Category Archives: Cooking

Making The Holidays Fun With Great Food For Diabetics

Making The Holidays Fun With Great Food For Diabetics: The holidays can be wonderful times for your friends and family. There is always so much to eat, and so many wonderful times to get together. If you are diabetic, or someone in your family is, it is important to be sure that you have selections of food that diabetics can eat without worrying about their diets.

First of all, it is important to remember that each person who is a diabetic has different dietary needs. There are different forms of diabetes. Some people eat a regular diet and then use insulin to counteract the sugar that they have eaten. For these people regular holiday foods are going to be fine. However, some diabetics prefer to stay away from sugar, and some can’t have it at all. Therefore, if you are having guests to your home it is a good idea to have lots of different foods for the holidays and many different choices as well so no matter what a person’s needs are, they can pick and choose what is best for them.

First of all, plan meals with plenty of choices. During the holiday season you are always going to have people dropping in and out and will most likely always be needing to serve meals. However, it isn’t always easy to keep everyone’s choices in mind, so have lots of options. When you make food, make a few different main courses  ,and a lot of side dishes and salads. It might be a little bit of work, but it can make the holidays better for all.

When you make main courses that you know everyone is going to be eating, make them diabetic friendly. Don’t put in refined sugar – use a non-sugar substitute if you do need sugar. If you absolutely can’t get away from using sugar, be sure to make a second main course without any sugar in it so diabetics can enjoy the food as well.

When you are cooking side dishes, be sure that you are cooking a wide variety of them. Make some with the regular amounts of sugar, make some with sugar substitutes, and then make some without any sugar at all. If you have diabetics who are coming to your home, or you have some in your family, you can even make little cards to put near the dishes of food. Simply labeling items as “Sugar Free!” can be a great and easy way to let diabetics know what is okay for them to eat and what should be avoided. It will also save anyone who isn’t comfortable about talking about their food choices with others the embarrassment of having to ask what is okay for them and what isn’t okay.

Don’t’ forget the drinks when you are looking at your menus for the holidays. Often drinks are overlooked and only regular sodas and fancy fruit punches are included. Remember that you should have a selection of diet or sugar free sodas, and punches made without sugar. Also, remember that some diabetics are instructed to stay away from alcohol or from certain types of alcohol. Make sure that you have a decent selection including all sorts of things for your friends and family members to eat and drink while they are visiting for the holidays.

With a little bit of planning ahead, your holiday celebrations can be great experiences for everyone – diabetics included!

Snacking With Diabetes

Snacking With Diabetes: Living with diabetes isn’t always easy, but there are a number of diabetes diets which can help you to maintain your blood insulin levels and keep your blood sugar under control.  The problem with these diabetes diets is that many of them fail to incorporate snacking in any way, and many diabetics who had grown up accustomed to having the occasional snack have to learn rather quickly how to adjust their life and diet to completely ignore their snack cravings.  It doesn’t have to be this way, however; snacking can still be a part of the diabetic’s healthy lifestyle, and for those who incorporate regular exercise into their diabetes regulation it can even help to prevent dangerous blood sugar lows that can occur after exercise.

The key to snacking with diabetes is moderation and portion control.  Make sure that you don’t snack too often or in too large of amounts and most snacks aren’t going to cause problems with your blood sugar.  The manner by which you choose your snacks should be consistent with how you choose other foods that you eat, so if you know that a snack food will potentially cause problems then it should be avoided.  Provided you don’t go overboard with your portions, however, a number of favorite snacks can still be had at least from time to time even when living with diabetes.

Snacks high in sugar should obviously still be avoided, just as you would any high-sugar food that could cause problems with your blood sugar.  Many popular snacks now come in a reduced-sugar or no-sugar alternative version as well, so even some of your favorite sweet snacks can still be enjoyed without guilt or worry.  A number of healthy alternative snacks can still be enjoyed as well, since they have a significantly lower sugar content and can provide vitamins and minerals which will help you to regulate your diabetes as well.

