Diabetes Cooking: Can it REALLY be THAT good?
I have been writing to you (for you?) since 2012. In all that time, the one thought I have always wanted to get across is that eating to manage your Diabetes does not have to be anything less than delicious. Sure sometimes I stray into how easy it can be. Sure I even get into how wide a variety of foods you can eat. Certainly I like to remind you that there are foods that we have “always” eaten that we can still eat with ABSOLUTELY no change in the recipe. But first and foremost, Diabetes-Compatible eating can be and SHOULD be nothing less than scrumptious.
A few weeks ago, I did a segment on the morning news where I made my Double Chocolate Ricotta Crème. When the segment was finished, the host tasted the dessert. His face lit up and he said: “This is really good”. I replied: “Of course it is”. That is my point. If it doesn’t taste good; why bother to make it? NO SECOND BEST ALLOWED HERE!
My positive attitude comes from knowing that we can re-create all kinds of good things if we are willing to put a little effort and a lot of thought into it.
We were visiting Austin, Texas last week. My friend Tony took us to a terrific Italian restaurant. ARE YOU KIDDING? An ITALIAN restaurant for a guy with Diabetes? Why not? This was a very good menu. It did not solely depend on pasta to feed their clients. I had an amazing appetizer of Fontina cheese with frisee lettuce, truffle oil and an egg all baked in the oven. If I were not concerned about being mocked by my friend, I would have ordered two more of this dish. Scrumptious and innovative does not even begin to describe the plate put before me. Best yet, we can easily create it in our own oven. As soon as I can find a source here in New Mexico for the frisee lettuce, it will be on our table.
My choice for an entrée was chicken and eggplant parmesan; also scrumptious and easy for us to prepare.
So now I come to the thinking part. Gene ordered a risotto with mushrooms and sausage. OH BOY risotto, something I have not eaten since my diagnosis. I was green with envy and felt a twinge of food depression.
I did not sleep well that night. Images of risotto danced in my head. I was all but overcome with a sense of loss and sadness.
Two days later, bang, it popped into my head. I make “riced” cauliflower all the time. Why couldn’t I make a risotto using cauliflower? The answer is I can. More important I did. It was ABSOLUTELY everything I hoped for. I will be making it a few more times before I share it with you. I promise, it is something to look forward to trying. I am still debating if my Diabetes-Compatible version was just as good as or even better than what I ate years ago. Texture was different, but the “sense” of the dish was right there.
I mention even better to you because it is not only possible; but probable that dishes we loved before can be made to work for us and please all the senses.
The crust I now use for my tarts and cheesecakes is so much better than what I used to make. By replacing some of the flour with toasted ground nuts, I not only reduce the number of carbohydrates, but also add a lot of flavor to the crust. The same thing goes for all of my cake recipes. OK, they do not rise as high as before; but they taste better. Trading a little rise in the cake for more flavor seems like a very positive trade off.
Does Santa deserve as good a cookie from a Diabetes family as one from a non-Diabetes family? This week I am sharing my recipe for peanut butter cookies with you. Maybe I should call them double peanut butter cookies. I replaced 1/3 of the flour with unsalted peanuts. They may very well be the most delicious peanut butter cookies I have ever tasted. I suspect Santa will agree. Since I have been soooo nice to him, wonder if there will be the new I-phone (WITH instructions how to use it) waiting under my tree.
Peanut butter shortbread cookies
Makes 20-24 cookies
Net carbohydrates 3 per cookie
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup toasted, unsalted peanuts
¼ c. sugar alternative of choice
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 TBSP. butter
4 TBSP. peanut butter
1 large egg
How I prepare the recipe:
Pre heat the oven to 375°F.
In the bowl of a food processor pulse the dry ingredients to mix. Cut butter into 8 pieces to distribute in dry ingredients. Pulse until coarse pea sized bits. Add peanut butter and the egg and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball that revolves on the blade
Remove dough, pat out to a log about 2 inches in diameter and 12 inches long. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 35-45 minutes or overnight. Cut into 20-24 cookies. GENTLY place on parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. This dough is fragile and may break. Not to worry just piece it together and re-roll. Using a fork, press the cookies down in opposite directions to form a Tic Tac toe pattern. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies slide easily on the pan. Remove to cooling rack and let cool completely. They will hold for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Baked Zucchini pancakes (Latkes)
2 generous servings
NET Carbohydrates >12grams
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*
3 TBSP. grated parmesan cheese
* In many cities Matzo Meal is hard to find except at Passover or Chanukah time. Although I much prefer the texture (childhood memories no doubt) of the Matzo Meal, bread crumbs will work almost as well.
HOW TO PREPARE THE RECIPE:
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 and soda. Add the grated zucchini and mix to thoroughly combine.
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 the back of a soup spoon or 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.