Sunday, August 10, 2014

Another Low GI Meal and a Diabetes Blog Interview

I got an email a few weeks back from a gal over at discussdiabetes.com, a blog with ideas from and info for people living with type 2 diabetes. They saw some of my recent posts about cooking and baking low GI foods and asked if they could interview me for their blog. So hop on over to discussdiabetes.com to check out my conversation with Laura Kolodjeski.

Not that it was a big stretch for me to talk about food, cooking, or diabetes, as you may know, but after being contacted by Laura I did some reading on their blog and some searching online for other type 2 info, meal ideas, recipes, blogs, etc. It seems like there just isn't that much out there in the foodie blogs for folks like us, so I'm going keep posting some of the meals I've developed over the last year and a half since the diagnosis.


ZUCCHINI FRITTERS AND ASIAN SLAW

Anytime I suggest to my man that I might cook some zucchini fritters, whether it's as a side dish with some spicy wings that he's making, or like in this case, as a main dish with a hefty helping of Asian slaw, he always says, "Honey, you had me at 'fritters.'" This is the perfect recipe for using up that bumper crop of zucchini from your garden this summer. And along with the slaw, the zucchini fritters make a very filling vegetarian meal and a good respite from all the meat-heavy grilling we might do over the summer months.

Fritters
4 small zucchinis (I've used 3 medium, or in this case, 1 lg zucchini and one medium yellow summer squash)
1 egg
1/2 cup oat flour (again, oat flour will be far less taxing on your blood glucose level than white flour or even whole wheat flour)
2-4 Tablespoons of dried Thai curry seasoning mix (make it yourself or store bought)

1 lg zucchini and 1 med. yellow squash made this plate full of fritters!
Dipping Sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chopped green onions or shallots
Red pepper flake (to taste)

If you're using a large zucchini or summer squash, quarter it lengthwise and remove the seeds first. Shred all the squash using the largest size grater you have, whether by hand or in a food processor. Put it in a colander, salt it generously then let it sit for a few minutes in the sink. After 10 or 15 minutes, start pressing the squash with the palm of your hand to squeeze out as much excess water as you can (I realize some people like to wring out their squash in a hand towel, but that's just not my style).

Transfer the squash to a bowl and mix in the egg, the flour and the seasoning with a wooden spoon.

Put 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom of a large nonstick skillet and heat. Drop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil and then press gently on the top of the dollop to flatten slightly. They will be irregularly shaped with little bits of squash sticking out the sides that will turn golden and crunchy as the fritter cooks. Make sure to maintain a good amount of heat on the pan without too much smoking. Turn them once when they are toasty brown and cook til the other side is also toasty brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and stir. If you want a sweeter dipping sauce, add one squeeze of liquid Stevia or a small teaspoon of Splenda brown sugar blend. 

I'll post the Asian Slaw recipe in the next post. It complemented the fritters beautifully!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes--Turn and Face the Strain!

My boyfriend is an excellent cook. The first meal he cooked for me was boeuf bourguignon a la Julia Child, a dish that he literally started the night before. When it came time to serve it, he ladled rich glistening helpings of it over thick slices of toasted italian bread cut into the shape of a heart (am I lucky or what!). It was unbelievably delicious and I was falling in love.

The next time he cooked for me, it was a traditional bolognese sauce over pasta. Again, it was a day's labor as he cooked the sauce from scratch and used it to smother a bowl of thick noodles.

Then a week later I found out I had an A1c of 12.2 and my doctor wanted to see me to talk about treatment for Type 2 Diabetes.

All this by way of saying that I am not the only person who has been affected by this sugar beast. When we met, my boyfriend's recipe repertoire featured those dishes that we are told to stay away from when managing blood glucose levels. Specifically, pizza, pasta, and meat and potatoes with gravy.

But over the past year and a half, he and I have learned how to amend our favorite dishes so that I can make more sensible choices to manage my blood sugar and still eat scrumptious food.

So rather than post some recipes, I though I'd just share some TIPS on how to enjoy a traditional meal in a more sensible, low GI kinda way.

Check it out . . . 

Looks like meat and potatoes with a rich gravy, right?

