A Farewell to Carbs

A 30-something navigating the world of Type 2 Diabetes while remaining fun, fashionable and fabulous.

What’s cooking: Skinnytaste shout out 03/04/2012

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 2:46 pm
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My schedule, both personal and professional, has never fit into what most people would consider normal. I wake up later than most people, and I often am at work for a period that spans two meal times.

Stuffed pepper soup, thanks to Skinnytaste.com

This is why I’ve had such trouble binge eating at night — I often don’t eat enough during the day and then overdo it when I finally get home and don’t have anything more to check off on my to-do list.

Since my goal for March is to stop eating after 9 p.m., it means rethinking how I approach mealtimes. As a diabetic, I need to eat small meals regularly to keep my blood sugar levels from sitting in the front seat of Coney Island’s Cyclone.

So this past week, I thought I’d make it a point to plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks — and aim to eat them between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

I’ve also been feeling a little uninspired by my recipe collection. So I turned to a site that a friend raves about: Skinnytaste.

Put simply, Skinnytaste’s site is amazing. Ah-may-zing. I decided that I wanted to do a soup packed with veggies for lunch and I really, really wanted pasta for dinner. So after surfing around a little, I found Stuffed Pepper Soup and a Cajun Chicken Pasta. Both were relatively easy to make and absolutely delicious.

A few notes: The chicken pasta dishe is a smidge hgh in carbs for my eating plan, so I cut back the amount of pasta by about 2 uncooked ounces. I also premeasured the pasta and then poured the chicken-veggie-sauce mixture over top.

My version of Skinnytaste's cajun chicken pasta

The soup was out of this world after I added a little cumin and some paprika. Skinnytaste has you add the rice separately, which is nice because you know how much you’re getting. Instead of portioning that out into separate containers, I kept the soup in a large plastic container and the rice separately and then measured out a serving for each lunch.

Skinnytaste provides both the nutrition content and the Points Plus value on every recipe. Both recipes were Points bargains and the pasta was so good, I actually entered all the ingredients into a recipe calculator and made sure the nutrition information was accurate. It was, of course.

I am really looking forward to trying more of her recipes out.

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What’s cooking: Red curry 02/26/2012

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 2:42 pm
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We’re lucky to have three really good thai restaurants in town. But no matter which we end up at, I never even look at the menu. Hey — when I find something I really like, I stick with it. I’m very loyal that way.

Eggplant, red bell pepper and basil will soon swim in red curry sauce

Red curry is the perfect mix of creamy and spicy. I love the crisp tender vegetables swimming in the sauce, the thin slivers of chicken hiding toward the bottom of the bowl, and the flavorful, earthy leaves of thai basil.

But I don’t know how many calories are in that heaping plate of curry from the thai place down the street, and I always eat way too much rice to soak up that delicious sauce. So I took to my kitchen, armed with a bottle of Trader Joe’s red curry sauce and a dream — to eat delicious thai food all week without shelling out $15 a night.

Hint: The bottled sauce I used is relatively low in calories and carbs, but if I did it all over again, I think I’d pour the quarter-cup serving of sauce warmed in the microwave over each portion of chicken, veggies and rice. That would give me a little more control on exactly how much sauce I was getting.

You’ll need:

Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 ounces, cooked, per serving)

Small eggplant, chopped (I peel mine because I don’t like the skin)

2 small red bell peppers, chopped into large chunks

8 basil leaves

1 bag frozen green beans

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

1 jar red curry sauce

brown rice (I use Minute Rice), prepared according to directions without added fat or salt

Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talking about

Slice chicken thinly and add to large wok with a generous hit of cooking spray. Stir until browned on all sides. Remove from pan.

Add 1 T oil to wok and add eggplant and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add green beans. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken and basil leaves to wok. Pour 1 cup of sauce over top, stir to coat.

Serve over 1/2 cup of hot rice.

Serves 4.

Nutrition information depends on the sauce used. I calculated my meal as about 10 Weight Watchers points plus per serving. To calculate exact nutrition information, plug the ingredients into http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

 

What’s cooking: Rainbow in a bowl 02/12/2012


I know, I know. It’s a weird title. Let me explain.

As you know, I’m trying to cut back on the amount of carbs I eat. Back before I was diagnosed as a diabetic, I ate a lot of pasta. Whole wheat pasta! I thought I was being virtuous. Turns out, not so much.

