Diabetes Diet #47: Super Foods

Diabetes Recipes:

Tuscan Style Cannellini Beans
Wild Salmon Drizzled With Mustard Sauce
Nuts and Bolts Snack

They’ve Been Around Forever, Now They Are Called Super Foods

Something landed on my desk recently lauding the importance of adding “Super Foods” to the diabetic diet. As I read on, I wasn’t surprised to see the list of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables that have been around forever and a day. I suppose that with the ballooning of the body American, caused by a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits, the catchy title “Super Foods” is press-worthy. In reality, they are the foods we should always feast on, as the collective “we” have been doing since the discovery of fire and the quantum leap of agriculture. Science and research have anointed them as anti-stress, life-expanding, and disease prevention foods.

Presenting the Super Foods

ALMONDS and WALNUTS are high on the list of lowering the risk of heart disease and the prevention of numerous types of cancer. The seer, Edgar Cayce, once said “2 almonds a day keeps cancer away”. Yes, the fat content is high, but it is monounsaturated, the good fat that contains many micronutrients, vitamin E and fiber. Walnuts also contain those terrific omega-3 fatty acids. Buy whole raw nuts and store in the fridge or freezer for freshness. You can easily toast them before use by stirring them on medium-high heat in a dry skillet or lying out on a cookie sheet in 350 ovens until the wonderful aroma releases and the color is to your liking. Use nut oils in salad dressings for a pleasant change of taste.

BLUEBERRIES and STRAWBERRIES, besides being oh-so-delicious, are low in calories, rich in iron, fiber, vitamin C and high in antioxidants. Try to buy local organic fruit if possible. I planted 2 varieties of strawberries last year and enjoyed the luscious fruit throughout spring and summer. I can’t wait for this year’s crop!

BEANS really are a superfood. They are rich in protein, fiber, slow metabolizing complex carbohydrates, and folic acid. They are adaptable, versatile and inexpensive. It’s easy (and better, I think) to soak dry beans rather than rinse the canned variety. Simply rinse beans, place in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for an hour or 2. Use bean water as a base for soups. Delicious! Cook beans in freshwater by bringing to boil then simmering for approximately 1 hour. The softer the bean, the more flavor. Experiment with different varieties, shapes, colors, and sizes of beans.

DARK GREENS are so delicious, satisfying and nutrient-rich they deserve a medal of honor. If you’re looking for calcium, folate, vitamin C, potassium, carotenoids, and fiber, go green. The list is long: kale, collards, turnip greens, beet greens, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, bok choy, to mention a few. Use them solo, sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic, or add to soups, stews, pasta and grain dishes, and salads. Make the dark green leafy family part of your family.

GARLIC lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, reduces risks of heart attack, and retards or counteracts the growth of harmful yeast and bacteria. A cook’s kitchen is not complete with a few garlic bulbs ready to be smashed, peeled and used in most cooking. Always buy fresh garlic. If you don’t like the pungent residual aroma on your hands, rub them with salt after you have chopped garlic. This powerful flavoring bulb has been around for centuries. It is used in Chinese cooking for flavor and health benefits. And, what would our favorite Italian dishes taste like without the essential addition of garlic!

GOLD comes in many forms. All are worth at least a million bucks in good health. All are packed with carotenoids, those powerful heart protectors. In addition, you’ll find, fiber, vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and potassium. Life with apricots, sweet potatoes, carrots, peaches, citrus fruits, and butternut squash, is good. Raw, cooked, eaten plain or combined with other foods, the golds always glitter.

WILD SALMON and other fatty fish caught in the wild contain those beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that lower cardiac risks and nourish and moisturize the skin. Farmed salmon has less flavor, less protein, more fat and less of the omega acids. When fish are raised in farm pens they are given antibiotics. Traces of these may be passed down to those who eat the fish.

OLIVE OIL, when cold-pressed (meaning hand picked and not processed with heat), is rich, fruity and sublime, the nectar of the gods for sure. Besides, this monounsaturated fat is beneficial in lowering cholesterol and fighting heart disease. It is a staple of the excellent Mediterranean diet. Fortunately, good olive oil is readily available in many supermarkets today. Use sparingly, 2 T. a day satisfies the body’s fat requirements in a healthy way.

DARK AND DELICIOUS ….. CHOCOLATE. Oh boy, remember the days when chocolate was the enemy in the diabetes diet? Lucky for us, that rule has been scratched. It seems as though dark chocolate contains certain flavanols and antioxidants that step up the nitric oxide in blood vessels to improve the flow of blood throughout the body and reduce blood pressure. Make way for a small amount (1 oz.) of dark or bittersweet chocolate to fit into your daily management of blood sugars.

GREEN TEA has been the rage with the holistic and healing crowd for quite a while. It has now spilled over to the general population. The unfermented leaves are high in cancer-fighting catechins and low in caffeine. If drunk on a regular basis, it is believed to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. There are so many green tea products on the market, be sure to read the labels and buy those that are pure, without added sugar or chemicals before you brew a cup.

Tuscan Style Cannellini Beans (4 servings)
Use the best quality balsamic vinegar for this recipe. It makes a difference in the outcome. Besides, the inferior products have a large amount of sugar or syrup added.

½ lb dried cannellini beans, soaked and rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 t. dried thyme or 2 T. fresh
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
salt, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

  1. Place beans in a saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer beans, partially covered, for about 1 hour, adding water if necessary, until soft and tender but still holding their shape.
  2. Drain well and toss in all remaining ingredients. Serve warm or at room temp.

Nutritional Value:  1 serving = 245 cal, 45 carb grams, 4 grams fat, 13 grams protein, 16 grams fiber

Wild Salmon Drizzled With Mustard Sauce (4 servings)
4 salmon filets, 6 oz. each
1 large lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Grate zest from the lemon. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Marinate fish in ½ of the juice mixed with seasonings while preparing the sauce.


1 t. olive oil
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
remaining lemon juice and zest
2 T. each: chopped fresh dill and parsley

  1. Whisk all ingredients together briskly. Prepare grill or grill pan by very lightly spraying with olive oil spray. Turn heat to high.
  2. Grill salmon just a few minutes per side. Don’t overcook it. Fish is delicate and will dry out quickly from too much heat.
  3. Drizzle evenly with sauce and serve hot.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 235 cal, 36 grams protein, 8 fat grams, 3 carb grams

Nuts and Bolts Snack
We are a nation of snackers. This is a high powered and very tasty snack to carry during exercise excursions or for a mid-morning or afternoon boost. It’s a good snack for airplanes too. I like this because I know what’s in it. If you read the labels on packaged trail mix type snacks, you’ll be surprised at all the hidden additives.

1 oz. each: whole almonds (about 34), walnut halves (about 14)
1/3 cup dried cranberries

  1. Mix together and store in a sealed bag.

Nutritional Value: 470 cal, 44 carb grams, 30 fat grams, 9 grams protein, 5 grams fiber