Even a Diabetic Chef Can Have 'One of Those Days'

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Ward Alper is a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than four years ago, he has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health. In this article, Ward explains how he decides what to make for dinner when he doesn't feel like cooking.


It is Thursday evening, and I am having one of those days. My brain is just too tired of thinking about what to make for supper, much less for weekend dessert, or pot luck party appetizer and dessert.

In the old (pre-diagnosis) days, when I couldn’t come up with what I wanted to make for supper, I fell back on soup and pasta. Not to say that I can’t still have the soup, but I have to do something about it. I didn’t defrost any of my soups from the freezer. I just want dinner on a plate and have it over and done with. I don’t have any fresh spinach in the fridge, so even a simple spinach salad is out of the question, unless I get into the car and drive to the “stupidmarket.” Trouble is that I have already been there and had a brain cramp. I came home with some things I needed (waxed paper does not seem tasty right now) but nothing I want to prepare for supper.

Balancing the Carbs on Your Plate

Part of the problem in cooking diabetic-compatible dishes is that you have to think about what you are cooking. You have to work at balancing the carbs on your plate. If I were to make a burger (bacon and blue cheese does sound good to me right now) I have to find something to serve with it. The burger is simple. I have all of the ingredients. It is what to serve with it.

Since I do the burger on a bun (actually an Arnold Sandwich Thin because a burger without a bun is a meat patty), my oven-roasted fries are out of the question. For me, the bun AND the potato are too many carbs for one of my dinners (18g for the Sandwich Thin, 16g for the amount of oven fries I have, plus condiments). So here I am stuck in what to do as a side dish.

Working with What You Have

As a chef, I have thousands of recipes that I could make. I just don’t really want to prepare anything. In my home kitchen, it is only me cooking – no staff to do my bidding, no set menu that has to be made. I am on my own, and I have no clue what I want much less what I want to make.

Is this going to be a scrambled egg night? Perhaps a cheese “samich”? Not awful choices depending on what bread I use to make the sandwich. I do have Joseph’s Pita and Lavash, Arnold Sandwich Thins, and Sara Lee Delightful bread in the house, so I won’t go too far astray. There is a lonely tomato I can put on the cheese. Hey, maybe I can work up enough interest to grill the samich.

Maybe I can scrounge up enough stuff in the fridge and the pantry to make this interesting, maybe not. I have some leftover red cabbage that I could add to a bit of chicken stock. YUK! Better choice might be a dash of soy sauce and a few scallions. Maybe a little sauteed shallot or onion would be nice? OK, so now I have a soup and sandwich set to go. Damn, is that really what I want for dinner? You know what? I just don’t even want to think about it today. But I have to eat something.

Preparing for 'Those Days'

For all of us, chefs included, there comes a time when we get burnt out just thinking about what food to prepare. What helps me is having a well-stocked freezer and pantry.

There seems always to be something I can scrounge up that is low-carb, satisfying, delicious, and most important, no thought required.

So I guess it is back to the burger (maybe turkey?) and a little Alsatian cauliflower salad. Not gourmet, but tasty and satisfying and, like Scarlett O’Hara, I will think about my weekend dessert tomorrow.

Sorry for all the whining. I will go get some cheese and stuff it into a turkey burger.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Stuffed Burger recipe!

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