Making the Ordinary Diabetic Extraordinary!

cucumber radish carrot plate.jpg

This article was written by Ward Alper, a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than five years ago, Ward has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health.

I am always pleased when one of my readers writes to me. They, along with my health, are my inspiration. Shannon wrote the note below:

I just finished reading a bunch of articles of yours on the web!! Thank you!!! I have been a diabetic now for 10 years. I am VERY carb sensitive, so your approach is wonderful!!! I do want the recipe for your carrot pineapple slaw! I don't eat enough vegies, because I just don't like that many cooked ones. I love them raw. So again thank you!!

Shannon, thank you. I am happy to share that recipe (below) with you and all of my other readers.

More important, your comment made me think about some other recipes that fit your requirements. They all have one thing in common: They take a humble vegetable and, with almost no effort, turn that vegetable to something surprisingly good, perhaps even extraordinary.

Taking Vegetables from Ordinary to Extraordinary

I always talk to you about getting more variety into what you eat, adding a little of this or that to really “spark” the flavor of an ordinary meal. We all get bored eating the same thing day after day.

I am aware that many people, with and without diabetes, are busy, have no time to cook, or think that they can’t cook. Cooking is my joy. It is my habit, my skill, my hobby. Lots of you really don’t have the time or interest to cook. I get that. I also get that many people don’t want to try new things. They think that they don’t or won’t like it.

Three vegetables that most of us like are carrots, cucumbers and radishes.


If you choose not to cook, the best you might come up with for the carrot is carrot sticks. Just thinking of carrot sticks, I think: “diet food, bunny food, yuck?”

Some people are adventurous and use some shredded carrot in a salad or a sandwich. Really, a sandwich? Some will at least consider using the carrot in a soup or stew. The more adventurous might consider cooking the carrots as I do in my recipe for Ginger Glazed Carrots with Pecans. There is no need to do any of that.

Here is my recipe for Carrot and Pineapple Salad. In the “old” days, it was carrot and raisin salad. But raisins have too many grams of carbohydrate for MY diet.


Almost everybody likes this humble veggie (technically a fruit). We slice it up for a salad and call it good. I love the taste and the pure summer smell of cucumber. It makes a great soup. We liked it so much last year that I served it as a first course at our wedding.

Cucumber soup is easy to make, but even easier is a recipe I have made for years, Hungarian Cucumbers. If you can’t make these in less than five minutes, you are not trying. They are a great light choice along with a burger and add some real zest to a fish dish. It is quick, easy and even has less sodium than a pickle.


These are among the most underused vegetables. No one seems to know what to do with them other than put them on a relish plate or decorate with them. We eat them, we like them, but we don’t think about the humble radish. Poor guy.

I almost always use them in a salad. They are great minced up in cream cheese for a zing to your veggie spread or dip. Radish Slaw is even simpler to make. The radish and two other ingredients is all it takes. You wind up with a light side dish you can eat buckets of without exceeding your carbohydrate budget.


Most cooks do very little with celery. Maybe it is used in a tuna or chicken salad or in a soup. Have a look at Ina Garten’s Celery and Parmesan Salad. It is very simple to make and again amazingly delicious. When I make it, I leave out the anchovy paste. Not that I don’t like anchovy paste, but because I don’t use it often enough to keep it from drying out up in my fridge.

So, for you, Shannon, and all of you who like fresh but not cooked vegetables, I am sharing some easy recipes that can be made in a snap, but taste as though you worked for hours.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy and BE DECADENT!

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

Image credit: Cafe Johnsonia