Mastering Diabetes One Recipe at a Time

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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.

Okay, I admit it. I am shamelessly in love with Ina Garten.

For those of you who don’t know about her, she is the author and television chef that owned The Barefoot Contessa in the Hamptons on Long Island. She smiles and laughs and enjoys cooking and sharing recipes with others – and she cooks up a storm.

Her positive attitude is an inspiration to thousands. Her phrases “What could be better?” “What could be easier?” “Who wouldn’t like that?” just make me smile. Most important, she is SMART! She knows just how much butter really is in the recipe. She is not ashamed because it tastes so good. This lady has no guilt about what and how SHE cooks.

You and I may have to make a few adjustments to her recipes for us to have less guilt. However, there is NEVER a reason for less taste. I have heard her say more than once, “Master a few recipes and you are all set in the kitchen.” She is also RIGHT!

Changing Recipes to Make Them Your Own

I realized the other day I have been sharing recipes with suggestions for you to change them and make them your own. I suggested that my Almond Creme Cake easily transforms into chocolate, lemon or berry crème. I shared with you the basic recipe for a salad dressing (Dijon Vinaigrette) that changes from one flavor to another just by changing out the vinegar flavor.

Much of cooking is just like that. It is not a case of re-inventing the wheel for every meal, but adding new hubcaps and paint to take it to a new level and make it look and taste different – and maybe even better. Learning to love making a few recipes, and changing just one or two ingredients in the recipes, takes a lot of the work and stress out of everyday cooking.

Satisfying Serving Sizes Are Key

I have a cake recipe that serves eight real people with good-size pieces of cake. I hate seeing a recipe that was created for eight servings but ups the number of servings just to lower the carbohydrate count. For me, that is just cheating us. If you JUST eat one piece of macaroni, the carb count IS very low. Portion control is great as long as what winds up on YOUR plate satisfies YOU!

Little changes turn it from a simple sponge cake to a carrot cake, to a simple chocolate cake, to a lovely lemon cake or blueberry lemon or raspberry lemon, or chocolate raspberry and on and on and on. Learn to love making this ONE recipe and the sky and your imagination are your only limitations.

The best thing is that it is easy. You can prepare parts of it in advance. Take the butter out at night, before you go to bed or in the morning before you go to work, and you don’t have to wait until the butter softens. Toast the nuts and let them cool when you have the time. They will be ready to use when you are ready to bake. If you are going to frost the cake, make that in advance and keep it cold in the refrigerator. Take it out when you pop the cake into the oven to bake.

A Show-Stopping Holiday Dessert

Now all chefs have egos. All people have egos. But I still am uncomfortable calling any of my recipes MASTER RECIPES. My problem is that calling them base recipes just seems dull and boring, and I NEVER want you to feel dulled or bored by what you cook.

So this time, ego in check, below is a recipe using two of my “master” recipes put together to make an unbelievable showstopper dessert for any holiday you are celebrating. The best part is that each stage can be made a day or so ahead to take some of the pressure out of creating your own masterpiece.

Enjoy, be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Holiday Trifle recipe!

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

Photo credit: Seamless on Flickr