If you are prone to fluctuations in blood sugar during certain parts of the day, snacks might actually help you to keep your diabetes under control.  Try to remember to have a small snack during any part of the day when your blood sugar usually drops, monitoring your blood sugar closely when you first add a snack to your regular diabetes diet regimen.  It’s important that you keep an eye on your blood sugar for at least the first few weeks, since this will let you know how much of an increase you have from the snacks that you eat and whether or not your portions should be lowered or increased.  Even after the first few weeks you should still check your blood sugar after eating snacks from time to time, to make sure that your blood sugar remains within an acceptable range.

As with all aspects of your diet and your diabetes management, make sure that you discuss the possible benefits of adding snacks to your diet schedule with your doctor.  Not only will they be able to help you determine proper snack portions and the types of snack foods that will be best for you, but they will also likely be able to suggest good times of the day for you to have your snacks.  They may even be able to advise you of specific exercises or other activities that you can add to your daily routine if you were wanting to add both snacks and exercise in an effort to better control your diabetes.

Importance Of Having Diabetic Friendly Treats Available

Importance Of Having Diabetic Friendly Treats Available: There are many things that you want to think about as you are planning meals for yourself as a diabetic, or for someone else who is a diabetic. First of all, you’ve probably put a lot of time into thinking about the various ways that you can incorporate sugar free foods into the meals that you cook. This might take up a lot of your planning time, and be a big part of your life for awhile. Once you’ve figured it out, it will be easy, but to start with, it is going to be difficult. However, you might be overlooking something else that is important when you are planning your life as a diabetic, or when you are running a household that contains a diabetic.

Sugar is an important part of the problem when it comes to diabetics, but there is another side to the equation, and that is the side of having enough of it. There are different kinds of sugars – bad sugars and good sugars – and usually a person is able to regulate these on their own, by the insulin that their body makes. However, diabetics don’t’ make insulin, and it is often hard for them to regulate the levels of sugar in their bodies. While it is important to cut out the instances of bad sugar, it is also important to makes sure that the levels of good sugar are right for people who have diabetes.

Therefore, it is important for you to have diabetic friendly treats that are available around the clock in your house. Often, a diabetic will need to eat a snack at certain times each day, and will need to make sure that their meals are set up like clock work as well. Regulating when you eat and how often you eat is a big part of managing your diabetes, so you will need to focus on having snacks and meals that are available to the diabetic in your life.

A good way to start is to regulate the times for each meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner should all be at certain times, and you should not deviate from this. In order to make sure that you stay healthy, eat at the same time each day for all three meals and make sure that the meals you are eating are what your doctor considers balanced meals for you and for your type of diabetes. Then, be sure that you also schedule regular snacks. You will need to eat small snacks between meals as part of your general health, so be sure that you have diabetic-friendly snacks that are available.

Lastly, you will need to keep several things handy. Diabetics often have changes in their diet that cause them to need certain things. Some diabetics might need a stash of sugary snacks or foods in order to help them regulate their blood sugar in an emergency. Therefore, it might not be wise to get rid of all of the sugar in your home. You will also need to have some food on hand that a diabetic can snack on regularly, in order to keep their blood sugar up on normal days. Be sure that you have plenty of healthy snacks that they can eat. Lastly, pay attention to the snacks and what a diabetic person is eating. Too much or too little can often be a sign of problems ahead.

Chef Brings Personal Experience to Diabetic Meals

tom valentiChef Brings Personal Experience to Diabetic Meals: He swears like a sailor, wears his hair long and dons an apron daily. Tom Valenti is a chef’s chef. He is well known in New York for his inspired way with food and he’s not shy about trying new things. Oh, did I mention he’s diabetic?

Valenti was informed back in the 1990’s he had Type 2 diabetes. This can have a very negative effect on a chef. After all they make their living with food and much of their success depends on experimentation. They need to taste their creations to know if they have succeeded. Could he continue his life’s passion with diabetes? Valenti found a way.

The News and Observer reports, “When Valenti got his diagnosis, he changed his diet, but he didn’t change his cooking. And he didn’t talk much about it.”

Besides making the recipes that made him famous Valenti also began slowly experimenting in foods that were both pleasing to his palate and acceptable to his diabetic dietary goals.

WABC says, “This gourmet superstar chef is a healthy eater now and keeps his diabetes in check. And while he still craves food he shouldn’t have, his cooking is satisfying for him and he hopes for others.”

