The GOAL of this site is to help people with Diabetes transform what we can or should eat, into what we WANT to eat!
A diagnosis of DIABETES is NOT the end of GREAT EATING
The purpose of my website and the cookbook that is in the works is to celebrate our limitations, reinvent our diets, and applaud every positive step we make, every ounce we lose, every point our numbers go down and to let you know that:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE – IT WILL GET EASIER – LIFE WILL BE DELICIOUS AGAIN!
I hope to share with you that a DIABETIC COMPATIBLE RECIPE does not have to be a stand in for the “good stuff” but can stand alone as something wonderful.
Enjoy, be Healthy, BE Happy, Be Creative, Be DECADENT !
TO ACCESS MY RECIPES AND PAST ARTICLES, LOOK ON THE BLACK BAND UNDER THE PICTURE OF MY KITCHEN COUNTER AND CLICK ON EITHER POSTED RECIPES OR PAST ARTICLES
Disclaimer: I do mention some brand name brand products in some articles. I am not paid by the companies that make or distribute these products, nor do I own any stock in any of the companies. I mention them because…THE PRODUCTS WORK FOR ME!
Article # 231
Diabetes…a love / hate relationship
In the years since my diagnosis I have spoken to hundreds of people about their Diabetes. Universally, people hate that they have Diabetes…but, and it is a big but, many people also credit their diagnosis to a boost in their general health.
As many of you know I started working in my family’s restaurant as a tyke. It wasn’t a question of wanting to work there, it was understood that my brother (12 years older and also had Diabetes) were supposed to work there. To this day, I have no idea why my sisters (4 of them) were not required to work in the restaurant.
Instead of little league, I learned the first tricks of cooking from Maurice the restaurant chef, and I suppose, my first cooking coach. My being the boss’s son, Maurice was very kind to me, and never threw a pan at my head. Some of the others in the kitchen were not so lucky.
I can’t say I loved working in the kitchen. I can’t say I hated it. Learning to cook, professionally, at a young age served me well. In college I used those skills to make enough money to live on, and can happily say I was never a starving college student. I ate from the “blue box” because I liked it, not because it was all I could afford to eat.
Right out of college, I left the world of restaurants and went to work at Bloomingdale’s in New York City. Cooking for me became just a fun hobby. It was my “schtick” to amuse and feed my friends. It became more of a pleasure than when I had to do it to earn a living, or please my parents.
What has this to do with Diabetes?
Because of my family history, you know those forms they make you fill out again and again at the doctor’s office, I stood a good chance that I would develop Diabetes. I dreaded it. I am crazy needle-phobic. I could practically pass out when I got a flu shot. Can you imagine how I felt know all the testing in store for me? Like most people with Diabetes, I hated it.
I was treated with an oral medication. I was determined to keep my Diabetes in check so that I would not have to inject insulin. As horrible the idea of injecting myself was, I hated the way I thought I had to cook and eat to keep me needle free.
For the first few months, eating and cooking was a drag. No more than that. All the joy and creativity in my life seemed to be gone. Add to that the delightful gastro- intestinal problems caused by the medication, I hated my life.
Something had to change. It did. My body adjusted to the medication and I was thrilled. My poor sister NEVER did adjust and had to keep trying new things. I lost weight and looked pretty good for an old codger. What is not to love?
But more than that, I found people out in the world that were willing to help me. From one very little thing (learning how to read labels, and figuring out what they really meant to me) my personal Diabetes world turned around.
I found a bread, then another bread, then other foods, and uses for foods I already used. Chocolate, in small amounts, was still possible. My eating world expanded. I got to understand that not all foods were off the table. Many are still a part of my meal plan. Sure there are changes and decisions I consciously make every single day, but they are not a chore but a challenge. I use my mind differently and my math skills more than I have since high school.
The big breakthrough for me was realizing that what worked for some people was either too strict or too lax for me. We are all uniquely different. The challenge is to find our own personal level of comfort in managing your Diabetes.
For any of you that have ever worked in a restaurant, you know that chefs sometimes have huge egos….and tempers. I am a chef and am no exception. I have learned to love what I cook. More than that, I brag about how well I eat and how well I have managed my Diabetes.
Do I love that for my eating/ cooking regime pasta and rice are only once in a while and even then eaten in small amounts? No, I don’t. What I do love is that I have been able to find other foods to replace those items. What I do love is that my cooking and eating life has gotten to taste great and works….for me.
If there is anything at all to love about Diabetes is how empowered I feel by knowing that I can manage my Diabetes.
We have Diabetes. We have to live with that fact. We don’t have to love it…but we can!
Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!
Baked Egg custard for ADULTS ONLY
Chefs’ Notes: Every culture has a version of this desert. Call it Flan, Pot O Crème, Crème Caramel. This is a simple to make egg custard that many of us loved as a kid. BUT this is a grown up version. If you don’t use alcohol in your cooking, you can substitute grated orange zest.
Makes 6 Servings
Carbohydrates 4 grams per serving
2 cups Whole milk
1 cup cream
½ cup sugar replacement
2 tsps. Pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 TBSP. brandy, bourbon, or dry sherry
1 tsp. grated orange zest.
How to prepare this recipe:
Pre heat oven to 325°F.
