So, it goes without saying that this post is long over due. Long, long overdue. Things have been busy to say the least. Going from working all summer, then being away for a week, then going straight back to University and into six weeks of assignments, competitions, events and of course lots of studying and some fun. Whilst things have been busy, they have also been great. The last year of my degree is going well, I’m at a happy place with my exercising and eating and I’ve been making the most of every opportunity to do fun things. I’m writing this post on the last Sunday of the University holidays before we go back for another six weeks before exams. I’ve spent today in my happy place: the kitchen. I’ve been making all kinds of things to ensure I’ve got lots of food prepped for the coming weeks. Now making food, naturally led to thinking about food and that was what finally inspired me to right this post. This is pretty much a round-up of weeks four to eight of the last IQS8WP of which I completed the summer vegetarian plan.
Polenta Chips. Introduced in clean week and, being something I had never made before, I was a little skeptical. I really don’t know why because I love anything to do with chips and any kind of chips and these were no different. They were SUPER easy to make (I had mistakenly believed they were super difficult) and packed full of flavour, and just so good! I loved eating them with the roasted vegetable caponata, the combination was a deliciously filling meal.
Curried Lentil Patties. Like last time where the BLATT burger was a firm favourite of mine, IQS has once again proved that you cannot beat a good veggie patty. I am on a bit of a curry kick at the moment, so I was especially partial to these patties. I served my lentil patties as a burger (in a little deviation from the programme) but it was so good!
Vegetable Free Form Pie: Did I mention that I love pasty? Like love. I used to eat a pie everyday after school when I was little (god, how bad does that sound??). So needless to say the thought of pastry, in something healthy was very, very exciting. It also felt very indulgent which was nice. My mum, who is a vegetarian skeptic, even said that she would happily go vegetarian if it meant eating pies like this all the time. I loved the combination of red onion, courgette and pumpkin. It was perfect and it is another recipe I have made again since the programme ended.
Vegetable Korma: See above about my curry kick. Curry is also on my list of comfort foods with pastry. This recipes was a show stopper and I absolutely adored it. Creamy curry, packed with nine (!!!) vegetables, and served with some cheeky garlic naan for me. It was heaven in a bowl on a blustery autumn night.
Homemade Raspberry Chia Jam with Ricotta on Toast: Toast is again a comfort food. I added almond butter to this already awesome combo and it was heaven.
Green Mac’n’Cheese: As a child, I hated pasta. But, I loved macaroni cheese. What I later discovered what that I only didn’t like tomato based pasta. Anything cheese based was fine. Anyway, this version made with lots of green veggies hit the spot and reminded me of that childhood classic. Plus it allowed me to continue my obsession with spiralled vegetables. I got a spiraliser for my birthday and I’ve been eating A LOT of curly food.
Israeli Couscous with Haloumi (anything Haloumi was pretty much a winner in my books). In follow up to that previous comment, next mention goes to Sesame Halloumi Bites with Peach and Corn salad. Peaches are my favourite fruit, so I loved this doubly as much. Because Halloumi + peaches = deliciousness. Homemade Basil and Spinach Pesto with Zoodles (it was my first time making my own pesto) was also favourite, and one I have remade. The recipe was super easy, requiring nothing fancy and it’s pretty much a fridge staple now).
As a general rule, I enjoyed all the meals I ate on the programme. The only aspect I struggled with was that I got a little sick of various quinoa and vegetable combinations. I know that such meals are inevitable on the vegetarian plan where protein sources are more limited, and I think I struggled more because I find quinoa bland to begin with. I Quit Sugar did a truly great job of incorporating heaps of different flavours and vegetables into their meals and this is my only gripe with the programme – and its a small one.
Things I did differently on my second round:
I was beyond delighted to be invited back to complete the programme a second time, given how much I enjoyed the first time and how successful I found it. This time was definitely easier because I knew watch to expect in all aspects. I was confident with dealing with the social pressures of saying no to treats and as well as dealing with the personal things like cravings. In saying this, I was a little less strict this time round. For example, I ate fruit throughout the programme. I ensured it was in small amounts and chose mostly fruits of the low-fructose variety (except bananas in my smoothies because I really can’t do smoothies without them). I chose to do this because summer fruit is my absolute favourite and I didn’t want to miss out on it in all its glory. I also felt safe eating fruit because I know that I am in control of my sugar intake and that one piece of fruit a day wasn’t going to ruin me. I also ate a couple of treats throughout the programme: raw cakes at a health foods workshop I attended and a few easter eggs over easter. I felt perfectly comfortable eating these treats, because like I said above, I now feel in control when eating sugar and know that one easter egg won’t ruin all my progress. It’s really about the 90/10 rule as I see it. I’m not going to feel guilty for the 10% of treats if I know that 90% of the time I am very careful with what I eat.
How I Felt at the End:
Accomplished. Again, eight weeks without most processed sugar and foods is no easy task in this world we live in. Content. Living sugar free seemed like such a daunting task before the first eight weeks, now it is becoming easier and easier. Don’t get me wrong there are still plenty of days where it tests my self control. To. The Max. And plenty of days where I have a treat without fear. But overall, life is easier with less sugar involved. My final word to describe how I felt is balanced. The eight week programme is intended as an intense detox, once I had started this way of life the need to follow it strictly is removed.
Will I do it again?
Of course! The programme is an amazing source of inspiration and pure convenience. I love having my meals planned out for me in advance and I love seeing how everyone else adapts the recipes to suit their needs. The programme is a place for creativity and I really enjoy being a part of it.