This Week’s Menu {and yes, I temporarily gave up coffee & sugar–can you believe it?!}

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

For a long list of reasons, I temporarily gave up coffee and sugar a week ago. Yes {gasp!} can you believe it?!

It’s been eight days, and now that the massive headache is gone, I am feeling so, so good (and sleeping better than I have in years). I’m happy and all, but on the other hand, I was sort of secretly hoping I wouldn’t notice such a marked difference. :)

Because of this success, I’m now getting brave and giving up gluten, too, as a 30-Day experiment. It’s amazing how health issues will motivate you to do things you used to think were pretty crazy!

So if you notice a bit outside the norm recipes on my menu, you’ll know why. And if you have any amazing gluten-free, sugar-free (I am eating some honey, but no other forms of sweetener outside of fruit) recipes you think I’d love, please do shoot them my way.


Oatmeal, Cereal, Eggs, and/or Fruit


{I’ll be eating a salad with chicken/tuna, etc. on it every day}

Mac & cheese, fruit
Snack-y lunch
PB&J, carrot sticks, apples
Cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks
Leftovers x 3


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
Boiled eggs

Freezer Cooking {I’ll share how this goes later this week!}

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
Easy Energy Bars (I’m going to sub raisins for the chocolate chips.)
Marinated Chicken


Steak on the grill, corn on the cob, veggies
Supreme Egg Loaf, Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Waffles, fruit
Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole with ham, veggies
Simple Beef & Veggie Casserole, fruit
Dinner with friends
Dinner with extended family x 2

What’s on your menu this week? Share details and/or your link to your menu plan in the comments.

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  1. Keli says

    I gave up sugar and coffee for the month of April. The coffee was not as hard as I thought it would be. The sugar was a little bit as it is in so much stuff! It has opened my eyes to the foods we eat and I notice i sleep a lot better and I have more energy. Good luck with your experiment!

  2. says

    Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been trying the no sugar coffee thing too. Unfortunately while I’ve cut back I haven’t been able to say no completely. This is just the encouragement I needed !

    I’m learning you can have discipline to say no!

  3. K says

    Thanks for this post. It’s very timely. And congratulations on your success w/ temporarily eliminating sugar and caffeine from your diet. I can imagine that it wasn’t easy.

    I am not a coffee drinker, but I do like sweets. I rarely if ever prepare foods with white cane sugar, as I use agave nectar, (preferably raw.) I just purchased some powdered Stevia, so I’ll be trying that, soon.

    I’ve been contemplating trying a gluten-free diet, just to see if I notice any positive changes in my body.

    I think that a major challenge would be to give up ALL dairy and salt. Or maybe just doing organic dairy. :) Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do vegan. Would love to be able to afford the meats that don’t have added hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. I buy them when I can.

    Crystal, you once did a post that linked to (or Though I haven’t tried the recipes, I do plan to do so, soon. I think that there may even be some gluten-free recipes available.?

    Well, blessings on your success with your next dietary venture!

  4. Anna says

    Oooh! After seeing the chocolate banana smoothie I had to make one. It was so good! Now, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe, but it’s like drinking a candy bar for breakfast! I used a scoop of vitacost whey protein powder, which is super sweet from xylitol and stevia, and skipped the honey, and threw in a scoop of chia/flax/psyllium fiber blend I have that is GROSS alone, but otherwise pretty much did the recipe. Good way to take the fiber! I barely noticed it.

  5. says

    My daughter and I have just switched over to gluten free. We are trying to see if gluten plays a part in her ibs issues and for me, to see if it will alleviate my chronic pain. It hasn’t been too hard since there are so many great options on store shelves, but it HAS been costly. Are you drinking decaf or no coffee at all?~TJ

  6. melissa f says

    Hey Crystal, So happy for you. I know when my family is doing this well we all feel so much better. Alas, it is easy to fall back into old habits though. 2 of my favorite sweet treats to enjoy while eating this way are very simple. Pecan pie- take a whole Medjool date, pop out the pit and replace it with a whole pecan or two- tastes just like pecan pie. The other is one ingrediant banana ice cream- freeze chunks of banana that are really ripe. After they are frozen, place in a blender (I use an immersion blender) and blend until it is a nice creamy texture. Best banana ice cream ever- so sweet and creamy!

