When I set off to do a no-sugar January, it was more of a whim. I had consumed huge amounts of chocolate goodness all through December and while I wasn’t worried about my weight at all since I was burning all of it while running, doing Insanity or other random workouts, and hiking, I realized that I may have gone a bit overboard with my sugar consumption.
What I didn’t expect to have happen was enjoying cooking as much as I did. Faced with the reality that sugar (sugar derivatives or artificial sweeteners) is in literally everything from cereal to water crackers or baked chips or other savory things that you wouldn’t think could contain sugar, I had to really start reading the labels and put a lot of attention into what I was eating and how I was cooking it. I’ve never been much of a chef in the past. While I love the idea of cooking and I’ve been known to come up with some interesting creations, I also get bored with food easily and want something different every other day, which means there’s a lot of cooking involved so I don’t have the patience to go for very elaborate meals. Most of the times, I would just make a fried rice with vegetables or quinoa with chicken or pan fried salmon and call it a day.
Since I was missing out on sugar this month, I figured I might as well up my game when it comes to cooking to make up for the lack of chocolate in my life. I started off with something relatively simple that had to be cooked perfectly to turn out well – roasted cornish hen with potatoes. Sounds simple enough, no? The challenge with cornish hen, or any other birds for that matter is that they can get very dry when roasted, which is why I had to be very mindful of the amount of time I cooked it as well as the temperature. And because I really like to be creative when cooking, I didn’t really follow a recipe. Instead I rubbed the hen with spices I love in general and let it sit for a few minutes, while I sliced the onions and the potatoes that would serve as a bed for the cornish hen. I set the oven to 450F, layered sliced onions, potatoes and then two cornish hens, covered them with aluminum wrap and in the oven they went. I don’t remember how long I kept them in, but I kept checking every 15 min to see how they look and make sure they were cooking well. Then I decided they were done, I took the aluminum wrap off and put the oven on broil for 5 minutes as I wanted that crunchy exterior. And they turned out just perfect: crunchy exterior, soft and moist interior, while the potatoes had cooked to perfection taking on the flavors of the cornish hen and the onions.
I ended up having a great meal and then using the leftover hen for salads for the next couple of days. But the thing that was even more important was that I discovered a joy for cooking I had forgotten about.
The month continued with other creative endeavors in terms of cooking such as savory crepes or potatoes and cheese lasagna, but the one thing that was amazing was that I was expecting this month to be a month of giving up my beloved desserts and feeling kind cranky about it, yet in turned into a month of amazing culinary discoveries and joy.