Getting Stuffed - Diabetes-Compatibly, of Course


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.

Donna, one of my readers here, said that she was looking forward to my holiday recipes. I had to stop and think. (Don’t you hate when that happens?)

When it comes to holidays, I don’t concentrate on making special “holiday” foods. The exception to that is Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day, and that is only because I love all the leftovers. Unlike when my father had a restaurant, there are very few delis around that use real roasted turkey or real corned beef for their sandwiches.

It is not that I don’t like holiday foods; it is that I don’t make a dish just because of the holiday. Crown roast of pork looks great, but it doesn’t taste as good as the same pork used as a chop stuffed with something. The roast takes longer to cook and dries out more.

Getting Stuffed for the Holidays

Once I got to thinking about it, I realized that what I tend to do for very special meals is to stuff things. My aunt Kate is, I think, my inspiration for this. Whenever she went out to eat in a restaurant, her menu choice was stuffed filet of sole. She did it so often, I made fun of her. Sorry, Kate.

A piece of chicken is just great on its own. Stuff it with something and it becomes special. What you stuff it with doesn’t have to be fancy. Take the dish I call chicken and leftovers. For a lot of folks, that dish is called Chicken Cordon Blue (which just means blue ribbon chicken). It is just a fancy name for a piece of chicken stuffed with ham and cheese (leftovers in my fridge).

Now for the holidays, I take it to a different level. I still use chicken, but the ham becomes prosciutto, the cheese becomes feta or Parmesan, and I add sun-dried tomatoes and black olives to the stuffing. Should I get fancy and call it Chicken Cordon d’or (gold ribbon chicken)? Naw, I think I will just enjoy it along with my guests.

Different Types of Stuffing

Spinach is one of my go-to stuffings. I did a recipe for a type 2 diabetes site using the chicken with a spinach stuffing. The great thing about spinach is that I almost always have it in my freezer. Sometimes when I find fish in the market that is thin and begs me to stuff it, I use spinach as the starting point. This works with pork and lamb as well.

What I find really interesting to my taste buds is unexpected combinations. One of my favorites is artichokes, onion and blue cheese. It's killer in a pork chop or roast or even some humble chicken, and yes in a fillet of sole.

Keep an open mind about stuffing. It does not have to be inside something. I suppose it wouldn’t technically be stuffing, but you can stuff under the skin of chicken, both breasts and thighs. You can also cook your protein over a bed of well-flavored “stuffing.” The juices from the protein will help flavor the stuffing, and the stuffing will flavor the protein.

Stuffings don’t need to be mostly bread. If I use bread at all, I use a small amount to hold it together, but it is mostly other things with great flavors.

Yes, I know I did a cheese dish for guests two weeks ago, so I guess I do make some things for the holidays. But I would make them all year long as well for me and my family and guests.

So to all of you for whom this holiday season is finally coming to an end (until Memorial Day), I say get stuffed – diabetes-compatibly, of course!

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Prosciutto & Scallop-Stuffed Fish recipe!

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