Diabetes Diet #52: Freedom of Choice

Diabetes Recipes:

Spinach Frittata
Super Spinach SautÈ
All Seasons Spinach Salad

I have noticed over the last year that a strong trend toward diabetes self-management has become the diabetes mantra. What does this mean and how does one put it into effect?

Diabetes on your terms in one way to explain the shift in public awareness of resourcing information and education. Since diabetes is in many ways a self-reliant lifestyle condition, bringing education and instruction out in the open for all people with diabetes to take advantage of, seems a healthy future. Just about every city offers local support groups and education classes. In December, I attended a 1-day conference of TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) in San Diego. 1800 people were in attendance! Dr. Steven Edelman (a type 1 himself) and his A-team breezed through every aspect of living with diabetes with both diligent care and buoyant ease and encouragement. Take a look at www.tcoyd.com for further info.

Last week I stopped by a diabetes education group in the new Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute in NYC, where free monthly diabetes outreach programs bring crowds of women with diabetes out to learn diabetes tools of setting goals, exchanging life experiences and having fun with the “what to do’s and how to’s” of making diabetes work for them. The institute offers cooking classes, exercise workouts, nutritional advice, and other CDE programs. Check www.divabetic.org to learn more.

A diabetologist told me recently that his job is to teach patients how to be independent and responsible for their diabetes by understanding test results, medications, complications and the great benefits of a balanced lifestyle. He expects patients to learn and practice good diabetes management that will lead to overall excellent health.

So, where does all this leave us, the ones who wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night with diabetes, 24/7/365? It gives us a broad range of freedom of choice. There is so much available information on diabetes management available in books, classes, support groups, programs, internet sites, blogs, conferences, magazines and newsletters, organizations, pharmaceutical agencies, and diabetes supply companies. We are individuals with different “cases” of diabetes and diverse lifestyles, 2008 might be a good time to shop around for help, answers and new horizons, in other words, to flex your freedom of choice.

Making good food and diet choices is an integral ingredient in the method and type of diabetes care one chooses. I invite you to step into Cyber Kitchen where good choices are always being sliced and diced on the cutting board and cooked to order.

Choosing Spinach

Spinach (Spinacia Oleracea) is the green for all seasons. The food detectives have deemed that spinach is a native of southwest Asia that made its way to Spain around 1100. By the 16th century it was established in Great Britain, but still a novelty in Italy. Spinach was eaten mainly for its medicinal effects as a laxative. It is very high in both iron and calcium content, but the absorption rate is extremely low due to oxalic acid-binding itself to an insoluble salt which cannot be absorbed by the body. So, Popeye was probably getting his iron to fight off Brutto from some other dietary source. The rich nutritional values of vitamin A, C, folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin are present in spinach, making it a star in the dark green leafy category.

There are 4 basic types of spinach: savoy (crinkly dark leaves with rather thick stems), flat-leaf (smooth with spade-shaped leaves), semi-savoy (a combination of the 2 (wavy rather than curly) and baby spinach (small flat leaves, tender and expensive). Cooking spinach is a snap. Be sure to clean first. Steam for 2 -3 minutes and watch 1 lb shrink to 1/2 cup. Allow ½ lb. raw spinach per serving and ¼ lb. raw spinach for salads or other raw dishes. Spinach water is a highly regarded commodity in a healthy kitchen. Never throw out the vitamin/mineral bonanza when you drain spinach. Use water for soups, stews and vegetable juices.

Cyber Kitchen Recipes:

Spinach Frittata (2 Servings)
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 10 oz. pack frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 eggs + 3 whites
1/3 cup low-fat milk
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup part-skim mozzarella

  1. Warm oil in a large skillet pan. Sauté garlic and onion for a couple of minutes until tender. Add spinach and stir in for another minute.
  2. In a bowl beat eggs, whites, and milk until frothy. Season. Pour over spinach mixture and cook gently until eggs begin to set. This will be about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and transfer to 350 oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  3. Serve with fresh salsa: mix together: 4 plum tomatoes, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 sliced scallions, 3 T. fresh cilantro, 1 T. fresh lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 360 cal, 27 grams protein, 28 carb grams, 5 grams fiber, 25 fat grams

Super Spinach Sauté (4 Servings)
1 t. olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 ½ lbs. baby spinach
1 ½ T. fresh lemon juice + grated zest from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. toasted pine nuts
1 T. currants

  1. Warm oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until garlic begins to
    brown slightly. Remove garlic to plate.
  2. Add spinach in batches, tossing gently with each batch until spinach is almost wilted.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Toss. Scatter garlic over top and serve.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 80 cal, 3 fat grams, 15 carb grams, 6 grams fiber, 3 grams protein

All Seasons Spinach Salad (3 Servings)
6 cups baby spinach
1 medium pear, cubed
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 T. toasted pecans, chopped
Sherry vinaigrette: 1 ½ t. minced shallot, 1 ½ T. Sherry vinegar, ½ t. Dijon mustard, 1 T. olive oil, 1 t. honey. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.

  1. Place spinach in a salad bowl. Add pears and toss with dressing.
  2. Sprinkle cranberries and pecans over top. Serve.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 140 cal, 22 carb grams, 4 grams fiber, 6 fat grams, 2 grams protein