That's pretty much what it is, but with minor differences that make all the difference to my blood sugar. Here are the secrets:

  • PORTION SIZE - We split one porterhouse steak. He eats the strip, and I eat the smaller filet side. And I make sure I hold back a few bites as treats for the dog.
  • MASHED CAULIFLOWER INSTEAD OF POTATOES - My boyfriend never even ate cauliflower before he met me. Now he loves mashed cauliflower with our steak. Unlike making mashed potatoes, you need very little butter and milk to mash the cauliflower. I like to boil my cauliflower in vegetable broth just to give the dish more flavor. If you don't have vegetable broth, make sure you salt the water you boil the cauliflower in.
  • GRAVY - Use beef broth with your pan drippings and a little bit of butter. Thickening can happen in one of two ways, either REDUCE, REDUCE, REDUCE. That means just boiling away the liquid until it becomes its own thick sauce. Or, if you're impatient, use oat flour as a thickening agent. Unlike wheat flour, you can add oat flour directly to a hot liquid and it will dissolve completely. And, it thickens the gravy without compromising my blood sugar the way white flour will.
  • EXTRA VEGGIES - I always make sure I serve lots of veggies with a meal like this. Besides adding to my overall fiber count, which is always good for diabetics, the more veggies I eat, the fuller I feel and that helps me control my portion sizes. 
  • RED WINE - A glass of red wine is the diabetic's alcohol of choice. Yes, sometimes I miss beer, but when it comes to a steak dinner, there's no substitute for a glass of Cabernet.
One year after I had an A1c of 12.2, my A1c was down to 5.5!! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Berry Fraiche Fruit Tart

If I swear to you that I am NOT consumed with creating low GI desserts for my own consumption, will you believe me?

You'd be pretty naive if you did. Jus' sayin'.

But I have good sound reasons for my actions. Promise.

We were entertaining my family for dinner to celebrate the birthdays of my two nephews. They are young adults whose schedules prevent us from seeing them too often. But we managed to find a day in between their birthdays, which are a month apart, to have them over, cook a meal and shower them with . . . okay, gift cards. Yep, how creative is that. But in our defense, they are young men and trying to figure out what gift to buy them is damn near impossible.

Coming up with an idea for dessert, however, proved pretty easy. I knew that the younger of the two nephews also has been trying to steer away from sugar in his diet. I had baked a low GI lemon cheesecake a couple weeks before and thought about doing another cheesecake. The lemon cheesecake--I love anything lemony--was topped with homemade blueberry sauce. And it was a big hit at Easter dinner. But the crust, ohhhh the crust. The crust on that cheesecake was unbelievably yummy. Roasted, salted almonds ground up into a coarse meal, combined with oat flour and butter and just a touch of Stevia Blend to give it some sweetness. By the time the cheesecake was cooked through, that crust was a deep dark toasty color and was soooo much better than your run of the mill graham cracker crust. The crust was truly the star of the cheesecake.

So I started to think about what else I could do with the crust and came up with this fruit tart idea that was incredibly simple to make and absolutely delicious. Berries are high in fiber so they're a good fruit for diabetics. Also, the use of a little Stevia Blend gives the base of this tart the little bit of sweetness I'm looking for without jacking up my glucose level. And the fact that I use oat flour instead of wheat flour in the crust also ensures that my sugar doesn't get a big spike.

First, the crust . . .

1 1/4 cups roasted, salted almonds
1/2 cup oat flour
4 tablespoons of cold butter cut into cubes
1-2 tablespoons Stevia blend, depending on how sweet you want the crust
1 egg yolk

Throw the almonds into a food processor and pulse until ground into a coarse meal. Add the flour and Stevia Blend and pulse again. Add the cold butter and pulse until it's a coarse meal. Then add the egg yolk and run the food processor until it starts to come together like a dough. You don't have to wait until it's one big ball. You can stop when it starts clumping all around. Then you know it's moist throughout and you can work with it.

Dump it onto a lightly greased tart dish (I use a quiche dish with fluted sides) and start pressing it down on the bottom and up the sides. This is enough crust to cover the bottom of an 8 inch quiche or tart dish and go up the sides of it. It can also easily cover the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.

Since the ingredients of the tart are not baked you need to bake the crust. If you were using this crust for a cheesecake, you wouldn't need to par-bake the crust at all. I set the oven at 350F and baked the crust for 45-50 minutes. When the top edges get brown, cover them with foil for the last few minutes of baking while the bottom gets brown. You can do this by ripping off a couple long strips of foil and folding them down around the top edges of the pan. Believe me, the browner this crust gets, the yummier it is and the more it will melt in your mouth. So be patient! It takes awhile for the brownness to happen.

And now for the simplest and most delectable dessert ever . . .

Berry Fraiche Fruit Tart - Low GI and Gluten-Free!!
8 oz of creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Stevia blend
assorted berries
1/4 cup chocolate chips or other dark chocolate bits

First, make sure the crust is completely cooled!! Can't stress that enough. You don't want a warm crust to melt your creme fraiche.

