Eating a Diabetic-Compatible Breakfast ... Sigh

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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.

We always hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what we have always been accustomed to eating at breakfast tends to be very high in carbohydrates. It is the hardest meal of the day if you are trying to control your carbohydrate intake. Breads and cereals can bust your carb budget in a flash.

The first booklet I got suggested that you keep your breakfast carbohydrate intake to 45 grams or less. If your favorite breakfast is a deep-fried Twinkie dipped in raspberry jelly, you are going to be pretty sad every morning. However, the same holds true if you are used to having “normal” breakfast: a corn muffin, a bagel (serving size “they” say is ¼ of a bagel – really?) or even a bowl of cereal to start your day.

Many people can grab a sugary muffin, juice and coffee and call it good. Some who like it sweet can’t start their morning without a donut or danish. For those of us with diabetes, these choices may be too high in carbohydrates, and starting our morning off with a bang may shoot our readings into the sky.

But you know me; I have some decadently delicious ideas to make breakfast treats … a treat!

Weekday Breakfast Options

Except for weekends, I have a slice of low-carbohydrate bread (Sara Lee “delightful” or Arnold Double Fiber), a 4-ounce glass of Trop 50 juice and some really GOOD coffee. For me, the coffee is the key. But that is what I have time for in the morning. Some mornings, I do switch it up and have some “Cinnamon Sugarless” (four parts sugar substitute to one part ground cinnamon) toast. While it makes a nice “sweet” change, I find I am hungrier by 10 a.m. than when I have the protein from the cheese.

There are other quick, make-ahead choices. You can make a crustless breakfast quiche, cut it into four good-sized portions and have it for the week. All you have to do is pop it into the toaster oven or microwave and you are good to go. You can take that same mixture and bake it in muffin tins, and that wonderful egg (and vegetable?) goodness is ready to go to work with you. Most of the Greek-style yogurts are fairly low in carbohydrates (11-15 grams for Yoplait, Dannon and Oikos), especially the vanilla and plain varieties. I like to top these with fresh (or frozen) berries and toasted almonds for sweeter breakfast with a good amount of protein (about 13 grams).

Weekend Breakfast Options

For me, anyway, there is the weekend, and that is the time to splurge.

  • Hole in the Middle or Bird in the Nest: This is a simple and fun way to have a delicious breakfast. Make a hole in the center of a piece of low-carbohydrate bread, butter it and place it into a frying pan. Place the “hole” in the pan along with the slice. Crack an egg into the whole and fry it to your personal preference. There is something almost indulgent about the taste of fried bread.
  • An Omelet or Frittata: The sky (and your imagination) is the limit here. The difference between an omelet and a frittata is how you make it. With a frittata, you pour the mixture of eggs, cream and filling and let it set in the pan. You finish it off under the broiler or in a hot oven for a nice browned crusty texture. With an omelet, you let the egg mixture cook and then add the filling and fold it over the filling. It has a softer finish. Add a slice of low-carb bread or a low-carb English muffin (Thomas' has a “lite” muffin with only 17 grams of net carbohydrate) with a sugar-free jam to go with either of them, and you have an elegant, low-carbohydrate, filling breakfast.
  • Mock Eggs Benedict: This is a snap. I use the Thomas’ “Light” English muffin topped with bacon (my choice over ham), a slice of cheese and an egg (either poached or fried). You certainly can do the regular version with the Canadian bacon and Hollandaise sauce, but it is the weekend, and don’t you have more to do with your time?
  • Pizza for Breakfast? Using Joseph’s flax, oat bran and wheat pita (5 grams of carbohydrates) make your own breakfast pizza. Lightly scramble eggs for your “sauce” and top with your favorite cheeses, peppers, tomato, sausage and anything else you want on YOUR OWN pizza!
  • Waffles, French Toast and Pancakes: Oddly enough there is a frozen waffle made by Kellogg (Eggo) that actually works. It is a whole-grain “like” waffle with 14 grams of net carbohydrate. The trick is the “syrup.” Maple syrup, even “sugar free” maple syrup, is too high in carbohydrates for me. Instead, I make my own breakfast sauce (see recipe below). For added decadence, I will top the waffle off with a dollop of sour cream or vanilla yogurt.

    Some weeks ago I experimented with making French toast using a couple of loaves of Joseph’s low-carb pita bread and the same syrup as I use for the waffles. The French toast batter was no change from my old recipe of eggs, cream, cinnamon and vanilla. I cut the pita in half (because it fit in the pan better that way), dipped it in the egg custard and fried it up as I always do. Truth is that it was different than what I remembered. It was thinner and crispier than if I made it with white bread (or the Sara Lee or Arnold breads). But it was great; part crepe, part French toast, and delicious.

    And last but certainly not least are my whole-wheat and nut pancakes. These are 4-inch pancakes with only 3.5 grams of carbohydrate per pancake. The best thing is you get to choose just how many you want. You are the master/mistress of your breakfast carbs.

Important: Don’t forget the crown on your breakfast. Try a big cup of coffee or chai topped with steamed and frothed milk. Now sit back on your couch like a Royal and indulge before the chores of the day slap you back into “reality.” Oh well…

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

Click here for Ward's Fresh Berry Breakfast Sauce!

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

Photo credit: Janine on Flickr