Quinoa salad for sugerless days

The family in the fishbowl is doing a sugar-free challenge.

Too bad I didn’t come across this until AFTER I baked home-made chocolate chip cookies…

Really, the idea of reducing ones sugar intake, in its various forms (glucose, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, etc) is never a bad idea. I know this for a fact, since I battled with Hypoglycemia for some time. Even white-flour goods, and wine, affected my blood sugar levels, since once consumed these ingredients turned to sugar quickly inside the body. A cookie, for example, would give me a burst of energy, and then my blood sugar would tumble down and I would experience a crash that required immediate napping.

This was impossible to deal with once the kids came along. Ever try to nap when babies or toddlers don’t want to?

Eating a whole food diet has changed me. I am no longer hypoglycemic, and I can enjoy the odd treat, and glass of wine. We love to cook, we cook with real food, we grow some of our food right here in our little urban backyard, and we do add sugar to certain items. Although honey, or maple syrup, can add incredible flavour boosts to ordinary recipes. Have you ever tried to add maple syrup to your spaghetti sauce? So yum.

In light of all this healthy eating, I thought I’d post a recipe we are enjoying this week. I had this Quinoa salad for lunch today.


Quinoa salad

Quinoa salad

Cook quinoa grains according to directions. Let cool.

In a bowl, toss together:

  • chopped tomato and Swiss Chard leaves (young ones are less tough)
  • touch of sea salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Tbsp lemon juice

Substitutions and Variations

Instead of Swiss Chard you can add spinach, or an herb such as flat leaf parsley, cilantro, mint or basil.

You can also add cucumber, finely chopped fennel, and onion.

How to ration sweets

For a household that doesn’t typically have much sugary, sweet stuff around, there seems to be aplenty lately…

Ok, I usually have chocolate in the house. Good quality, Swiss chocolate made with cocoa butter, not just corn syrup. But we are not [huge] dessert people. Or heavily into the packaged goods like cookies and doughnuts. The kids eat candy because of Halloween and Valentine’s day and, well, Christmas. For some reason, living in North America means you celebrate everything with candy.

(Aside note: I analyzed the ingredients in a Twizzler candy once. Rather, um, appetizing…)

However, ’tis the season for sugar plums and candy canes, and I happen to have quite a bit of treats lying about the house. Homemade cookies, candy canes from school friends, endless treats from nice people who love us and our children…

So naturally, the 4yo constantly asks me for something.

Can I have a cookie?
Can I have some smarties?
Can I have a candy cane?
Can I have some gummy bears?
Can I have…

Makes me edgy, the never-ending demands.

So today, I decided on a method to ration their daily intake of Christmas-cheer. So to speak.

I said to the children:

What you see on this plate is what you get for today. There are a few rules:

1. You can have everything on this plate anytime of the day after you finish your breakfast.

2. Once it’s gone, do not bother asking me for more. The answer is and will remain no.

3. If you do not eat your meals at mealtime because you are full of all the treats, tomorrow’s plate will have less treats on it.

Doesn’t sound unreasonable to me. After all, it IS Christmas time…

Added later: By lunchtime the boy’s plate was empty. And we had left the house for an hour and a half…This is going to be a long afternoon.

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Toffee addiction


I made this with whole, toasted hazelnuts instead of pecans, and now I’m addicted to it, and it’s all this blogger’s fault!

PS this isn’t what I expected Foodie Fridays to turn into, but truth be had, I had my entire post on Homemade Stock come up all weird and freaky, and I haven’t had time to fix it, so this will have to do.

Sugar houdini


Houdini – Harry Houdini (1824-1926), magician, escapologist
Escapism – the attempt to divert attention from an unpleasant reality 
PPMS – Permanent Pre Menstrual Syndrome (first came across this phenomenon here)

I recently came across an article in a magazine that talks about sugar. The gist: we eat too much, there is too much hidden sugar in our food, and it’s bad for you.

Being Swiss, and more importantly, female, and most importantly a mom of tiny tots, I like sugar. Particularly the type found in chocolate. I have rambled about this here and here and I will likely again soon, I think.

There is a reason why I included definitions at the top of this post. Houdini and escapism are related to one another, as far as the magician Harry Houdini is concerned, but the term kind of leaped into my brain when I thought of a funky title for this post. Because it seems to me that sugar, in its white, refined, granlulated form, has this houdini-like quality to it. Don’t you think? I mean, there is sugar everywhere you look, even if it’s not the white granular stuff (think simple carbs, for example).

The reason I mentioned PPMS up there is because I am just coming out of that state. There was something REALLY wrong with me over the last few weeks because I was unable to stop eating chocolate. I mean, I usually have a little every day, but last week I thought I was going to go into some kind of insulin-resistant shock from all the chocolate I consumed. Disgusting, really. But then, on Saturday morning, I realized that last week I was experiencing PMS (or P-PMS, because it went on and on and on), which, 4 months postpartum, SEEMS a bit early to me, and I forgave myself all this sugar consuming. I mean, I couldn’t HELP myself. But now, I’m feeling better. The cravings have mostly disappeared. Actually, my cravings went houdini on me too because I now crave salt. Like, olives. Or pickles.

But I digress. Back to the sugar.

Frankly, I think there is something wrong with all this promotion to reading labels, counting calories or points, weighing food or measuring inches. I find it, well, unnatural really. If you must diet, then why not just eat food?


And there you have it. Food. Michael Pollan says to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. He is the author of In Defense of Food and he talks about this stuff in plain lingo. He makes a very important distinction, comparing at length whole food with processed, packaged food. Go borrow the book at the library, or buy it at the bookstore. You won’t be sorry.

But this is not a book review post. So I won’t rehash all his points here. What I will do here is list the synonyms for sugar. Just so you can get an idea how the clever marketing people, and food scientists for that matter, manage to hide sugar in our processed, packaged food.

barley malt
beet sugar
brown sugar
buttered syrup
cane-juice crystals
cane sugar
carob syrup
corn syrup
corn-syrup solids
date sugar
diastatic malt
ethyl maltol
evaporated cane juice
fruit juice
fruit-juice concentrate
glucose solids
golden sugar
golden syrup
grape sugar
high-fructose corn syrup
invert sugar
malt syrup
raw sugar
refiner’s syrup
sorghum syrup
turbinado sugar
yellow sugar

This list is far from exhaustive, but it sure gives new meaning to sugar.

Related Candy Crap

Candy crap

Or crappy candy?

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone. And as usual, Benjamin got all kinds of candy. He got other things too, non-edible items, but there was plenty candy to go around.

I placed it all in a jar and allowed him to choose one candy after lunch. The others I’ll use as incentive to keep the pooping in the toilet momentum. Or until he loses interest in the candy. He doesn’t ask for candy much if he can’t see it, and since we keep little of it in the house, other than good quality, dark chocolate, it’s not a huge problem. And he knows he has to brush his teeth extra-well when he eats sticky candies.


But back to the crappy candy. Benjamin chose a  Twizzler today. This one says Strawberry in large letters, and underneath it it says flavoured candy in smaller letters.

Intrigued by the flavoured part, I turned the wrapper around.

Here’s the list of ingredients that make up this candy, in order:

Corn syrup
Liquid sugar
Wheat flour
Corn starch
Palm oil
Soybean oil
Modified palm oil
Artificial Flavour
Citric Acid
Mineral Oil
Potassium Sorbate
Soy lecithin

So let’s go google some of this stuff:

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