Fresh Makes Diabetes-Compatible, Delicious But What If…

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My entire approach to cooking for myself and others with Diabetes is to make foods taste so wonderful that there is no sense of loss when eating Diabetes-Compatible meals.

Any chef worth his or her sauce will tell you that fresh is better. I include myself in that group

What can you do if fresh is not readily available?

I never thought I would be asking that question. I admit to being a spoiled brat. I grew up in New York City. Pretty much if you could not get it there, it was not to be had.

Eatraveling (eating and traveling) in Europe, I discovered foods that were not easily available fresh, even in the Big apple.

Moving to New Mexico made me adjust the way I shop for and prepare food.
For those of us that do not live in the parts of the world that are not convenient to a major transportation hub, getting really fresh foods is a trial. Even when the sign in the case says “fresh caught” or “local product” the length of time between the water or the pasture and the store is pretty long. For the most part we shop in chain groceries where the foods are centrally shipped to a warehouse, and then divided up for each individual branch store. Fresh caught can also be “previously frozen.” “I do not like that an item has been defrosted in a warehouse and then shipped off to the store. How long did it sit defrosting?

Benjamin Franklin famously said that guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

“Local product” too often only means a geographical region like the south or mid- west.

It has been that way forever. Our immigrant ancestors had almost no access to what most of us take for granted. As I mentioned. I grew up in New York City and as a kid only saw tomatoes in little cellophane cartons of three tomatoes. Who knew they grew on a vine. Potatoes and root vegetables were all I knew. There was the exception of canned (gray) peas and string beans. What a delightful shock to my mouth when I first had a fresh string bean.

Transportation of foods is better than ever. If you don’t believe me, check out that semi that just passed you on the highway. Today so many products are packaged for shipping in ways to keep them as fresh as possible. I immediately think of asparagus packed so their little feet are in a bit of water. No it is not the same as if you picked it from your garden or went to a local farm, but it sure beats canned asparagus.

For the home cook, I have always suggested buying on sale. It is the next best thing to shopping every day. Not only does it help the dollar budget but when the stores have something on sale they order more of it to be delivered more often. That means a lot less sitting in the fridge drying out and loosing flavor.
I know that many of us are in parts of the world where fresh food, especially meats and seafood are not so easy to come by. What is the cook to do? The two next best things are buying foods, like fish, frozen, or super chilled and defrosting it yourself, and specialty foods (like bison, duck, and lamb shanks) in cry-o-vac packaging. Air is the enemy of freshness.

I can’t leave the discussion of fresh without saying that frozen spinach is one of the few GREAT items that is available everywhere. It still, if you don’t overcook it, tastes fresh and it is far easier to use than fresh.

In the summer, if you have a garden, patio, or balcony, it is great to grow a couple or three pots of herbs. Added to any dish at the last minute, it makes everything taste so fresh.

Adding a little edible garnish of freshly grated radish or carrot to the side of dish somehow makes everything else on the plate seem fresh and more flavorful.
Using a few herbs and spices that are new to your palate will also set up a meal. A favorite of mine is dried oregano. Crush a small amount of the dry leaves in the palm of your hand and the oils are released and the dish jumps off the plate.
Even in the winter there are things you can do. Adding a “fresh” herb at the end of cooking will make everything you cook taste fresher. Not over cooking your vegetables makes a huge difference.

A squeeze of fresh lemon just before serving will do wonders for all kinds of dishes.

Take advantage of the season; like apples and cranberries in fall and winter, asparagus in the spring, fresh peaches and nectarines in summer.

Of course there is the unusual phenomenon of limes. In the United States, limes are often at their best in the winter months. Yet we tend to drink more lime flavored drinks in the summer. Go figure.

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