How to Get More Food Options with Very Little Effort


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 making minor changes to recipes can make a huge difference in terms of flavor and texture, giving you more options with very little effort!

In all cooking, not just for us diabetics, one extra ingredient can change the flavor or texture of a food and transform it into a whole new taste and a whole new, SIMPLE recipe.

Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, did a show about this, and, like most cooks, I have taken it to heart. One additional item creates a variation on the old dishes. (Just a heads up: It doesn’t ALWAYS work, but it does most of the time and is worth the minor effort.)

Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference

I grew up in a world of salt (too much), white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and, maybe if it was something special, a little paprika (just for color). Can you imagine my first trip to a pizza place and being assaulted with the strange and unusual tastes of basil and oregano? No wonder I fell in love with food and cooking. I certainly had bread crust before. I certainly had tomato sauce before. I certainly had melted cheese before. What I was eating before was basically a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. The additions of the spices changed everything.

Every flavor has its own properties. And flavors work differently with other flavors. Take, for example, my Tart au Citron (lemon tart) and my Key Lime Tart. They are exactly the same recipe with the one simple change from lemon to lime. The difference in flavor is day and night. Both are sweet and tart. Both are smooth and creamy. Yet you would never mistake one for the other. You may have your personal preferences as to which tastes better, but with one simple change, you have a brand new dessert.

How Just a Few New Ingredients Can Change a Recipe

Adding a new texture to your food also makes a huge difference. Look at chicken salad. You could do it with just mayonnaise and chicken (that is how a Maine Lobster roll is made) or you can add a spice – tarragon, for example – or some crunch with celery. You can also add a little Dijon mustard, and voila, everything changes. Be a little daring by adding some toasted walnuts or almonds, and something very special happens. First, you have a new taste going on in your mouth. Second, there is a texture somewhere between crunch and nutty to entice your tongue. Third, the sharpness of the Dijon mustard adds a zing to the mixture. And last but not at all least, you have a new dish.

You can always go back to the original dish, but right there in your recipe box is something completely different. It does not take much more time. You may like it better than the old format – or not. You can change the recipe to suit your taste and that of your family, and now you’re cooking!

Recipe: A Mediterranean Spin on a Mexican Dish

Below is my recipe Tortilla Provencal. Why Provencal, you ask? I personally have an adverse reaction to most Mexican spices. My tongue swells up, and I have no sense of taste for several days after eating Mexican-seasoned foods. But I love the taste and texture of tortillas. So I changed up the seasonings in the dish and made it work for me. If YOU like the Mexican (hot) spices, just use the chile powder, red peppers, cilantro, and cumin in place of my milder Herbs de Provence. But try it my way as well. This way you will have two low-carb dishes for the price of one. Ole’ and viola’ for two different days.

Enjoy, be happy, be healthy, be DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Decadent Tortilla Provencal recipe!

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