Dr. Frankenstein Meets a Diabetic Chef


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.

Poor Victor (that was Dr. Frankenstein’s first name). All he wanted to do was take the best parts of one thing and add to it the best parts of another in order to make something better than its parts.

As a person with diabetes, and a chef, I sometimes feel just like old Doc Frankenstein. I am taking the best parts of a recipe, resurrecting an old recipe, and making them into something better for those of us with diabetes.

And frankly, I think I have the harder task. So many people won’t eat this, won’t try that, think that some foods are poison, or are allergic to this or the other thing. What is a mad chef to do? Old Doc F only had the angry villagers to contend with. I have a world of people with different likes and hates.

Experimenting with Recipes

Fortunately, most of my experiments don’t go too far astray. Did you know that Eeeuw really isn’t a word?


In the beginning, desserts seemed to defy my making something that I would be proud to serve in a restaurant to paying guests. I took my old recipes and replaced some of the flour with toasted and ground nuts. It lowered the carb count and actually added flavor. Success!


Breads made from scratch still don’t work for my carbohydrate budget and my appetite. I can make the bread, but the serving size is way too small to satisfy me. I don’t believe in eating a crumb and calling it a serving.

Luckily, I have found a few commercially available breads that do work like Arnold Double Fiber; Sandwich thins (or rounds), Joseph’s (Pita, Lavash and Tortillas), and Thomas’ Light English muffins. They are all products that work for my tastebuds, texture sense, and MY carbohydrate budget.

That being said, they are not a hunk of crusty French bread fresh out of the oven. And they are not a hunk of buttered cranberry-orange bread or a corn muffin. But I am working on it. Who knows, I might be struck by a lightning bolt of an idea that works.


Breakfast, too, is a tough one for most people with diabetes. Waffles and pancakes are no longer an issue for this diabetic. Eggo (made by Kellogg’s) does a “lite” whole-grain waffle with 14 grams of carbohydrate per waffle, and now THE Decadent Diabetic has a pancake recipe to eat and live for.

Side Dishes

But what about the PERFECT side dish that “makes” the plate. Fried fish and NO CHIPS, why bother? But oven fried fish with oven fried potato wedges are easy and delicious. Add skinny slaw to it, and Fish and Chips is at your table. Success! Just don’t forget the tartar sauce made with a sugar-free pickle relish.

On a trip out west, I had the most delicious side dish I have tasted in a long while. It stood up to a really rich short rib. It was pureed parsnip and pear. Sounds strange, perhaps, but it was amazing with the very rich short rib. The only trouble with the side dish is that both parsnips and pears are carbohydrate-loaded foods. What? Parsnips and pear? Eeeuw. You had to be there!

My challenge was to create a “monster” side for some of my richer dishes like lamb, short ribs or pot roast. It needed to be something lower in carbohydrates, but with a supportive richness to balance the meat. It occurred to me to experiment (please excuse the expression) with turnip and apple. I roasted the turnips to bring out their natural sweetness and roasted some apple right along with it. Roasted then whipped turnips have the same body and texture of mashed potatoes. The addition of the apple to the mix enhanced the earthiness of the dish. Wait until you try this. And before you go Eeeuw, this too is a case of you gotta be there or at least try it. Just please don’t come after me with burning torches if you don’t like it.

Enjoy, be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Roasted Apple & Turnip Puree recipe!

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

Photo credit: Nicole Abalde on Flickr