Making a Diabetic Diet One You Can Love

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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 you can enjoy a low-carb, diabetic diet.

Being decadent about your food choices as a diabetic is not just about finding ways to make cake, cookies and desserts that fit a diabetic’s needs. I think it is more about choosing to make ALL the things that you can have, and have in quantity, taste great. This way the limitation of the carbohydrates in your diet may not be missed so much.

Now don’t get me wrong! I miss pasta and rice like crazy. For me, however, the very small portions of these items just left me feeling sad and depressed. But it is not just these types of high-carbohydrate items that are difficult for me. I remember sitting in a parking lot at the grocery store, realizing that the lunch I wanted of cottage cheese and fruit salad (hardly more than rabbit food) pushed the limit of carbohydrates for my meal. The problem was solved by using berries and pineapple along with a small amount of apple and walnuts. It worked, well enough, if it was not the same.

What I now do instead is vegetables and cottage cheese. Lots of cucumber, radish (a very under-used veggie) carrot, tomato, avocado, olives, some tomato, and whatever left over vegetable I have in the house. I use one of the Ken's Steakhouse low-carbohydrate dressings on the vegetables. It is a huge lunch with enough variety of flavors and textures that I am completely satisfied – and there is enough unused carbs to allow me a small amount of chocolate or something like a Dannon Greek Light and Fit yogurt. It is a big, satisfying meal full of fiber, vitamins, calcium and protein. I go away from the table happy and full!

Taking Salads to Another (Better) Level

No question that we diabetics eat a lot of salads. To make them work for me I need to go way beyond the lettuce, tomato and cucumber. The addition of some things like grilled or roasted mushrooms or eggplant or blanched snow peas takes it to a whole new level of satisfaction, with very little effort. Crumbled or grated cheese sparks the flavor even more.

It becomes the same as dressing up a former chorus member in a star’s costume, adding the right lighting and bringing them to the forefront of the stage. Vegetables, once only on the plate because one should eat them, can now become the stars of the plate. That same eggplant or mushroom that I used in a salad and a little tomato sauce and grated cheese adds heft to the plate without going overboard with a fatty protein. Different herbs and spices added near the end of the cooking spark the flavor of the dullest vegetable like cooked carrots or even turnips. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese makes broccoli sing a solo. Toasted nuts become the flashy jewelry. Your plate can have a new food star.

As for the protein portion of the plate, make it sing with a dollop of horseradish sour cream sauce or a remoulade sauce. A pat of seasoned butter (compound butter) will turn a boring steak or broiled chicken into something unforgettable. Marinate chicken or pork in Asian dressing or just spoon it over a plain piece of fish or chicken. Do something unexpected like a dash of soy sauce on a pork dish – or the recipe below, which is no harder to make than baking a plain piece of fish, but with star-studded, not just flash in the pan, results.

Check out Ward's recipe for Balsamic Salmon!

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