Diabetes Diet #15: Good, Practical Weeknight Cooking for the Non-Cook

Diabetes Recipes:

Monday: Linguini With Clam Sauce
Tuesday: Goat Cheese Omelet
Wednesday: Meatloaf, Garlic Potatoes
Thursday: Big Kahuna Tuna Salad
Friday: ChickenWith Balsamic Glaze

A Few Good Recipes Can Change Your Life

Some people simply don’t like to cook. As a chef, food writer, home cook, and passionate food enthusiast, this is a startling revelation for me to digest. On a recent odyssey to the supermarket, as I happily danced my way through the fresh produce aisle, I couldn’t help but notice what seemed like inordinate amounts of canned goods and frozen packages bulging from shoppers’ baskets.

Anxious to get home and start cooking with my sweet and savory purchases, I headed toward what appeared to be the shortest checkout line. Of course, it turned out to be the slowest cashier and the longest wait. To amuse myself during those overdone minutes, I peaked around and snooped into neighboring shopping carts. What could I learn about people from their choice of groceries?

Quite a bit, it turns out. 1 quart of milk, a jar of chunky peanut butter, a box of minute rice, 2 cans of chunk tuna, a jar of mayonnaise, a package of frozen hamburger patties, a loaf of white bread, a bag of waffle chips, 2 frozen pizzas, 3 cans of chicken noodle soup, and a six-pack of Coke, told me this guy lives alone and has no interest in cooking, except to feed the machine. His information about nutritionally sound food is sparse and his awareness level for treating himself to a simple home-cooked meal is nonexistent.

Poor loser, I stretched my neck to notice that the skinny woman in front of him dumped a basket of “diet” foods onto the counter. Diet Jell-O, Equal, a bag of peeled baby carrots, a 2-liter bottle of diet 7-Up. and 3 frozen weight watchers dinners. My read on this undernourished size 4 waist, is that she is wrongfully sacrificing the enjoyment of good healthy vibrant food in her diet, in order to squeeze into those tight jeans. It almost looked from her choices that she doesn’t want to enjoy food but has to munch on something to ward off hunger panes and starvation.

To enjoy a great meal might be over the edge of this social X-ray. My urge was to yank both of them off the line, make them empty their devoid-of-sensible-food baskets and come shopping with me. I would teach them what to buy and how to cook and enjoy, without any sacrifice on their part. But, I guess it wasn’t my place to do that.

However, for those of you readers who don’t like to cook, don’t make time to cook, or simply can’t be bothered, it is another story. Stand up to be counted because the diabetes cyber kitchen detective is about to take you on an adventure of food planning and food shopping that results in easy, tasty, nutritionally fortified meals

First of all, ease into good habits:

  • Talk to your CDE, dietitian or nutritionist to determine amounts of carbs, protein, and fats that appropriately match your insulin/medication, exercise schedule, and lifestyle.
  • Find a store where you feel comfortable shopping. It can be near
    your job or better yet, around the corner from home.
  • Give a little thought to what foods you really enjoy not junk
    food or fast food but foods you know are good for you, such as
    veggies, fruits, grains, poultry, and fish.
  • Talk to people you know who cook (and whose cooking you like).
    you’ll be amazed at how interesting food conversations can be.
  • When you have a little free time and feel in the mood, practice
    some of the recipes you’ll learn in the cyber kitchen today.

After all, a few good recipes can change your life. Take a look at recipes below, pick 1 or 2 you like, jot down ingredients and you’re ready for a shopping spree. If you are a total dunce in the world of supermarkets, go directly to customer service.

Some of the larger stores offer tours that teach healthy choice skills. Others offer printed guidelines with healthy suggestions and instructions on label reading and give a diagram of what’s down each aisle. When you are shopping for particular recipes, remember you can always make substitutions to please your personal appetite, and it’s safer to buy too much than not enough. For instance, if you prefer mozzarella to goat cheese, go for it. If you like fresh broccoli rather than frozen, check out the salad bar, where you can buy a small amount by the pound, already blanched.

The more familiar you become with your store, the better choices you’ll be able to make. Oh, last rule, never go food shopping hungry or with a low blood glucose. You’ll buy things you may regret.

Enjoy a fresh green salad with all of these weeknight suppers. Choose a convenient bag of fresh cleaned salad greens, such as Spring Mix, from the produce shelf, along with a favorite bottled low-fat dressing. Remember to check the label for nutritional info before tossing a small amount into the salad.

