A few of my favorite things….revisited


Article #264

Pizza with sausage and creamy risotto, crisp crunchy cookies and big bowls of pasta; these are a few of my favorite things….revisited

 After you find out what you can’t have, comes the time to figure out what you can have and still enjoy. It is about substitutions, additions, and replacements. Some are close to the original and some that are better than the original; and some, well not everything in life is perfect.

Turkey Burger with Sharp Cheddar Cheese
and a big side of Cauliflower Salad

Where is the bun?

Hamburgers and turkey burgers are fine. The problem comes with the bun. Several companies make a thinner “bun” (ARNOLD and PEPPERIDGE FARM and WAL-MART) that are much lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber than the ordinary buns, lower even than whole wheat buns. Lightly toasted these make a great substitution for that old fluffy bun. Remember the “where’s the beef” ads?

I have brought these “buns” or my Joseph’s Low carbohydrate pita bread with me to a fast food chain on occasion (when traveling), ordered a burger or grilled chicken without the bun and placed the meat on these breads. The fast food chain did not mind at all, and I got the joy of holding onto a sandwich again. At home, for a little extra fun, I add a tablespoon or two of blue cheese or ranch dressing to the burger. It only adds 1-2 carbohydrates but really sparks the flavor.

Pizza made using JOSEPH’S low carb pita

Pizza with sausage:

There are a few choices here. The sandwich thins or rounds or better yet a JOSEPH’S PITA BREAD WITH FLAX SEED or low carbohydrate tortilla topped with a drizzle of olive oil, a little dried oregano, a tablespoon of a low carb sauce, crumbled cooked sausage (pork, chicken or turkey) a thick slice of mozzarella cheese.


Encase the sauce, cheese and sausage in a sheet of JOSEPH’S LAVASH or low carbohydrate tortilla; brown in a pan on both sides. Ok it is more like a calzone than a pizza, but really easy, fun, quick, and satisfying.

Spaghetti Squash
Pictured as a meatless dish, but you can add beef or chicken for a GREAT casserole

Creamy risotto:

I find spaghetti squash mixed with butter, a little cream, and parmesan cheese a good replacement. Very similar texture and the additions are limitless. Try including mushrooms, sautéed onions, garlic, shrimp, broccoli, sun dried tomatoes or even fresh tomatoes are great with the spaghetti squash.


Simple to make, simply delicious, 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per cookie

Crisp, crunchy cookies:

This one is a little tricky. I make a really great cookie that crumbles in your mouth similar to a shortbread cookie. What I have done is replace some of the flour with ground toasted nuts, and the sugar with a granulated sugar substitute. For chocolate cookies, I use an unsweetened “SPECIAL DARK” cocoa powder to give it a great chocolate flavor. TRUTH, it has none of the chewy-ness of say a chocolate chip cookie. However, you can press some additional nuts into the cookie before baking so you see and feel them in your mouth.


Tarts and cakes:

By replacing 1/3 of the flour in a recipe with toasted ground nuts, you cut the carbohydrate value by almost 1/3. On the (very) plus side you add greater flavor and texture to all your baked goods. Using a sugar alternative (whichever you personally like and trust) you bring the carbohydrates down even more. Sure the cakes don’t rise as high or brown; but there is a lot of bang for very few carbohydrates.


Big bowls of Pasta:

Just when I thought this dish was a goner, one of my regular readers suggested using Shirataki noodles. Pasta is back on my table with a vengeance. These noodles are very low in NET carbohydrates (1 gram per 8 ounce serving). They feel exactly like “old fashioned” noodles. I find it best to finish the dish by adding the Shirataki noodles to sauce in a big skillet. This is the same way that generations of Italian cooks have been finishing their pasta dishes. The other night I took the fettuccine cut of noodle, cut them up with kitchen shears, and made a mac and cheese to “curl up your toes and die for”.

ENJOY, be healthy, be happy, be….DECADENT-w!

French Apple Custard Tart

8 Servings

Net Carbohydrates              13 grams


Chef’s Note: I use this sweet crust below for all of the tart recipes. It does NOT have to be blind baked!

9-10 inch removable bottom fluted tart pan sprayed with Pam.


2/3 cup flour

1/3 cup toasted nuts (either almonds or walnuts,)

¼ cup granulated sugar replace (your choice)

1 pinch salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp. cardamom

½ tsp. baking powder

4 tbsp. butter

1 large egg


3 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar replace (your choice)

1/3 cup sour cream

1-2 Tbsp. brandy (Optional)


1 Tbsp. Trop 50 orange juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon plus 1 tsp. to sprinkle over the top of the tart.

1 Tbsp. butter to dot top of tart

1-2 Medium eating apples (Jazz, Pink Cripps, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Tango etc.)

How to prepare this recipe:

Pre heat oven to 375°F.

Crust: In a food processor with a steel blade pulse all of the dry ingredients until very well combined and the almonds disappear into the mixture. Add cold butter and pulse until butter is well distributed in the flour mixture. Add the egg and vanilla. Pulse until mixture forms a ball on the blade. Remove the dough pat into a disc about 5-6’’. Wrap disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ½ hour but overnight will also work .and makes life easier. This dough recipe can be doubled and frozen for 6 months.

Roll out the crust on flowered surface to about a 14 in circle. Using your fingers fit into tart pan. The dough is fragile and will break. Not to worry just piece it together with your fingers. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before filling

Filling: Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the apples in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat slowly to combine and then increase the speed to thoroughly blend.

Peel and slice the apples thinly and arrange in the slices around the tart shell. SLOWLY spoon the custard over the apples. Dot with butter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon..

Bake at 375°F. for 26-30 minutes until the custard is set and the apples are a light golden color.

Allow to cool completely before removing from the tart pan,

Diabetes Eating: Bridging the gaps


Article # 263

Diabetes Eating: Bridging the gaps


I want to remind you that after I was diagnosed 9 years ago, I was sent to see a “nutritionist” at a Diabetes clinic. It was my first negative experience with having Diabetes. I had so many questions and was met with so much negativity. I sadly suspect that many of you have had a similar experience along the way.

