Tips to make YOUR Diabetes Diet taste ….grrrreat!
(Part one: Oils, mustards, vinegars, & more)
No Diet is THAT easy to stick with, not even one that includes caviar, lobster & champagne.
What works is making the things that you eat taste better, be a little different each time you prepare the dish, and experimenting with flavors and foods that you enjoy, but in new ways. This does not have to be either hard or particularly time consuming. These tips are not JUST for those of us with diabetes. I have been using most of them in my kitchen since I was a young cook.
Let’s get started
Let me sing real loud the praises of citrus. Lemon is not just a decoration for fish or your iced tea. Lime is NOT just for gin & tonic. For those of you watching your salt intake, citrus can help replace the (taste) need for some of the salt in a dish. It reacts with other flavors to enhance them while not necessarily making the dish taste of lemon or lime or orange. Try using citrus, and don’t forget the zest, with herbs to enhance their flavors. It will please your palate that you will automatically use less salt. Citrus, (lemon or orange) is an incredible flavor enhancer especially for lamb and chicken. With lamb, a little orange juice (TROP50 for a lower sugar carb version) cuts through that gamey aftertaste. On chicken, lemon, orange, and lime brighten that dull taste that overbred “stupidmarket” product so often has. My only warning with citrus juice is that it cooks the protein. I would not marinade chicken in the lemon juice for more than a half of an hour. What works for me is using the zest combined with oil and the herbs and spices and allowing the chicken to marinade in that for 3-4 hours. I then add the juice just before cooking. The zest of lemons, oranges and limes are a great addition to baking. The zest has a stronger presence than the juices so a little can go a long way. By using the zest you don’t water down the recipe. My custards, cheesecakes and cakes have improved incredibly since I started adding a little zest to the batters. It is not that you taste the citrus but that the citrus makes everything else stand out.
Sure, you can buy a large variety of already flavored oils. There variations are limitless. But, they are expensive. I suggest you make your own in small batches. Use a good olive oil and infuse it with flavors. Three of my favorites are: garlic, shallot, and sundried tomato. All I do is put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the chosen ingredient and let it JUST warm in the oil. How can I stop at three? This warming, infusing process works well with basil, tarragon, and most herbs and also the zest of citrus. There are so many varieties…hey, maybe I should write a book?
I can’t talk about adding flavor to a recipe without mentioning mustards. A small amount of mustard adds spark to chicken and to pork and to beef. It gives it another layer on the palate. Please don’t limit yourself to yellow mustard. Don’t get me wrong, I like old fashioned yellow mustard on a ham sandwich, but there are too many varieties available in the market to limit yourself to just one variety. Try a whole grain mustard. It has a very different taste and texture. And don’t forget the Dijon mustards.
There are no two ways about it. If you are diabetic, salad is a big part of your diet. There are quite a few commercial dressings on the market that are low in carbohydrates. But nothing could be easier than making your own vinaigrette dressing. I am sure you have done this with red wine vinegar, maybe with white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. I suggest that you look in the same aisle for Champagne vinegar, tarragon vinegar, raspberry vinegar (great for a salad that contains berries) and balsamic vinegar. Vinegars vary in cost. I suggest that you buy the best one you can afford. You will use less of it and it will give you the most distinctive flavor. One of my personal favorites is ARISTON Balsamic vinegar. It comes from Greece and is thick and slightly sweet. I also use it in marinades like pork roast.
More to come in future articles.
Enjoy, be Healthy, be Happy, be creative, be DECADENT!