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Dinner suggestions for a difficult houseguest

Yes, it's my MIL. She's coming for a few days.

She is pre-diabetic and trying to be careful about what she eats. She's also very Southern, so not so great at being direct about what she needs/doesn't need. I know enough about nutrition to not make her Monte Cristos or banana splits, but do you have any suggestions for a not-terribly adventureous, blood-sugar watching person who doesn't care much for meat? We ate vegetarian food for a long time, but I can't imagine her tucking into anything with kale or lentils.

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  1. Do you know what she does like? If not meat, does she like chicken, fish, tofu?
    If she does it some meats, then some kind of green salad, additional veggie, lean meat simply prepared (grilled?) and potatoes or sweet potatoes or a whole grain side (brown rice, wild rice, whole what pasta, etc.) would be perfect.

    1 Reply
    1. re: milklady

      Black-eyed peas? Greens and pot likker? Cornbread? Gumbo? Creamed corn? Tomaotes and limas? Succotash?

    2. A good old cobb salad? That doesn't have much meat in it. I made one for my in-laws and they flipped for it - like they had never had a salad before! My MIL asked me where did I think that up and I told her it has been around probably as long as you have!

      Bean soup? It's too hot here for me to make that but if you are in a cooler part of the country that might do it. With a salad in the side. Red Beans & Rice?

      1. Of the top of my head, collards and a corn pudding/souffle/bread should serve your purposes. Also, black eyed peas might work.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ali

          Unfortunately, cornmeal isn't a good choice for a prediabetic. So, spoonbread or cornbread, while delicious, is high on the glycemic index. Maybe okay if you eat it with beans? Don't know.

          1. re: amyzan

            I hadn't thought of it since Southern cornbread isn't sweet, but it makes sense that corn itself would be bad for prediabetics. That whole starch thing isn't so helpful. Oops.

            OP: perhaps a fruit salad with mint dressing for an ending instead of corn ... whatever with the meal?

        2. Gazpacho and pimento cheese sandwiches.

          1. If it isn't too late, I suggest these meals items for your pre-diabetic house guest: grilled anything including lots of veggies (zucchini, yellow/red peppers, carrots, eggplant, mushrooms. Vegetables are wonderful when grilled. Include grilled salmon, tuna steak or swordfish. And try grilled fresh fruit with yogurt (or facsimile). I'm guessing that all of those items would be special and suitable. I'm thinking that high starch foods are not recommended for someone who is pre-diabetic.

            1. I made a Tyler Florence recipe for Asian sweet potato salad, which without the dates and perhaps a little less mayo in the dressing, I imagine would be a good side dish for a diabetic. Sweet potatoes are fairly low on the glycemic index, and with the added fat of the dressing, plus cukes and lettuce or arugula it's served with, it'd be appropriate and probably appealing to a southerner. I didn't include the crispy wonton strips, but rather crisped some breadcrumbs in olive oil in the oven, since that seemed a healthier option. The recipe looks a little odd, but it's quite good alongside grilled chicken or a lean steak. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/as...

              I would include a salad at many meals, since the fiber goes a long way toward lowering glycemic load. There's the added benefit that people generally feel they're eating healthfully if there's a salad. You can make it appealing with any number of fruits, cheeses, nuts and other interesting add ins. For instance, strawberries on mesclun with a balsamic vinaigrette is nice this time of year, when the berries are so sweet.

              Stay away from potatoes and white rice, and pick fresh fruits low in sugars, like cherries, cantaloupe, strawberries, rather than say, watermelon or mango, which is going to be hard on her blood sugar. Lay in some whole grain breakfast cereal or eggs, if she prefers them for breakfast, and sugar substitute if that's what she has in morning coffee.

              You might consider asking her in a phone call before she arrives about preferences. Sometimes people are more willing to share when they're not face to face. I was raised in Kentucky, so I understand about the communication phenomena you mentioned. It's pretty common with Southern women to be raised not to impose on anyone, but if you explain that it will help you out so you can be better prepared, she might be more communicative. Then, it seems like she's doing you a favor. Good luck!