Blend together with a spoon the creme fraiche, vanilla and Stevia blend until well blended. Pour the mix into the prepared crust and spread it around evenly. Put the tart with the creme fraiche back in the refrigerator for an hour. Or you can do what I did and put it in a subzero freezer for 10 minutes until it sets.

Take your cleaned berry assortment and arrange them decoratively and densely on the top of the creme fraiche. I sliced the strawberries but left the blueberries and raspberries whole. You could stop right here and this tart would be fabulous. It doesn't absolutely need the chocolate on top. And it would be slightly lower in sugar without it, depending on how dark your chocolate is. But I've been known to take things too far, and this tart is no exception. So, on with the chocolate topping!!

Put chocolate bits in a Pyrex measuring cup and zap them in the microwave for a minute. Stir to make sure they are melted. If not, zap them for 10 second intervals just until melted. Then transfer with a spatula into a plastic zip lock bag. Cut a small tip off of one corner and squeeze chocolate onto the top of the tart.

If you're not serving it right away, refrigerate it. Once the chocolate turns hard again, you can cover it with plastic wrap.

This tart was gone by the time the family left my house. That never happens! I'm always left with some dessert. Note to self: make 2 next time!

I'm springing into these parties:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Feelin' Kinda Crabby

I was in the mood for fish.

Soooooo, here's my little diatribe about eating fish this far inland. Better to purchase the fish flash frozen in your grocer's freezer than to buy whatever has been THAWED and stuck in a window for who knows how long. Most fish sold in these parts has been frozen to be shipped here anyway. If you're buying it from the fish case at your grocery, you're only buying thawed frozen fish. I won't argue with those of you who live on the coast. I've been there, and it's true there's nothing like eating fresh fish caught that morning. But unless it's Walleye during Great Lakes Walleye season, we're not likely to see anything in Ohio that was caught same day.

Usually when I'm in the mood for fish I end up with some salmon or some shrimp or even some whiting fillets out of my freezer section. But while I was looking for my usual suspects, I noticed some small plastic jars of lump crab meat.

Light Bulb!  CRAB CAKES--the delicate, rich, crabby morsels of scrumptiousness, topped with a little Cajun or Asian heat and served with some dressed greens or sweet slaw or something similar.

Everybody has their own crab cake recipe. Mine is adapted from my buddies on Block Island who have owned countless restaurants over the years and who served a delicious crab cake eggs bennie at their most recent venture.

Going low-carb doesn't meant giving up our favorite foods. It just means modifying recipes so they are carb-friendly. This recipe doesn't use any bread crumbs in the cake. But the crab cakes at the restaurant were rolled in Panko. Panko being white bread is not exactly what I would call a low-carb, high-fiber option. 

So I had to make my own Panko using the high-fiber bread I buy at the grocery store. It was simple really. I just toasted one of the end pieces, let it cool for a bit, then pulsed it in the food processor until it was coarse like Panko bread crumbs. It doesn't matter that they aren't completely toasted and are still soft. They're only going on the outside of the crab cake and then getting fried in oil, so they will create a deliciously delicate crunchy coating nonetheless. Promise.


CRAB CAKES
8 oz jar lump crab meat, drained
1 stalk celery, diced small
2 Tablespoons diced onion or shallots
1 egg
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
High-fiber Panko breadcrumbs (as instructed above) tossed into a shallow dish
1/4 cup canola oil

Spice Blend:
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked chipotle pepper powder (or more if you like the heat)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves ground up in  your hand
1 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


MIX all the spices into a small bowl. Set aside one to two teaspoonfuls of the spice blend for your dressing.

MIX the crab meat with the celery and onion. Toss with the remaining spice blend. Then add the egg and mayonnaise. The egg and mayonnaise will hold this all together without adding additional breadcrumbs. 

SCOOP out a small amount that can be squeezed between the palms of your hands. Because there are no breadcrumbs, these crab cakes are a bit delicate, so as you squeeze gently, form the ball into a hockey puck shape then roll the hockey puck in the Panko, gently pressing the breadcrumbs into all sides of the crab cake.

To make a simple dressing, MIX 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with the remaining spice blend and add the hot sauce of your choosing.

Fry these in properly heated oil in a non-stick pan. It won't take long, roughly 2-3 minutes per side. You can transfer them to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil when they're golden brown on each side.

Since there are no fillers in these, the 8 oz jar made 5 small crab cakes. My boyfriend and I ate them all. It was a main course so that's 1/4 lb. serving per person. I served mine with a simple salad of greens dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. They were delish!!!

I'm sharing some low-carb love with following:
Flour Me With Love Mix it Up Monday


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Comforting My Blood Sugar

Food is not a replacement. It's not a replacement for love; it's not a replacement for exercise; it's not a replacement for self-esteem; it's not a replacement for anything. Food cannot fill the hole in my soul. 

