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!
Diabetes Cooking: Sometimes BRASSY is best
Writing out the ingredients for a recipe the other day (that contained a little red pepper flakes), I was reminded of my friend Vicente. He would often chide me in his heavily accented and fractured Venezuelan English:
“Oah you are so braahsey (brassy). You are just like Jane Russell in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ (1953). You must learn to be more like Marilyn Monroe, shy and demure.”
But when Vicente needed something done, he turned to this brassy guy, and it got done.
Learning to eat and cook well with Diabetes sometimes takes a little brass, or at the very least a bit of spice. I could have decided: oh well, I will just give up and eat boring foods. Not very likely for this brassy guy.
There is nothing wrong with taking a piece of meat, sprinkling it with some salt (taking heed of your doctor’s advice) and pepper, and cooking it up. It can be tasty….enough. Adding a little garlic or onion will make it even better. My question is: is tasty enough really enough? How soon will YOU get bored? Even if you don’t get bored why ignore a world of brassy flavors?
Brassy or spicy does not have to mean hot. Some people (me included) don’t like so much heat that you can’t taste the base food. I remember tasting tartar sauce at a restaurant here in New Mexico. It was laced with dried Hatch chili peppers. Not that it was terrible, just a surprise. No, IT WAS TERRIBLE.
I like to combine the Russell/Monroe factor in my cooking. I like spices and herbs, but
tend to the European flavors more than the heat of New Mexico or India. Not that I don’t use the hot “stuff” in small amounts, but I like the more subtle flavors of the Mediterranean. That is not to say that those flavors are demure. Basil and oregano are sharp, while tarragon is mild and slightly anise in flavor. Alone or in combination, these flavors add a lot to that barely seasoned meat or chicken. The fun thing is that YOU can use them by themselves and get one kind of flavor from each of them. Use them together and get a more rounded flavor.
One of the simplest and most delicious recipes I have ever used was to combine lemon juice, soy, and ONE spice or herb. Each time you do this it is entirely different and entirely delicious. Just changing out the herb each time gives you dozens and dozens of recipes that are low in carbohydrates. Soy sauce is high in sodium, and if that is an issue for you, check with your medical team and get their advice on using a soy product. Even the “lower” sodium soy sauce may be too much for you. Take the bottle with you or copy down the nutritional information from the container. It is worth a shot.
Then there is the salad. We eat a lot of salads. Why not? They are generally low in carbohydrates and do a great job of filling your plate. I recently had one of my salad recipes posted. One of the readers responded:
“Hmmm salad for a change?!”
I get it. Salads may be filling. Salads may be low in carbohydrates. But salads can get “old” pretty fast if you are using them as the staple on your plate.
A little brass here works wonders. Who dictated that a salad had to be a specific combination of foods x, y, and z? I have been preparing a salad of artichoke hearts (yes, from a can) black olives, and onion for decades. Sometimes I add a little chopped tomato and/or bits of parmesan cheese. After all these years, I have never been bored. What lies ahead is adding something else to the dish. Perhaps a little of those chili flakes will add the right amount of brass to this otherwise demure dish?
Fettuccini with Salsa Fresca
Net Carbohydrates <6 grams per serving
Chef’s Notes: Using Shirataki noodles has made most of the pasta dishes I so enjoyed “back when” possible again. This “fresh” sauce is one of the easiest and most delicious.
3- 8 oz. packages shirataki fettuccini noodles (YES I mean that)
4 plum tomatoes
2 TBSP. olive oil
2 small zucchini, cut into medium dice
1 large shallot or 5 scallions chopped finely
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
Salt and pepper to taste and your doctor’s recommendation
2 TBSP. fresh basil, chopped
2 TBSP. fresh parsley, chopped.
Pinch of red pepper or chili flakes (more if you like it hot)
2 TBSP. parmesan cheese
HOW TO PREPARE THE RECIPE:
Bring 2 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Rinse the shirataki noodles, add to the water, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain well.
Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze out the seeds and jelly. Cut into large dice
Heat the oil in a large skillet. . Add the diced zucchini, salt & pepper and cook until lightly brown.
Add the shallot or scallion and cook until they are pale golden in color. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add diced tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are just wilted. Add the basil and parsley, cooked fettuccini, and red pepper flakes. Stir to heat through. Add the cheese and stir together. You may add more cheese if you like.
Article # 251
Diabetes Cooking: Let it be YOUR way
I like cooking with onions. I can’t imagine not using them. If you think you HATE onions, let it be your way and leave them out of your recipes.
I was raised by my maternal grandmother. For as far back as I can remember she was a fun and feisty lady. Other than some simple basic American style dishes, what she cooked was the foods of her homeland. Many were specific to her little village in what was Austria Hungary. Other than family members, no one I know has every even heard of them. All were prepared with what was available in her home country. Despite the unavailability of fresh produce, she created hundreds of hundreds of interesting dishes. I say interesting because there were a few that I never learned to like.
