Diabetes Diet #39: Perennial Holiday Favorites

Diabetes Recipes:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Acorn Squash With Fennel Puree
Cranberry Crunch Cookies

Food can have so many meanings. Nourishment, comfort, fun, survival, indulgence, art, romance, politics and science …. to conjure a few possibilities. Around this holiday time of year, I like to think of food as a celebration. It’s the time, as the bible says, “to eat, drink and be merry”.

Wait a minute. What about diabetes? How does it fit in with all the festivities and exuberance? Quite nicely, thank you, as long as you are willing to use your noodle and make a few worthwhile accommodations by exercising care when it comes to supersize portions, heavy sauces, overly sweet desserts and the urge to hang around all day and indulge in a box of truffles. A mere twinkle of clear thinking before scooping that extra ladle of gravy on the turkey or roast and nodding yes to second helpings will place you in the lottery of reaping the prize of good blood sugar readings. What better gift can any of us hope for? (Well … maybe a new glucose meter that reads 105 every test, just like in the magazine and TV ads).

Sure the pressure is always on to keep BG numbers good, fair, and even. We are constantly “testing” ourselves, striving to maintain good numbers. It’s part of what diabetes care is all about. Choice and possibilities come into play when we pick methods and lifestyles to fit a comfort zone that can accomplish reasonable goals. Healthy food habits and a little daily exercise go a long way towards achieving a positive and rewarding life.

The December holiday season is an opportunity to get up, stretch, move around, go for a bike ride or walk it off after you have dined not wisely, but too well. For me, it’s a time for cooking and baking my perennial list of holiday favorite foods. Cooking for the holidays is a happy time in the kitchen. I’m loaded up on supplies and ready to begin cooking and baking special dishes for enjoyment, gifts and the pure celebration of having lived 2005 as a healthy diabetic.

Can you smell the aroma of winter fruits and vegetable baking, nuts toasting and spices mulling over in Cyber Kitchen? Time to hop on the cyber sleigh and head over to the stove.

Cyber Kitchen Holiday Classics

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
This wins the taste test prize as the best butternut squash soup. I serve as our first course for Thanksgiving dinner every year and it gets raves and requests for seconds (A cook’s dream come true.) You can adjust the liquid to make it thick or thin, as you like it.

3 T. peanut oil
5 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut up into chunks
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 cooking apple, peeled and chopped
1 T. curry powder, ½ t. each: mace and ground cardamom
1 cup apple cider
4 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
½ cup whole milk
salt and white pepper to taste
snipped chives and fresh thyme for garnish

  1. Saute squash, onion, and apple in oil for 5 minutes to soften
  2. Add spices and continue cooking for 5 minutes
  3. Add cider and bring to boil. Add broth. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes
  4. Puree mixture, slowly adding milk. Taste for seasoning and make any adjustments
  5. Reheat gently to keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish each bowl with fresh herbs

Nutritional Value: 1 ½ cups = 200 cal, 10 grams protein, 3.5 fat grams, 30 carb grams, 7 grams fiber

Acorn Squash With Fennel Puree
This is the essence of a winter vegetable dish to compliment any holiday dinner table. Serve with a roast, poultry or as a vegetarian dinner with roasted barley. It has been a staple in my holiday cooking collection for years.

2 small-medium acorn squashes, halved and cleaned of fiber and seeds
1 large fennel bulb
1 t. fennel seed
2 T. butter
½ cup fat-free half and half
white pepper to taste
Optional: 1 T. Pernod or anise liqueur, a few sprigs minced parsley

  1. Set squash halves, skin side up, on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking oil spray. Bake in 350° oven for about 30-40 minutes, turning flesh side up halfway through the baking process. Bake until tender
  2. Make fennel puree by sweating fennel and fennel seed in melted butter in a covered skillet on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes until vegetable is soft and golden.
  3. Puree, adding half and a half and (optional) Pernod. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. Fill each squash half with 4 T. of the puree and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve with a little minced parsley on top.

Nutritional Value: 1 Squash Half With Puree = 175 cal, 5 grams protein, 6 fat grams, 30 carb grams, 8 grams fiber

Cranberry Crunch Cookies
These cookies are loaded with good stuff and warning: they can be addictive. This recipe makes about 70 cookies. They store well in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

½ cup canola oil
½ cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large fresh eggs
½ cup low-fat milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda, a pinch of salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
2 cups regular oatmeal (not instant)
¼ cup toasted wheat germ
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted sliced almonds

  1. With an electric beater, mix oil, peanut butter, sugar, eggs, and milk until smooth and well blended. This should take about 3 minutes
  2. Add remaining ingredients one at a time or mix them together in a separate bowl and add all at once.
  3. Line baking sheets with parchment or foil and drop small walnut-sized cookies on the baking sheets. Irregular shapes are fine for a homey, rustic look. Bake 20 -25 minutes or until cookies begin to turn slightly golden brown.

Nutritional Value: 2 cookies = 95 cal, 2.5 grams protein, 4.2 fat grams, 12 carb grams

Optional Addition: stir in 1 / 2 cup chocolate chips. Changes in nutritional information: 105 cal, same protein, 5.2 fat grams, 13 carb grams