I believe very strongly in asking questions like crazy and NOT allowing anybody to intimidate you.

The question often comes up:

“Can I eat ____ brand of this? or Is it okay if I sometimes eat_____?

I almost hate that my answer has to be: “yes, but only if it works for you. We are all so different”.

So few of us react the exact same way to the exact same food or even the exact same number of carbohydrates we can consume in a meal or a day. When many of us are first diagnosed; it seems that there are all kinds of foods that can NEVER be part of our lives again.

Photo by Indiana Public Media. org.

For MANY of us, that is not true. Even pure cane sugar can be part of what we eat. We simply have to use it in VERY SMALL amounts: e.g., a teaspoon in a batch of something that yields enough for several people. I am working on a recipe for lower carbohydrate dinner rolls (yield is 30 rolls). The yeast NEEDS a little sugar (1 teaspoon, 5 grams) to work properly.

For the rest of the sweet taste in the recipe I use a sugar alternative (I use several depending on what I have available and what the final taste and volume is for that recipe). No, when it comes to sugar alternatives or replacements, I do not suggest a type or brand. It is one of the choices you get to make for yourself.

We all have our concerns about the foods we eat. I am very strict in knowing that the information is both accurate and scientifically provable. There was a product on the market back when I was first diagnosed that put out claims that it ONLY had x number of grams NET carbohydrates. However the total number of grams of carbohydrates minus the total number of grams of fiber did not bear that out. When I questioned the manufacturer they said that they could not explain how it worked because that would be giving away trade secrets. I did not feel comfortable buying into that and stopped buying the product. Interestingly, years later, the manufacturer stopped making those claims.

If you react negatively to a product or a food; that food or product might be a never for you. For the most part it is a case of trial and error.

Depending on how well you generally manage your Diabetes, there might not be a lot of never foods on your personal list. Sometimes can be a possibility.

Caprese Salad

Last night I made one of my favorite meals, Caprese salad. It is a simple dish of tomatoes (they are too high in carbohydrates for some people) mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil and….bread (?) to sop up the oil. The best bread is crusty French or Italian bread. These breads have too many carbohydrates for me, BUT are the best breads for the job. What I do is cut myself a couple of thin slices of the good stuff and use a low carbohydrate pita for the rest of the oil. I get a “taste” of perfection and keep the carbohydrates down for the entire meal. Sometimes this kind of trade off makes me feel too cheated. In this case, the low carbohydrate pita really is a good replacement.

What was hard for me in the beginning; and is hard for a lot of people, is to remember that a big portion of what you always ate is still ok for you to eat now. Often no changes at all are needed; sometimes with a little modification makes all the difference.

If we make it our choice to eat for our Diabetes health, what we do really isn’t so difficult if we stop and take a look at what is REALLY needed to manage our Diabetes.

I have always felt empowered with the ability to make the changes…. But that is just me and we are all different.

Enjoy, be healthy, be happy, be DECADENT!

3 1/2 inch round Whole wheat and nut pancakes
Today with a fresh blueberry syrup

Whole Wheat Nut Pancakes

Makes 18 3 ½  inch pancakes

Net Carbohydrates                          3.5 per pancake

Chef’s Note: Like most restaurants, I make the batter for these full flavored lighter than air pancakes the night before. This allows the solids to fully absorb the liquids and that way I wake up and am ready to go. My choice is to make them in a 3 ½ inch size, not too big not too small, but just right.


1/3 cup toasted walnuts or almonds OR ¼ cup almond flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. sugar alternative

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 egg

2 TBSP. Sour cream

2/3 cup milk

½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 TBSP. butter (melted and cooled) or

Oil ( orange infused oil or walnut oil are great)

How to prepare the recipe:

Combine the toasted nuts and whole wheat flour in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are pulverized and incorporated into the flour. Add remaining DRY ingredients and pulse to combine.

Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and beat with a whisk to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set up for 15-20 minutes (best overnight in the refrigerator)

Note: If you do use the refrigerator method you may have to add a few table spoons more milk or water to loosen the batter.

Heat griddle or frying pan to medium high. Spoon a tablespoon of batter for each pancake into the pan or on the griddle. Allow small bubbles to form before turning (about 1 minute) and flip and cook one minute more, Serve with fresh berry sauce below.

Fresh Berry Sauce

Makes two ½ cup servings

Net Carbohydrates              6 grams per serving


3 Tbsp. Butter

½ cup walnuts or sliced almonds (optional)

pinch of salt

2 tsp. Cinnamon

2 TBSP. Sugar alternative of choice (you might consider Agave syrup)

1cup fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, alone or in any combination)

¼ cup Trop 50 Orange juice


How to prepare the recipe:

In a skillet, melt the butter Add the nuts and salt. OPTIONAL: Stir until the nuts are coated with butter. Add the cinnamon/ and granulated sugar alternative and low carbohydrate orange juice. Stir to combine. Add the fruit and stir gently until warmed through and juices begin to release.

Diabetes Cooking: The ART of making it work


Article #262

Diabetes Cooking: The ART of making it work

When I was first diagnosed with Diabetes, I thought I would have to give up all that I have learned on my journey to wonderful eating. I did have to give up eating the Arepas (pure corn flour) and some of the quantities of high carbohydrate foods I luxuriated in. I just saw my eating healthfully as a diabetic as a new road yet to be traveled, a new art form to play with.

Here is a diabetic friendly recipe for chicken breast:

Take a chicken breast, brush with a little oil salt and pepper and bake or broil until done.

Exciting ain’t it? Keeping up with a low carb diet isn’t that hard, or is it? OK, how about taking that same chicken breast and brushing it with REMOULADE SAUCE. Bake it or broil it until done. Better? It takes the same time to do both recipes. How about we try another recipe for this poor chicken breast?

Top with re-hydrated sundried tomatoes and chopped calamata olives. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Better yet? This one takes about four (4) minutes more to prepare.