Ask her for a recipe and she would shrug: “recipe, what recipe, a little this, a little that, so it should be good in taste”. It was good in taste and who could argue with that?
My grandmother, like so many grandmothers of friends, had her food prejudices. Asian, German, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Russian, these fabulous ladies (and sometimes their husbands) knew “the right way” to cook things. Others, especially other family members “always made it a little wrong”.
I loved this generation. There was no way to win an argument with them. Even after careful consideration of what you had to say, they might look at you and say: “fine, let it be your way”. You lost. No two ways about it.
I like to think about cooking that way. No two cooks, even in the same family will go about making a dish EXACTLY the same way. The great thing about this is that each cook is ABSOLUTELY right. The way it should be prepared and should taste is from memory and emotion.
Unless you are making say Chicken Marsala, which by its very nature uses mushrooms for flavor and texture, it is ok to leave the mushrooms out of a dish.
I just wrote this sentence and realize that even Chicken Marsala can be delicious without the mushrooms. It can be more delicious to you if you hate to pick mushrooms out of a dish. Just don’t leave out the Marsala. If you do, you may have something delicious, but it WON’T be Chicken Marsala.
Many of the recipes I share with you have variable ingredients. I will sometimes suggest 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated; or shallot or scallion. The dish will work the same way with the variable. I like the taste of garlic and will usually go for the larger amount. I also prefer the ease of grating the garlic rather than mincing it. It works either way. I use a lot of shallot. I like the mid-way flavor between an onion and a scallion. It is gentler than the onion, sharper than the scallion. The choice is yours. If you only have an onion on hand, use an onion. The dish and the world will not fail.
I do use wine in many recipes. For various reasons many people don’t use wine. With very few exceptions, the red wine can be replaced with orange zest and tomato paste; the white wine with lemon and chicken stock. The combination doesn’t taste like wine but it has a similar acid/sweet essence to bring out the flavor intended by MY recipe.
Since Diabetes, I use a lot of cauliflower. I prepare my mashed and au gratin cauliflower EXACTLY the way I had previously prepared potatoes. If you “always” had mashed potatoes with butter and milk, have it your way, use butter and milk. It will taste more like what you remember. But keep an open mind and once in a while at least think about having it my way with garlic, parmesan cheese, dill and sour cream. It is really scrumptious unless you don’t like one or more of the ingredients.
Where I live, we have very hot summers. It also gets breezy at exactly the time I would go outside to grill. The breezes (I call it wind), are so strong it blows the flames and heat of the grill to one side. Half my grill chars things, half leaves them uncooked. It is too much work for me (too hot outside) to stand there and keep moving the food around the grill. I rely on a lot of foods prepared in the cooler hours of the day and eaten cold or reheated at night. In the old days I always like to make cold rice salad. In the new Diabetes days I make “riced” cauliflower salads. I toss in what I have on hand. There is no wrong way to make these salads. As my late beloved grandmother would say: “Let it be your way”.
Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!
“Riced” Cauliflower Salad
Chef’s Notes: I love cold pasta salads. I also love cold rice salad. Using “leftovers” from my lemon scented “riced” cauliflower, I can still make a killer cold salad. What is great about this salad is that you can use (use up) what you have sitting around. You get to have it your way. I use about half of the recipe for Lemon scented “riced” cauliflower (recipe below). FAIR WARNING: this salad can easily “grow” to feed a small army. What you want to do is add small amounts of the things you have available.
Recipe makes 4 servings
Serving size 2 Cups
This version has: Net Carbohydrates 5 grams.
Prepare this part first
Lemon scented “Riced” cauliflower
Recipe makes 2 servings
Serving size 1 Cup
Net Carbohydrates 5 grams
You can do this with a box grater but it works best and most quickly with a food processor.
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1” each)
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 shallot minced
2 scallions minced
1 clove of garlic, grated or minced very fine.
¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 tsp. fresh parsley chopped
HOW TO PREPARE THE RECIPE:
Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles kernels of rice (this can also be done on the large side of a box grater).
Heat butter or olive oil in a large (12”) frying pan. Add the shallot or scallions and cook until just wilted. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and continue to cook over medium high heat for 3- 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice and zest. Allow to come to a simmer. Cook at medium heat for 4-5 more minutes until all the liquid has disappeared.
When the cauliflower recipe is cooked, save about ½ of it for this salad. Chill overnight in the refrigerator. The rest freezes like a dream for use in another dish.
