Diabetes Cooking: When YOU Are Not THE Expert

not expert

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.

Having Diabetes does not restrict you from enjoying any cuisine from any place in the world; that is if YOU like that kind of food. You may have to make some changes to the recipes and be careful of the standard side dishes but the FLAVORS are there for you to enjoy. However, not everybody is an expert in every cuisine.

My friend Max asked me to assist him in setting up a menu for a Father’s day brunch. His request was:

“A brunch that would take the focus off the protein and put it on the veggies, etc. to encourage 'meat loving' men with diabetes to opt for different options.”

I went back over my vegetarian recipes. I was surprised to find that very few of those “old” recipes were what I consider to be good choices for people with Diabetes. With very few exceptions, they were very carbohydrate heavy. They relied on pastas, rices, grains, and potatoes to bulk up the dish.

“The ewee” factor
Certainly I have a few that work. They are, for the most part eggplant dishes. I love eggplant and I realize that eggplant (for too many) is an “ewee” food. I try not to publish recipes that get that response.

Eggplant takes a number of steps to prepare. Many of my readers are not interested in a recipe with a lot of steps. I get it. There is more to some people’s lives than cooking.

The fun thing is that you always surprise me. I posted one of my favorite cold side dishes a few months ago. It was a celery, nut and cheese salad. I got two funny responses:

“Celery..gak”
And
“There must be some mistake. That is what my food eats”

What surprised even more is that I don’t have a lot of vegetarian dishes. I see vegetarian cuisine like a number of cuisines as better left to chef’s with a real background in that style of cooking.

A cook can substitute things like spaghetti squash for the pastas, cauliflower for the rice or potatoes in a vegetarian recipe, but it is not as simple as say replacing oregano in a recipe with basil. Using spaghetti squash or cauliflower changes everything. Not that it is a bad thing but using those foods as replacements in a vegetarian dish makes them well…more vegetable-y. The starches are a lot more neutral in flavor.

I bring this up because I do understand other peoples’ feeling about experimenting and trying new foods. Even though I have been cooking since fire was invented, there are some cuisines that intimidate me. My mind set is that they are too difficult to master. I do a number of Asian influenced foods but any person brought up in an Asian culture would look at the dish and find it somewhat difficult to relate too. The flavors might be reminiscent of their home land, the preparation may be similar, but the finished dish might cause them to look sideways at this more European chef.

Sticking to what I know
I do make eggplant parmesan, rolled and stuffed eggplant, and eggplant Napoleons. They are pretty luscious to those of us that like eggplant.
For the rest of my vegetarian repertory, I stick to what I know, as in “have I got a side dish for you”. I have dozens, no, hundreds of vegetable side dishes. I leave the entree to those who know.

If any food is “not your cup of tea”, that is really ok. Don’t cook it. There are so many wonderful foods out there to try and make part of your repertory. Find recipes you like and make them you own. Take the best of them and make changes to the rest of them. Do YOU like more garlic in your foods, add more garlic. Hate onions, lower the amount or leave them out. I cringe at the thought, but whatever works for you.
I like lemon ginger tea. If that is too experimental for you, you have my permission to stick with the kind you grew up drinking.

Taste, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is great fun though to keep your eyes wide open.

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

Source: Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic