Family Schedules and Diabetes-Compatible Comfort Foods

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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.

Is there one, or worse, two days a week when your family has something scheduled that cuts into your ability to put a Diabetes-Compatible meal on your table? Me too! We all do. What can you do?

Last week I wrote about the unexpected “surprise” when something goes wrong. Most of us have a day or two where we know what is coming and need to be prepared for it. In my case, my “song burd” has choir practice on Wednesday night.

At first I would make some quick “little” meal like a burger on a lower carbohydrate bun (sandwich thin/ round) or a tuna salad. I found that worked fine for my carbohydrate budget, but not as well for my soul. I felt as though my family was eating…well… home-made fast food. It tasted good, and on an occasion it was a treat sorta like a mid-week picnic. I felt like something was missing. Truth is that I would make that same “quick” meal at other times and thought nothing of it. It was, as so much in life is, all in my mind. For no reason at all, I began craving what seemed to be better food and taste choices.

The only thing to do was start making foods in advance that I could pull out of the fridge or freezer, pop on the stove or into the oven and have a “real” meal on the dinner table while still meeting the time restraints of taking my “song burd” to Wednesday choir practice.
The solution was right there in front of me. Soups and casseroles. Nothing very special and on the other hand something VERY special. I love soup. Hot or cold it is food for the heart and the soul. I feel the same way about casseroles. What I have always done is make big batches of both. It is no harder to make it for twice (even three times) than it is to make it for once. It is also a great solution for those huge chicken breasts that seem to be the ONLY size available in the “stupidmarkets”.

I start out by buying them on sale. Did you know they taste better when they cost less? No really, when they are on sale the market moves them faster and they tend to be fresher. I then do a very simple seasoning with salt (to my taste and my medical professional’s advice) and pepper and olive oil. All I have to do then is pop them in the oven and roast them. After they cool, I shred or dice them, put the chicken into meal sized packages, and into the freezer they go until needed. I defrost them as part of a soup or combine them with spaghetti squash and sausages and tomato for a soul satisfying casserole. For the way we live, homemade/ premade meals are part of our well stocked pantry.

There has been a conversation lately about processed meats. One of the foods that add a lot of flavor to my meals (soups and casseroles) is sausage. The casings keep it in shape, but I realized that I was removing them from the casings as often as not. So I sometimes make my own versions of sausage using ground beef, chicken, turkey and pork. It is just as easy as making a burger. Just add the flavorings to the ground meats, then shape into patties to use or freeze. They are a breeze to defrost. They add a lot of EASY flavor to your dishes. The best thing is you get to choose the flavors you like. I hear all too often that “Oh, I hate the fennel taste in sausage”. This is great. Just don’t use it. I like fennel so I use it, but I don’t like sage as well or a lot of rosemary, so I use a lot less of those herbs.

I grew up in a neighborhood where many mothers did not cook on the Sabbath. In NewYork City, most kitchens had gas stoves. Very often meals were cooked overnight over the pilot light on the stove. Why we are not all dead is beyond me. This is the precursor to crock pot slow cooking. I gotta tell you that I don’t use a slow cooker. I have an oven and I use that on low to get some amazing meals to my table or to my freezer.

It takes a little planning but I promised that sitting down to a homemade soup, stew, or casserole is far more satisfying than tuna surprise. It also tastes far better.

Now I bet you are asking: when do I have time to do all this prep? The answer is simple. When my “song burd” is in church on Sunday, I attack the kitchen.

So as my little “song burd” heads off to choir practice on a full and satisfied stomach, all I have to say is:
“Sing out Louise”

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, and BE DECADENT! –w

Ward Alper, The Decadent Diabetic