              1. baked chicken
                fresh green beans
                sliced tomatoes w/ fresh mozzarella (caprese salad)

                unsweetened iced tea
                fresh fruit of choice ~~ summer abundant

                1 Reply
                1. re: laliz

                  would a southerner drink *not* sweet tea? skip anything corn or white-flour based.

                  poached chilled shrimp.

                  shrimp or crab salad in an avocado boat

                  white gazpacho

                  stuffed mushrooms, but stuff only with chopped mushrooms. you can add some almonds for crunch, parsley for color and then gratin with parmesan cheese

                  meat ravioli and marinara

                  vegetable lasagne --use zucchini sliced thinly instead of pasta noodles

                  roasted chicken parts served room temp. i make this alot for big groups and marinate the chicken in yogurt and lemon for a few hours. killer good.

                  cobb salad

                  crustless quiche

                  chef's salad

                  deviled eggs

                  taboulleh, but make it mostly herbs and tomatoes, with just a small amount of bulgur -- use lots of fresh mint and lemon.

                  barley salads

                  whole wheat pitas for flat-bread pizzas

                  chilled bean salads

                  do you have a grill? veggies and certain fruits, like grapefruits and avocados, are great off the grill.

                2. Collards, stewed okra and tomatoes, butter beans, black eyed peas, mustard rubbed roasted chicken, sweet potato souffle or baked fries, fresh fruit salads, tomato sandwiches, asparagus or green beans broiled or grilled with balsamic and asiago

                  1. A wilted spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette? A salad, without being aggressively "vegetable" to some? Served with a roasted chicken and whole wheat crostini with olive oil instead of butter?

                    1. What about a salade nicoise? Yes, it has potatoes, but otherwise it's virtually carbohydrate free. If it is as warm where you are as here right now (Chicago), you're not interested in turning on your oven; it's a great summer, low carb dinner (and a favorite of my Type 1 diabetic son).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: masha

                        How about, "May we take you out for dinner? You choose the restaurant."

                        Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                      2. Pretty much chicken, fish and shellfish? The vegetables are wonderful right now.
                        And as someone else mentioned just find out what she doesn't like, then go from there.

                        I saw a recipe for a polenta/cornmeal gateau that looked fantastic. Layered with sauteed fresh spinach, eggplant, peppers, and cheese, baked in dish, then after it cools you flip it over. Served with a fresh tomato sauce. It looked so good I'm making it soon.

                        1. For a side, what about cauliflower "mashed potatoes"? I first learned about it from the South Beach cook book. I don't have the exact recipe, but you cook cauliflower until soft, put it in a food processor, add some type of creamy liquid (fat-free half and half was the original, but my kids like it with low-fat sour cream too), a bit of margarine/butter (I use the smart balance margarine, no transfats), and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. It tastes quite a bit like mashed potatoes but will be much lower on the glycemic index. It's also still fairly simple but feels like mashed potatoes....

                          1. nice fresh simple american vegetable based dishes - seasonal and familiar foods, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions. fresh beans, asparagus, squash etc. grilled or simply prepared, stuff like grilled chicken, generally a fave with people trying to eat healthily, peaches and raspberries are a great seasonal combo. Pre-diabetics (thats many of us) arent invalids and like to make their own choices so serve some side starches in case she wants them.

                            After she actually gets there and eats a meal with you you might have a better feel for what to serve her.

                            1. You guys have been really helpful. I decided on planked salmon and grilled veggies for one night, and perhaps the cobb salad for another. (And on the third night, she'll take us out!)
                              I cooked for her sister one week, and she was actually in renal failure, and there was this crazy list of things she could eat -- I was so conscientious, and on the third night, they got Burger King take out. So, you can only do so much!