All are Diabetes-Compatible, easy and fast. The question is which recipe will satisfy you more? Which recipe will you look forward to eating? A recipe does not have to be elaborate, difficult, or time consuming to be decadent, it ONLY has to be delicious and interesting. The more you enjoy what you cook, the easier it is to stick to a Diabetes-Compatible eating plan. The art (trick?) in being decadent is not JUST my recipes for cakes and tarts (although they are indeed DECADENT and delicious) but to take the ordinary and make it very special. A good simple steak can be made decadent by seasoning it with Herbs de Provence, more special by napping it with ROYAL CAPER SAUCE and perhaps adding a touch of red wine or brandy to the cooking juices.

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

It takes no time to do this but takes the steak from slab o’ meat to Bouef in a flash. Much of the art of great cooking is taking the common and making it uncommon. Many dishes we think of as elegant are hardly more than common fare. The original Pates were created so as not to waste that part of the fowl or pig. With time and experiment the pate went from by-product to elegance.

I have mentioned before that after my diagnosis I went totally overboard with protein and salad. Sure, all of us have a batch of recipes that work and are low in carbohydrates. How quickly, even with my arsenal of recipes, did I get bored with protein and salad? I got stuck on NOT being able to have as much rice and pasta as I was used to all my adult life. Thinking back on it, I know that I did not have these items every meal. Because it became an issue, I missed them more that was probably reasonable. I was giving them up. It was a sacrifice for me. I was just miserable. It was in talking to other diabetics and sharing recipes with them that I realized how really easy it was to create interesting and decadent meals and still stick with my goals. It was also eye opening that so many people in this fast paced life (myself included) rely on very basic, if not boring, meals just to get us through to a weekend or free day.

To be decadent just requires having the background painted in. So I couldn’t have a lot of pasta. Could the dark green of spinach, so rich in vitamins and antioxidants, take the place and the space of the noodle? Let us go back to that chicken breast (do you think I am obsessed with chicken breasts?) We have cooked it with a little REMOULADE SAUCE or the sundried tomatoes and olives, now how about putting that on a bed of wilted spinach or if you don’t have the time, a bed of cooked frozen spinach, laced with a little garlic and olive oil. Let us now soften the food canvas with a dusting of Parmesan cheese. Is dinner served yet? I am hungry as hell.

The plate is your canvas or think of it as the blank wall in your living room. It just has to be coaxed into life. One small picture on a 10 foot x 20 foot wall is a little dull. I know you don’t want to make holes in the wall, but how about your plate.

My advice, get that white china plate out of the cupboard and start painting a rich satisfying food picture. WARNING: Watch out for the pearl in the wine trick. It could get expensive and anyway one really needs a toga and a getaway barge for that sort of thing.

Making meals that are Diabetes-Compatible is one of the easy arts. No one (except you) expects every single meal to be a masterpiece. Do the best you can and enjoy the process.


Enjoy, be healthy, be DECADENT!

Lavash/ tortilla chips

32 chips

Net carbohydrates               8 grams

Preheat oven to 400-425°F.

Chef’s Note: I serve these with soup in place of bread or crackers. But just by themselves the crunchy salty taste is a great substitute for chips.

Because of the low net carbohydrates I use JOSEPH’S Lavash as well as low carbohydrate tortillas.



3 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ Tsp. black pepper

2 tablespoons dry herbs (Your choices)





1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 TBSP. grated parmesan cheese (or Romano cheese)

How to prepare this recipe:

Combine seasonings, cheese and olive oil. Using a pastry brush spread over the UNCUT sheet of Lavash or LARGE tortilla.

For Lavash: Cut in equal quarters and cut each quarter in 8 equal pieces to make a total of 32 chips.

For tortilla: cut the tortilla in 4 equal quarters and each quarter into 8 pieces of any shape that works easily for you.

Bake at 400°-425° degrees for 3 minutes, rotate pan and bake 2-3 minutes longer. WATCH LIKE A HAWK they burn very, very fast.

Cool on rack.

Diabetes cooking: Cheese it the cops?


Article #261

Diabetes cooking: Cheese it the cops?

What would I do without you guys and your questions? YOU inspire so many of my articles.

Let me start out by saying that the Diabetes Cooking cops are NOT going to show up at your door anytime soon. All recipes are meant to be a suggestion of how to create a dish. If you change it up to suit your needs and likes, nobody will be banging down the door and telling you: YOU DID IT WRONG.

Altering the way you cook and eat to manage your Diabetes will only be effective if you like to eat what you cook.

A few weeks ago one of the Diabetes sites posted one of my cake recipes. The response from the readers was wonderful. GREAT questions galore. I thought I would share some of them with you.

“You call for both oil and butter in the recipe. Will it work if I just use butter?”

Yes, it will and it will be delicious. It will also be different. The combination of the two fats creates a really moist cake. It also has less saturated fat. The “crumb” will be different. A tad drier than using both oil and butter.

I have to wonder why the writer didn’t want to use the oil. We are made so crazy by the news. I had to think the writer thought oil was less natural. I have started using infused olive oils (It does not taste olive-y, just wonderfully fruity) in many of my cakes. Ariston, a company based in Greece has an incredible selection including my favorite chocolate infused olive oil. Where I live I have to order them online.

Nut-free Sunflower cake

“I am allergic to nuts, is there any other way to make this cake?”

I created a sunflower seed cake for one of my favorite readers. She has Diabetes, but her grandson has a nut allergy. She was looking for something to share with him that worked for her. What happened was a totally new and totally delicious cake. It got me started using sunflower and pumpkin seeds in place of nuts. This was NOT about an allergy, but about a couple of new flavors.

“Every time I eat anything with white flour, my blood sugar spikes. Is there something else I can use?”

I suggested using ½ wheat flour and ½ ground toasted nuts (or almond flour). You are still going to get a great tasting cake. It will be denser, more like one of the flourless cakes that were so popular a few years ago. You can even make a totally flourless cake if gluten is an issue. Both of these cakes will not rise. It is the interaction of baking soda or powder and the flour that give it it’s “loft”. If you don’t mind a dense delicious cake, these changes will work for you.

“Can I use honey instead of a sugar replacement?”