Nonetheless, 
Food is sustenance.
Food gives us life
Food should be ENJOYED!

For more than 50 years, I have eaten whatever the heck I wanted. I have had more than my share of cakes, candy, corn chips, popcorn, pretzels, Reese's cups, Heath Bars, mashed potatoes, crusty french baguettes, and a host of other things I can no longer eat now that I've been diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetic.

And the conclusion I have come to in the year since I was diagnosed is this:
If I can't have another Krispy Kreme donut ever in my life, 
it is not the end of the world.

While my friends and family tried every diet imaginable over the years, everything from 70s grapefruit diets and Mayo Clinic diet to Weight Watchers and South Beach, I paid little or no attention to them. I would always say I eat what I want, that our culture is much too weight conscious and I refused to buy into it. I used to tell people I don't know how much I weigh and I don't own a scale because I think it's unhealthy for women to have that number rattling around in their brains all the time. I have fluctuated between a size 14 and 18 most of my adult life. And to tell you the truth, I just didn't worry about it.

As you might imagine, being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes was like a big slap in the face. When my doctor's office called me, I literally was standing in the buffet line at a casino looking at all the desserts and thinking to myself, which of those delectable items will end up in my tummy today, while somewhere in the back of my mind I was planning to go home and bake something because, after all, I didn't have any baked goods in the house. 

Well it's been almost a year since that fateful day. There was a steep learning curve for me and my boyfriend because we both love to cook and I, particularly, love to bake. But we cook and eat fabulous food with fresh ingredients that do not screw with my blood sugar. 

For instance, with high fiber options at my local grocery store, I am still eating pasta and bread, I just don't eat them as often and I watch my portion size when I do.

So what do I cook on a cold winter's night when there's hardly anything in the pantry but some good cheese, bacon and eggs? The ultimate comfort food, of course, a low-glycemic mac-n-cheese you are going to absolutely love!

Bacon & Eggs Mac-n-Cheese!
adapted from a recipe from The Mac & Cheese Cookbook, by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade
  • 1/2 lb of uncooked high fiber pasta (I use Barilla whole grain rotini)
  • 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup water (you can use 2 cups of whole milk or half-n-half to replace both the milk and water)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (oat flour has little or no affect on blood glucose levels and I have found it's a fabulous thickening agent instead of flour or cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup butter (don't use margarine; you're making a rue so you need it to be real butter)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-3 cups of shredded cheeses, I used a really good Parmesan, white cheddar and some Monterrey jack
  • 1/2 lb of bacon, cooked then crumbled
  • 4 eggs

Cook up the pasta in salted water according to the directions, but take the pasta out of the water 1 or 2 minutes before the prescribed cooking time for al dente pasta because this goes in the oven and will cook the rest of the way there. Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray and toss the pasta into it.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the oat flour, whisking and cooking over medium heat until it starts to thicken. The oat flour will bubble up the butter when it hits the pan, but it's fine, keep whisking while it thickens for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a Pyrex measuring cup in your microwave until it is warm.

Gradually add the milk to the butter flour mix, whisking all the time. Add the salt and whisk. As it begins to thicken, start adding the shredded cheese a little at a time, whisking to blend as it melts until all the cheese is blended in with the mixture and melted. Then add the crumbled bacon.

Pour the cheesy bacon mixture over the pasta and bake in the oven. You can bake it fast, like I do, for about 12-15 minutes on 400 degrees F, or you can go the low and slow route at 350 for 30 minutes. Whatever you prefer.

If you want to add bread crumbs to the top of this, like many people do, make sure you make your own high-fiber bread crumbs to make this dish retain its low glycemic load. I prefer my mac-n-cheese to be gooey and creamy throughout.

Dish out small portions and top each portion with a poached egg. 

When the gooey egg yolk flows out over the cheesy pasta you will find it very hard to believe that this is a diabetic-friendly dish. The portion pictured here is the portion I ate. Yummy, yummy, yummy! And my blood sugar was back down to under 115 within 3 hours. 

With dishes like this, I can truly say I have fully embraced my low-carb lifestyle and am keeping my promise to myself that I will endeavor to avoid taking medication for as long as I can by eating right. So far so good.

Oh yes, and that part where I said that food cannot fill the hole in my soul . . . uh . . . you didn't really believe that, did you?


Monday, December 30, 2013

Celebrating Change with Chocolate Bread Pudding!

Okay so it's been awhile. To my 142 followers, thank you so much for not "unfollowing" me despite the fact that I haven't posted since March.

All I can say is, it's been a heck of a year! So many changes I have barely had time to think, let alone write.

