The (almost) No Sugar Challenge and Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Cake



After I gorged myself on this amazing cake, I decided I need to practice what I preach.

Well, practice what I know is right, anyway.

I eat way too much sugar. Basically if you put it in front of me, I’m going to eat it. And if I think it’s special sugar, I will go for seconds.

But first, before I get to the challenge, let me tell you about this cake.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. But instead of 2 1/2 C sugar, I used a scant 2 C, and I added 2 smashed bananas to the batter with the oil. I also amped up the peanut butter in the frosting to a heaping cup. The peanut butter flavor was much stronger and better with the chocolate cake. I only cooked the cakes for about 27 minutes and they stayed very nice and moist. The flavor was AMAZING all together. Lush. Intense. With just a hint of banana. You’re going to love it.

And now that you’ve bookmarked this with the intent to gorge on sugar later, I want to tell you to join my almost no sugar challenge.

Yeah, now you’ve seen I’ve tricked you. I lured you in, and now I want to lecture you.

But really, I’m guilty too, and I just want to give you a reason to jump on the wagon with me.

Sugar is bad for you. You know it, I know it, and we’ve just been living with it anyway. It’s like the  friend you said could crash at your place for the WEEKEND, and soon he’s strewn his underwear all over the living room and has set up permanent shop on your couch. I’m pretty sure I just got my first cavity in my 28 years of life, and I’m pissed at sugar. You should be too. After I made an appointment with the dentist I vowed to lessen my sugar intake. Everything I’ve been reading in the news and books about energy, food, and the planet, is basically telling me that I should do that anyway. So over the next three months, I am instituting an Almost No Sugar challenge, and I want you to join in with me. I will post information about sugar,  ideas of how to lessen your sugar cravings to break your addiction, and recipes that replace that sugar.

Here’s my first reason for giving up sugar: Less Calories. Sugar has tons of calories and we often use sugar in place of other more nourishing foods.

I want to lay down some rules about this challenge, because I don’t think it’s as simple as not eating sugar. I think most people have a hard time with that. So I want to make it possible, but also consciously about not eating sugar.

RULES for the (Almost) No Sugar Challenge: From NOW until Christmas

  1. Raw/frozen fruit is A-OK. Anytime. Sweetened fruit in desserts is not okay.
  2. Pick 2 “special” times you designate beforehand that are going to be cheat times. I’m going to use my birthday, and Thanskgiving. Also make a plan for exactly what special sugar you are going to eat on those days.
  3. Up to a tablespoon of Agave syrup in fruit smoothies is allowable.
  4. Only eat plain yogurt, with a little agave or honey if necessary.
  5. No obviously sweetened “regular” food, like granola bars, 99.9% of cereals, powerbars, lunabars, etc. Most obviously sweetened food is for breakfast.
  6. You don’t have to read labels for food. If it doesn’t taste sweet, you’re okay. This goes for salad dressings, ketchup, soups, bread, etc. If it has sugar in it, don’t stress it. Although it’s nice to avoid those things, if it’s not doable for the way you cook and eat normally, just forget it. That can be an advanced step if you’re up for it.
  7. No fake sugars, like Splenda, Equal, or other chemically enhanced sweet food. This goes for diet sodas as well.
  8. No JUICE. Smoothies yes, juice no.
  9. One or less times per week a cup of low fat low sugar frozen yogurt is allowable (I will post a recipe!).

Too many rules? Pick one you know you can’t follow and take that one out. I know some people who just HAVE to drink diet soda. Although I think that’s probably another addiction that we all would be better without, it’s true that if you have that addiction as well as a sugar addiction– dealing with both of those at once is probably not going to happen. Pick your battles.

If you want to join up, leave a comment. I have definitely noticed for myself that if I make my commitment public, I’m much more likely to stick with it.


12 Responses to “The (almost) No Sugar Challenge and Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Cake”

  1. I wanna do it but there are way too many rules for me to remember in my already full brain of things i have to remember but can’t because i have to remember too many other things. My brain is so full that i can’t even remember to capitalize my i’s in the sentence. I only remember to capitalize after the period.

    (Does that bug you as an English teacher?)

    I’ll TRY not to eat sugar but I’m pretty sure I’ll forget in like ten seconds and eat a cookie.

  2. 2 sienna

    i really want to stop eating so much sugar as well. except one thing–i may have finally mastered the perfect chocolate chip cookie and i am so proud of myself, i want to make it twenty times so i don’t forget.

    what i have been trying to do is only eat dessert on the weekends. that’s my baby step to cutting it out all together. also i think i am going to cut out sugar cereals and juice. that seems managable for me. every little bit helps, right?

  3. 3 Amanda

    I might do this. I’m definitely considering it. I’m worried it will drive me to eating other high calorie foods to try and fill the void. Like three eggs for breakfast, smothered in cheese and sour cream. Right now I just have fat free yogurt or instant oatmeal. BUT I EAT SO MUCH SUGAR. How long would this be for? Three months? Two?

