Diabetes and Alternative Ingredients

Cooking with pot

With diabetes you might find yourself changing the portion size or using alternative ingredients to create meals that assist you in managing your disease.

No, I don’t mean only sugar replacements, but also cauliflower for potatoes or rice, nuts for flour, and a host of other items to make your meals diabetes-compatible and delicious.

Even in the years before my diagnosis, there were things I substituted for others. Substituting chicken stock or broth for part of the milk or cream to lower the amount of fats in my gratins comes to mind. It is something I still do, not just for the fat content but more for the flavor.

A few weeks ago, I shared a recipe of mine that contained some wine. I suggested that you could also broth or stock in place of the wine. I received this comment from one of my readers, DeAnna;

“Love that you always include alternative ingredients”

Whenever I can, I like to suggest an alternate ingredient in a recipe. Some people don’t like certain foods. Some people are allergic to some foods. Some of us live in areas where finding ALL the ingredients on the list isn’t so easy. I too like some flavors better than others. Since moving from the Northeast to the Southwest, I have many difficulties getting the staples of my old pantry. Where I live, I have to online order my Joseph’s Bakery products that allow me many of my lunch food pleasures .Yes, even in 2016, not everything is available everywhere.

I use wines, sherry, and brandy in my cooking and baking. Some people don’t use alcohol for any number of reasons. For me, it makes sense to keep them on hand. If you don’t feel the need to keep a whole shelf full of cooking alcohols in your pantry, try replacing one for another or replace with broth/stocks and tomato paste or citrus juice. Will the dish be different? Of course it will. But different can often be better.

What happens is, occasionally we need to make adjustments to recipes. Some people have been doing this for so long that it is easy for them. Others panic when they see an item they don’t like or have never tried. For those of you that have never tried something, this is a great opportunity to expand your taste buds (but know it is ok with me if you don’t).

In sharing my recipes with you, I am trying to have you increase the flavors and textures that work for both your diabetes and your taste buds. In my opinion, they are two sides of the diabetes cooking coin. If you can learn to cook things that help you manage your diabetes, that is great; if you can make those things taste so good that you actually enjoy eating them…even better. I learned from sad personal experience that I was not going to stick to an eating plan that tasted like cardboard and packing materials. No, not even if I knew it was better for my health.

Recipes (even mine) are not set in stone. They are meant to be a guide to lead you down a new and delicious path. I was always told that the exception to that is in baking. Since I have changed the amount of flour (high in carbohydrates) in my baking with ground and toasted nuts, I – and those of you that use my baking recipes – have had to make some changes in the ratio of leavening (baking powder/soda) in recipes. If you are also not using sugar, you have to do something else to make your cakes rise and crisp your crusts. Learning to do this and sharing it with you has made it clear that sometimes rules and recipes are made to be broken.

Not only do some of us not like things, some of us like some things better than others. Giving you choices to alter the recipe changes the flavors and gives you the opportunity to make the dish work for you. For example: my recipe for Chicken Osama is wonderful and makes great use of rosemary. But rosemary is a strong herb. If you want a gentler flavor, basil will work just as well. So well that I often use basil in place of rosemary. That is also true for oregano. YUP works great. So does tarragon. More important, by switching out one item for another, you get a brand new dish.

When I was starting out, I would do substitutions all the time. Some worked better than the original, others not so well. I kept what I liked best and moved away from the other flavors. I want to encourage you to do the same thing. Keep the best of it, toss the rest of it.

Cooking can – no, should – be fun.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT. -w!

Source: Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic