Diabetic-Compatible Eating for a Lifetime


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.

What is the old adage? “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for life.”

About two years ago, I started sharing recipes and thoughts about eating very well with diabetes. My intention is that each week’s recipe be not only a recipe for a particular dish, but also a formula for thinking about what and how you eat.

I am happy if you like one of my recipes. I am happier still if one of my recipes gets you to think about a new way to prepare an old dish.

Sure, using substitutions for high-carbohydrate foods is one thing that you can do to help manage your diabetes. What's more important is to keep it interesting. It is NOT just a few pounds you are trying to lose here. Don’t get me wrong; that is all well and good. My goal is to assist you to look at that flabby piece of meat or chicken or zucchini and say to yourself: “I saw a recipe to fix this a new, diabetic-compatible way. What if I tried…”

Turn One Recipe into Several

I have always liked cauliflower. When I saw a recipe for “mock mashed potatoes,” I gave it a shot. That recipe was just fine. More importantly, it got me to look at cauliflower in the same way I look at potato. One recipe led me to create another and another to fit my dietary needs. It led me to two different types of cauliflower salad: an au gratin of cauliflower and a rice-like preparation for the cauliflower. From one recipe, I now have five new and really delicious recipes. How, I ask you, can I complain about not having potatoes when I now have so much more?

My first attempt at spaghetti squash was an utter disaster. We all hated it. The idea of using it as a pasta substitute got stuck in my head. I kept trying and trying, and now I use it all the time. Never again with spaghetti sauce, but with pesto, oil and garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, or anything else my cooking hands can come up with. I even came up with a scrumptious recipe for Almost Mac and Cheese. It almost looks like it, it almost tastes like it, and it just feels good going down.

My complaining about what I couldn’t have took a nose dive.

Keep an Open Mind

If you don’t like a recipe of mine, or an herb or spice I use, find a version that you do like. I like using French herbs. If you don’t, try Italian herbs or Chinese herbs or Mexican herbs. There is a world of flavors to make the dullest piece of chicken taste incredible. And that is just the herbs. Start with one you have never used. See if you like it. Build from there.

It is so much better to say, “I've never tried that,” than, “I don’t like that,” or even, “I dunno know, it's pretty weird.” It is the automatic “I don’ts” that cause most of the problems. I always site pizza – that oozing, gooey blob that I once thought was yucky – and am so pleased to have found a way to eat it again.

Try New Things

The other thing I like to get my readers to do is look in the markets for new items that fit into their diets. One of my readers was upset because she missed drinking soda. I suggested iced-tea or coffee. I mentioned that I use a lemon-ginger tea. She was so thrilled to have some new choice of what she could drink. It is not that she didn’t know about tea and coffee; it is just that she never thought of using them in that way. As for the lemon-ginger tea, she said usually she hated herbal teas but this one sounded so good.

This week’s advice (teaching?) from the Decadent Diabetic is stolen from a Broadway show called “Mame.”

Open a new window, open a new door. Travel a new highway you never traveled before. Before you become a dull fellow eating the same food…

In the spirit of “Yuck, I don’t like that,” I am sharing one of my most delicious, elegant but simple desserts with you. It is vanilla and raspberry cream. The name has recently been changed leaving out the name of the main ingredient. Why, you ask? “Eweee, cheese in a dessert? Yuck!” Try it; you will be shocked at just how scrumptious it is. You can also make it in chocolate or just vanilla or anything else that you are willing to create.

Enjoy, be happy, be healthy and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Vanilla Raspberry Creme recipe!

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