  4. 4 Liz

    oh my gosh, i started a 90 day no sweets challenge about 2 months ago and love it. bread is the only thing i eat with any amount of sugar. whole wheat bread with actual sugar and absolutely no corn syrup. for me, unless i make the smoothies myself, i won’t touch ’em b/c i don’t know the sugar content.

    anyway, it’s the best decision i’ve ever made for my body. feels so healthy. and i’ve become a fruit whore. (can i use that word here?). i think my 90 days is made easier by the fact that i started it during prime mango season. and ending with watermelon season! good luck to whomever does this!! TOTALLY WORTH IT!

  5. 5 Robin

    Wow, Mariko. I’m actually tempted, as much as I love sweets. It’s sounds really good to purify my body of them for a while. If I do it, you need to help me find 4 pie recipes that are sugar free because our tradition for November is to have a pie per week! Sienna, what’s your perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe? Maybe those can be my reward sometime for being so good. 🙂

    Also, Mariko, I hope you don’t really have a cavity! That would be awful for your perfect-record mouth!

  6. this is going to be so hard since i feel like i have already tried this a couple of times in my life and end up giving into peer pressure or something (see it’s not MY fault. HA!) anyway, ok. fine. i’ll do it. DONE. IM DOING IT! hooray. this is exciting!

  7. 7 Mariko

    YAY. I’m so glad you guys are at least considering it.

    I guess I need to make this clear. This is NOT a diet. I don’t think we’re saying that for sure this will help us lose weight (not that we’re going to cry if that does happen).
    I’m trying to think of an extra special post for tomorrow that will convince you that you’re totally doing the right thing and that you can be strong.

    As for me, ever since I told everyone I’m doing this, it actually has been WAY easier to just say no. It’s like I have an excuse. A good one.

  8. 8 Liz

    let me know if you need any testimonials for your next post. 🙂 🙂

    i want to say though, that for me, it could not be done unless i made sure to get a good night’s sleep every night. in fact, my first “challenge” was to get at least 8 hours a night for 60 days. when i finished that, i realized (amongst a bunch of other health benefits) that i ate a lot less sugar so decided to try 90 days without it. i’m on day 72 now. had a MAJOR brownie craving yesterday, so i ate 2 fat peaches. the choice was easy since i’ve done this for over 2 months.

    really, i encourage everyone to do something (if not this) that will help your body mend and be healthy. again, good luck and have fun!!

  9. I am doing this. Only because I weigh more now than I did when I left the hospital 2 weeks ago. People have been bringing us meals (like 3 meals a day…it’s intense and overwhelming). The sisters at church have made it the relief society mission to not let me go into PPD so they seriously bring over rice krispie treats and lemon bars and cookies and chocolate and every possible dessert and sweet thing on the planet that you can think of. I have never had so much sugar before in my LIFE. It doesn’t help that I sit around and nurse all day and of course eat, eat, eat.

    Anyway, I want to do this challenge but I am only going to start on october 17th when my baby turns 1 month old and the meals have stopped coming. It will give me time to eat all the desserts that are laying around.

  10. 10 kallie

    okay. i’m actually going to try this mariko. shez and i had decided we would do a no-sugar challenge a couple weeks ago and it didn’t go too well. we both cheated, a lot. first we said that we’d only eat sweets on weekends. then i kept seeing sweets everywhere. cookies and candy at school, brownies and ice cream at young womens, it’s everywhere! i started giving in, and felt really bad, like i was only cheating myself. i really was. i don’t want to feel like that anymore. today is my first day on your (almost) no sugar challenge. it’s pretty hard, seeing the ice-cream bars and gallon of vanilla in the freezer. not to mention cake and cookie left-overs (from cameron’s welcome back party) lying around on the counter. however, i’m going to do this! i don’t know if i’ll be as stickler as you and some others though. it might take me a while to completely cut out all the sweets, because i crave them so much! i might start out by just having one type of sweets a week, so that i don’t feel deprived. i think sunday shall be “cheat day.” kind of makes sense to me, seeing that it’s a day of rest. it can be day of resting on the (almost) no sugar challenge and getting ready for the next week of no sugar!

  11. 11 Mariko

    I knew you could do it.

    Be careful about cheat days. They turn into cheat weeks. I used to try to follow that rule. Never worked.

    One thing that is really true about this, though. Cookies, candy, brownies– all these things are things that will show up in your life again. You’ll get a chance to eat all those things at some other party, dessert, or activity. They cycle around and around again. That’s what I keep telling myself.

    Today was the first day that was really hard for me. I had to keep eating other stuff so I wouldn’t put sugar in my mouth. So I know what you mean.

  12. 12 rakin

    Im working on it day 3. I wanna give up sugar because i know its tearing me down, plus my skin looks alot better. It gonna be rough but i can do it with a little support.

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