Diabetes Diet #42: Diabetes And The Five Tibetans

Diabetes Recipes:

Vegetable Stock for Soup
Spring Asparagus Soup
Fresh Strawberries and a Ginger Cookie

Diabetes And The Five Tibetans

You might say this is impossible. Or you may be fascinated as I was, to the possibility.

When I traveled to Tibet last year I watched the pilgrims performing a walking prostration around the Potala Temple in Tibet’s capital city, Lhasa. They moved rhythmically in an almost liquid dance of prayer, around and in front of, the ancient Buddhist temple. They seemed oblivious to the crowds and clutter around them as they undulated their bodies in devotion. I was curious by their concentration and focus and wondered if I could be so disciplined and devout.

A few months after returning home from Tibet, my Tai Chi teacher gave me a book called Ancient Secrets of the Fountain of Youth, Book 2 by Peter Kelder. The book gives testimonies of travelers to Tibet in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, some of them women, disguised, of course, as men, who learned exercise postures and breathing methods, along with scholarly wisdom, that changed their lives and revitalized their spirits. Along this mystic way many claim to have met nomadic peasants and trance walkers who were living healthy lives at 200 and 400 years old. Perhaps this is true. It made me think of living with diabetes which somehow stimulates a need to explore and experiment with a wide brush stroke of possibilities aiming towards better health. The book sparked enough curiosity to make me read on.

The main content relates to a series of 5 exercises called the Five Tibetan Rites. They are simple enough to do with a little practice and patience, they don’t take much time (10-15 minutes), don’t require any special membership to an organization like a gym, don’t call for any special equipment and can be done on your own in your time. I am reporting about them to you because in the few months I have been practicing these exercises, they have had a positive effect on my well being as a diabetic. By well being I mean that my energy level is more robust, my skin has a healthier glow and I seem to have a more alert attention span and a certain calmness and tolerance in allowing for the ups and downs of diabetes.

The 5 exercises that compose the rites are:   twirling, straight leg lifts, chest expansion, bridge or table top and up/down dog stretch. If you are interested in learning details and procedures, ask your local library to order the book or go to www.barnesandnoble.com. As with all exercise, proceed with care and thoughtfulness, especially when twirling. Start with 3 of each movement and very gradually, by adding 1 additional per week, work up to 21. Let me know, after doing these stretching movements for a few months, if your skin glows with ore radiance, your diabetes care is easier to handle and you have an easier time smiling each day.

The sequel to the book is a cookbook. To paraphrase the quote at the beginning of this book “we live in a complicated world but this does not mean we must play the game.” Food is an area that we should take care to control with a simple fresh foods diet. This does not mean we should follow the plant diet of Tibetan monks, but we can make some wholesome changes to foster a healthier more robust body. Here are a few tips.


Suggested Diet Guidelines To Accompany The Exercise

  1. Chew food thoroughly. If you can, chew to a liquid. This is a great aid to the digestive process.
  2. Don’t eat meat and starch at the same meal. The components in these foods make digestion arduous and sluggish.
  3. Eat fresh basic foods slowly in a pleasant environment, instead of eating on the run without care.
  4. Avoid processed and preserved foods and artificially treated foods like sweeteners.
  5. Eat only as much as you need and save the rest. Overindulging drains energy and messes with blood sugars.

Building a Simple Healthy Diet at the Cyber Kitchen Spring Lunch Counter

I like to think of recipes as flexible guidelines. Most home cooks follow simple methods of preparation and cooking and gravitate towards the same school of ingredients. It is following your appetite or what you like to eat. When the regular diet is wholesome and balanced and suddenly you crave pickled herring or something that you ordinarily don’t care about, it usually indicates a food the body needs. For today, let’s make a couple very simple and basic foods that have endless variations to satisfy your preferences.

Oh boy! The variety of possibilities here is staggering. Start with lettuce and think color, texture and shape. An example for a nice spring salad is red leaf, oak leaf, dandelion, endive, watercress, ribbon cut snow peas, shredded zucchini and carrot, and snipped fresh herbs.

Toss well and drizzle with a simple dressing of:

2 T. fresh herbs of choice.
2 t. fresh lemon or lime juice,
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake, shake, shake.

Nutritional Value:  2 t. = 45 cal, 0 protein, 0 carbs, 0 fiber, 4.5 fat grams

For a creamy salad dressing:

¼ cup low fat plain yogurt
¼ cup fat free mayonnaise
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon zest
1 T. grain mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Briskly whisk together all ingredients and store in fridge.

Nutritional Value: 1T. = 25 cal, fat .5 grams, 3 carb grams, 1 gram protein.

Vegetable Stock for Soup – 20 cups
Soup is a good food. It prepares the stomach to digest other foods and awakens the appetite. It can also comfort and give nourishment to a day we don’t feel like eating much else. Soup begins with stock and the quality of the soup depends on, yup, the quality of the stock. Here is a vegetable stock to launch any soup your taste buds call for. Add vegetables, meat, fish, beans, grains or any combination. I make big batches and freeze in empty milk containers for when I want a quick pot of soup.

1 T. olive oil
4 onions, chopped
2 leeks, white and light green part, chopped
6 carrots, washed and chopped
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 bunch parsley stems
1 t, each: dried thyme, marjoram
3 bay leaves
1 ½ gallon pure water

  1. Warm the oil in large pot.   Add vegetables, stir well to coat.   Cook until vegetables begin to brown slightly.
  2. Add herbs and water.   Bring to the boil.   Cover.   Lower to simmer and cook 1 hour.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth and press juice out of vegetables.   Use now or freeze for later.

Nutritional Value: 1 cup = 35 cal, trace fat and protein, 5 carb grams.

Spring Asparagus Soup – 6 Servings
2 ½ cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup sliced celery
3 cups vegetable stock
5 cups fresh chopped asparagus
2 T. fresh dill or 2 t. dried
2 cups low fat buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In soup pot, combine onions, garlic, potatoes and celery. Add stock, bring to boil, cover and lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Add asparagus and herbs and simmer another 15 minutes.
  3. Puree to smooth consistency. Taste for seasonings. Add buttermilk and re-heat gently or serve cold.

Nutritional Value: 1 ½ cup = 140 cal, 7 grams protein, 28 carb grams, 1.5 grams fat, 4grams fiber.

Fresh Strawberries and a Ginger Cookie
In French they are called “fraises de bois”, those first strawberries of spring, so sweet and jewel like. Seeking them out at farmers markets is worth the trip. 1 cup pf these beauties or any local spring strawberries will make you smile.

Nutritional Value: 1 cup = 60 cal, 12 carb grams, 2 grams fiber

Double Ginger Cookies

This is something to savor once in awhile as an exceptional treat. They are delicious and satisfying. Ginger is an excellent digestive aid.

1 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup + 1 T., flour
1 t. ground ginger
1 T., grated orange zest
1/3 cup or 2 oz. crystallized ginger (found on produce selves or health food store)

  1. In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugar for 4 minutes. Add yolk and beat.
  2. Mix flour and ground ginger together in a bowl then add to mix.   Add remaining ingredients.   Stir well.
  3. Gather dough on plastic wrap and form into 4″ square.   Refrigerate for 1 hour or more and cut into 1″ x 1 ½” strips.   Place on parchment or foil and bake in 350 oven for 12 minutes until slightly golden.

Nutritional Value: 2 cookies = 90 cal, 4.5 fat, trace protein, 12 carb grams