In some families it’s an heirloom – the recipe box filled with dog-eared cards that have been passed down through generations with notes, substitutions and updates written in the margins. In other families, it might be the worn cookbook that has been splattered with various ingredients, or even a bookmarked website full of fail-proof recipes. So what happens when you are told that you have to change your diet as a part of creating a healthier lifestyle? Allow me to introduce a new word to you: Diabetize!
I first heard about diabetizing recipes from Robyn Webb, MS, LN, Food Editor for Diabetes Forecast. Robyn is a cookbook author, award-winning nutritionist and culinary teacher – to say the least, her experience makes her a well-seasoned expert (pardon the pun). Robyn’s experience with cooking for people with diabetes has given her many tricks to help make those family recipes fit into your meal plan. I asked her for her top five tips on how to diabetize a recipe, and here’s what she said:
1. Reduce the amount of saturated fat
We know from scientific research that saturated fat or solid fat can be a problem for people with diabetes. As people with diabetes are more prone to heart disease, saturated fat is one of the major dietary factors that can lead to heart-related problems. We also know that large amounts of saturated fat add many unwanted calories, which lead to equally unwanted extra pounds.
- Look at your original recipe and switch from solid butter to olive oil where possible.
- Sauté foods in low fat chicken or vegetable broths or just some white wine.
- Use reduced fat and fat-free products in place of their full-fat counterparts or at least use in combination to reduce the overall saturated fat content.
- Want to learn more about which oils are good and which are bad? Check out this article in the March 2011 issue of Diabetes Forecast!
2. Reduce the sodium
The American Diabetes Association nutrition recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. There are 2300mg of sodium in just one teaspoon of salt!
- Try moving the salt shaker to the back burner and drag out the no-salt seasonings, fresh herbs and spices, citrus juices and flavored vinegars.
- Add only a dash of salt if really necessary.
- Taste your food before salting it, you might be pleasantly surprised how little you may need, if any.
- Most of the sodium we consume is from processed foods. Anything in a can, box or package. By cooking from fresh ingredients and using the above tips, you have more control over how much sodium you consume.
3. Increase the amount of vegetables
According to the New Dietary Guidelines, the recommendation is to increase vegetables to fill half your plate! When reviewing your recipes, look to see where you can add more non starchy vegetables.
- Instead of adding cheese to an omelette, fill it with steamed broccoli and slices of tomato.
- Skip the mayo on a sandwich and pile the high with shredded carrots and dark leafy greens, such as spinach.
- By adding more non starchy vegetables to soups and stews you will only increase the volume of the dish and you might need additional liquid, but that should be easy to do.
4. Increase the fiber
By eating a diet high in fiber, you will discover you can manage your blood sugar levels that much better. High fiber diets have a bevy of health benefits including regularity and lowering blood cholesterol. But fiber can be tasty, too, and keeps you full, a wonderful way to prevent overeating, but increase meal satisfaction!
- Think about replacing the white grains and white pastas from your recipe and substitute whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta in their place.
- Add legumes to any soup or stew and add them as an addition to a salad.
- Mash them well and use them as substitute for mayonnaise as a sandwich spread.
5. Cut the portion size
Making any dish more diabetes-friendly starts with smaller (but equally delicious!) portions. You might be surprised that by just increasing the number of servings your favorite dish yields, you can indeed still enjoy the recipe in its original form. And just think: if you eat a smaller portion, you can enjoy your dish for an extra day! You’ll save calories, fat, sodium and so much more. That’s really diabetizing a recipe!
All these creative ideas always seem to make me hungry! But what’s the good of adding new healthy twist in family recipes if you can’t share them? Since March is National Nutrition Month, why not try testing your diabetized recipes on your family and see if anyone notices a difference.
As the March issue of Diabetes Forecast indicates, there are a lot of food debates going on in the diabetes community. It is important to note that simply diabetizing a dish may not help you meet your health care provider’s recommendations – but if you feel the need to indulge, this might help you indulge more mindfully.
If you’d like to submit a recipe to Robyn to diabetize, or explore other recipes that she’s already modified, check out the Diabetize Your Recipe section on Diabetes Forecast’s website. To learn more about Robyn and her other work, please visit her website at http://www.robynwebb.com/ .