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Jun 25, 2010 11:00 AM

Delicious Recipes for Diabetic Chowhounds???

After years of cooking a range of foods from around the world and relishing in assorted cooking techniques and a plethora of cooking styles and ingredients, I may soon be moving to a new home in which I will share responsibilities for cooking-- for a diabetic. I was looking forward to a new cooking challenge, until I just read the diabetic food rules in a Health Department brochure.

Suddenly, I've realised that my cream and butter based sauces, marinades including honey and salts (soy sauce), and other "go to" picker-uppers for food appear to be "no-no's". Looks like a lot of meats are off of the menu for the most part. Chicken is cost-prohibitive where I live (six thighs cost twenty dollars). Fish could work a couple of nights a week, but it is costly too. I think wine in recipes would have to go, not sure. Can't even replace wine with grape juice- sugar...

I've perused "diabetic" recipe books and online sources only to find their suggestions for meals, frankly, a bit bland and uninspiring. Is it possible that I am just looking for 'diabetic-friendly-recipe-love' in all the wrong places?

Last night, I dreamt that I was delighting in the camaraderie of my fellow Chowhounders here and you led me to the light! Why had I not thought of my beloved Chowhound before?

I ask in all humility and earnestness... is there such a thing as truly delicious diabetic main courses, side dishes, or even "football game" snacks that a cook like me would enjoy preparing and serving for friends? If so, would you please share them? This possible move to the world of dry and bland is a bit overwhelming and I need someone to kick-start my creativity in the diabetic dish department!

Thank you in advance for any suggestions, particularly specific winner recipes!

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    1. Our household has had 2 Type 1 diabetics for more than 15 years. We don't cook very differently from any other household that adheres to a healthy low fat diet. We mostly use olive oil and canola oil in our cooking but we use butter in moderation too. Not sure where you live; on sale I can get boneless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb and there's lots you can do with that. Do you have a Trader Joes near you? They have good quality frozen fish at moderate prices -- I've been buying their salmon fillets and cod fillets frequently.

      As to reducing the carb/sugar content of meals, again moderation is the watchword. For some recipes -- like marinades or dressings -- I just omit the sugar entirely and it tastes fine. For others, if its only a small amount, I'll just use the sugar; 1 or 2 tbs of sugar distributed into a dish with multiple servings is not that significant. For other dishes I'll substitute Splenda or use a 1/2 & 1/2 sugar/splenda mixture. The extent to which you need to eliminate carbs in food does depend in part on whether the diabetic uses insulin (which all Type 1s and some Type 2s do), or whether they control their blood sugar exclusively through diet and exercise.

      1. Diabetic friendly meals include loads of fresh veggies, whole grains, and legumes. If you are indeed inspired by the cuisines of the world, you should have no problem here. If you are starting from fresh, there is a lot more to work with, and the sodium isn't such a great concern, as you totally control it. It's not that you can't have honey or salt, or whatever, it's a matter of how much you're having, and what it's combined with. You want to load up on fiber. Wine can be substituted with home made stock or acids like lemon as appropriate. Herbs, particularly fresh, can bring much more to the table than cream and butter-based sauces. There are loads of great Indian, Thai, and Mediterranean inspired dishes. The flavor is out there -- you just need to look to the right cuisines. Snacks diabetic DH loves are homemade hummus with whole grain pita, olives, and veggies; fresh guacamole with jicama, sliced apples with nut butter. Favorite entrees include curries, lentil soups, veggie chili, rice noodles with vegetables and peanut sauce, summer rolls, stir frys....There is a lot to choose from. Think about what you can use, rather than what you can't. It opens a whole new world of possibilities.

        1 Reply
        1. re: maxie

          I actually avoid a legume based dish because they end up being pretty high in carbs. One cup of chickpeas ends up having 45 grams of carbs (although with 12 grams of fiber). Think about making starches the supporting player and beefing up the other components of a dish. Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, I do turkey meatballs in a tomato sauce that's beef up with grated zuchinni and carrot and served on one slice of ciabatta and light sprinkling of parmesan. Thicker sauces really help cut down on the need for starches. So for Indian, add eggplant to your curry as something to beef up the curry and eat half the amount of rice as you normally would use (like 3/4 of a cup).

