Making Traditionally High-Carb Recipes Diabetic-Compatible

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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.

In the old days before my diagnosis (can I even remember that time?), I was a busy guy. I did all the cooking for my household as well as holding down a demanding job. What made it easier for me was to have two pasta dishes and two soup dishes each week. I also prepared big batches of meals on my days off (ready for a quick defrost and a great dinner).

The problem with this today is that the pasta (as a meal, anyway) is out of the question. The soups I made were very high in carbohydrates (because of flour, noodles, or a potato base, or all of those things combined). The premade meals were much the same. It would be chicken pot pie, pot roast, cowpoke pie (aka Shepard’s pie) – all the great comfort foods. All of these dishes want crusts, noodles, rice, or potatoes to complete the meal.

I still manage the pasta as a side dish using either spaghetti squash or a bean-based pasta. The “comfort” foods have been modified with crusts using Parmesan cheese to substitute for some of the flour, mashed cauliflower or “riced” cauliflower or super-rich (but small portion) of real potatoes.

How to Make Low-Carb Soup

Then there are the soups. They were a great challenge for me. A little easier is the winter with chicken soup or onion soup, or cream of this and cream of that. The summer was a much bigger challenge. My standby soups for summer were Borscht and Gazpacho. Borscht is a middle-European soup made with beets. This is still a problem for me. Even not using sugar, the beets are so very high in carbohydrates. Real gazpacho is made using leftover bread to thicken the soup (and not to waste good bread). The flavor is from the tomato base. In small enough quantities, tomato is not so bad, but as the main ingredient, the soup had too many carbohydrates for MY diet.

So, you ask, how did I manage to get back into routine? First of all, most of my cream of this and cream of that soups are as good, perhaps better, icy cold. Cucumber soup is just a great warm-weather treat, as are creams of cauliflower, celery, broccoli, and spinach. All are very easy to make and have very few (10 or less) grams of carbohydrates. The color alone makes you feel cool with icy whites and frigid pale greens. And in the cooler months those same colors seems to make you feel warm and cozy. The mind does play good tricks on us.

I had to rethink gazpacho. It wasn’t the flavor of the bread I missed; it was the tomato. I do still eat tomatoes, but as the main ingredient, tomatoes have too many carbohydrates for me. You can roast or grill tomatoes for the base. Roasting or grilling just intensifies the tomato flavor so you can use less (therefore less carbohydrates) to get the same flavor. Too much work? I agree! San Marzanno tomatoes (already diced for you) are readily available at most markets and even online. They are from a region of Italy with the same name. The flavor is so intense that, like a roasted plum tomato, you can use less for the same flavor. All you have to do is open a can and add the other ingredients in a blender or food processor. To replace the thickening of the bread, I keep the onions, cucumbers, and peppers chunky. You get a little crunch when you eat the soup. I also like to add fresh basil and parsley to the soup. It gives it even more flavor and counteracts the “canned” taste.

No different than the way I have had to rethink all my recipes, soups became part of my life again, with a lot of thought but just a little work.

And, as I said, these soups are as good cold as they are hot. If you are into to it, try “spiking” the gazpacho with a little vodka for a hot, Bloody Mary soup.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, be Creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Gazpacho recipe!

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

Photo credit: Fimb / Flickr