Cooking with Diabetes: Making the Most of What You Got

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This guest post was written by type 2 diabetic and chef Ward Alper. It originally appeared on his website, The Decadent Diabetic, and was republished on Information About Diabetes with permission.

I keep going back to a comment from one of the readers on the Diabetes Support Facebook page. Many months ago, Steve was at his wits end with facing another piece of baked chicken and a mound of dull veggies on his plate. I have tackled this issue from many sides: using citrus, spices, different proteins, etc. – all kinds of easy things to pop the flavors on the plate.

One more thought about adding flavor to what you are eating: This, like so much of what I write about, is NOT just for people with diabetes, but for anyone wanting more flavor-bang from their food-buck. It also caters to the needs of those of us with families and the concern that the way they have to eat somehow short changes the rest of their families and friends. It just happens to be diabetes-compatible.

Another reader commented:

Now I have to start over and learn again. I refuse to lower my standards and give up my flavors!! I just have to learn swaps and how to change up my recipes. Frustrating...my family and friends are concerned as how this will effect them!

Making Flavorful, Juicy Meat

My favorite way of preparing meats like chicken, fish, pork and lamb is to start by seasoning them and start the cooking on top of the stove, browning it to sear in the juices, then finishing it in the oven. What happens when you do this is that you have a pan with all sorts of flavors stuck to the bottom. What you think of as stuck-on stuff is kitchen treasure.

So why not kill two birds with one stone? All the bits from the protein need to be cleaned up. Well, before you get out your scouring pad and some elbow grease, why not clean the pan with a liquid that helps lift the stuck on “mess” and becomes a terrific pan sauce? There is nothing to limit you in what liquids you use. A little broth, some butter or some booze will all work wonders on cleaning up the pan AND flavoring your meal.

Adding the Finishing Touches

Because I like to control the flavors and the sodium content, I always have a stash of chicken, beef and mushroom broth cubes in my freezer. Two or three of these either alone or in combination are the beginning of a great sauce. You can always use a packaged broth or stock if you don’t want to bother with the soup cubes.

This is the kind of fancy-dancy sauce you see listed on the menus of many fine restaurants. You can go even further and add wine, brandy or sherry to the pan for a more complex flavor. Two more small steps: Sauté some shallot or scallion in the pan with the stuck-on stuff before you add the liquid, and again you add another layer of flavor. Add a little cream and you have a creamed pan sauce. None of these steps takes any time at all. All are done while the protein is finishing in the oven.

As the meat is cooking in the oven, it will give out some more juices. DON’T throw them away. Add them to your pan sauce at the very end and use everything you got.

A Win-Win Technique

When pork tenderloins are on sale, I stock up on them. I prepare them the same way, prepare the pan sauce the same way, but I slice the tenderloin and allow it to have a finial “finish” in the sauce. It cooks the meat a little more and infuses each piece with flavor. It also eases my mind about the pork being cooked through.

The end result of this pan sauce technique is a pan that is easier to clean AND a sauce that will enhance the flavors of your most boring piece of meat. Is that any way to treat your protein? You bet it is!

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Steak with Pan Sauce recipe!

Get more cooking tips and recipe ideas from Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic, on his website.

Photo credit: momo on Flickr