Absolutely! Just keep in mind that the carbohydrate count AND the taste will be different. I know some of you don’t want to consider any form of sugar replacements. Not even the stevia group. Some are worried about the negative side effects (fact, fiction, hysteria?) others find that the stevia leaves an aftertaste. Honey is fine IF you like honey. Personally I find the taste too floral and cloyingly sweet. I suggested that the reader try agave syrup. It is still higher in carbohydrates, although less than sugar; but didn’t have the same overpowering flavor that honey has. This lack of affection for honey may be because of a traditional cake my grandmother made a few times a year. It was called “Honey Cake”. It was very dark colored, very moist (to the point of stickiness). It reminded me of the “dreaded Fruit cake”. The flavors and textures have colored my use of honey for years. The other though (for me) about honey is that it was used to aid a sore throat. If I am NOT sick, why eat honey?

YOU and ONLY YOU get to choose what is right for you!

“I wouldn’t make this recipe because it calls for artificial sweetener. They are not good for you”

If you have been reading here for a while you know I NEVER mention WHAT BRAND of sweetener to use. YOU and only YOU get to choose. There are lots of alternatives out there. Use the one that works for you. I stay away from the controversy. Use what works for YOU and you are comfortable using. I am out of that conversation.

All of the people that commented for this article thanked me for my input. I hope it helped them. I hope it inspires you to cook as much as you inspire me to write and create new recipes, for you and for me.

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, and BE DECADENT! –w!

Brussels sprouts with shallots & sundried tomato

Chef’s Note: I know a lot of folks turn up their noses when it comes to Brussels sprouts. They can be quite strong. Here they are balanced with other strong flavors that even it all out and give you a rich side dish.

2 servings

Net Carbohydrates     6


¾ pound fresh Brussels sprouts

1 medium shallot, sliced

1 clove garlic, grated

4 sundried tomato halves thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese


Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts. Cut a shallow cross in the stem end of each sprout. Blanch in sweetened water (water with salt and 2 teaspoons sweetener) for 4 minutes. Immediately shock in iced water. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise. You can stop here and continue the recipe later.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the shallots sundried tomato and garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Brussels sprouts the salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat until the sprouts start to caramelize. Plate and dust with grated Parmesan cheese. For an extra golden color and crunch, run the sprouts under the broiler for just a minute or so.

Living with Diabetes: I hate to complain but…


Article # 261


Living with Diabetes: I hate to complain but…

Many years ago as I was checking in for a doctor’s visit, I told the receptionist that I have type 2 Diabetes. I was gob smacked by the response:

“Well thank goodness it is only Diabetes.”

Hell, it may ONLY be Diabetes, but it was MY Diabetes. Yes, it could be worse. I could have any number of other diseases that also have no cure. But the comment really rankled.

Everybody’s disease is personal to them. It is not that we are unaware that there are other people with other serious diseases out there. We can be capable of feeling empathy or sympathy for others. It is simply that whatever the condition we have is our condition and we have to deal with it. Sometimes we deal with it alone. Other times we have some kind of support system that assists us in making it more livable. No matter how “small” our disease may seem to someone else, to us it is a BIG deal. It is not a competition.

What brought this up for me are comments I have received from friends during these horrific few weeks with hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These are from people lucky enough to have come through the worst without catastrophic consequences, but not without some degree of disruption to their lives.

“A few trees are in bad shape and I lost some of my property fencing. It is gonna be a huge job to clean up. It is a mess. But I suppose I shouldn’t complain.”


“We still don’t have power (which means everything in the freezer has to be thrown away and that BUGS ME!), but it feels silly to complain about that (although I think I just did) when so many people have so lost so much over the last few weeks.”

My question is ”Is it silly or selfish to complain?”

As I said it could be worse. If we choose to ignore our Diabetes it could get worse.

There are other horrible diseases. Many have treatments which ravage the body more than Diabetes medications. But isn’t Diabetes enough?

Are we NOT allowed to kvetch and moan about what we can or can not eat?

Are we not allowed to be distressed by the side effects of a medication that has been prescribed for us?

Is having orange juice that we should not drink available in the fridge “just in case” of a low, not only a tease but an annoyance when we toss out the expired and untouched container?

Are we not allowed to worry about what lies in store for us?

Isn’t the worry about our latest reading or A1C not a serious concern?

Isn’t the worrying about what the eye doctor will tell us enough to unsettle us for a day or three?

Sure it is “just” Diabetes. There are millions out there that are seeing the ends of their life coming all too soon.

What we can do is respect and support others with other conditions.

You might want to remember that someone out there is saying: “I shouldn’t complain about my ______ , my friend Debbie has Diabetes.

An occasional complaint now and then is not so bad. It IS all about us…don’t you know?

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, and BE DECADENT! –w!

Oven poached chicken

2 servings

0 grams carbohydrates

Chef’s note: This is a great way to prepare chicken for chicken salad, chicken casserole, chicken pot pie, chicken tortillas, and for the best ever chucky chicken soup ever. You can prepare it for a meal but It looks bland and boring on the plate. It is a great way to use the jumbo chicken breasts that ONLY seem to be available these days, or even the part you cut away to get a normal serving.


2 boneless chicken breasts OR 4 boneless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper to taste (and your doctor’s advice)

1 medium garlic, grated or finely minced

1 large shallot or 4 scallions, finely chopped

1 tsp. dry tarragon (or thyme or basil)

1 TBSP. olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 °F.

Combine all the ingredients together in an oven proof dish.

Cover TIGHTLY with aluminum foil.

Bake for 34 minutes. Allow to cool covered.

Either shred or dice the chicken. Add to any of the above dishes or create a chicken masterpiece of your own.

Diabetes eating: Regional Foods, Memories, and Diabetes


Article # 260


Diabetes eating: Regional Foods, Memories, and Diabetes

As many of you know, I am originally from New Yawk City.

New York, like other cities all over the world, has some amazing foods. But it is the memory foods that still stick with me.


The recommended serving size for a bagel is 1/4 of the bagel
WHO thinks this is ENOUGH?

