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No flour. No sugar. I need help

Since having my thyroid removed, a series of family crises and a full season of the Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market, I’ve put on some weight.

Stress, much? Quite a bit over the last year, and a tendency to grab whatever edible I could reach and eating at weird hours.

So one of my doctors said, “I want you to go on a no sugar, no flour diet.”

Gulp.

That means no bread. Bread, wine, chocolate and cheese have been my four major food groups for a while. Bread has always made me feel better, and is the only appealing thing when stress ties my stomach in knots.

No sugar means no chocolate, my other friend in times of need. No Emma Martin chocolate zucchini bread. No lemon raspberry muffin from Kathleen Turco.

The mostly-no-carbs diet worked before, cutting out pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, most cereals and focusing on whole grain bread and wraps. Now all of that is out, along with gravy and other sauces. Can’t even dust my roast with flour before browning.

No sugar means reading every label like a hawk searching for prey. Count the carbs, check the sugars, read the ingredients. It is truly amazing how many things contain sugar — and how many sugar-free things are loaded with salt and a long list of chemicals.

The only way to do this diet is to eat fresh food, which is fine. Fresh food is better than anything pre-packaged. It’s always better to add your own seasonings and flavorings to something.

We love fresh fruits and vegetables from the Farmers Market, and usually buy our meat and eggs there, too, so summer is a good time for this diet.

The problem, as you’ve guessed, is you have to prepare much more food and do it much more often than someone who can grab a frozen meal, whip up some pasta or call for a pizza.

This new diet requires planning, a firm grocery list and avoiding going out to eat. The other tricky thing is getting the other people in your house to go along with the plan. Who has time to fix multiple meals? And who wants temptation staring at them from the next plate?

My husband and I are compromising. I’ll have a slice of meat and vegetables. He fixes himself macaroni and cheese. He has dessert, I take a shower and go to bed.

The doctor said, “I don’t want you to be hungry all the time.” That’s pretty tough, too. Snacks are sometimes too messy to consume while typing. (I’m talking to you, celery and peanut butter.) So, unfortunately, I am often hungry. The lunch salad was fresh and tasty; 3 p.m. comes with a growling stomach. Time for an apple.

Breakfast choices are limited, if you’re used to a quick bowl of cereal. Forget sugar-laden granola. Oatmeal is OK, but don’t add sweetener. An egg is not bad, but no toast. Fresh fruit smoothies with no sugar are OK, but a little low on protein.

So, I am learning, trying new things, looking longingly at biscuits and brownies. I have cheated with a Hershey’s kiss or two or …

The good news is, I have started to lose weight, and if I do have bread or sugar, I really notice it. A bite of dessert is outrageously sweet now. A sandwich feels heavy.

Here is a recipe I want to try, and now is a good time, because thin asparagus is available in the supermarket

Asparagus Salad

1 pound pencil-thin asparagus

1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese

Blanch the asparagus for about 1 minute, until it is bright green, but still crunchy. Cool in an ice bath or the refrigerator.

Zest the lemon into a small bowl, then juice the lemon. Whisk in the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small skillet on the stovetop until fragrant. Watch closely so they do not burn.

Place cooled asparagus on a serving plate, drizzle with dressing. Using a vegetable peeler, shave long strips of parmesan cheese over the asparagus and toss on the walnuts.

I don’t care much for artificial sweeteners or things like Stevia. In coffee, Stevia leaves a funny, candy-like taste, to me. Monkfruit powder upset my stomach. So if I want something sweet, fruit is my main option. Berry season is wonderful, especially blueberries and strawberries.

When peaches come in, I couldn’t ask for anything more than a bowl full of fresh peaches.

Apples are a great fruit choice because of the fiber, and oranges also offer vitamin C to the mix.

A nice mix is cut up apple, orange and blueberriers with a little plain, nonfat yogurt.

Kiwi are sweet, too, and different, and pineapple is superb when it comes to packing flavor. All of these fruits must be fresh, remember. Canned fruits usually contain added sugar, as do many frozen fruits.

Frozen grapes are a lovely summertime treat, but don’t eat too many. A frozen banana is pretty good, too, better when mixed with other fruit.

I like a salad of mixed fruit that also mixes textures, so apples and grapes like each other, as do berries and pears. To dress up whatever mix of fruit I might have, I use fresh lemon or lime juice, or a little fresh orange juice and maybe some slivered almonds.

All this, or course, depends on what I have time for, and some days, time is the last thing I have.

So, I’d like you to share with me some ideas for grab and go foods.

Monday, we had Jimmy John’s at work, so I opted for the lettuce wrap, which was tasty, but very messy.

Today, it’s going to be kale salad with some deli turkey and Monterrey Jack cheese, along with carrots, green onions, a little romaine lettuce, and balsamic dressing. Apple is nice with kale so I’ll probably add some of that to the salad, too.

OK, we’re all challenged by the new way of eating. Please help me out, and I’ll try to help you out.

Anyone out there who’s doing well, please get in touch with me.

I know plenty of you are going gluten free and a lot of you are working to cut out sugar and flour. What are your recipes?

Let me know what works for you. What’s your go-to snack or a satisfying dinner meal? Let’s share recipes and tips and walk the walk together. It’s always easier if someone’s suffering … er… sharing what you’re going through.

You can email me at deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com, call me at 704-797-4252 or write me: Deirdre Parker Smith, PO Box 4639, Salisbury NC 28145.

Right about now I sure would like one of those muffins.

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