Cooking with Diabetes, Not EVERYTHING Has to Be From Scratch

From scratch

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.

The restaurant business must be deep in my genes. When my grandmother and grandfather learned enough English to communicate easily, they opened up a grocery store/restaurant. That is actually how my father met my mother. After they were married, he worked alongside my grandparents. Eventually, he bought his own place and put me to work.

These restaurants were deli/home style affairs. The food was very New York City German /Jewish. Not everything was fully prepared on premises. Big batches of corned beef, pastrami and salamis were brought in from a purveyor specializing in curing those cuts of meat. Huge wet wooden barrels of the most delicious pickles were brought in every other day.

What were prepared in the kitchens were the turkeys, roast beefs, and the final cooking of the cured meats. And all the vegetables and side dishes were prepared in the enormous kitchen out back. No customer thought of us as cheating. We did what we did best and let experts do what they did best.

Do people with Diabetes HAVE to cook EVERYTHING from scratch?

The answer is a resounding NO. You don’t have to grind your own meat or cut up your own chicken, or bake your own breads. There are lots of food items that fit very well into a carbohydrate budget. All you have to do is read and understand labels like crazy.

My personal favorite prepared food is frozen spinach. Other than for a spinach salad or for a bed to place my Chicken Parmesan on, I almost exclusively use the frozen boxes of chopped spinach. It works like a charm in my Greek chicken soup, omelets, stuffed mushrooms and quiches. Defrost, squeeze out some of the water and go. There isn’t much difference in flavor or nutritional value between the fresh and frozen for these dishes.

Want cole slaw and discover it is too late to start shredding it yourself? Buy a package of ready cut cole slaw mix (I’ve done it) and add the sauce yourself.

Many recipes call for chicken or beef stock? Homemade is great but it is not a big problem to use a can or carton of store bought broth in place of one that took hours to prepare. The best choice is a product with lower sodium content. That way you can adjust the sodium to best fit your needs.

I like to make my own salad dressings, but there is any number of really good tasting dressings on the market with low carbohydrate content. They are naturally lower in carbohydrates. They are not made specifically for those of us with Diabetes. Go grill a steak or some chicken and make a quick green salad (perhaps a few slices of radish or cucumber) and use one of pre-made dressings. Dinner can be a snap to prepare.

Desserts can be hard to come by already made AND low in carbohydrates. Greek style yogurts and some fresh fruit and nuts can be a great dessert, especially when served in a great glass. However, cakes and that are sugar free are not necessarily low in carbohydrates, nor do the taste particularly great. This is a category you might want to save to make from scratch.

For those of you that “think” you hate to cook but “have” to cook, you can make it so much easier by cooking some of the meal and buying some of the meal.

Best example of this is when you entertain. Make some/buy some. Prepare the main dish, sides, and perhaps the dessert and buy the hors d’oevres or appetizers. A great platter of cheeses and veggies is as simple as buying them and making them look great on the plate. You can even buy a fully done platter of veggies and dip or shrimp cocktail and add a few wedges of lemon or lime.

One of my favorite dishes is Gazpacho soup, cold in the summer or in the winter as Hot Bloody Mary soup. You can slice up your tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and dice them up….but a big can of already diced San Marzanno tomatoes is not only faster and easier, but the flavor is better than most of the fresh tomatoes you find in the “stupidmarket”.

My suggestion to ALL cooks: Make the best of it, buy the rest of it. Dinner does not have to be a chore to be delicious AND Diabetes-Compatible.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!

Source: Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic