No Sugar Added

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I recently read an article about sugar and how it’s as addictive as cocaine and heroin. I always knew that sugar wasn’t great for you, but I never thought of it as a “drug”  or something we could all be seriously addicted to — so I decided it was time to take some action to remove added sugars from my life!

I did some grocery store research to figure out where all my added sugars were coming from and I was floored when I realized that added sugars are hiding in nearly everything! I know that sugar is in sodas, juices, etc., but here is just a small sampling of the items I didn’t expect to find so much added sugar in:

Ketchup
Bread
Tomato Sauce
Granola
Yogurt
Salad Dressing
Mayonnaise
Instant Oatmeal
Dried Fruit
“Whole Grain” Cereals… and the list goes on!

After reading so many labels full of added sugars, I have decided to embark on a “No Added Sugar” quest for the next two months to see what happens. I will be label-reading like a mad woman, and will be practicing my cooking skills to make homemade no-sugar versions of some of the sugar-filled items we typically buy at the grocery store.  Not all of my homemade creations will be winners, but I will try to share some of the best recipes here on a weekly basis!

Three cheers for No Added Sugars!

Image via Cooking Classy

Papiamento

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Papiamento is probably one of Aruba’s most famous restaurants. Not necessarily because of the food (although I did enjoy my meal!), but for the restaurant’s unique and beautiful grounds.

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Most of the tables are situated around the pool in the center of the property. Other tables sit amongst the trees with twinkly lights hanging from all the palms. Inside of the 126-year old house you’ll find dinner tables surrounded by 1800’s antiques from Europe and personal mementos of the family, including copper pots, old photographs, and delicate floral tablecloths.

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If you make reservations ahead of time, you can enjoy cocktails and appetizers in the restaurant’s wine cellar!  Would be great for a hot summer day, as the cellar is kept pretty cool to protect the wine.

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The sommelier gave us a quick tour of the cellar, letting us poke around their inventory and peek at all the bottles.  We also made friends with the restaurant’s resident cat, Princess.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

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Last week I had off from work and I spent the entire week staycationing at home watching documentaries on Netflix. I watched quite a few different documentaries — one on up and coming ballerinas, another on legendary photographer Bill Cunningham, another on the founder of Burt’s Bees — but by far my favorite documentary was one that was entirely in Japanese, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

The documentary tells the story of Jiro, an 85 year old sushi chef and restaurant owner in Japan. He has dedicated his entire life, since being kicked out of his house at age 9, to learning and perfecting his craft. However, even at his age, with nearly 80  years of experience and the ultimate award of 3 Michelin stars, he does not feel that he has achieved perfection. He hates to to take time off from the restaurant and he always wants to get back to work so he can continue working to make the best sushi possible. In fact, he loves his job so much that he still has not yet retired so that his 50 year old son can take over the restaurant.

The story of Jiro is such a foreign concept to me, especially when comparing it to the “American Dream,” as we have completely different views in America concerning work, money, jobs, life, retirement, etc. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who loves their work as much as Jiro does, but its pretty good food for thought!

And for the record, I don’t even like sushi that much, but I found this documentary to be fascinating. Perhaps if I ever find myself in Tokyo I will book myself a seat at Jiro’s restaurant.  I’m sure he will still be making his sushi!

“Spaghetti” and Meatballs

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On January 1st, Doug and I embarked on a new adventure in diet and fitness — we’ve joined the Beachbody family and have surrendered to Shaun T and his crazy intense 25 minutes a day of cardio, stretching, and circuits. The workout videos are the easy part — you just pop them in the DVD player and 25 (surprisingly short!) minutes later you’re finished. Its planning the meals thats the hardest part!

I’ve been tirelessly searching the internet for healthy versions of favorite recipes — pizza, pasta, desserts — and haven’t had too much luck. But I recently stumbled upon this delicious recipe on The New Potato for “spaghetti” and meatballs, a unique recipe made with spaghetti squash, fresh tomato sauce and ground turkey meatballs spiced with thyme. As they put it — a recipe where you can “have your cake and eat it too!”

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The meal turned out marvelously and was crazy easy to make. The spaghetti squash pretty much cooks by itself and I find that the longer you leave it in the oven the easier it falls off the skin. The thyme was a welcome addition, as many meatballs & Italian pasta dishes contain oregano which is one of my least favorite spices.

I now have my  healthy pasta recipe covered, but I am still looking for healthy versions of pizza, chocolate, cake, cookies, wine, bread, etc. Haha okay, so I might not really be looking for all those things, but if you have any awesome healthy recipes please send them my way at @tinewatson or rulesforthemoderngirl@gmail.com.

Brunch at Lafayette

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Every year Doug and I take a trip to NYC right after Christmas.  We see a Broadway show, have drinks at Lillie’s, and shop at the winter markets. We usually will stay over so we can have a nice dinner in the city, and then we will have brunch on our way back to Grand Central. This year we stayed over in SoHo, so our usual brunch spot in Midtown, Lexington Brass, was too far away. A few Google searches later and we found ourselves at Lafayette, a French “grand café and bakery” that absolutely did not disappoint.

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I am still dreaming about my brunch that day — soft scrambled eggs with basil and roasted tomatoes, brioche, and the most wonderfully flaky croissant ever. The ladies sitting next to us were eating an equally amazing looking brunch of champagne, deviled eggs, and oysters.

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We were blessed with the most mild weather on this trip. I left my fur coat at home and just brought my wool Ralph Lauren coat and Robinwoods cowl scarf. I also managed to walk all the way from Bryant Park to SoHo (and back the next morning) in my Frye Boots, although I think I might have my cobbler put on some grippy soles! My hat was a street vendor purchase — and it went so great with my outfit I just had to wear it!

See you next Christmas, New York!