Diabetes-Compatible Food for the Soul

soupscasseroles.jpg

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.

It is April, and here in Maine it is STILL winter. “Baby, it is cold outside.”

There are a few food things that come to mind for winter eating and drinking – things like hot cocoa, soups, stews and casseroles.

I know that many of my readers live in climates that almost never get cold. But no matter your climate, foods that warm the spirit are always in fashion.

The proof is my Greek Chicken Casserole. Few people think of Greece as anything but warm and sunny, and this dish combines the sunshine and the stick-to-the-ribs goodness that we often miss in a low-carbohydrate diet.

When I was diagnosed in December 2008, what little I knew then seemed to indicate that most of those warm-for-the-body and warm-for-the-soul foods were never going to be a part of my eating life – which was “almost” not true.

Hot Cocoa

By the end of winter in 2009, I had discovered the most amazingly delicious sugar-free hot cocoa mix that was actually low in carbohydrates. Even better, they sold it at my local Wal-mart. It was inexpensive and, most important, it was delicious.

Sadly, by 2010 it is gone from the marketplace. I contacted Coldstone Creamery (the brand I liked so much) and they sent me to the company that manufactured the product for them. They had no plans to continue making the product.

True, there are other “diet” or sugar-free mixes out there, but I am not one to settle for something that doesn’t taste perfectly right to me. I do, from time to time play around with concocting a recipe using my Hershey’s Dark cocoa mix, a sugar substitute and powdered milk. So far, nothing that I made is good enough to share with you. This is the “almost” part.

As for the soups, stews and casseroles, well, once I looked at them from a different perspective, I very happily discovered that I did not have to live without them.

Soups and Stews

Soups became part of my eating again once I realized that I did not have to rely on flour or corn starch to thicken them. Just using more of the meats and vegetables in preparing the soups worked like a charm.

A little Parmesan cheese not only gives my soups more flavor but also works to thicken the broth. Even my old onion soup recipe was workable when I replaced that hunk of perfectly stale French bread with a toasted “light” English muffin.

Chicken noodle soup is the bastion of my heritage. It too was again a part of my life once I discovered bean-based noodles (recipe here). I don’t think Grandma would object too strongly.

For those of you who live in warmer climates, cold soups warm the soul just as well as hot. Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and Gazpacho are all great as cold soups. All things are possible.

Casseroles

The casserole is the star of the cold-weather, body-warming, soul-satisfying foods. How do you make a casserole without using high-carbohydrate pastas or potatoes or peas? Easy-peasy!

Both spaghetti squash and cauliflower are absolutely great replacements (notice I did NOT say substitutions) for the pasta. My leftovers have found a new and very delicious home. I more or less use those two vegetables interchangeably in casseroles. It all depends on how the ingredients speak to me.

For Almost Mac and Cheese, the spaghetti squash seems like the better fit. But when I featured my recipe for Cauliflower, Bacon and Blue a few months ago, a reader here, who “hated” blue cheese, asked if she could use another cheese in place of it. You know me; I said YES and suggested cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Wait a minute; if you use cheddar cheese, doesn’t that recipe now come just as close to “mac” as the spaghetti squash? It sure does. I just needed to retrain my mind – yes, again – to look at the dish without prejudice. Sometimes I think “I got it” only to realize that there is another way.

So “button up your overcoat” and give these two very versatile vegetables a try when you prepare your next hot and hearty, low-carbohydrate and deliciously decadent winter casserole. You will be as pleased as I am. Your leftovers are waiting for a new and delicious home. Don’t disappoint them!

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

Click here for Ward's Casserole Di Vedura Fresca (Casserole with Fresh Vegetables) recipe!

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