Diabetes Diet #13: A Very Berry Summer

Diabetes Recipes

White Peach-Raspberry Fool
Blueberry Vinegar
Honeydew Soup
Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie
Whole Wheat Blueberry Kuchen

Sweet Thoughts As Summer Wanes

At this time of year cyber kitchen is geared on melon and blueberry overdrive. Pints and quarts of vaccinium (blueberries) spill over onto real and virtual kitchen counters. Shades of green, orange, yellow and tan cucurbitaceae (melons) line up like ersatz bowling balls along the kitchen alley. All available baking trays have morphed into sheeke soldiers, for a quick trip to the freezer and hibernation into ziploc bags, until that day in midwinter when they are called upon to be part of a gorgeous batch of muffins, or, perhaps a luscious pie.

It is said the best blueberries come to the market first by way of North Carolina, followed by New Jersey, then the Michigan bumper crop and at this time of late summer, the wild Maine blues billow and tumble south and west. I love them all and spend a good deal of time making cobblers, crisps, scones, cakes, sauces, chutneys, quick breads and vinegars. Next Spring I might plant a couple blueberry bushes in my garden. 

If you'd like to give a try, too, check Burpee's, Stokes or any of the plethora of fruit/vegetable/seed catalogues readily available. Remember to pick a species that grows favorably in your zone or climate, be it Bluecrop, Blueray, Bluetta or other. Although most are self fertile, planting two varieties will produce larger berries and bigger crops. After 4-5 years, a bush will produce about 5 pounds of fruit. Older bushes produce considerably more. Blueberries like a sunny location, cool moist climate, and high acid soil (pH 5.0).

When buying blueberries, avoid overripe berries, which are easy to discover by their mushiness or shriveled appearance. Look for firm plump berries. Size doesn't matter. The best berries are those that taste best. If possible, sample a few before purchasing. Once you get them home, pick through and remove leaves and stems. The nutritional reward form 1 cup of blueberries is 81 calories, 20 carb grams, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram protein, and vitamin C.

Melons are generally divided into two classes, muskmelons and watermelons. We know the vine dwelling muskmelons by their more familiar names, cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew, cranshaw and Persian, although an almost endless variety of these fleshy melons flourish throughout the world. They are often crossbred, and in fact, crossbreed themselves with no trouble. 

The most popular melon is cantaloupe. Where did this favorable species come from? And where did it ever get its melodic name? Seems it was first developed in the 17th century in a small village near Rome, Italy, on the grounds of a castle named Cantalupo. The cantaloupe we eat today has a creamy orange flesh, and a distinctive musky fragrance and taste. Besides being rich in vitamins A, C and potassium, cantaloupe contains more beta-caratene than any other melon. One half of a small melon give us 93 calories, 22 carb grams, 1.5 grams protein, and about 8 grams fiber.

The question always comes up of how to pick a good one. There are a few simple clues to look for when picking the perfect melon, without having to forage through the hundreds stacked up in bins at the market. Cantaloupes should be slightly golden, not green. Stay away from bruised, cracked or spotted melons. Honeydews, the sweetest tasting of all melons, (nutritional values of 49 calories, 11.5 carb grams, 1.2 protein grams, and .9 grams fiber in a 7 x 2 inch slice) should have a yellow, rather than green tint. All melons should have a slightly soft indentation at the stem end, where a flowery fragrance exudes.  

Although these tips will give you a little edge on picking a ripe one, truth is a melon is perfectly ripe when it naturally slips off its vine. Even though the muskmelon family is most popular, crisp juicy red watermelons are the most loved. Hard to believe, but there are more than 50 varieties of watermelon, weighing from 5 to 50 pounds. On the average, a watermelon is 92% water and 8% sugar. Look for a watermelon that is neither too shiny nor too dull. The ground side should have a yellow, rather that green or white hue. If you are buying a cut piece, the darker the seeds, the sweeter the melon. Watermelon is best when served icy cold. In a 6 x 1.5 inch slice, you'll find 156 calories, 38 carb grams, 3 grams protein, and 1.8 grams fiber.

How do these late summer fruits fare with diabetes? Very nicely indeed, I am happy to report to all you Type 1 and Type 2 blueberry and melon affecionados out there, hovering around the cyber kitchen counter. Understanding that a well balanced diet of fresh vital foods is key to controlling diabetes, these fruits can strategically compliment everyday good eating.  