The biggest changes are as follows, and these are in no particular order . . .

I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
I took a part time job as the principal cookie baker for a gluten-free bakery.
My new love and I bought a house together and combined households after knowing each other about 10 months!

How crazy is that?! 

I have so much to share about my journey over the last few months but since getting diagnosed with diabetes is one of the biggest changes I've been coping with, I thought my first post should be my latest recipe adaptation.

So, if you are type 2 diabetes, and you've been looking for a holiday--or any day really--dessert to serve, try my . . .

Chocolate Bread Pudding
adapted from Alton Brown's Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe 

2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup Splenda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Stevia Blend
1 1/2 cups half-n-half
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 ounce strong coffee or espresso
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
10 ounces stale high fiber bread, or about 8 or 9 slices
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 72-85% cacao, broken into 1/2 inch pieces

Alton Brown makes all this in a blender and I thought that worked really well. First the eggs, then the sweeteners and cocoa, then the milk, coffee and vanilla. Blend each ingredient for a short time as you go. It only takes a few seconds for each ingredient so it's really a low-fuss dish. I used leftover coffee and I thought it turned out really good. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar in it, so stick with a 72% to 85% cacao and you should be able to keep the overall sugar content low in this dish.

My recipe is for a medium size bread pudding in a deep glass 9 inch casserole. I buttered the dish, threw the bread in it, tossed the chocolate pieces on the top and then poured the egg mixture over the whole thing. Then I refrigerated it for 8 hours. The bread really was stale so refrigerating allows the bread to soak up the egg mixture.

Then it goes in the oven for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Alton Brown instructs that you spritz the thing with melted butter and then stick it under the broiler for a couple seconds. I found this step totally unnecessary and burdensome. I ain't got all day to stand around watching things in the broiler. I served this with a brunch and I had a frittata to worry about. So at the last minute, we whipped up some fresh whipped cream with a little bit of Stevia Blend to serve with the bread pudding.

And let me just say . . . OMG this was so stinkin' good! I've been experimenting with a variety of desserts that are low in glycemic load, but this one turned out FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC!!

So here are my DIABETES DISCLAIMERS:

1. I am not a doctor, nurse, or nutritionist. I manage my type 2 diabetes (which, btw, was really bad because I had an A1C test that put me at 12.2!!) completely by diet.

2. The high fiber bread in this bread pudding recipe is no sugar added 100% whole wheat high-fiber store-bought bread that anyone can find in the grocery store. These are breads I've been eating for awhile so I know they do not make my glucose spike significantly.

3. There is lots of info about artificial sweeteners, but from what I have read, Splenda and Stevia do not increase glucose levels. The Stevia Blend, however, has sugar in it, so I use it sparingly as a flavor enhancer, not as the primary sweetener. Since it has sugar in it, it could affect glucose levels if you used a lot of it.

4. I check my glucose level 2 and 3 hours after eating one of my recipe adaptations, just as I did with this one. Two hours after I ate the bread pudding, my glucose level was at 127, which means there wasn't a significant spike and I was back down within a reasonable amount of time after eating.

I hope to write more about my journey over the last year, sharing low glycemic load recipes I've either found or created, maybe sharing some pics of our new home and getting back to some crafting and jewelry-making. 

I'm celebrating change with the following leading ladies:

Our Delightful Home Show Me What You Got Linky
Skip to My Lou Made by You Monday
Boogieboard Cottage Masterpiece Monday


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring Equinox!

The sun is struggling to peak through the clouds here in central Ohio, and it's only 31 degrees outside.

But I'm not letting that get me down! I'm celebrating Spring with some great finds at my local thrift store.

First off, you should know that part of my jovial mood is a direct result of a new man in my life. Yes, this crazy thrifty crafter is falling hard. This is how bad it is . . . I often picture this scene from Elf in my mind . . .

.

I love Will Ferrell.
So anyway, with that in mind, what better way to celebrate Spring than with a new outfit, or two, or three!

Banana Republic wrap-around dress
Forever 21 lightweight cotton print skirt

These leather wedges go perfect with the dress!

black and tan leather wedges just for fun


A cream-colored poncho will be perfect with almost everything.

Lime green and sporting some shorts underneath, this skirt looks fabulous with black tights and boots!

BIG FIND OF THE DAY, BORN LEATHER SANDALS FOR FRIGGIN' $8!!!! The soles look like they've barely been worn. The most comfortable sandal I've ever owned by far. Woohoo!!! As my friend Kay says, I do like me some fugly shoes. I'll be wearing these babies all summer long!





























I'm hitchin' my wagon to these bright shining stars!