        2. I have been type 1 for 25 years and I don't cook any "diabetic" meals. I have to monitor my carbs (carbs=sugar) and make sure I take the right amount of insulin to "process" the food without letting my blood sugar get too high. Things like fat and protein affect how the carbs "process," In and of itself, people with diabetes do not need any different intake or salt or carbohydrates than anyone else. (however, diabetes can lead to heart disease, so some people with diabetes are also on heart friendly, low cholesterol plan. but not everyone). learning things about carbs--how fast they "process" has an effect on how many someone with diabetes can eat at one time, but it really depends on the person.

          In short, a lot is going to depend on the particular condition of the person you are cooking. In general though, "dry and bland" is absolutely not required to cook for someone with diabetes. I have never seen any limitations on types of meat, for instance. I often cook with wine. and drink wine (again, knowing how it affects blood sugar and planning accordingly). I don't think you need to throw any of your current recipes away!

          3 Replies
          1. re: cocktailhour

            The very worst place to look for diabetic meals is in a diabetic cookbook; they're all loaded with foods that require boatloads of meds to control bg and restrict the foods that don't budge blood glucose in type 2, fat and protein. Grains are not diabetic friendly in any way, they're high caloric, promote dylsipidemia and fat does not.

            I was an undiagnosed diabetic for many years, during which I developed severe peripheral neuropathies and kidney damage. Both reversed quickly on a high fat and protein, veggie loaded very low carb diet. I take no meds and my A1c is always under 6.

            If you want your limbs, kidneys and vision to last the rest of your life, control your blood glucose with diet and activity, not with meds unless of course, you're insulin dependent. But you want to keep insulin requirements modest, too, to avoid complications from it as well.

            Here's a great diabetes resource: it addresses diet among other things. Also, Gretchen Beckers "The First Year, Type 2 Diabetes is a good book to check out.

            There's also a small group of diabetics who post to on usenet. We're all pretty much folks who use our meters to keep a tight watch on which foods spike our bg and which ones keep us in non diabetic numbers even without medication, though some do use it. Some folks are uber low carb as I am, and some a bit looser with their carbs.

            1. re: cocktailhour

              Cocktail, you said much better what I was trying to say. The main area where I cook differently is for desserts, although we don't serve dessert typically unless we have guests or it's a special meal. And, I steer away from recipes that are loaded with sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc -- e.g, cole slaws, salads, sauces for meats.

              1. re: cocktailhour

                Agreed! As a type 1 I don't eat any differently than anyone else who eats a healthy, responsible diet. Of course I maybe pay a little bit more attention to carbs than the average joe, but other than that...

                I guess if the person the OP is referencing is a Type 2 diabetic, well then, they need to watch their fat & caloric intake more so than a type 1. But other than that, we don't need special accomodations.

              2. Here's the Mayo Clinic's listing of recipes for a diabetic diet. Lots of delicious ones in there. I know everyone's health situation is a little different, but this might be at least a starting point. Good luck!



                6 Replies
                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  The Dairy Queen, have started browsing recipes here, all seem doable... I didn't think potato skins would be "allowed" because of the starchiness... am anticipating learning more on cooking for diabetics. Thank you for the link!

                  1. re: ideabaker

                    That's fantastic! I hope that most of the recipes will fit your roomie's particular dietary needs, and will be delicious! It might even be fun if you reported your epxeriences back in this (or another) thread as a resource for posterity.


                    1. re: ideabaker

                      Ideabaker, the potato SKIN contains fiber and nutrients, not starch, I'm pretty sure (the starch is in the flesh)...potatoes eaten by themselves may be high glycemic, but eaten with another protein lowers the glycemic's my source:


                      1. re: Val

                        That hasn't been my experience. Even a bite or two of white potato shoots my blood glucose up in a mixed meal with fat and protein, same as any other starch.

                        1. re: mcf

                          mcf, do you know if this is different for each diabetic person or mostly this is just how it is for diabetics, period? Thank you!

                          1. re: Val

                            It's true for all diabetics; starches and sugars raise blood glucose. What's highly individual is which ones affect each of us the most, though wheat and white potatoes are pretty much universally bad.

                            The single most important thing any diabetic can do for him/herself is to follow this advice to find one's own post meal peaks (usually between 45-60 minutes) and to reduce or eliminate foods/meals that raise them above 140: