Monday, March 7, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. “  “Julie!  Shhhh!  We’re here to talk about food.

One thing that has been both fun and challenging for me is figuring out what I can eat that won’t spike my glucose.  At the beginning of my diagnosis I was very strict about what I ate.  I ate a lot of salad and very little bread, no potatoes of any kind and very lean meat.  BORING!  I did lose a chunk of weight and I felt really good, however, it was difficult at best (and my glucose readings weren’t normal).  It wasn’t the kind of diet that I could continue for very long.   I started eating things that weren’t quite as healthy and I gained some weight back and….well you know how it goes.

I’ve learned that I need comfort food from time to time.  Salad is good but it’s not very comfy.  Over the years I’ve gotten better at incorporating the foods I love in my every day meals.  I’m eating potatoes and pasta again (in portions that work for me) and indulge in the occasional sweets (those that are more diabetic friendly).  The bottom line is that I’m eating the foods I like but have learned to tweak them to fit in my food plan. (note that I don’t say diet plan.  I am not on a diet).

I thought I’d share some of the tricks and tips that I’ve learned to make healthier meals as well as a sampling of some of my favorite recipes.  I am not a chef nor am I a dietician.  You have to follow your own food plan but I’m hoping some of these tips will help.
  • “fat free” gravy/roux – in order to make a gravy or thickened sauce you can make a roux.  Normally butter or margarine or some other form of fat is used as the base.  I make a gumbo and salmon “alfredo” and I don’t use added fats.  Take a heavy skillet and add 3 Tbsp flour.  Over med-high heat, stir the flour until it browns.  Pay close attention as it can over-brown quickly.  Add 1 ½ cups of liquid and stir until thick.  (I use a whisk to get all the lumps) For the gumbo I use chicken broth (2 cups to 1/3 cup flour).  For “alfredo” I use fat free milk.  It just depends on what you’re cooking.  You can increase the measurements for larger pots o’ food or increase/decrease the flour for thicker/thinner sauces.  The spices in the completed dish will add the flavors you need.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m assuming that you could use beef broth and some pepper to make a gravy.  Play with it and see what works for you.
  • Lower fat baking  - this one has been around awhile but it works!  Replace the oil in your cake/cookie/sweet bread recipes with unsweetened applesauce.  Cup for cup straight across, ie: if the recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, use 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead.  Voila!  I buy the 4 oz snack cups.  They stay fresh on the shelf a long time and measure ¼ cup.
  • Lower fat/fat free sautéing – Use canola cooking spray instead of oil when sautéing.  It doesn’t add fat to your food and works just fine.  I rarely use oil when sautéing , even in my stainless steel pan.  You can also use the flour variety for baking when it calls for you to grease and flour the pan.
  •  Recipe calculator – This is probably my favorite tip/trick.  There is a website that has a recipe calculator:   http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp. (Link to website) You type in your recipe using their list of ingredients and it will calculate the nutritional values based on the number of servings you enter.  This is the coolest thing ever.  It can be a wee bit tedious to enter but well worth the effort.  I believe the website allows you to join and upload/share your recipes but you don’t have to.  I have the calculator bookmarked and often go there to see how certain recipes stack up.  For instance, I LOVE pumpkin bread and it’s a staple at Christmas around here.  I was always reluctant to eat any because I didn’t really know how many carbs etc.  I used this calculator and now I know how much I can eat!  I also did a comparison with replacing the oil with applesauce and sugar with Splenda to see if it was worth it.  Way cool.
I’m sure there’s more but that’s all that comes to mind right now.  Besides, this post is getting lengthy. It’s so lengthy in fact, that I’ve decided to post recipes another day.  I hope someone finds this information helpful.  Bon Appetit!

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