What could be more natural for a guy living in New York than to grab a bagel with butter or cream cheese on his way to work? I now have a couple of problems with this.

1- I now live in New Mexico, home of the…green chile bagel. No self-respecting person would even consider this an acceptable variety. But it gets worse. What passes for bagels here in New Mexico is closer to doughy/squishy white bread with no flavor or texture. Hey guys, a bagel is SUPPOSED to bite back at you. Wait, it does get worse. The other day I walked into an office and on the desk was this 6 inch long twisted and frosted thing. I asked what it was and was told: “it is a cinnamon twist bagel”. Whoa! Folks, to paraphrase Julia Child: “A bagel is round and has a hole in the middle”. A cinnamon raisin bagel in New York bears no kinship with this thing. So my taste memories will just have to wait until I get back to New York for a visit.

2-There is another little problem. Bagels are a high carbohydrate food. The recommended serving size is ¼ of a bagel. I don’t even want to think about that small of a portion. On the bright side, I can save a fortune on cream cheese.

So as a person with Diabetes, and a person that remembers what things are supposed to taste like, I will just have to wait until I visit New York and make my treat really count. I work very hard to manage my Diabetes and I do deserve a reward (treat) from time to time.

Southern Comfort foods

As I said, food memories are everywhere. A nice lady from the South commented on a post of mine on another site. She has just been diagnosed with Diabetes and said that as a “Southern Girl” she was used to her comfort foods. She wanted to have stuffing not just for Thanksgiving but also for her pork chops. Her other request was for rice. It really is easy peasy.

Some of MY favorite lower Carbohydrate bread choices

For her stuffing, I suggested replacing the bread she was using with a lower carbohydrate variety and adding more mushrooms and nuts to the mixture. Rice. No problem if you keep an open mind. “Riced” Cauliflower works pretty well for me. Like rice it is a neutral flavor. It does look like rice, has the same texture as rice, and supports a strongly flavored dish just like rice.

Regional Foods

So if you are from Wisconsin and it is grilled cheese you miss, try it on a lower carb, higher fiber bread like Sara Lee “Delightful” or Arnold Double Fiber or on a Joseph’s Lavash or Pita (our lunch today).

Philadelphia your home town … and you are missing cheese steak? Try it on a low carb pita bread folded over to form the bun.

Maryland your home … where Crab cakes are King? Try a little (and I mean little) panko in the mix. Just remember you are making crab cakes not pancakes. Commercially crab cakes contain a lot of “bread”. It is not for the flavor but to keep the price lower. I have always made my crab cakes with very little bread.

I could go on area by area but you (and I) would get bored.

There is a funny memory for me. It is called a Charlotte Russe. No not that incredible confection of creams and lady fingers (that is great too) but this little cardboard cup with a little sponge cake and swirls of whipped cream topped with a maraschino cherry. The whipped cream is no problem if it is sweetened lightly. The cake part can be replaced by a disc or cupcake made from any number of my yellow cake recipes. I am particularly fond of my House of Orange cake for this dessert.

Grandma’s Kitchen

For many of us we are the children or grandchildren of immigrants. We remember the flavors of the “old” country even if we never stepped foot on that hallowed soil. I was lucky to have grown up in the melting pot of New York. I remember the wonderful sniffs and tastes of my friends’ homes. On the down side, many of those flavorful dishes were recipes made on a budget. They often used less expensive filer foods like noodles, rice, potatoes, and pasta to stretch the dollar. Many of those dishes can be made Diabetes-compatible by using lower carbohydrate replacements. For example: my Chicken Parmesan is just as good as the old recipe. It has less breading and more parmesan cheese to create the crust. The rest hasn’t changed much. It is still that amazing Italian combination of tomatoes, spices and tons of gooey melted cheese.

We can do the same thing for other ethnic taste treats. All it takes is a lot of thought and a little creativity.

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT! –w!

This is Diabetes-Compatible version of Chicken Parmesan
More Parmesan cheese, less breading
Same wonderful taste


Chicken Parmesan

2 Servings

Net Carbohydrates….5-7 grams

Chef’s Note: The only thing missing from this recipe is the breading which is why it is so low in carbohydrates. The flavors and textures are exactly what you remembered. It is much faster to prepare.

You can use a commercial tomato sauce or diced San Marzanno tomatoes drained and mixed with garlic, minced onion, parsley, basil and oregano, or use roasted tomatoes for the sauce. Better yet…try all the possibilities.


2 – boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5-7 ounces each)

Salt and pepper to taste (and your doctor’s advice)

1/3 – cup tomato sauce (see suggestions above)

2- thick slices of the best mozzarella you can find

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. olive oil

How I prepare this recipe:

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin or heavy skillet, pound the chicken breasts until they are about ¼ inch thick.

Heat a large frying pan and add heat the olive oil just to the point it starts to slide in the pan. Cook the chicken over medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side.

Remove to a baking dish and let cool. Top with sauce and cheeses. Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350° F. degree oven. Serve over seasoned raw spinach, shirataki noodles, or spaghetti squash.

Diabetes eating: Snacks, boredom, pitfalls AND solutions?


Article # 259

Diabetes eating: Snacks, boredom, pitfalls AND solutions?

A few weeks ago a reader contacted me with a really interesting question:

“I have just been diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. Before, when I was watching the television or playing video games I would have some chips or dive into a bowl of ice cream. What can I snack on now?”

It is as great question. The diagnosis of Diabetes makes big changes in our lives. What we have always taken for granted is sometimes no longer the case.

Like most people, after MY diagnosis, I looked at what I thought I could do to manage MY Diabetes as some form of depravation.

The point is that I made the choice to manage the disease as best I can. I had some hideous examples of what NOT choosing to manage Diabetes could do to me. For me it was part defiance, part fear. I was clear that I was not going to be the victim in this story.

No Carbs but…..

The BIGGEST part of NOT being a victim was the depravation thing. At one point, as I sat eating a tin of tuna, some lettuce leaves with lemon, It became clear to me that “There’s gotta be something better than this” (Sweet Charity).