  7. says


    These cheesesteak bell peppers were wonderful. We made them yesterday with steakums instead of roast beef! Hope you enjoy them too. But OMG you gave up caffeine? Brave woman :) We gave up sugar last month. I faltered a few times but overall we are doing well. IF you can give tips on paying for more meat and veggies when you’ve cut those starches out I would LOVE that. Not supplementing the diet with white pasta, rice, and potatoes definitely takes more food to fill us. This month we plan to experiment with adding beans to our diet. We are definitely getting healthier but not entirely feeling it!

    • says

      Oh, and if you come up with uses for UNSWEETENED ALMOND VANILLA MILK. It’s pretty awful- we got 4 of them on a discount last week. So far I’ve used 1 entire carton making lattes, blender frappucinos, and drinking it straight up. It’s just such a funny taste. I havent found a recipe i love it in yet. So do let us know if you try some!

  8. Hanneke says

    LOVED your suggestion for banana/chocolate/peanut butter smoothie! I used almond butter with an extra banana and NO sweetner, VERY YUMMY!

  9. Deidre says

    I started cutting sugar out years ago and am amazed at the difference! I have no started to cut out all dyes and my migraines and headaches have almost disappeared. Here is my favorite sugar-free granola recipe.

    1 cup oats
    1/2 cup almond butter or peanut butter (I use almond butter)
    1/3 cup honey
    1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (Whole Foods bulk section)
    1/2 cup dried fruit without sugar
    1 tsp vanilla

  10. Lisa says

    Crystal I’m also trying to loose weight just got over pneumonia had to take 2 rounds steroids i want to cut out sugar but i love coffe tea I’ve cut down to one cup coffee and one glass tea and rest water i was wondering what do u drink all day?

  11. Billene says

    Seems that gluten free diets are the latest nutritional fad these days. I question the fact of just how much one would benefit from this diet if not diagonised with Celiac disease. Most gluten free products are very expensive and do not provide the nutritional benefits needed by those not suffering from the disease. As far as sugar and caffeine goes I think everyone should cut back or do away with it completely. Most adults and children consume much more than they need, leading to weight problems, tooth decay , sleepless nights and hyperactivity.

    • NatPatBen says

      One could NOT buy expensive gluten-free products and just eat real food…

  12. says

    Here’s a delicious sugar, dairy, gluten-free salad dressing:

    a yummy hummus recipe – great as a snack with carrots, cucumbers, peppers:

    And, we LOVE this Chicken Piccata recipe (dredge w/ brown rice flour & toss in broccolini and cherry tomatoes at the end):

    Another main course meal – Mexicali Burgers served w/ Guacamole on top:
    (even better served w/ a side of baked sweet potato fries!)

    1 lb ground turkey
    1/3 c. salsa
    3 T. chopped cilantro (optional)
    2 T. finely chopped onion
    1 tsp. ground cumin

    1 ripe avocado, pitted
    1 T. salsa
    1 tsp. lime (or lemon) juice
    1/4 tsp. garlic powder
    1/4 tsp. salt

  13. Dana says is a great resource! She has two cookbooks that we use often. Our whole family is now gluten free and feeling so much better. Hang in there. It gets easier.

    • Dana says

      She does use sugar, but I have substituted in a number of recipes and they were still good.

  14. Steph says

    How do you handle when you eat at other people’s homes? Do you tell them beforehand that you are eating a restricted diet? This has always been difficult for me because I eat a certain way out of preference, not because it’s medically necessary (does that make any sense?) so when someone invites us for dinner, I end up eating things I wouldn’t in my normal diet.

    • says

      So far, it’s not been an issue. I can usually find at least a few things that I can eat and just skip the bread and dessert. Also, I often offer to bring a dish or two — and I try to make sure that I can eat what I bring.

  15. Donita says

    I love your site and am excited to try some of your gluten free recipes since I had to give up gluten 5 years ago. I’d like to suggest that you try using stevia in some of your recipes to sub for sugar. Also, unsweetened carob chips can be used to sub for chocolate chips if people need to avoid the extra sugar and caffeine.

