, Vegetarian, Pasta
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 6 large basil leaves, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 4 poached eggs (optional)
  • Sauce: ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tsp tahini, 1 tsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp hulled hemp seeds, 2 large basil leaves, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp minced garlic, juice from ½ lemon, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp ground pepper, adjust to taste.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. Carefully cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and roast, face up, for 1 hour
  4. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor combine sauce ingredients and blend until combined
  5. Heat coconut oil over medium heat and sautee zucchini, cherry tomatoes and onion until softened, about 10 minutes
  6. Once cooked, shred squash using two forks
  7. Toss squash with sauce, sauteed veg and chopped fresh basil
  8. Top with poached eggs (optional)

Lemon Basil Spaghetti Squash