Diabetes Diet #26: A Cooking Class For The Odd Couple

Diabetes Recipes:

Pasta and Bean Soup
Delicious Autumn Vegetable Stew

The Odd Couple: You and Diabetes.

Family, friends, adventures, work, acquaintances, education, travel, art, spiritual pursuits, sports and hobbies, all make life blossom and grow. They create wonderful exchanges and companionships that nourish our existence and fine-tune management of the dance each one of us moves to. Where does diabetes fit into this dance? It is that reality that begs a certain measure of rhythm and discipline.

When well tended to, diabetes becomes one of life’s interesting challenges that can inspire a quest for, and achievement of, well being and a healthy lifestyle. The role call keeps billowing up, according to the American Diabetes Association. These days the numbers compute to approximately 16 million people in the USA who have diabetes. A percentage of this population lives alone and must rely on themselves to care for their diabetes. For some, living alone can be stressful, throw in diabetes care and the stress battery jolts up a few pulses.

The support of the medical team and family are important sources of guidance and nourishment, but there are several steps you can initiate to secure comfort in your every day “odd couple” relationship with diabetes. I spoke with several people who gave some practical advice regarding this subject. One young woman lives in a large apartment building in New York City. She has 2 roommates: a cat and a paraquet. She works full time during the day and juggles school, the gym and piano lessons at night. She wears an insulin pump. She doesn’t know anyone in her building, where neighbors pass each other in the elevators. Good morning. Good evening. Nothing more. What if she needs help? Who does she turn to? Having had diabetes since a teenager and flirting with trial and error of ignoring the rules of the game, she now understands the gravity of diligent regard for diabetes. Some safety measures she has successfully adopted are:

  • Post a medic alert sticker on the door
  • Register at local police and fire stations you are diabetic and who to call in case of emergencies
  • Keep a supply of quick carbs throughout your apartment
  • keep a BG meter near bedside to test during the night
  • get involved and connected with a diabetes support group or organization

Another woman I spoke with has type 2 diabetes, is a widow who lives alone, but travels for hours each day in her car. At home she keeps an extra bg meter, test strips and glucose tablets handy in both her bedroom and in the kitchen, in case she runs into a low blood sugar. She finds it convenient storing a carb supply with her meter to treat a low without having to think of what to eat or where food might be hiding. One day she returned from grocery shopping. She tested her blood sugar. It was 40. She opened the refrigerator, which was jam-packed with food, and couldn’t decide what to eat, due to the confusion of the hypoglycemia. Having the glucose tabs onboard has lowered the stress barometer of worrying in such situations. She has a few suggestions that work well in the car. Keep a diabetes first aid kit in the glove compartment, which includes:

  • quick carbs, BG meter and strips, antibacterial hand wipes, boxed juices
  • diabetes id taped to the driver’s side sun visor. This should include emergency phone numbers and medication instructions
  • bottled water
  • cell phone batteries

The Well Armed Diabetic

Disaster incidents that have occurred in the last year. Power blackouts throughout the country, horrible fires in California, looming terrorist threats and worrisome airline security seem to be part of the world we live in Being prepared and organized might mean saving your life. Creating a “well-armed kit” has the positive effect of having a comfort zone in times of need. Graphic designer and type 1 diabetic, Laura Laria and I, created the following chart as a public awareness aid for all of us. It contains all the low tech stuff that comes in handy when high tech falters. It is a list of essentials to pack up in a bright-colored bag or backpack. Attach a laminated name tag on it, hang it in a convenient spot with easy access. A closet near an exit door is a good place. If you would like copies of this chart to distribute to other diabetics during National Diabetes Awareness Month, contact Judith Ambrosini at wellarmediabetic@aol.com

Click here to view The Well Armed Diabetic Chart

Feeling secure now about being the odd couple, it’s time to talk about the good stuff “Food and Cooking”. Let’s dance over to the Cyber Kitchen and cook a few reliable one-pot meals.

*****Sweet Note*****

Instead of sweet and sometimes “empty “carb desserts, try a piece of fresh cheese and a perfectly ripened autumn pear or apple. Simple. Elegant. Filling. Nutritious. Some suggestions are, nutty, buttery Jarlsberg Lite partnered with a tart Granny Smith apple, or a slightly pungent low-fat goat cheese sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves and served with a beautiful sweet red Bartlett pear. A small fruit equals 15 carbs. A cheese serving equals 1 oz, 75 cal. and 5 fat grams.

Diabetes Recipes
“Pasta e Fagioli” Pasta and Bean Soup
Here is the ultimate Italian comfort food. No, you don’t have to be Italian to love this dish. It’s a flavorful and nourishing “cooking for one” recipe you can make ahead and enjoy for several days. This recipe makes 8 portions. Cut it in half if you prefer. Freeze in 1 ½ cup portions and microwave when you come home from a long day’s work. It’s a keeper. Add a simple spinach salad with 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced mushrooms and a drop or 2 of a favorite bottled dressing to enjoy a great dinner cooked for one.

2 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 small onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, sliced
1 grated carrot
1 / 2 LB. dry, white cannellini beans, rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 t. dried basil
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups of water
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 oz. small cut pasta
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
Fresh basil and parsley leaves

  1. In a large soup pot, warm oil. Add 1 at a time: garlic, onion, celery, carrot. Saut? a few minutes to soften.
  2. Add beans, herbs, and all liquid. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, until beans are cooked.
  3. Add pasta and seasonings. Cook 5 -8 minutes, until pasta is al dente, firm to the tooth, yet cooked through.
  4. Ladle a 1 cups portion into a bowl and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and cheese.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 Portion, Calories: 250, Carbs: 35 grams, Fat: 7 grams, Protein: 14 grams, Fiber: 6 grams

Delicious Autumn Vegetable Stew
What could be better than a hearty nutritious stew to take away the autumn chill? This dish freezes well. Divide into individual portions for freezing. Warm-up in the microwave for that frosty evening when you don’t feel like cooking. Add a quick salad. Clever merchants understand most people don’t have time or inclination to wash, spin and dry salad greens. The cleaned and packaged salads come in a nice variety of organic greens, baby arugula, spinach, spring greens, and romaine hearts to name a few. A small pan grilled chicken breast can round off the meal if you are really hungry.

1 large (2 lb.) acorn or butternut squash, peeled and cut into large bite-sized wedges
6 small carrots, washed and cut in half
2 small fennel bulbs, washed and sliced
24 small boiling onions peeled
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into large pieces
20 white mushrooms
12 plum tomatoes, thickly sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 / 2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 T. Each: dried thyme and basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb greens such as Swiss chard, kale, collard or spinach, washed and coarsely cut 2 T.
balsamic vinegar
1 / 4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese

  1. Heat oven to 400. Place all vegetables in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil toss with herbs and seasoning. Roast for 15 minutes. Toss and mix well. Roast another 15 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, steam greens in a little water to wilt. Sprinkle with vinegar. Stir into roasted vegetables. Serve in 1 cup portions and garnish with cheese

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 portion (makes 8), Calories: 350, Carbs: 60 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Protein: 15 grams, Fiber: 14 grams