Tinkering with a Diabetes-Compatible Recipe

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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.

Personally, I don’t think that any recipe is carved in stone. Yes, that goes for my recipes too.

For years, I was told that you could alter any recipe except when you bake cakes, etc. I was so traumatized by this notion that I was never willing to even try baking.

Once I got over it, baking became as creative a process for me as cooking – so creative that I was brave enough to enter a baking contest – and won. Go figure.

The Freedom to Tinker

Tinkering is the process of adapting, meddling or adjusting something in the course of making repairs or improvements.

It seems to me that every cook should tinker around. The only exception to this is in a restaurant, where guests expect a dish to taste the same way 100 times out of 100. I think that is why most chefs love the “specials.”

I experiment all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but other times it knocks my socks off.

Examples of Tinkering

I was sipping a cup of one of my favorite teas a couple of weeks ago. It is lemon-ginger flavor. And I got to thinking about my lemon tart. It is one of my favorite – and one of my readers’ favorite – recipes. I thought, I wonder how good it would be to add ginger to the original lemon tart recipe. Turns out, it was one of the best lemon tarts I have ever made.

I am always saying that you need to make it your own. My recipes work for me and for many others. However, some people just hate an ingredient, such as mushrooms or blue cheese. I will almost always tell them to substitute something else. I also remind them that it may still be good – even better – but it is a different dish.

I also cook with alcohol as a flavoring. For many reasons, some people don’t or won’t use alcohol. There are always other things that can take the place of that flavor. In desserts, it can be vanilla; in entrees, it can be an herb or some broth. No recipe should be looked at as unalterable.

Going back to my lemon-ginger tart, some folks don’t like ginger. They think it is too strong a flavor. That is perfectly fine. You could use some fresh mint instead of ginger (think lemon-mint tea). I personally wouldn’t like it as much as the ginger because I don’t like mint as much as I love ginger. I don’t hate it, I am not allergic to it, and I don’t think that it is bad for me. I simply like the flavor of ginger (in this recipe) better.

A Tinker-licious Recipe

In one of my restaurants, we used to serve a basket of seasoned bread to our guests. The “bread” was actually leftover pizza dough topped with grated cheese, garlic and herbs.

I now make my pizza using low-carbohydrate (5 grams net carbs) flax, oat and wheat pita breads. I had a soup (from my freezer) planned for my dinner one night and was pushed for time. What occurred to me was to make a warm seasoned bread for the soup using the low-carbohydrate pita. It was a dead ringer for what we served in the restaurant. It was soft, flavorful and chewy. More importantly, it was done in a flash.

Even I don’t have time to fuss every day. The wonderful thing is you can tinker around with the herbs and grated cheese you use each time. This way you have different flavored bread each time, and you can make it the perfect match to what you are serving.

Let your imagination flow. Use a recipe as a guideline and go from there. Trust me; once you create your special version of a recipe, somebody like me will tinker around with it.

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, be creative, and BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Low-Carb Garlic Bread recipe!

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

Photo credit: Monik Markus on Flickr