THIS WEEK- Diabetes Side dishes…What is in your mind?

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

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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:


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 !


My WEDDING CAKE Diabetic "Happy" Amaretto Cheesecakes

CHEESECAKE!!!! Need I say More?

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 #230

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.

Oven “Fried” Fish and Chips
Lower in Carbs (and fat) and Just as delicious

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 does it AGAIN!

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.

Using a hammer and Chinese Cleaver to split open the Squash

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.

Roasted asparagus with a squeeze of lemon

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.

A lighter, lower carb change from the traditional “Green Bean Casserole”
All the flavor and even more crunch and color

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 Salad
A totally NEW way to look at celery

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)


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.



Article #229

Diabetes Banquet

To quote Patrick Dennis’ Auntie Mame:

“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

For too many of us with Diabetes we think that everything good is gone from our tables. We have to restrict, count, calculate, add, compensate, and heaven knows what else to try and manage our eating and our Diabetes.

But Auntie Mame is not wrong. We tend to get so caught up in all the things that we now have to do day after day to stay healthier, that we forget there is so much out there that is still available to us. Foods that are still wonderful, still exciting to eat. All we have to do is to choose to make our Diabetes life….a banquet.

Steak with pan sauce
From BLAH to AHHH !!! in 5 minutes

For dinner last night we had some killer steak. It was the EXACT same cut, seasoning, and preparation that I have always done. Along with it I prepared some roasted asparagus. Dinner was as simply wonderful as it was when I made it 9 years ago (aka pre diagnosis).

Simple and wonderful

It is a very simple preparation. Seasoned with herbs de Provence and garlic, it took seconds to put together. The asparagus were equally as easy. A little butter, salt & pepper and a hot 425°F oven and the flavor of the asparagus was concentrated in each stalk. What,…you don’t like asparagus. No problem, make broccoli or string beans. You HATE vegetables, fine, let it be your way. Make a salad…but make it wonderful.

A little cheese please
Turns a simple salad into a simple joy

Add a few nuts or seeds, a bit of cheese, a radish…..What? You don’t eat meat either? Work with me here folks, I am trying to reach the mainstream (?) person with Diabetes.

What if I don’t like…

Just today I saw a reader comment on one of my recipes:

“Not blooming almonds again”

A couple of weeks ago I saw another comment:

“Nuts…I HATE nuts”

Lemon Sunflower Cake

The thing is that I use a lot of nuts in my cooking and baking. I do it for several reasons. I use nuts to replace some of the flour in baked goods and as a crust for chicken and fish. I often “suggest” almonds or almond flour. The reason is that almond flour is readily available on the “stupidmarket” shelf. The truth is I don’t use it at all any more. I prefer to toast my own nuts and seeds then grind them into flour. It is very easy and costs far less than the flour on the shelf. I use pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds EXACTLY the same way. For those of you that want a flavor change from almonds or are allergic to any nuts, the seeds are a very good, and not at all second best alternative.

When you want what you want

Sometimes there is no way around it. You want what you want and it does not fit into your intended carbohydrate budget. The solution is really easy. Have some. Remember two things: limit the amount of it to what will still work for you, and DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. You are in complete control if you are willing to take that control. It is not worth it to have something you might usually not eat and then get in a swivit, or sad about it. You choose to eat it….move on. You can balance off the rest of the day or week. Enjoy the treat. Most of us work very hard at trying to manage their Diabetes.

Life and eating with Diabetes is not a life of deprivation. It can and should be a life of fulfilling you goals, eating wonderful foods, trying things you never tried before.

In the musical “Mame,” there is a song that begins (to paraphrase Jerry Herman):

“Open a new window, open a new door. Travel a new highway you have never traveled before. Before you become a dull fellow”… eating the same food…

For living your Diabetes life to the fullest, when you are at the Diabetes Smorgasbord of life, try something new. There is a hell of a lot to enjoy out there and you may just surprise yourself. Ewee is really a four letter word in Diabetes speak!

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!

Roasting vegetables is a great way to concentrate flavor and nutrients

Roasted asparagus

(if you HATE  asparagus this also works with broccoli)

Serving size 8-10 spears

net carbohydrates  6 grams.


Chef’s Note: As with most vegetables, high temperature “roasting” intensifies the flavor. I roast a lot of veggies, but asparagus is my personal “star”.

I like mid sized asparagus. The pencil thin ones just go limp, and the fat ones seem to taste “old” to me, even after peeling them. ONLY when it fresh in my garden, I use a little lemon thyme in this recipe.

8-10 – asparagus spears

1 – Tbsp. minced shallot

1/4- tsp. grated garlic

1 Tbsp. olive oil


1 Tbsp. butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 – Tbsp. fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (optional)


Pre heat oven to 400-425° F.

Rinse the asparagus under running water. On a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, toss the shallots, garlic,  butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper with the asparagus  and spread to one layer.

Cook at for 6- 10 minutes depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables. Sprinkle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar just before serving.




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