To assemble salad:
½ of lemon scented “riced cauliflower recipe (above)
1 cucumber seeded and cut into chunks
5 radishes, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup of blanched broccoli florets
2 Roma or tomatoes on the vine, seeded and diced
6 ounces blanched snap peas or ( you can substitute cooked asparagus)
1 small shallot or 3 scallions sliced thinly
6 ounces cooked chicken
4 ounces cheese (Swiss, cheddar, feta, or provolone)
2 TBSP. fresh parsley
1 TBSP. (or more) fresh basil or tarragon)
2 TBSP. white wine or apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup good olive oil
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste and your doctor’s advice
HOW TO PREPARE THE RECIPE:
Combine the cold, cooked, cauliflower with the next 12 ingredients and toss to combine.
In a bowl or jar combine the vinegar (or lemon juice), oil, mustard and salt & pepper. Pour over the salad just before serving or it will turn your vegetables gray Mix thoroughly.
Article # 250
Diabetes cooking: After you try it…
As a general thing Diabetes really isn’t much fun. I can not find anything “really” fun in stabbing my fingers or not eating as much of some foods as I might like. But the challenge of creating new recipes that will tickle my taste buds has become a fun and delicious game.
I am not a classically trained chef. I never learned to respect that the recipe for x dish HAD to be exactly so much this and so much that and you could not change proportions and ingredients to make it taste perfect for you. Classical techniques (cream whips best cold, eggs whip best at room temperature) are one thing, and have immeasurable value, but I learned from chefs (home and professional) that a dish could be made even better or transformed into a new dish if… Perhaps this is why changing recipes to suit my Diabetes management has not been such a big deal for me.
The NEW rules are: It STILL has to taste great, not just good. It has to work for my carbohydrate budget. Other than that, the sky is the limit.
I need to admit that I have not been able to create a Diabetes-Compatible version of every dish. Things like deep fried fish haven’t happened for me as yet. That is not to say oven fried fish isn’t crispy and delicious but it ain’t fried fish and chips. What is so, it tastes almost better. Using ground or chopped nuts and grated parmesan cheese to coat the chicken has given me deeper and richer and more interesting flavors than the plain old fried chicken. The variety is incredible. Ground or chopped walnuts taste entirely different from say, almonds, pecans or pistachios.
Creating a dishes using sunflower or pumpkin seeds for one of my readers(who has Diabetes) with a grandchild that that has nut allergies has rewarded me with yet another variation on a theme. I am pleased as punch to have been of assistance to her, and even more pleased for the “new” dish for me…and for you.
There are so many unbelievable dishes to cook, I never get bored. The only complaint I get at my table is: you know, we haven’t had ______ or ______ in a really long time. Hey, I have so many choices it takes time to get back to some of the first ones I created nine years ago. Add to that are the new dishes I am playing with now. Last night I made my broccoli cucumber salad as a side to a steak. I did it because it is hot as blazes and I didn’t want to heat up the kitchen. The response I got between crunches was: how come we haven’t had this in a long time. I had no good answer. This is one of my favorite side dishes.
Playing is the operative word. I love cooking. For most of my adult life it has been a pleasure for me. After my diagnosis, it has become a game. In many ways I feel it is more fun and far more creative than it has ever been.
So here is the challenge for the household where eating with Diabetes is an issue:
Find a Diabetes-Compatible recipe you might like (it doesn’t HAVE to be one of mine, there are thousands out there to choose from). Prepare as close to written as suits your taste-buds. If you don’t like an ingredient, leave it out and find something that you do like to substitute. For example: if hot peppers are too hot for you, try some sweet bell peppers. If bell peppers make you burp try something else. Then, after you have made the dish, change one herb or spice and make it again. Keep at it until you have made something so delicious the whole table will clamor for it. It really is that easy.
Every one of my recipes has gone through many stages of development. I have changed them over and over again as the little light bulb in my brain thinks of another way to prepare the dish and alter the flavors or textures enough to create a different and even more delicious dish. Sometimes I fail.
My basil is as big as a weed in the garden so I am making my tomato basil chicken. It then occurred to me to make riced cauliflower, this time with the fresh basil and tomato. I bet it will be scrumptious. Then I thought what if……
Net Carbohydrates >3 grams per tomato
Chef’s Notes: I started roasting tomatoes a number of years ago because frankly, tomatoes didn’t quite taste like tomatoes anymore. Roasting really intensified the flavors. I often make large batches of these to have on hand to add to soups, salads, casseroles and sauces; OMELETS (!!!),for the best BLT I have had in years. Plum tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine work best.
HOW TO PREPARE THE RECIPE:
Remove stem end and cut core out of a plum tomato
Cut tomato in half horizontally.
Squeeze to remove excess jelly and seeds
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt pepper and:
dried basil or dried oregano or dried tarragon or all of them combined.
Place on baking sheet. Roast at 400°F. for 20 minutes, rotating the tray after 10 minutes