I have often read that if you want to stop a habit, you have to stop being around people that abet the habit, and one needs to stop doing things that are a part of the habit.

What was I to do, stop seeing people that ate? Worse, stop cooking for the family? Of course not. There was for me, and is for my reader, other possibilities.

For me the method of breaking my old, not so great eating habits was to find foods that were as good, sometimes better, for both me and my taste-buds. Who said it would be easy?

Turns out it was not so difficult. I was never one for a mid-morning snack. But that is one of the things suggested by a nutritionist. My answer to that was a handful of nuts or some cheese. As a real treat, I would take a stalk of celery and spread some peanut butter on it (8 grams of net carbohydrates). It keeps me even through the morning when I remember to eat a snack.

In the afternoons, I would sometimes eat a small apple or stone fruit or some watermelon in season. Quick, easy, tasty, and I was back at whatever I was doing.

You can make these with Lavash bread or tortillas
Crispy, crunchy, DELICIOUS

As for the television watching, chips are not the best idea. That is commercial chips are not. A low carbohydrate pita bread, tortilla, or Lavash, brushed with olive oil and seasonings, cut into chips and then baked at 400°F., turns out not ONLY to be lower in carbohydrates, but very, I mean very tasty.

Okay, you do have to plan in advance. Make a batch of these chips and let them get COMPLETELY cool before you put them into an air tight container. They will last for a few days. The chips, like the potato chips or corn chips of years gone by, still should be eaten in moderate amounts. Remember that the recommendation for a “snack” is 15 grams of carbohydrates. Stuffing your face with even a low carbohydrate snack no longer makes it low carbohydrate.

On the ice cream front there are a few options. Today there seems to be more and more lower carbohydrate brands on the market. They are right there in the freezer case. Your job is to find them, hidden in plain sight. New brands seem to show up every day. I have recently done a tasting of a brand named Halo Top. Some of their flavors are really scrumptious.

Another possibility is yogurt. There are many yogurts easily available in the “stupidmarket’ with 15 or less grams of carbohydrates per serving. Teamed up with fresh fruit it is a really good choice. A lady I worked with for years always brought a yogurt to the office with her. She would pop it into the freezer and have it as her afternoon snack.

Where there is a will AND an interest, there is a way. It turns out not to be so difficult after all. The reward is better health. Better Diabetes health DOES NOT mean it has to be less than delicious.

Eating out of habit or boredom is not the best thing for anybody. If you are bored with the TUBE, turn it off, go into the kitchen and create something wonderful.

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

A soft, low carbohydrate pita bread makes this work like a charm

Pita Pizza Bread

Serving size 1 Pita

Net Carbohydrates              6 grams


Chef’s Note: Many years ago in one of my restaurants, we served our guest a basket of warm “bread” What it we served was really leftover pizza dough with some oil, grated cheese, garlic and herbs. I thought that since I now make my Pizza from a low carb pita bread, why not recreate this bread basket treat using the pita?


1- Low carb pita. (Joseph’s Flax, oat, wheat)

1- tsp. olive oil

¼ tsp each:

Granulated garlic

Dried oregano

Dried basil

Dried parsley flakes

2 tsp. Grated cheese (Parmesan, Romano. Asiago or in combination)



Combine the oil, herbs, and garlic. Using a pastry brush, coat the pita bread. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Preheat your oven to 400° F.

Cut the bread into eight triangles. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes until the cheese just starts to color. Serve at once. Great for soups and salads.

Diabetes eating: The ongoing battle


Article #258

Diabetes eating: The ongoing battle

When Anne, my nutritionist introduced me to spaghetti squash and Joseph’s Lavash bread and then taught me to figure out NET carbohydrates, my life with Diabetes changed dramatically. I had Diabetes by the tail. What happened next was a surprise to me and showed me that enough was never quite enough.

FINALLY, after all this time you have figured out that eating to manage your Diabetes includes more that nuts and twigs. You have advanced from thinking that there is nothing that you CAN eat that you WANT to eat; to finding a few things that work well to manage your Diabetes and don’t taste “half bad”. But is that ALL there is? No matter how good any recipe is, repeating it week after week after week gets downright BORING. I don’t care how good it is, after a while becomes: “not that…again”.

You have read here again and again about simply changing one ingredient in a recipe and by doing that, actually creating a new recipe and taste treat. I also know a couple of things:

1- You probably don’t REALLY believe me.

2- Many of you are afraid to try something new because you are afraid you won’t like it.

My answers to this are: why would I lie about a thing like that. There are too many other things to lie about (like my age, or better yet, your age).

Why bother to be afraid to try something? Best that will happen is you will enjoy it and start preparing tons of new dishes incorporating your new discovery. Worse case is you won’t like it and can discreetly spit it out and never have to eat it again.

One of my favorite conversations is about avocados. My auntie Sylvia said she didn’t like them. When I asked her if she had ever tried them, she said no, they just don’t appeal to me.

Two of my readers commented:

“I have never tried avocados, but if you say they are good I will try one.”

A few weeks later one wrote back to me:

“At your suggestion I did go out and buy an avocado. I can’t believe what I have been missing all these years”.

The other also responded:

“I tried the avocado. Not bad, but not something I think I want to try again”.

Cool, both tried avocados. One found a new food friend, the other at least gave it a shot. I bet the next time he (men are so much harder to get to try new things) see some avocado slices sitting on his salad he won’t push them off to the side of the plate. He tried it, found it so-so but didn’t hate it.

I try and create a new dish every week. Sometimes it is by substituting one item/flavor I like with another. Sometimes it involves flavors I have enjoyed over the years used in a different way. For example; I have always loved baked clams oraganata . That recipe has too much breading for my current eating status. So I took all of the other flavors and applied them to a chicken dish. It was scrumptious.

I grew up with potato pancakes. I can still have one, but is one enough? Rather than just having the one, I replaced the potato with zucchini and for another version, spinach. They are much lower in carbohydrates, ABSOLUTELY as good in taste and texture and far more bang for my carbohydrate buck.

