Yeah, Right, Like We Really Want to Cook

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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.

I wrote an article about eating well with diabetes. This is the response I got from one of the readers named Steve:

That's all well and good. And I agree. However, 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 promised Steve that I would do a piece about those of us who have neither the time nor the interest to cook but want to eat more diabetic-compatible meals.

How to Take Chicken from Boring to Exciting

Baked chicken every night is a bore. Or is it? Let us take that piece of chicken and add a little lemon juice to it or, better yet, some lime juice. The fresh juice changes the flavor dramatically. Trop 50 orange juice will also give you a new flavor treat. How about adding a little mayonnaise to help keep it moist while it bakes in the oven?

Would some dry spices be out of the question? How about some Herbs de Provence? Too fancy? Okay, how about some dried oregano, thyme or basil – or all three in combination? Each gives you a new dish entirely.

Try a rich, syrupy balsamic vinegar (like my favorite Ariston) to give you a wine-like richness to otherwise dull chicken. Another possibility is a flavor-infused oil. There are a million flavors on the market. Just choose two or three, and you have two or three new flavors to tempt your palate.

Years ago, there was a “helpful hint” to cook your chicken in a salad dressing. I gotta tell you: I have tried it, and it works (depending on the dressing). An oil and vinegar Italian or a Caesar really makes an interesting change. Sprinkling the chicken with Parmesan cheese at the very end of baking gives you a nice little crust and some extra flavor.

Tips for Saving Time and Enjoying Leftovers

If baking a chicken breast takes too long in your busy schedule, try sautéing the poor chicken. The cooking oil or butter adds some extra flavor, and the chicken cooks faster and stays moister than baking. You can do a batch in advance (I always cook for at least two meals) and either refrigerate it for another meal during the week or freeze it for later. Sauteed chicken also makes great chicken salad for a lunch to take to work. Just remember to keep it refrigerated.

Applying These Ideas to Other Foods

I have barely scratched the surface of ways to make the old, boring bird worthy of some serious applause at your diabetic dinner table. I have hundreds more, and that is just the chicken. Please, for those of you who eat pork, lamb and beef, don’t forget about them. I have a fish story for another time.

Sitting next to your newly flavored chicken, there needs to be some newly flavored vegetables. Again, this is just scratching the surface: nuts, Parmesan cheese, salad dressing, and fresh lemon, lime or orange juice all give the silly vegetable a little umph! Don’t believe me? Just try this: Cook up a package of frozen spinach, drain out as much liquid as you can, add a little salt and pepper and two tablespoons of lemon juice and three or more tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese – and then tell me how much this simple addition made your boring old spinach sing.

Enjoy, be healthy, be creative, be DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Chicken Remoulade recipe!

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

Photo credit: dollen / Flickr