Defying Diabetes with New Friends and Old Recipes

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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 LOVE my readers.

A few weeks ago, a reader here at Information About Diabetes (Mindy) asked me if I would be interested in a recipe of hers. It was something she created when she was in her teens:

Like I said I was 15 and wanted glazed chicken, but having been diabetic since I was 8, I knew the store bought kind would have blown my diabetes to kingdom come.

Mindy sent me the following recipe:

Low-Sugar Glazed Chicken

  • 6 chicken breasts (skin on)
  • 20 oz 100% pineapple juice
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Season salt to taste
  • Parsley flakes to taste
  1. Slit open skin to drain off fat during cooking for crispy skin.
  2. Set in fridge overnight to let juice soak in.
  3. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

When I looked at Mindy’s recipe, a huge smile started to grow on my face. About a hundred years ago, when I was 11 or 12, it became my household task to cook for the family. My training in my dad’s restaurant gave me a better base than any other family member. Besides, at that time, I thought it was fun.

What wasn’t fun was trying to make different things that would please all members of the household from my 4-year-old sister to my 20-year-old sister. I looked at all types of cooking magazines. One recipe I found was “Hawaiian” chicken. Not unlike Mindy’s recipe, it was made with pineapple juice, but each piece was also topped with a pineapple ring – very fancy for a 12-year-old, don’t you think?

Well, let me tell you that I reproduced this recipe in a million different forms over the years. Everybody seemed to love it. It was once one of the most popular items on one of my menus. Over the years, the salt was replaced with soy for a darker finish to each piece. Cinnamon was added for another layer of flavor. The same base was added to meatballs for “Hawaiian Meatballs.” (OK, I am still embarrassed about that, but it sold like crazy.) Just this week, I saw an advertisement for a steakhouse advertising, you got it, “Hawaiian” strip steak. As they say: “Everything old is new again.”

Recipes Evolve as Tastes Change

Over the years, my taste for chicken or meat with pineapple changed. Rather than pineapple, I prefer orange juice (I use Trop 50 low-carb juice). No different than the soy I added years ago for a darker finish, mustard got added for another layer of flavor with less sodium than the soy sauce. Infused oils, like the Ariston Blood Orange, replaced the neutral oil. This, too, gave the chicken more flavors, and it took less work to prepare the dish than grating orange zest into the marinade. Whether it was because I link the pineapple flavor to my childhood or that I have expanded my taste buds over the years, the subtler flavors of orange (or lemon) are now my go-to for a fresher chicken dish.

All cooks change their recipes from time to time. Even Grandmother’s “sacred” recipe has had modern updates. I have a mortar to grind nuts and spices, but the food processor sometimes is the faster and easier way to go. “Work better, NOT harder.”

My thanks to Mindy. I am going to try her recipe. Her advice to “slit” the skin to allow fat to drain off is a great tip for all of us who like the skin and like it crisp. Yes, as a chef, I am going to make some “little” changes. I can’t help myself. Since I am always trying to encourage you to try new things and make it your own, I feel no disloyalty to Mindy’s recipe or to my memories. All I feel is thanks to Mindy for reminding me about something from my past and wanting to share her recipe with not just me, but all of you. Thanks again, Mindy!

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, be Creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Orange Glazed Chicken recipe!

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