A good rule of thumb is to start with 1 T., you’ll be surprised how little dressing you need to cover a big salad. You could also check out the convenient salad bar, as many markets have. A few nice additions to the salad would be exciting.

Diabetes Recipes
Monday Night Supper: Linguini With Clam Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. olive oil
1 6 oz. can chopped clams
1 / 4 cup white wine
generous pinch of each: dried oregano, basil, salt, pepper
2 oz. dry linguine
handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves

  1. Sauté garlic in oil over low heat. Stir in clams with juice, wine, and seasonings.
  2. While the sauce is simmering on very low, cook linguine.
  3. Drain and toss with sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Enjoy wit a big crispy green salad of your choice.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 ½Cups, Calories: 245, Carbs: 38 grams, Fat:  3 grams, Protein: 14 grams

Tuesday Night Supper: Goat Cheese Omelet With Spinach, Tomatoes and Whole Grain Toast
1 t. butter
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 T. spinach water
1 / 2 cup chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed to release liquid
1 / 4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 chopped plum tomato
salt and pepper to taste

  1. With great gusto, beat eggs, water, and seasonings in small bowl. Use a whisk, you are trying to achieve a fluffy consistency.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in 8 or 9-inch skillet until it begins to brown. Carefully tilt pan to cover bottom and sides.
  3. Add egg mixture and lift with a fork to cook the bottom. When eggs are set, but shiny, spoon remaining ingredients onto one side of the omelet. Fold another side on top, cook for a minute or two, then slide onto a plate. Add toast and salad to complete the victory.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 Omelet, Calories: 300, Carbs: 5 grams, Fat: 20 grams, Protein: 15 grams

Wednesday Night Supper: Individual Meatloaf Great Garlic Potatoes
Individual Meatloaf
1 / 4 lb. lean beef
3 T. dry oatmeal
2 T. milk
1 / 4 onion, diced
dash of Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, and pepper
1 T tomato sauce

  1. Mix all ingredients together, except tomato sauce. Form into loaf and place in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Spread tomato sauce over top Cook on medium-high for 4 minutes. Let rest for a minute or 2 before eating

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 Meat Loaf, Calories: 250, Carbs:  15 grams, Fat: 11 grams, Protein: 19 grams

Great Garlic Potatoes
1 small russet potato, (about 4 oz)
1 t. olive oil
1 t. crushed dried rosemary
1 / 4 t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the potato in slices, wedges, strips or whatever shape suits you.
  2. Toss with remaining ingredients Squirt small pan with cooking spray.
  3. Bake in a toaster oven set at 450 for 10 – 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until crispy.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 Potato, Calories: 185, Carbs:  30 grams, Fat: 67 grams, Protein: 3 grams

Thursday Night Supper: Big Kahuna Tuna Steak
For the Tuna Steak:
1, 4 oz tuna steak
1 / 4 t. crushed peppercorns,
1 t. fresh lemon juice and grated zest

  1. Rub tuna with lemon juice and press in the crushed pepper and lemon zest.
  2. Squirt skillet with cooking spray, and let heat on medium-high fire before adding tuna. For medium doneness, cook 4 minutes per side. Use your personal preference in timing.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 Tuna Steak, Calories: 125, Carbs: 2 grams, Fat: 2 grams, Protein: 24 grams

Friday Night Supper: Chicken With Balsamic Glaze, Couscous and Veggies
Balsamic-Glazed Chicken
1, 4 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 t. olive oil
1 / 4 cup balsamic vinegar
lemon slices
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add chicken. Cook on medium-high heat to brown, about 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Add vinegar and toss with chicken until vinegar becomes syrupy and glazes the meat. Add seasonings. Slice on diagonal to serve with couscous. Garnish with lemon slices.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 1 Breast, Calories: 150, Carbs:  0 grams, Fat: 5 grams, Protein: 20 grams

Couscous And Vegetables
3 / 4 cup couscous, cooked by pouring 2 cups boiling water over couscous, cover and let stand 5 minutes.
1 nice ripe tomato, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
1 small Kirby (or English) cucumber, unpeeled and diced
1 / 4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Fluff couscous with a fork, Add all ingredients and toss well.
  2. Dress with 2 T lemon juice, grated zest, 1 T olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 cup, Calories: 115, Carbs:  20 grams, Fat: 2 grams, Protein: 4 grams