Diabetes-Compatible: Eating your way through a world of flavors

I look at my eating and cooking as an enjoyable way to manage my Diabetes and my life. It is not something to be dreaded. It is not a burden on me or my household. I would bet that there is not a family or person around that doesn’t restrict something from their table. For some it is gluten. For others it is nuts. Others can’t tolerate shellfish. Some people will not eat foods for religious or moral reasons. Then there is the bulk of us that just hate something. Peppers, spinach, spicy foods, fish, broccoli, mushrooms, beans, eeeuw! The list is endless. What people with Diabetes and all those people have in common is that there are foods that they can’t and/or won’t eat. Like some vegetarians that won’t do mushrooms, most of us won’t do something.

So here we are with eating restrictions and we choose to restrict it more? Does that make any sense? You bet it does! I don’t care how good kale is for you, if you hate it, you won’t be likely to eat it. If you don’t see other alternatives to help vary your eating, you might get upset.

I am about sticking to a food regime. If you treat your eating as something nasty, how long will you be able to keep it up?

I am absolutely clear that no matter how much I love kale, no matter how many variations on a kale recipe I give you, I may not be able to convince you to love kale. Guess what? That is just fine with me. I am as guilty as you are. No matter how much I loved and appreciated my grandmother, there were dishes she brought over from the old country that I could never bring myself to eat. Sorry Grandma!

Many of the dishes I enjoy most have a thread of Mediterranean flavors. I am NOT suggesting you just eat “Mediterranean.” One reason is: which kind of Mediterranean eating? Surly not what the city people eat. That is very high in carbohydrates. Is it what the country people eat? That has a lot of bread product. I just suggest the flavors of that region to add to your dull foods to spark them up. You see, I want you to think about what will make up a plate that you enjoy and are willing to come back to time and again.

I could just as easily have sung the praises of Asian foods but I only have a limited number of dishes I do with any great success. The foods of the east are still a bit of a mystery to me.

But I like to share what I got. One blend of spices that I use a great deal is called Chinese five spice. It is readily available in most “stupidmarkets.” It is a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and pepper. I usually don’t recommend using a prepared spice mixture. In this instance, I don’t yet get know how to balance out those five spices, so I leave it to (I hope) the experts. Just because I like the flavor, I usually add ground ginger to the dish as well. When using this as a marinade for chicken or pork, adding soy, and mustard along with neutral oil and either low sodium chicken stock (or broth) and dry sherry will give the protein great Asian flavors. If this is too adventurous for you to start with, then just try the ginger, mustard, soy and lemon or lime juice. Instead of rice or noodles, I suggest you try some Brussels sprout salad or spaghetti squash, or just some simple steamed broccoli.

Think about the last meal you enjoyed in an “ethnic” restaurant. What are the flavors you enjoyed in the meal? If you can’t identify them yourself, call the restaurant and ask them what went into the dish. Then race off to your local market and hit the spice aisle.

The deal is: the world of flavors is there for you to tap. Just let your fork, knife and napkin be your passport to a world of tastes that make Diabetes-Compatible, and all eating more fun.

I am a chef, not a doctor or nutritionist. My “shtick” is for you to decide what works best for you, and look to me for ideas about how to make it taste better and keep it interesting. But be clear that it is also my intention to assist you in doing….something. Once you have chosen to do that, I am your man. Well, in truth there are lots of us around that you can turn to for advice and ideas on how to keep your diet interesting. I just choose to focus on eating Diabetes-Compatible. Makes sense, I am one of you!

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