At some point Valenti decided that others might enjoy dishes he specifically created to trick his tastebuds into finding renewed zest for mealtime. This began his journey into writing a very accessible cookbook entitled, “You Don’t Have to Be Diabetic To Love This Cookbook”.

CBS quoted Valenti in a portion of his book. “Beyond discovering how useful my standard operating procedures were for my new scenario, I found that very often honoring the limits of diabetes simply meant rejiggering the proportions in a dish, emphasizing proteins and vegetables over pastas, legumes, and so on.”

Many who have tried his dishes believe Valenti has succeeded in quality ‘rejiggering’.

The following Valenti recipe is courtesy of ABC news.

Fish en Papillote

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon, divided into sections, sections peeled
4 white fish fillets, such as cod (4 ounces each)
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and thickly sliced crosswise
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
8 fresh tarragon leaves (optional)
2 small shallots, minced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Cut 4 pieces of aluminum foil (or parchment paper), each about 18 inches square. Smear butter on each piece and top each with a fish fillet. Neatly pile the tomatoes, lemon sections, parsley, tarragon, if using, and shallots on top of each fillet and season them with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle each fillet with ¹/8 cup of the wine and 1½ teaspoons of the olive oil.
  3. Fold the foil up over each fillet and crimp the edges together to create a packet. Put the fish packets on a baking sheet and set the baking sheet over medium heat on a stovetop burner until you hear a sizzling sound, about 45 seconds. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the fish until cooked through, about 7 minutes.
  4. Carefully put a foil packet on each of 4 plates and serve. Remind diners to cut the packets open cautiously.

“You Don’t Have to Be Diabetic To Love This Cookbook” by Tom Valenti retails for $32.95 hardcover, $19.95 paperback and contains 250 recipes specifically for diabetics and those who love them.

Diabetics Going Vegan

Diabetics Going Vegan: An expo recently held in New York City was sponsored by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The expo had a variety of educational stations designed to help people understand and manage diabetes. A vegan diet was part of the discussion.

One of the guests was referred to in the New York Times blog, Well. Chef Jason Wyrick was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes eight years ago. At age 28, Wyrick struggled with his eyesight and his blood sugar was extremely high. As a personal choice he gravitated to a vegan diet and indicates his condition was completely turned around by making this choice.

The New York Times blog indicates, “A 2006 study published in Diabetes Care compared a low-fat vegan diet to a standard diet following the traditional American Diabetes Association guidelines. Both diets improved glycemic and lipid control in patients with diabetes, but the low-fat vegan diet produced the best results.”

Chef Wyrick used the avocado as his main vegetable in his cooking demonstrations. What follows is one of his recipes.

Roasted Red Pepper Avocado Dip

1 avocado
2 roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree. Serve with sliced cucumber.

For more clarity on a vegan diet in relation to Type 2 diabetes we checked in with the Mayo Clinic. They indicated, “Changing to a vegetarian diet probably won’t cure your diabetes. But it may offer some benefits over a nonvegetarian diet — such as helping to better control your weight, reducing your risk of some diabetes-associated complications, and possibly even making your body more responsive to insulin. This, of course, depends on the type of vegetarian diet you choose and the particular food choices you make when following the diet.”

Weight gain is the most common link to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The Mayo Clinic further notes, “Significant weight loss resulting from a vegetarian diet can improve type 2 diabetes in people who are obese. But this is also true of similar weight loss from a nonvegetarian diet. Some research indicates that a vegetarian diet makes your body more responsive to insulin — which is a very good thing if you have diabetes. In fact, in a 2006 study published in the journal Diabetes Care (the same report listed above), 43 percent of people with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-fat vegan diet reduced their need for diabetes medications.”

As far as what plan might be best the May Clinic suggests, “There’s no single vegetarian eating plan. A vegan diet is the strictest of all vegetarian diets. Vegans eat no animal meat and no foods that come from animals, such as dairy products and eggs. Other types of vegetarian diets may allow dairy products and eggs.”

In the Vegan Food Guide (think food pyramid) the most common item that should be consumed are 6-11 servings of grains followed by at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. As you move higher on the pyramid there are 6-11 servings of soymilk or alternatives as well as 2-3 servings beans or alternatives. At the top of the vegan pyramid are vitamin supplements including Omega 3, vitamin D and vitamin B-12.