The chicken dish is a flash to make, the pancakes, not so much. But I had to remember that potato pancakes were a process too.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad

Some of the side dishes I make take more time than in the old carbohydrate laden days. I am (and you are) worth it. BUT there are those days when preparing spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, or even a salad seems like more work that I have an interest, time, or energy to do. Thank goodness for my very simple (and shockingly popular) Hungarian style cucumbers.

Many years ago I was given a recipe for the most wonderful “buttery” Whole wheat dinner rolls. When I did a carbohydrate analysis, the carbohydrate value came to 11 grams per roll. Not terrible but I think I can do better. I have now done a version replacing some of the flour with nuts. Tasted great and rose like a dream, and the carbohydrate value dropped to 8 per roll. But I think I can do better. Once it cools off a little, I am going to try this recipe with flax meal replacing some of the flour. I will keep you posted.

Eating to manage your Diabetes takes work and persistence. Some days it seems like more than one can cope with. Battle on my friends. It is worth the war.

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

Better than JUST a substitute
A Deliciously Decadent side dish or meatless meal

Baked Zucchini pancakes

2 generous servings as a meal

NET Carbohydrates   >14g.

Chefs Note: Before you get crazy about the salt, the process of weeping the zucchini gets rid of most of it. Rinsing the zucchini before squeezing out the excess moisture gets rid of even more.

This makes a great meal on its own or can make them smaller (therefore less carbohydrates) and serve as a side for a main course.


2 -3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)

2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

pepper to taste

2TBSP. Whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3 TBSP. plain bread crumbs, panko, or Matzo Meal

4 TBSP. grated parmesan cheese

* In many cities Matzo Meal is hard to find except at Passover time. Although I much prefer the texture (childhood memories no doubt) of the Matzo Meal, bread crumbs will work almost as well.


Grate the zucchini in a food possessor using as coarse a blade as you have (can also be done on the largest side of a box grater). Place the grated zucchini in a sieve over a bowl with the kosher salt and allow to “weep” for 20 minutes. Remove the zucchini from the sieve. Rinse it under running water then place in a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Discard the liquid.

Combine the beaten eggs, 2 Tbsp. of flour, pepper, chopped onion, the breadcrumbs or matzo meal, Parmesan cheese and baking powder . Add the grated zucchini and mix to thoroughly combine. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes so the wet ingredients are absorbed.

You can stop now and cook later (up to 1 day) or

Preheat oven to 425° F. degrees.

Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease well. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture on to the sheet and flatten with your finger to about ¼ inch thick.

Bake for 12 minutes, turn over and bake for 5-6 minutes more until golden brown.

This recipe can also be fried in oil and butter for a crisper pancake. I find it easier to time out with the rest of dinner if I bake it.

Diabetes cookng: Taking matters into your own hands


Article # 257

Diabetes cookng: Taking matters into your own hands

Sometimes having Diabetes means you are going to have to take matters into your own hands and do something about managing your disease. The same thing is true when you are looking for recipes that work for your carbohydrate budget.

OK, you see a recipe online or on TV. It looks pretty good….if ONLY they did not use_______. You really don’t like_______ or _______or_______; but the recipe does look pretty good. What is a cook to do?

There was a commercial jingle years ago that went: “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee”. I believed it until one day I met somebody that didn’t. Sorry Sara. I know how many people HATE________.

Asian Tuna using Chinese Five spice

With Diabetes it seems to be even harder. You see a recipe for people with Diabetes. It is supposed to be good for you…but…you don’t like something in the recipe.

Some of us feel that Diabetes has made food the enemy. There seems to be so much that we can’t eat or shouldn’t eat, or should limit. We go online to look for better choices and BAM !!! The recipe contains lima beans. Some of you might remember my “thing” with lima beans?

But the recipe is supposed to be good for you. Get this: if you don’t like it, you won’t eat it. If you don’t eat it, how can it be good for you?

When you feel ”stuck” for a new and different dish and a part of what you found online is unappealing; where do you go from there?

One of the sites that uses my recipes posted my article on salads in “out of the bowl” new ways. Most readers like the piece and thanked me for the suggestions to vary the “salad” idea. Some people though, just don’t like salad. If you are one of them you can keep searching. There MUST be some Diabetes-Compatible recipe out there that won’t make you gag. Or…..you can do what this person does:

“this is how I make a salad since i’m not a big fan of salad either. and this doesn’t look too appetizing to me. so this is what I do. I take a radish and chop it up fine. Then I take a cuke and chop it up fine. then I do the same with onion and tomato and then I get a soft tortilla and spread mayo down the center of it and then avocado down on top of that. Then I put lettuce on top of that and then I sprinkle all my other ingredients on top of the lettuce and then I sprinkle shredded cheese on top . In other words I layer everything and then fold it up and eat it. I love it that way and it’s soo good with the tortilla. Can add anything you want to it and use any kind of spread you want. sometimes I use chipotle mayo on it . that gives it a little more spicy taste which my tastebuds just love.”

Wow, can you imagine that? She found HER way of eating a salad. I sent her a note saying:

“That sounds very delicious and creative. BRAVO”

And it is BRAVO indeed.

My version of a veggie sandwich
With Swiss Cheese and Parmesan Ranch dressing
on a Joseph’s Lavash (flat bread)

First of all, she found a way to create something she likes from something she doesn’t. It is her version of a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Second, she was not afraid to play around with an idea.

Thirdly, and most important she shared it with the readers on that site. All of a sudden, thousands of people got a little more insight into how to make a recipe work for them.

There are very few recipes that you can’t adjust to make it work for you. Sure, right, that baked fish dish contains the “dreaded” fish. How can I make that work if I hate fish? Simple as chicken. Take the idea for the fish dish and replace the fish with chicken. Works like a charm. Those two proteins can often replace one another. So if you see a chicken recipe but want something lighter, try it on fish.

Hey, recipes are NOT part of the Ten Commandments. They are a guide in managing and ENJOYING YOUR MEALS. Rather than thinking “thou shall NOT”, think of recipes as an invitation to create some fun.

