Diabetes-Compatible Comfort Foods

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Comfort foods seem to rely on a lot of carbohydrates in their preparation. You can still enjoy many of them with a few minor adjustments to the carbohydrates, but not to the flavors you knew and loved.

When my doctor sent me toddling off to the Diabetes clinic, I listened to the nutritionist. I allowed her to intimidate me. I left feeling more miserable and unhappy than when I walked in. I left thinking my enjoyment of foods was at its end. I believed her and I was wrong.

The first realization that things were not so bad was finding breads that had fewer carbohydrates and most important tasted good. I felt triumphant. After weeks of eating a slab of turkey and lettuce for lunch and coffee and a low carbohydrate yogurt for breakfast; there was bread back on my table. Every region has their own brands and it is up to us to find them. Label reading might not be as interesting as a good book, but the end result is worth the effort. Breakfast got better when I figured out that with a few changes my cake recipes could be turned into breakfast muffins.

While I did not dream of sugar plums, I did dream of deserts. After a little work and experimentation, I figured out how to make deserts that tasted as good as before without breaking my carbohydrate budget. In many cases, because of the use of toasted nuts, the cakes actually tasted better than before. Chalk up a win for this old Diabetic guy.

I won’t lie to you. It was not that big an adjustment to have meat, fish, chicken and a big serving of salad or one of the dozens of vegetables I like for my supper. In the back of my head, I still craved some of the comfort foods of the “old” days. What I would not have given for some meatloaf, mac & cheese, chicken pot pie, soup, mashed potatoes and…..

The great news is all of those foods and more still fit within MY carbohydrate budget. Sure I have made changes in the recipes but the changes do not include ingredients that don’t taste good. My inner fuzzy plaid is still intact.

It has been so long now that I can’t remember what that first Diabetes-Compatible comfort food was. If I have to guess it was meatloaf. I made (and still make) a mean meatloaf. I have friends I invite to dinner and give them the choice of anything they want. Meatloaf is the first choice. Years ago, a friend and I even considered opening a restaurant based on meatloaf and other comfort foods. Once I managed to deliciously tuck a meatloaf into my carbohydrate budget, sloppy Joe’s and burgers were not far behind. Cow-poke (Shepherd’s) pie was next. Mashed cauliflower is a great replacement for mashed potatoes in most cases. It is ok here as well, but I really prefer to have less of a really well seasoned mashed potato. The budget does not change but the crust is thinner. For me it is a good trade off.

Some dishes needed rethinking. Does garlic bread HAVE to be made using French or Italian bread? Why? I now make killer garlic bread using Joseph’s low carbohydrate pita bread. It actually resembles garlic bread made using leftover pizza dough. It makes perfect sense. It is the bread I use as the base for my pizza.

The elephant in the article has to be mac and cheese. I am having my version of it for supper tonight. It has been a tough couple of weeks and I NEED my comfort food. The sauce is the same as I have always made. I use onion, garlic, milk and CHEESE. Instead of flour to thicken the sauce, I use a beaten egg. It works like a charm. The “mac” has been replaced by spaghetti squash. If you have been reading along, you know I have a love/ hate relationship with spaghetti squash. For the most part I love it. The one exception is eating it with a tomato sauce. I don’t know if I think of it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it just doesn’t feel right to me. In Almost Mac & Cheese, I think it tastes and feels great.

The mind likes to play tricks on me. Once Mac & Cheese became a staple of my table again, I had to play. I made a pudding using eggs, vanilla, cream and cinnamon and spaghetti squash. It resembles rice pudding in every way, without the carbohydrates. It is adult kid comfort food.

Winter seems right for all those comfort foods. I am comforted to know that you and I can still enjoy them with no guilt or price to pay.

I should have asked questions like crazy eight years ago. It took time and trouble and lots of frustration, but pretty much I get to enjoy almost everything.

Don’t be like me. Get a head start and…ask questions like CRAZY and enjoy your table again.

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