Diabetes Diet #29: The Carbohydrate Conspiracy

Diabetes Recipes:

Couscous and Vegetable Timbales
Spring Macaroni
Spring Risotto

The carb situation in this country is getting out of hand, becoming ridiculous and trying my patience! First, there was a race to low-fat foods, then the no-fat diets. Then Atkins and a host of dietary spin-offs came into vogue with eat-all-the-fat-you-want diets. It was all about fat and protein, and scratch carbs.

And then, suddenly, an alarm blasted with all guns aimed at carbohydrates. The call-to-arms became “low carb” or “no carb”. I was stunned to watch at all the unfounded hullabaloo.

As diabetics, we have a very personal relationship with carbohydrates. The carbohydrate conspirators were attacking and sensationalizing our precious carbs, the very nutrient that motivates, scares, balances and binds us to diabetes. We live our daily lives in a tug of war battle with blood sugars and their direct link to carbohydrates. We can and do handle the situation, most of the time. But now the Carb Cops are surrounding us

The reason for my alarm is the aggressive stance the anti-carb force is posing. They are lining up supermarket aisles with low carb foods, which, if you read the nutrition panels carefully, often contain as many carb grams plus added fat, protein, and salt. They are putting low/no carb books on the bestseller lists, strong-arming food chains to ante up with low carb meals and posting anti-carb banners and flags throughout the food world.

Where will all this lead to? It is speeding ahead haphazardly and people are following blindly without taking time to understand what a healthy diet really means. In a year’s time, will it be a crime to be caught buying, eating or talking about carbohydrates? Will we be going underground, making connections in dark alleys for a bowl of brown rice or half a loaf of seven-grain bread?

Do not let yourself be trapped in the carbohydrate conspiracy. If you don’t know about or understand the function and use of carbohydrates in your diet, this is the perfect time to learn. There are many excellent books available at the “Diabetes Mall Catalog”. Pick out a few and hone your carbohydrate skills.

Using carbs in recipes is a natural, healthy part of a balanced diet. This issue of the Cyber Kitchen offers some of my favorite carb-based dishes for you to enjoy (while it’s still legal).

Diabetes Recipes
Couscous & Vegetable Timbales (6 servings)
2 T. butter
4 cups medium-thick asparagus, peeled and cut into ¼ ” pieces
½ cup fresh or frozen corn
1 T. chopped shallot or red onion
1 t. dried thyme
1 ½ cup chicken stock or broth
1 cup couscous, preferably whole wheat
3 T. each: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and chives
salt and pepper to tasteNote: This dish can go directly from skillet to plate, or can be made in individual ramekins (3/4 cup measure), which unmold nicely onto a plate forming a timbale. Suit yourself.

  1. Lightly butter 6 ramekins with 1 t. of the butter. Melt remaining butter in sautÈ pan and add asparagus, corn, onion, and thyme. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until tender.
  2. Add stock and bring to the boil. Add couscous. Stir well, cover and remove from heat and let stand until stock is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Stir in herbs and seasonings, and pack into ramekins. Unmold, onto serving plates when ready to serve.

Nutritional Value: 1 cup = 175 cal, 5 saturated fat grams, 4 grams protein, 24 carb grams.

Spring Macaroni = Pasta Primavera (4 servings)
1 / 2 lb capellini or linguine fine pasta
1 / 4 lb each: asparagus, snow peas, sugar snap peas, green beans, cut into large bite-size pieces
1 / 2 head broccoli, cut into 4 cups florets
1 medium zucchini, sliced thickly and cut in half
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/ 4 cup each: fresh dill and flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 t. olive oil, 2 oz. smoked mozzarella cut into dice
4 sun-dried tomatoes, minced

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for pasta. Insert strainer and when the water has come to boil, submerge vegetables to cook for about 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Lift vegetables and strainer from water and add pasta to cook for about 5 minutes to the “al dente” stage. Don’t overcook pasta.
  2. Drain pasta well and toss with oil. Stir in vegetables, herbs, and seasonings.
  3. Top with mozzarella and tomatoes

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 270 cal, 15 grams protein, 5 fat grams, 44 carb grams, 6 grams fiber

Spring Risotto (makes 4 servings)
Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is very popular in many parts of Northern Italy. Look for Arborio rice for the creamiest and fullest flavored risotto. Do not rinse the rice before using it. The starch helps add the creamy flavor to the dish. It is simple to make but requires a bit of standing over the stove to mix. Time well spent.

1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
3 cups warm chicken stock (keep on low heat in a small saucepan)
2 T. each chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and basil
2T. fresh grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and shallots. Cook to soften about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in rice and toss well to coat for another 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir to absorb.
  3. Pour in ½ cup broth and stir to absorb. Continue this until you have used up the broth. Taste for doneness. Rice should feel soft but not mushy. It should still have texture.
  4. Add herbs and sprinkle with cheese. Serve hot.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 320 cal, 9 protein grams, 6 grams fat, 50 carb grams, 2 grams fiber