A vegan diet may not be for everyone, but for those who have tried it as part of a diabetic management plan they have been very pleased with the results. If nothing else perhaps this can provide some encouragement to try to vegetable-based meal ideas to help lower cholesterol, fat and calories.

Diabetes and Rice Choice

Diabetes and Rice Choice: What is true for processed flour appears to be true for processed rice. Making it more refined makes it less nutritionally sound and more apt to induce weight gain as well as subsequent health issues such as diabetes.

Obviously family history, physical exercise and additional health factors will play into the potential for diabetes, but according to the British Medical Journal, “Rice has been a dietary staple in Asian cultures for centuries and is now very popular in the UK and other non-Asian countries. There are many types of rice, but one of the most basic distinctions-is it white or brown?-comes not from crop type but from how the rice is processed after harvest. Brown rice is partly milled, while white rice is heavily refined to strip away its outer bran and germ portions. This makes white rice cook faster, and some say taste better, but it also removes much of the nutritional value, leaving mainly the starchy, carbohydrate-rich interior.

“This difference has led researchers to wonder whether a person’s choice of white or brown rice might affect their risk of getting type 2 diabetes-a disease in which your diet can play a key role. If you have diabetes, your body can’t control how much glucose (sugar) is in your blood, so you end up with too much.”

Researchers discovered that white rice, central to Asian cooking, has been key to increased diabetes risks within those countries. The real question was whether a similar risk existed in American and European cultures that relied less on rice as a food staple. The British Medical Journal discovered, “People who ate five or more servings of white rice per week had a 17 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than one serving a month. In contrast, people who ate two or more servings of brown rice per week had an 11 percent lower risk than those who ate less than one serving a month.

“Based on these results, the researchers estimated that replacing 50 grams of white rice per day (around one-third of a serving) with an equal amount of brown rice would lower a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 16 percent.”

This study was conducted over a twenty-year period by researchers at Harvard University in Boston. The findings seem to suggest, “If you eat white rice several times a week, this study suggests that you may have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Switching to brown rice might lower your risk,” according to the British Medical Journal who also reported, “When rice is on the menu, consider opting for brown instead of white. Although we’re not yet certain how this might affect your risk of type 2 diabetes, we do know that brown rice is a healthier choice overall, as it is a better source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. And, yes, some people even prefer its taste.”

What follows is a recipe from the Mayo Clinic for a diabetic meal including brown rice.

“Fried” brown rice

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: approximately 10 minutes
Standing time: 7 minutes

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons reduced-calorie margarine
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1 chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups instant brown rice
1 1/2 cups 50% less sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots, unthawed (alternatively, unthawed frozen mixed vegetables can be used)

Coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add margarine, and melt over medium heat. Add egg substitute and stir-fry until egg is set (like scrambled egg). Stir in onion, rice, broth, and peas and carrots; stir to mix. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir, and cover. Let stand 7 minutes, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups
Serving size: 1/2 cup

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving:
Calories: 98
Carbohydrate: 16 g
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated fat: <1 g
Sodium: 163 mg
Fiber: 1 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 starch, 1/2 fat
Carbohydrate choices: 1 (Source: Mayo Clinic)

A Diabetic’s Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

A Diabetic’s Guilt-Free Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Day has traditionally been thought of as a day of indulgent feasting. We rationalize the overeating as a minor indiscretion that can be made up by eating less before and after the big day. For diabetics this may not be a choice that promotes good health.

The truth is there’s a lot to honor about the Thanksgiving meal.  According to Yahoo Health turkey is a great protein source with very little fat. Sweet potatoes provide abundant nutrition including beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C and have antioxidants. And finally roasted chestnuts, “Provides about 150 calories with only 1 gram of fat. They’re a great source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber (5 grams per half-cup!).”

Despite the good news diabetics can get into trouble for Thanksgiving when they assume they can enjoy the feast without consequence. Yes, there are positives about most of the foods typically found at the turkey-day feast, but moderation becomes the friend of the diabetic.

Registered dietician Lisa Frazier told that diabetics should, “Have lots of vegetables [and] lean meats.”

