Diabetes Diet #28: Organic Living

Diabetes Recipes:

Brocoli Pancakes
Organic Finger Lickin’ Chicken
Spring Rhubarb Cake

As Spring waxed each year around mid-March, we made several trips in the old Nash “Rumbler” station wagon over to Galen Carr’s rabbit farm to pick up piles of organic manure. A strong tea of the manure mixed with well water served as a Spring tonic for the vegetable garden. We learned from locals that it was the most potent source of nitrogen around the Eastern Townships.

If the ground was workable we’d turn the soil, then let it rest until planting time in May. We planted marigolds, scattered garlic cloves in between the vegetables and positioned saucers of beer at the ends of each row, all-natural pesticides. This was my first lesson in organic farming and gardening. It was the early ’70s and “organic living” was the lifestyle. On our bucolic Canadian farm, the gardening resulted in the sweetest tasting carrots, greenest pole beans and most peppery radishes I had ever tasted.

Little did I realize how brilliant my diabetes management was then since it was still the “dark ages” of diabetes care. Eating pure foods, exercising through vigorous farm work, drinking untainted well water and breathing fresh air, painted the perfect picture of a healthy lifestyle. I got started walking at that time also. Due to the lingering stink in the Rumbler, I chose to walk the 6 miles to town and back every day to Madame Vien’s General Store and Post Office. Those walks were a well-taken pathway in prime diabetes care.

Race the clock ahead to 2004, and the word “organic” is very much in our awareness as we seek solutions to toxic chemicals in our earth, air, and food from additives, toxic sprays, growth hormones, and pollutants. For a comprehensive list of probable food toxins, as well as interesting information on sugar in the diet, refer to Healthy Life Kitchen by Marilu Henner. One definition of organic is: “derived from living organisms”. Obviously, the first choice for organic produce is to grow foods yourself, starting with the soil.

Grow Your Own

If you’ve got a little patch of land, or if your community has a town garden for residents to grow their own, start a compost pile in the corner with leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scrapings, and fruit peels. This natural matter decomposes over time into rich earth to use for planting an organic garden. When you plant, use seeds indigenous to your area. They will flourish in their natural habitat. The natural defenses of fruits and vegetables not native to a site can compromise and weaken development, and the plants will often struggle and need boosting.

To Market To Market

You don’t have time to grow your own? The good news is that organic produce has become much more available in markets. Not only farm stands and health food stores, but also big supermarkets now carry sections of organic produce and meats, due to an ever-increasing awareness and demand. They have a way to go yet. Prices are still quite high and sometimes a bunch of organic broccoli at $4.00 looks pale and wilted next to the big bushy green one for .99 cents.

Slowly but surely though, things are changing for the better and prices are beginning to inch down. Many meat departments sell grass-fed, natural beef and organic, free-range poultry. These are excellent choices. It means the animals live their natural lives in a pasture, are slaughtered humanely and are not fed remains, such as spinal cord and brains of diseased animals, nor injected with carcinogenic growth hormones.

Look for the Certified Organic label. These foods have been produced according to the federal government’s new national organic standards. They have been certified by the USDA inspection agency’s strict requirements. To learn more about organic food labels, visit the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture web site, www.usda.gov.

An organization called OMRI, Organic Materials Review Institute is certifying strict regulations to classify gardening materials as organic. Look for their stamp of approval on gardening and household products. In addition, several magazines with much useful information on organic living are on the market. Organic Gardening is a good one. You can visit the web site and receive a free trial issue, www.organcigardening.com. Organic Style (www.organicstyle.com), and Veggie Life (www.veggielife.com) are excellent also.

Living In Harmony

There is yet another, more elusive side to organic living. It is a certain vitality and respect for the preparation and serving of meals. According to the ancient Chinese theory of the Five Elements, living in harmony with each season promotes good health. It points the way to strengthen the flow of life to organs that control health and well being. As Winter completes its cycle and Spring gracefully dances towards center stage, it is time to put away the heavy stew pot, get outdoors for long walks that help get rid of winter fat and fill us with plenty of oxygen. Organic living can be a great friend to diabetes. Consider making gradual changes in this direction. A good beginning is to incorporate organic foods into your cooking by starting with some recipes from Cyber Kitchen.

“The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth”

Chief Seattle of the Suqwamish

Cyber Kitchen Recipes

The following recipes are a way to start integrating organic foods into your diet. Here is an adaptation from The Healthy Kitchen by Dr. Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley for broccoli pancakes. Try to use organic vegetables if possible.

Broccoli Pancakes
1 large head fresh broccoli (organic, if possible)
1 / 4 cup chopped onion1 shallot, chopped1 garlic clove, sliced1 t. chili paste or hot chili peppers
1 / 4 cup olive oil
2 / 3 cup whole wheat flour (organic)
1 / 2 t. dried dill
2 egg whites
1 / 4 cup low-fat milk
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut broccoli florets into even pieces to measure about 3 heaping cups. Reserve remaining broccoli for another dish.
  2. Cook broccoli in boiling water for a minute or 2 to soften. Strain.
  3. Chop broccoli, onions, shallot, garlic to an even constituency. Stir in oil, flour, and dill. Add liquid ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and stir the mixture well.
  4. Lightly spray a large skillet. Heat to hot and drop batter into pancakes using 2 T. per pancake. Cook 1 minute per side. Keep warm while you repeat with the remaining batter.
  5. Serve 2 per person as a side dish. Top with low-fat yogurt mixed with Tabasco, lemon zest and fresh dill and chives.

Nutritional Value: 2 pancakes with 2 t. topping = 100 cal, 6 fat grams, 2 grams protein, 12 carb grams, 1.5 grams fiber

Organic Finger-Lickin’ Chicken
I have shopping bags and folders of recipes I have found, those people have sent me and ones I have collected from magazines and newspapers over the years. This is one I tried recently. I like it so much that I couldn’t wait to pass it on to you. It is very easy to make and really delectable.

1 organic young chicken, about 3 lbs., cut into 8 – 10 pieces.
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and left unpeeled
2 lemons, scrubbed with soap and water, each cut into 8 chunks
large handful of fresh thyme and fresh parsley
a good dose of ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2 T. olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 300. Place chicken pieces in roasting pan and add all ingredients. Toss gently.
  2. Cover with foil and roast for 2 hours.
  3. Remove foil and stir. Bring the temperature up to 420 and roast for another 35 -45 minutes.
  4. Lift chicken pieces out of roasting pan and onto a serving platter. Garnish with the lemon pieces and garlic. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving of 4 oz. without skin = 240 cal, 28 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 0 carbs

Spring Rhubarb Cake
Rhubarb grows wild in the very back of my garden. No matter how harsh winter is, rhubarb sprouts its tiny tender green fronds every March. What follows is very dramatic. Strong fleshy crimson red stalks and huge green floppy leaves burst forth throughout Spring supplying me with organic rhubarb.

3 / 4 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups unbleached flour
1 t. baking powder and 1/ 2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 t. cinnamon1 stick sweet butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 cups diced rhubarb
TOPPING: ¼ dark brown sugar, 2 t. cinnamon, ½ cup chopped walnuts

  1. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar, add egg and vanilla and beat to light and fluffy.
  3. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to combine will. Stir in rhubarb.
  4. Lightly spray a 9 x 12 baking pan and pour in batter. Sprinkle topping on evenly and bake in 350 ovens for about 35 minutes.

Nutritional Value: for 1 slice (whole cake is 18 slices) 150 cal, 24 carbs, 4 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 2 fiber grams