The notion of a “cheat day” or “cheat meal” is very common in the health & fitness world. Personally, I reached my goal weight using caloric restrictions and consistent exercise and never felt the need for a cheat day. The more results I saw, the less desire I had to eat “cheat foods” and I was able to keep my calories down while still indulging (moderately!) when I wanted to. For years, this approach has worked just fine for me and I’ve continued to improve my health and physique year over year.
But as my sister and I prepared for our annual No Sugar/No Flour cleanse, sugar was suddenly giving me an eczema-like rash on my chin. I knew my body was telling me that it was time for more than just a three-week cleanse. I needed something I could maintain for longer than three weeks — a genuine lifestyle change.
Of course, in a perfect world, I’d be able to go off sugar forever. But let’s be honest, what kind of life is that?! It’s not realistic. Instead, I could extend my “No Sugar” cleanse for months, making it a true lifestyle change, so long as I could have a cheat day every week or so. The day-to-day sugar is easy to part with but when I go out for a nice dinner with my hubby, I want to be able to have dessert. I can handle giving up my one-pump toffee nut soy latte but after a long walk on a brisk winter day, I may want to indulge in one as a special treat. And let’s be honest, no one likes the fitness-freak who comes to every party toting her own carrot sticks and piously passes on the birthday cake.
So for the last week, I’ve been off sugar completely and looking forward to my cheat day as Tim and I go to San Francisco for a hot date night this weekend (just wait until you see the dress!). In addition to lowering my carbs, I’ve cut out honey, maple syrup, refined sugars, cane juice, and brown rice syrup (I’ve allowed myself to have only stevia and natural sugars from fruit).
Although I haven’t been perfect, after averaging around 90+ grams of sugar each day, I’ve successfully lowered it to a daily intake of 20-40 grams during this past week and I’m thrilled with that. And the rash on my face is gone.
There is 22 g of sugar in a large apple.
On that note, here is a great pancake recipe that only has 4g of carbs per pancake and uses banana as a sweetener. The calorie content is quite high but you’re getting good fats from the flax and almond meal. Instead of maple syrup, I boiled some water + frozen blueberries until it reduced to a near-syrup consistency.
Almond Meal Pancakes (low-carb, no-sugar)
makes 14 pancakes
- 1 medium banana
- 2 cups almond meal (I used Trader Joe’s)
- 3 eggs
- flax egg: 1/4 cup water + 3 tbsp ground flax
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 4 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Puree banana in food processor or blender until smooth
2. Add all other ingredients and mix until smooth
(OPTIONAL STEP FOR FLUFFIER PANCAKES: separate the egg whites and beat them with a stand mixer until stiff. Fold into the finished batter).
3. Cook pancakes on lightly oiled pan over medium heat in small medallions (3″ wide). They may not bubble like traditional pancakes so check regularly before flipping them over.
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To make this vegan: swap eggs for “flax eggs” (1 tbsp flax + 3 tbsp water = one egg).
If you can’t find almond meal: whirl raw almonds (blanched almonds are best) in a food processor until it creates a powder. Just be careful you watch it because it will turn from powder to a nut butter if left too long.