  16. Leanne says

    I’m starting a 30 day gluten-free diet tomorrow. I did it last fall and discovered it wasn’t that hard and I lost 9 pounds in one month along with feeling so much better! My daughter discovered that since she gave up corn products, she has no more migraines. Corn is pervasive in so many products today and it’s sad that so many of our foods are making us sick. I hope your experiment goes well and you feel great!

  17. Rose says

    An easy non-sugar sweetener for your oatmeal is cooking the oats in apple juice! I actually just keep an open container of frozen apple juice concentrate handy and just add a couple spoons full to my water! I’ve also added bananas to my oatmeal for extra sweetness.

  18. Katie says

    I recently went gluten/sugar free as well – three weeks in and not a sugar craving in sight! It’s amazing how once I gave up the high carb items, I stopped craving them.

    I get tired of eggs for breakfast (and I’m staying away from oatmeal right now), so I make this quick and easy custard.

    3 eggs
    2 ripe bananas
    1 can of coconut milk OR 15 oz almond milk (I’m sure dairy milk would work as well)
    2 tsp vanilla
    Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to taste

    Blend it all in the blender, pour in a Corningware or individual cups, and bake at 325 for 45 minutes. I make it ahead and eat it cold in the morning and it is super easy and delicious with a little bit of sweetness!

  19. Sophie says

    I’m GF too. It’s made all the difference for me. It’s great that you are going no sugar because a lot of the GF products add tons of extra sugars. Make sure you get enough iron. My iron dropped when I went GF because I didn’t realize how much bread and cereals were fortified with iron! Quick tips: Make your typical enchilada recipes with corn tortillas, your noodle dishes with GF noodles ( the quinoa are best for you but pricey). I buy the Hartland noodles from Walmart. They are the cheapest and my husband can’t tell the difference. They also reheat the best. Always undercooked GF noodles so they aren’t slimey:)
    Here is a yummy no sugar dessert idea. Slice up a banana, sprinkle it with cinnamon, and top with a little honey. Fry the banana in a little coconut oil. While it’s hot add a tablespoon of natural peanut butter ( let it melt on top to make sauce). Hope you enjoy it!!

  20. BUSY MOM IN AL says

    Crystal, I know how you like to save time in the kitchen and saw that you were having a salad every day for lunch. Have you seen the mason jar salads? You can make them 4-5 days ahead and they stay fresh. Just google salad in a jar or mason jar salads! They are so pretty!

  21. Julie says

    Way to go on gluten free! I have been going back and forth on doing it as my mom had celiac disease and I am starting to be “just like my mom” in many ways. Did you end up buying all new kitchen appliances/utensils/pots and pans? Or were you able to use what you have? I am trying to do this without breaking the bank in setting up my “new” kitchen. Any input would be awesome!!

    • Frances says

      I have been gluten-free for 7 weeks now – mainly due to stomach issues for me and my husband’s double vision since November. Wanted to say thanks for all the links and posts. I will be busy reading them for quite a while.

      Julie, I did not buy all new pots and pans. I used aluminum foil over a toaster oven tray that was used for non- gluten-free items and just cleaned the other pots very well. MAKE SURE you do not use a plastic colander for gluten-free and gluten spaghetti. My husband and son reacted to it! We did buy a stainless steel colander to be used for only gluten-free items – or you can just use lid to drain.

  22. CCM says

    For anyone who has given up coffee and wants a sub, or is trying to, give roasted chicory root a try. It’s caffeine free and is LOADED w/stuff that’s good for you. It also has a very coffee-esque flavor. You steep one teaspoon w/1 cup of boiling water, then strain. I was getting awful headaches when I tried to quit coffee a few months ago, but with this sub, I haven’t gotten any! Turns out, chicory root is anti-inflammatory and actually reduces headaches!