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

This recipe for Balsamic Glazed Salmon can be used on chicken….if you must

Balsamic Salmon

(Quick, Simple and Elegant)

Chef’s Note: The fish needs to be brushed with the marinade no more than 30 minutes before cooking or the lemon in the balsamic mixture will start cooking the fish. If you ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY won’t TRY fish, this glaze is great on chicken breasts or thighs.

Serves 2

0 Grams of Carbohydrates


2 Fillets of Salmon (6-8 ounces each)

3 TBSP. Ariston or any syrupy Balsamic Vinegar

2 TBSP. Olive oil

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

2 tsp. Herbs de Provence

1 medium shallot minced

2 garlic gloves, grated or minced

Salt and pepper to taste (and your Doctor’s advice)

How to prepare this recipe:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients except the Salmon in a bowl. Spoon about half of the mixture over the salmon fillets.

Place Salmon on a baking pan sprayed with oil or a release agent.

Roast for 15-20 minutes depending on how dry you like your fish.

In a small sauce pan, heat the remaining marinade. Spoon over the cooked fish.

Diabetes Eating: Being in the moment


Article # 256

Diabetes eating: Being in the moment

The mind plays tricks on us. It never occurred to me that sometimes I eat and enjoy food out of habit rather than desire.

I always ate a small apple as my afternoon snack.

4-5 oz. apple

I would stop what I was doing and go get an apple but lately the apples have gotten very expensive (for apples) and have no apple taste. They are sometimes sweet, juicy, and crunchy, but if you blindfolded me I bet I could NOT identify the food as an apple. So I stopped buying them. I missed them like crazy for the first few days and then I forgot about having not only the apple but the 4 PM snack. As it turns out I was eating the apple out of sheer habit even when they tasted eh. I don’t miss the apple snack at all. If I am peckish or want to keep myself even, I will now have some nuts or a piece of cheese. I realized that I really did not miss that formerly coveted apple at all. What is up with that?

I really like apples. Except in the heat of summer I always enjoyed them. In the summer I would switch to peaches or better yet, nectarines. Here in New Mexico those fruits don’t keep very well. They go from bricks to mush almost overnight. No matter how carefully I plan, I usually wind up tossing a few out. So I now don’t buy them often. Why eat something that is not as good as you expect? Why squander those carbohydrates just because “you always ate an apple/peach/nectarine?

All this made me think about how much all of us eat out of habit. Many years ago, some colleagues and I were sitting in this wonderful restaurant in Milan. We had been traveling in Europe for months and were on the verge of flying back home. In front of us was one of the most wonderful meals you can imagine. One of my colleagues stopped eating and wistfully said:

“Boy I can’t wait to get back home and have a burger and fries.”

For him, food was tied up with home and what he always ate. It had nothing at all to do with how wonderful the meal in front of him was, but with a yearning for what was familiar. Each of us in turn shared our desire for something from home. I am far too embarrassed to tell you what my food choice was. The apples and the Milanese meal made me think about what was going on with me since my diagnosis of Diabetes.

My menu is as delicious and varied as it was before Diabetes. It is just different. One thing has replaced another and with time has improved in flavor either by my skills or the sense on my palate. I enjoy eating and cooking as much as before. Perhaps I enjoy it more now because it is a challenge to me, to feed my Diabetes, my tastebuds, and my family.

And yet….sometimes I crave a food that I have all but eliminated from my table. Sometimes I see an advertisement on TV for some food that I know is really not very good, but because I “shouldn’t” have it, want it. Does that double chocolate rocky road shake with whipped cream and a cherry really taste any good?  YOU already know the answer.

No matter how much tastier my parmesan and nut coating for chicken or fish is, I still sometimes crave fast food fried fish and chicken. I may indulge myself. Try NOT to feel too guilty. What almost always happens is that the deep fried food doesn’t taste as good as I remembered or it doesn’t agree with me. Do you think they changed the recipe in the years I wasn’t looking? More likely it was me that changed.

Another piece to this puzzle is for some dishes I attempt to create something like the old dish, and that reminds me of what I did eat and stops me (us) from being in the moment.

Thinking of something else when presented with something much more delicious is a lost food moment. Heck, it is a lost moment in life. It is no different than thinking about your first love when you are with your new love. But let’s not go there.

When I go back to Milan, I will enjoy it more for being there in the moment.

As for the apples; fall is coming. Maybe this year’s crop will be as delicious as my memories are. Until then there are other snacks to explore.

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

Pizza for breakfast?
Sure thing!
Use a low carbohydrate crust and the toppings you love

Diabetic Compatible Breakfast Pizza

Chef’s Note: I am NOT suggesting you try this recipe on a busy Monday morning. But if you have a day off, this is really a fun breakfast. This is such a fun recipe for children of all ages. You get to choose what you top it with and you can prepare the ingredients the night before.

Serving 1 Pita Pizza

Net carbohydrates               >10 grams.

As Pictured for EACH pizza:

2 ounces Ham cut in strips and fried (you substitute another meat or peppers or….)

2 Scallions fried with the ham in

1TBSP. Butter

1 Joseph’s Low carbohydrate pita or any low carbohydrate tortilla

2 large eggs scrambled with:

1 TBSP. milk

1 TBSP. Grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste (and your Doctors advice)

1 roasted tomato or

2 TBSP. drained diced tomatoes

2 slices Mozzarella, Swiss, provolone or Cheddar cheese

2 TBSP. Fresh basil (divided)

1 TBSP. butter

How to prepare the recipe

Heat oven to 425°F.

Poke holes in the pita with a tooth pick. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or non -stick foil.

Bake until the edges just start to curl and brown. (3-5 minutes)

While you are baking the pita or tortilla, scramble the eggs with milk in 1 TBSP. of butter.

Carefully remove the pita or tortilla from the oven and spread with butter. Sprinkle with ½ of the basil. Spoon the eggs onto pizza. Top with the cheese followed by the remaining toppings. Place the pizza back in the oven until the cheese melts. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with remaining basil.

You can substitute bacon, sausage, or prosciutto for the ham.