Reinventing Meal Time: Diabetic-Compatible Chicken

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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.

Back to one of my reader’s comments here on Diabetes Support (YOU do inspire me):

Steve: ... cooking healthy while you also work full time can be a pain. I can't bear the thought of a piece of baked chicken with some Veggies next to it every night.

I love chicken! I see it as a blank canvas. I do, however, absolutely see Steve’s point. That piece of chicken can get very tired looking.

A couple of months ago, I answered that comment with things you can do with chicken by using wet ingredients like lemon and oils. Today, I want to continue with herbs and spices that should help Steve and others of you who are having a hard time with the issue of boring chicken!

An Example of What NOT to Do

My grandmother made an art of boring chicken. Every Friday night she boiled the hell out of a couple of chickens so we could have soup. Even on the hottest Friday in August, there was steaming chicken soup on the table. Wait! She was not done.

She then served that overcooked chicken as the main dish. It gets worse. The next day, she dusted the boiled chicken with a little paprika and garlic salt, then baked it in the oven. Steve, there is MORE. The leftovers from the baking were chopped up with a little onion and flour and fried in oil for chicken croquettes.

Several Ways to Make Chicken Wonderful

After I suffered with dishes, I made a point of creating chicken that tastes wonderful. I adored my grandmother, and in her defense, chicken in those days actually tasted like chicken.

Today, unless you get free-range organic chicken, it has very little “chicken” flavor. It is one reason that so many chicken recipes call for adding chicken stock or broth to the cooking. It does help – a little.

With almost no effort, you can change the flavor and texture by the way you season it and by the method you use to cook it. Just adding different spices gives you a universe of flavors.

Make It French

Use tarragon as the extra “spice” in the dish and sauté it (cook it in a hot pan) on the stove. Voila!

Make It Chinese

Slice it thinly and marinade it overnight is some soy, garlic and Chinese five spice. Simpler still just add some ground ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Cut up some veggies (the night before?) and toss it into a wok (no wok? A large frying pan OR a 5-quart pot will work almost as well). It takes just seconds for the final preparation and is as far from baked chicken as you can get. Seisei!

Make It Mexican

Use some cilantro, cumin and chili powder and cook it up in a pan on the stove. Layer it between a couple of tortillas (I use Joseph’s Bakery 5 g carb tortillas) and top with some shredded iceberg lettuce and some sour cream or low-carb ranch dressing. Ole!

Make It Indian

Use a curry powder with the heat you like and either steam it in foil in the oven or bake it (sorry, Steve) in the oven (recipe below). Bothachai!

Make It Italian

I have to suggest my recipe for Chicken Parmesan. One of the best things about it is that it gets better the next day. So I suggest you make it a day in advance.

If that doesn’t work for your schedule, just sauté the chicken in olive oil with some fresh tomatoes, oregano and garlic. Serve it with spaghetti squash, wilted spinach or mung bean fettuccine. Even easier, either bake (sorry again, Steve) or sauté it and top with some store-bought pesto sauce. Add a little cream or milk to the pesto and turn it into a pesto cream. Bon Gusto!

Make It Cold

Almost all of these suggestions work very well the next day cold and as a topping for salad (the Chinese does not work as well). Better yet, turn it into the best, most interesting, chicken salad you've ever created!

I have not even mentioned stuffing the chicken, but that is an article for another day. And for all of you Steves out there, most of these suggestions work just as well for beef, fish and especially pork. Oh my, I forgot Bar-B-Que, Thai, Greek – sorry!

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

Click here for Ward's Baked Lemon Curry Chicken recipe!

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

Photo credit: Gewn on Flickr