Lisa realizes that well meaning relatives may push family recipes on the diabetics in their midst believing that one day of feasting will not hurt the diabetic. If this happens in your family it may be time for some education. This can come in the form of delivering your own revised recipes for those who are willing to enjoy great taste with no guilt. provides a couple of diabetic friendly, yet very tasty treats that may garner more fans for your ‘restricted’ diet than you might believe possible.

provided by Skaggs Hospital

6 eggs
2 cups of Sugar Twin Substitute
2 oz. of Splenda Sugar Substitute
1/2 tbsp. of Vanilla Extract
1/2 tbsp. of light corn syrup
4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 margarine, solid
3 cups Peanut Butter, creamy
9 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup chocolate chips, semi sweet

Mix all ingredients together. Flatten cookies with spoon dipped in water.  Bake at 300 F for 10 to 13 minutes.
Makes 66 portions.

(Provided by Midwest Dairy Association)

1 block (8 ounces) of Mozzarella cheese, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup diced roasted red peppers
2 green onions, cut diagonally into thin slices
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 head Belgian endive, separated into leaves

Combine Mozzarella cheese, red peppers, green onions, fresh basil and olive oil in medium bowl.  Mix well. Season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.  Serve on endive leaves with whole grain crackers.

-Can also spoon onto whole grain bread and cook in oven until cheese begins to melt.

If you can plan a little bit better in advance of Thanksgiving you will likely enjoy the day, not just because you may enjoy the food, but also because you will feel better during and after the family gatherings.

If you’ve lived with diabetes for a while then you may remember seasonal gathering where you literally felt as if there was a terrible payment needed once the event was over. By paying more attention to your body and less attention to the misinformed suggestions of friends and family you can enjoy their company – and your festive meal.

Diabetes Connecting Food Choices

Diabetes Connecting Food Choices: When you decide to eat out you should know that a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that burgers and fried chicken may be problematic for some who may be doing their best to avoid diabetes.

Over the course of ten years research was gathered to determine what factors might be present in the development of diabetes. This particular research focused on African American women and discovered a measurable link between eating out two or more times a week and obesity. Obesity often becomes the trigger for the development of type 2 diabetes.

It may be important to note that other fast foods did not seem to provide the same trigger as hamburgers and friend chicken. A third food that was also found to contribute to obesity was Chinese food.

This report suggests that over a ten-year period respondents who engaged in fast food meals (using the criteria described above) were as much as 70% more likely to develop diabetes than those who did not.

Apart from this very specific study it is interesting to note that many fast food restaurants are expressing a greater awareness and respect for caloric intake and health choices for customers. Some restaurants will provide a listing of low calorie entrees and will allow for healthier side order substitutions (i.e. sliced apples for French fries and juice or milk for soda).

Some restaurants are also featuring menu items that demonstrate a ‘less is more’ philosophy. Right-size and portion control items are being discovered in both fast food and casual dining restaurants. The primary reason this is happening is likely a response to customer concern. If a restaurant wants to retain customers they will need to respond to the needs of those consumer. This is why low calorie choices are now highlighted and value menus are being consulted as much for smaller portions as for financial reasons.

Perhaps fast food restaurants are beginning to understand that there is a need to infuse health in the subject of choice. For too long this option was not routinely available in many fast food chains.

Consumers are beginning to understand that increasing the size of the meal doesn’t always translate to long-term life satisfaction. Choices are more abundant and there has been a significant shift from burgers and fried foods to sandwiches and salads.

As the consumer becomes more aware of improved choices they are forcing other fast food locations to up the ante in a dynamic of health. If the consumer responds well to health choices that are offered those same consumers are likely to notice additional health related choices becoming available.

You don’t have to fall into the specific parameters of the study mentioned above to understand the need to make choices that not only leave you satisfied today, but can also provide the best potential for a future with improved health.

Yes, it is true that you will ultimately find the best choice in food using food at home that you select and control. However, it may become easier to find choices that pay attention to glycemic control and caloric intake at fast food restaurants.

The hope is that a trend in health at your local burger joint translates to a reduction in the development of diabetes. This may be a choice the benefits you, your children, and future generations.