  23. says

    For those of you wanting to go gluten free, at least go get tested for celiac disease from your doctor (IF they will test you, trust me, I had to argue to get it, many years of undiagnosed celiac disease, aunt diagnosed with celiac disease) BEFORE you go gluten free. If you go gluten free and then get tested, you will probably get a false negative result. There is no test right now for gluten sensitivity, which is a shame, but they are working on it. Then do your research on what foods do and do not contain gluten and know what to look for on your food labels. I had to just cut out pretty much every processed food out there and eat more whole foods. I have celiac disease (and I tested positive for oats, even those labeled gluten free, there is gluten in oats but only about 15% of celiacs react to it). I also have intolerances to eggs, cow dairy (I limit myself on the goat cheese, but that’s all the dairy I consume, I switched to coconut milk products), soy, GMO corn (organic corn doesn’t bother me, I don’t understand it), most nuts, peanuts, manioc (tapioca), and spinach. I had to do an elimination diet and eat only 5 things for 6 months, then have started to slowly add back one item every couple of weeks to see if I can have it or not and I am now up to 30 foods I CAN eat, so that’s a victory for me. I was just reacting horribly to every single thing I ate and lost 35 pounds quickly.

    I’m not a coffee drinker, but I DID cut out sodas (Diet Dr. Pepper was my fave) in January. Yes, I had the horrible withdrawal headache for a couple of days, but then I felt fine. I am also cutting out all fake sweeteners (I will use real sugar, I don’t see a problem with that, it’s the fake ones that gave me horrible headaches). Ever since I did this, I don’t crave sweets or carbs (cakes, cookies, chips, etc) so much. I tried a sip of Diet Dr Pepper a few weeks ago and it tasted AWFUL! It was a nasty chemical taste that I definitely do NOT remember a soda tasting like, so I poured it down the drain and haven’t tried it again. These chemicals must change the way our taste buds perceive food.

    I don’t have any good recipes for you to try, but I’m working on it. I am trying to get my website up and running and maybe help those with multiple food intolerances figure things out as I am figuring things out. I eat very simply right now.

  24. Angie Malan says

    Our family is GF and here is our favorite not sweet recipe. It’s easy and inexpensive and only one pan to clean! Oven Roasted Chicken:
    Rinse and pat dry one whole chicken (4-5 lbs.). Put in a roasting pan and rub with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. salt. In the pan with the chicken put (diced and peeled) 1-2 sweet potatoes, 1-2 potatoes, 1 onion, and 1 cup of carrots. Put 4 Tbsp. of butter and 1 tsp. of thyme on the veggies. Bake in 400 oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken reaches 180 with a meat thermometer. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

    Our family of 2 adults and 3 kids can eat this for dinner and still have tons of leftover chicken to freeze, make chicken and rice soup, or chicken salad, or enchiladas (corn tortillas). This can also be prepped in advance and stuck in the refrigerator. Good luck!

  25. K D says

    There is a wonderful website with recipes, just Goofle Elana Amsterdam, I believe the website is called Elana’s pantry. I have been happy with her recipes.

  26. Susan says

    Good work, Crystal! I am glad that you are trying this experiment, because you always have such interesting-looking recipes, but some of them contain sugar, which eliminates them for me. Perhaps there will be some sugar-free ones soon?

    Like some others here, I stopped eating sugar and have noticed a positive change in my health since I did so.

  27. Theres says

    I’m a little late to add to this post, but just had to share. For health reasons, I eliminated white flower, white sugar and anything processed or with preservatives almost 2 years ago. Amazingly the arthritis and other joint inflammation issues I was experiencing disappeared. It was a bit difficult at first, but has been well worth it!

    Hope you have great results as well!

  28. says

    Wow Crystal, you are a brave girl to give up coffee! I have tried and failed at that many times. Would you be willing to share how you went about it? Did you go cold turkey? I can give up a lot of things, but coffee seems to be the one thing I really struggle with.

      • says

        That’s where I relapsed – I would get a headache and then go right back to the coffee. I found some organic coffee beans at Costco and try to justify to myself that it’s healthier. I just don’t like being dependent on it to get through the day. If you can do it, I can do it! Thank you for the inspiration.

  29. says

    One more thing… I appreciate that you are posting healthy recipes, so thank you! It is hard to find recipes that are both healthy AND actually taste good! What are you going to do without your bread machine buttery rolls? ;o) I love those, but feel much better when I don’t eat bread & such…