There are some great and easy recipes over at Recipe Central for you to enjoy, using these seasonal fruits. Because the perimeters of the "diabetic diet" have expanded and grown more liberating, a common deception is to inject or bolus a little extra Humalog to cover that chocolate brownie or slice of lemon cream pie. But, it is so important to remember how transient these flights of empty sugar indulgence really are in the overall picture of sound nutrition, whereas taking fruits such as berries and melon offer both a kick for the sweet tooth and powerful nutrients for energy and fitness.

 All varieties of melon benefit with a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice and sprinkle of salt, and blueberries are heavenly when simply eaten out of hand with a scattering of fresh mint leaves. Of course you can find melons and berries year round, traveling from South and Central America, and Pacific Rim countries, but now is the time to seize the season with the freshest possible local fruits, as summer wanes.

Diabetes Recipes
White Peach and Red Raspberry Fool

This is a great low sugar, low fat, healthy easy and delicious summer dessert.
1 Serving 
4 white peaches, (yellow are fine, too) 
1 cup fresh raspberries 
2 cups low fat, plain or raspberry flavored yogurt 
1 generous T. rolled oats 
1 generous T. sliced almonds

  1. Slice peaches thinly and mix with berries in large bowl. 
  2. Toast oats and almonds in toaster over for 5 minutes. 
  3. Get out your prettiest stemmed dessert dishes. Divide fruit and sprinkle with oats and nuts. Chill.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1, Calories: 160, Carbs:  21 grams, Fat:  4.5 grams, Fiber: 3 grams

Blueberry Vinegar

Yield: 1 quart
3 cups fresh blueberries, crushed 
1 half cup firmly packed, fresh, torn basil leaves
4 cups white wine vinegar

  1. Combine berries and basil in sterilized, wide mouthed jar.
  2. Bring vinegar to a boil and pour hot vinegar over blueberry mix.
  3. Cover and let stand at room temp for two weeks.
  4. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth into clean bottles.
  5. Discard blueberry pulp and add a few fresh basil leaves to vinegar.
  6. Cork airtight.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 T, Calories: 2, Carbs: 8 grams

Honeydew Soup

Yields 4 servings
4 cups cubed fresh honeydew
2 T. Honey
2 T. Fresh chopped mint
1T. Lime juice and 1 half ts. grated zest

  1. Combine al ingredients in blender or food processor until very smooth.
  2. Serve chilled. This is the perfect ending to a late summer patio lunch.

Note: You may substitute other melons such as cantaloupe, Persian, cranshaw, or casaba. If you want to bolster the soup, add a. piece of minced crystallized ginger and a cup of low fat yogurt. The addition will add 3 grams protein and 1 gram fat.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1, Calories: 94, Carbs:  22 grams, Protein: 1 gram, Fiber: 1 gram

Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie

Yield: 2 servings
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup low fat plain or vanilla yogurt
Pinch of cinnamon
Ice cubes

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender to smoothie consistency.
  2. Pour into tall glasses. 
  3. Garnish with a few fresh berries and a mint leaf.
  4. Serve with a long straw.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1, Calories: 98, Carbs: 15 grams, Fat: 2 grams, Protein: 6 grams, Potassium: 375 mg.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Kuchen

Equipment: an 8 x 8or 9 x9 x 2 inch baking pan and cooking spray.
Yield: 9 servings
1 half cup skim milk
3 T. Canola oil
1 half cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 T. Wheat germ
1 generous T. baking powder
Pinch of baking soda
1 half ts. salt
1 third cup sugar
2 cups fresh blueberries

For topping combine the following:
1 T sugar
1 half ts. Cinnamon
2 T. Chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Whisk egg, milk, oil and yogurt to blend.
  3. Set a strainer on top of same bowl and add all dry ingredients. Sift into liquid mix.
  4. Stir in berries. Pour batter into prepared pan. 
  5. Sprinkle with topping. Bake 20 -25 minutes to golden brown Cool slightly on wire rack. Cut into 9 slices and enjoy warm. Leftovers are good t sliced crosswise and toasted.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 slice, Calories: 248, Carbs: 42 grams, Fat: 7 grams, Protein: 7 grams