Heat the milk in small saucepan until very hot. Milk should be steaming but not bubbling. Beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl until blended but not foamy. Add the liquor or orange zest. Slowly stir in hot milk. Place six lightly buttered 6-oz. custard cups in baking pan large enough to hold cups without touching each other. Ladle egg mixture into cups, dividing evenly.Fill the pan to within 1/2 inch of top of cups. Bake until knife inserted near center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes; centers will still be soft. Remove cups from water bath at once. Cool on wire rack 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate. Really best close to room temperature.
Diabetes side dishes….what’s in your mind?
Decades of cooking and eating habits don’t usually change in the blink of an eye, unless there is a need. Even then change is difficult.
How many years at home and at restaurants was it the usual thing to have: meat & potatoes, fish and fries, pot roast with noodles, chicken with rice, chicken parmesan with pasta? These are hard habits to break. In part it is because these “pairings” are so good.
Nine years ago, I had the need to change up what I ate. No question that I could just limit the amounts of the potatoes (and I do), but noodles, rice, and the pasta are harder.
I searched around for lower carbohydrate versions of these foods and was either disappointed with the flavor and textures, or mad as hell at the false claims of the companies producing these products. If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
The next step was finding substitutes for some of the foods. I am here to tell you that for SUBSTITUTES I have found a number of foods that work wonderfully well for me. I bless cauliflower and spaghetti squash on a daily basis.
Cauliflower is my go to as a substitute for potatoes in salads, as a mashed side, and even more as a rice replacement. Spaghetti squash works great as a pasta replacement. The thing to remember is that they are NOT what they replace. Anybody that tries to fool you into thinking that the cauliflower or spaghetti squash TASTE like what they replace is either fooling themselves or trying to fool you. What they do is take the place of the higher carbohydrate food on your plate. And with a little care and practice taste wonderful as what they are. Different but still delicious.
About a year ago I wrote an article about how difficult it is to be the sidekick on a Diabetes–Compatible plate. A year later I (yes me of ALL people) am still “stuck” in the idea that the “sidekick” HAS to be a starch replacement. That works but… sometimes I don’t have cauliflower or spaghetti squash in the house. Sometimes I do but the cauliflower is the size of a baseball, other times it is the size of a bush. It is either more or less than I need.
The thing is that cauliflower and spaghetti squash take some time and planning to prepare. One solution is to make a batch of it and keep it frozen for future use. It was much easier for me in the before Diabetes days to make some rice or pasta. They were always on hand and took very little planning to make something great to go with rest of the meal….and you could prepare just the right amount.
There is something you can do.
Consider changing the way you think of side dishes. Last week I told you about the great meal I had of steak and asparagus. That is what I planned as my dinner for that evening. I never “planned” on having a starch replacement on the plate. I could have, but it never entered my mind. Why, because for me, there is something about asparagus that fills my plate, not only by volume, but in flavor. That is, if there is a decent amount of asparagus on the plate.
It always bugged me that a restaurant might offer asparagus as a vegetable…at an additional cost, and then give you three spears. Why not wait until it is in season and offer it as an alternative and give you value for your money? But, I digress.
So many meals I think: I have some great________. What am I going to serve with it? The automatic thing is to go back to old habits but find replacements for them. The other possibility is to look at other foods that I absolutely enjoy and make them the side dish.
Take for example the humble green beans. Dress them up with some almonds or colored peppers and you have a real treat to go with that _____. How about a wonderful room temperature salad made with fresh tomatoes, shallots or scallions, canned artichoke hearts, and black olives from a jar? All things you can keep on hand. Dress it with lemon juice and olive oil and you have a great treat in store for very little work or advance planning.
Look at a vegetable in a different way. Celery, for example, does not have to languish in tuna salad or on a “relish” plate. It cooks up into a wonderful side dish full of flavor and practically a free food in terms of carbohydrates. You can also slice it thinly and make a simple lemon dressing for it and add some cheese and nuts. It is a great side dish for a burger (on a sandwich thin), or chicken. Hey, you put it in chicken salad. Why not let it sit along the side?
Bottom line is that if you clear your mind and preconceptions of what you think of as a side dish (think out of the box), there is a universe of great flavors and textures that are a snap to fix and fill your plate without depleting your carbohydrate budget.
Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!
Celery, Cheese and Nut Salad
Makes 4 – 1 cup servings
Net carbohydrates 3 grams per serving
Chef’s Note: Celery is one of my favorite vegetables. Long lost in soups, tuna salad, under peanut butter, and in “relish” trays. This fast, inexpensive, refreshing side dish is a new way to look at celery.
3- cups celery cut into thin slices (about 8 stalks)
Juice and zest of ½ -1 lemon (about 3 Teaspoons.)
¼ -tsp. kosher or sea salt (divided)
¼ cup good olive oil
1/8 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced shallot or scallion
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
½ cup toasted nuts (your choice walnuts, pecans or pistachios)
2 ounces of shaved or chunked parmesan cheese (or Granna Padano)
HOW TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE:
Thinly slice celery (on an angle). Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1/8 tsp. of the salt and toss. (DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! It allows the celery to weep and soften and enhance the flavor of the lemon juice) Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes
Combine: remaining salt, lemon juice and zest, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Stir until well combined. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture thickens. Add the scallions or shallot. Pour over the celery mixture and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Toast the nuts and shave or chunk the cheese. Add the nuts to the celery mixture just before serving and top with the cheese.