Being the Side Kick (Dish) on the Diabetes-Compatible Plate is Tough (just ask Robin, Tonto, and Doctor Watson)

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Cooking and eating with Diabetes management in mind is easy….EXCEPT when it is not. Many of us have it handled managing our Diabetes meals with the protein(s) part of the plate. Beef, chicken, fish, lamb, pork are pretty easy. There are hundreds, no thousands of variations on how to make those different and interesting and not blow our Diabetes budget.

The harder thing is the side kick (dish). Many of us were brought up on:

  1. Meat & Potatoes
  2. Chicken & Rice
  3. Fish & Chips
  4. Lamb & Mint jelly
  5. Pork & Beans

It is the “and” that can be a problem.

No question we can have a salad with our main dish. But salads, no matter how many different dressings you make, and no matter what you add to them start to get a little boring. Perhaps salads seem more boring because we think salad is all we can have.

So many times I see comments by readers about how much they hate vegetables. I get it. What I was served as a “kid’ was green beans from a can, boiled carrots, occasionally corn on the cobb….and oh yeah, lima beans. Trust me, I “get” not liking vegetables.

Day after day, I easily figure out the entrée but agonize over the side dish. The easy days of making a bowl of rice or potatoes or noodles are long gone. Sure, I can and do make them from time to time in limited quantities. But even using a smaller dish, my meal seems lost on the plate. I get angry at the limitations.

I thank the “stupidmarkets” for frozen spinach. It is often my “go-to” when time and inspiration fail me. Add a little lemon juice and a bit of grated or chopped cheese and the spinach becomes more than the sum of its parts.

The truth is that it takes more time and effort for us to make a really good and satisfying side for the plate. It is well worth it IF you have the time and interest.

Fresh green beans can be dull and boring. Adding a few strips of bell pepper or better yet a few almonds and stir frying them takes that humble bean to new heights. Cauliflower and spaghetti squash have become favorites in our house. Both have neutral flavors (like potatoes, beans, and noodles). They take on the flavors of things around them. Even better for the busy person, you can make cauliflower salads and casseroles in big batches and you have the easy side dish for another time.

The same is true for spaghetti squash. When I have free time and they are on sale (why do they taste better on sale?) I make up a batch and pop it into the freezer. Both of these vegetables freeze very well and because they have little flavor of their own, lend themselves to a world of variations. I love the fried “Riced” cauliflower with my Asian pork chops or chicken. Spaghetti squash is great with pesto sauce and shrimp or chicken. A cauliflower salad is the best side kick a burger on a lower carbohydrate bun ever had.

Then, there are old favorites like Cole slaw or in my case, “Skinny slaw”. I have made this side dish for decades. It started out years ago at the DIET GOURMET SHOPPE and we made gallons of it every day. In those days, the emphasis was fat and calories. Today for us, the goal is lower carbohydrates. It is another great companion with the burger or oven fried fish. The terrific thing is that it fills the plate without busting the carbohydrate budget. No, I take that back. The best thing is that it tastes GREAT. What is the sense of making something if you don’t like the way it tastes?

Before I forget, don’t forget the forgotten vegetable, celery. It is not just for tuna salad or to dip in a low carbohydrate sauce. In a raw salad with lemon, cheese and nuts it is crunchy, fresh and delicious. Cooked with fennel it is such a new and interesting flavor, you will wonder why you ”NEVER HAD THAT BEFORE.”

My advice this week is to get out there and find some new friends to make your protein look good and your plate full and enjoyable. I haven’t even scratched the surface. Fair warning: it takes work to find new things that you and your family will love.

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, and BE DECADENT! –w

Source: Ward Alper, The Decadent Diabetic