From January 6th until March 17th is a time of excess in New Orleans. Parades, beads, drinks, crawfish and king cakes are everywhere. Before you know it, the idea of waking up early to drink bloody marys and jump up and down screaming for beads seems perfectly reasonable. Red beans and rice, lovingly made by a tipsy friend, becomes the most comforting meal, and snacking on king cakes almost seems like a right. Forget New Years Day, Ash Wednesday is when the real “resolutions” begin in New Orleans. Many people (not just Catholics) say goodbye to meat, wheat, sugar, booze, [fill in the blank] for the next 40 days. The exception is St. Patrick’s Day, which is like a mini Mardi Gras all over again, except there are only green and orange beads and the prized “throws” are cabbages instead of Muses shoes or Zulu coconuts. Parade floats, tiny dance troupes, and the masses fill the streets to celebrate New Orleans in the best way they know how – with costumes and alcohol!
I have not worn as much face paint or glitter in the last 5 years as I have in the past month. Along with the costumes has come a serious excess of sugar. I am spoiled at work with access to delicious treats – pies, cookies, cakes, you name it. And I’m talking about seriously delicious, homemade, locally sourced treats that are oh so hard to turn down. But under the guise of “lent” I decided to give up refined sugar. Like many I suspect, I am a sugar-addict. Once I have a taste I want more and my brain cannot forget about the cake/cookie sitting innocently in the corner. So, on Ash Wednesday, after accidentally nibbling on a banana muffin at work in a hungover stupor I conceded to saying goodbye to sugar until Easter. I won’t bore you with the details, but I have to say it has been great and challenging so far. Overall I feel good about it, but I must admit my coworker had to pry a piece of blackberry queso-cake out of my hand this week to save me from myself. Sugar brain be gone!
Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and so along with the rest of the “lent” observers, I quietly said goodbye to my commitment and ate a little Guinness-chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. I only had a small amount, so I consider my transgression to be minor, but now the real challenge will be to not let my sneaky sugar loving mind to drag me back into the depths of my sweet addiction.
I don’t know if my breakfast discovery today was absolutely genius or if it will pave the way to my demise, but I made the healthiest, most decadent breakfast ever. Gluten, grain, dairy & sugar free pancakes with vegan coconut whipped cream and strawberries. Somehow all those “X-free” ingredients came together to form what would usually send me into a sleepy sunday food coma, but instead left me giddy and energized. The inspirations behind the brunch are Top With Cinnamon’s 2 Ingredient Pancakes and Oh Ladycake’s Coconut Whipped Cream. These talented ladies never cease to impress me with their creative healthier recipes. The only thing I tweaked was I substituted a teaspoon of maple syrup for cane sugar in the coconut whipped cream. If your wondering, I don’t count maple syrup as sugar. Maple syrup runs through my Vermonter veins and I gave up refined sugar, sheesh. After my 4o days are up I am hoping to keep refined sugar out of my system, but experiment more with healthier treats that have some nutritional value and are not loaded with not-so-great-for-you ingredients. We’ll see how that goes.
Treat yo self (without sugar or grain) to a decadent brunch!