I’ve written often about my unsettling love for tomato sauce. For me, nothing beats a big bowl of fusilli pasta and homemade meat sauce. I could eat that for the rest of my life and not get tired of it ever. But pasta is high-carb, so after I got over my denial of being a diabetic, I began looking for ways to cut carbs but still indulge in a bowl of hearty meat sauce.

Then I remembered this wacky thing my mom used to do when I was a teen. My mom is a terrific cook, but not very adventurous in the kitchen. But one day when we all sat down together for dinner, she plopped a half a squash down in front of me and then covered it in tomato sauce. I wasn’t even sure what to think at first. It was delicious!

It only looks scary, I promise!

Spaghetti squash, as it is called, is a pretty amazing thing. It has the same general shape as a watermelon, but a little more oblong. Inside, it’s sort of looks like butternut squash — it has some seeds in the center you have to scrape out after cutting the thing in half lengthwise. Then you put the squash cut-side down in a glass pan with a little water in the bottom into an oven heated to about 350 degrees. After about an hour, take it out, flip it cut-side up and run a fork through the flesh. You’ll get strands that look somewhat like angel-hair pasta.

Pour some sauce over it and you have a pretty hearty dinner without the carbohydrate bomb in a heaping bowl of pasta. Per cup of spaghetti squash (prepared with no added salt or fat), there’s only 42 calories, 10 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. I usually split each half of the spaghetti squash into two servings, so there are 4 servings per squash.

I find spaghetti squash to be a little on the sweet side. Not butternut squash sweet, but definitely partway there. To counterbalance the sweetness, I make my sauce pretty spicy by adding ground cumin and chili powder.

Now — where’s the rainbow part of all of this, you ask? I added sautéed spinach, shredded carrot and some zucchini to my sauce to bulk up the veggies. So that gives you red, orange and green. Add the squash and you have most of the colors of the rainbow. Studies show you should be eating a variety of colors of veggies and fruits every day. This dish definitely adheres to that rule.

I also added very lean ground beef to my sauce to add some protein. This would also be good with sausage or meatballs, though.

I don’t have an exact count on calories, fat, carbs, fiber or protein. For Weight Watchers, I added up the points from the plain tomato sauce and for 2 oz of lean ground beef (which I mixed into each cup of sauce to make sure it was completely accurate). All the veggies are “free,” and I added about 2 cups of uncooked spinach, which cooks way down when sautéed in cooking spray, and about a half-cup each of shredded carrot and zucchini rounds. I counted the spaghetti sauce’s points because I used a jarred sauce as a base and the nutrition facts were on it. If you make tomato sauce from scratch and only use tomatoes and spices, it would be “free” too on the WW plan. All together, I calculated my meal as being 7 WW points.

I found a nifty little recipe calculator online that you can use to calculate recipes by entering the amount of ingredients you use and then dividing by the number of servings. Share your favorite tomato sauce recipe in the comments and let me know if you use the calculator to get nutrition info per serving.

So there you have it, a veggie-centric spaghetti and meat sauce that takes most of the carbs out of the equation. Enjoy!

Your turn: What exotic veggie or fruit have you tried and loved? How do you prepare it?

 

What’s cooking: Chicken stew 02/06/2012


I hate snow and I hate being cold. But I take pleasure in winter for two reasons — cute outerwear and delicious stews.

This winter, I’m rocking the cutest purple plaid wool pea coat. I stuck a big feather brooch on the lapel and, ta da! Super-cute.

And tonight, I made a batch of quite possibly my favorite winter meal ever: Coq a vin. As much as I love eating it, I hate stumbling through the pronunciation (French words unsettle me!) — so when I talk about it, I call it chicken stew.image

A good coq a vin has a few very important ingredients: A flavorful red wine, lots of rosemary and thyme and …. bacon. Just a little. Added at the end.

My favorite winter cookbook!

This coq a vin recipe, taken from Weight Watchers Slow Good cookbook, makes use of the crock pot, a kitchen gadget I tend to associate with winter. As an aside, I almost always plan to make this on a Sunday and I almost always realize too late that I don’t have a suitable wine. In Pennsylvania, liquor stores aren’t open on Sunday. So I always end up making this on a Monday morning and letting it cook on a low heat in the crock pot all day.

One note: This is really good over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. But the recipe’s nutrition facts only take into account the chicken and sauce. Also, it is a little fussy for a crock pot recipe. But I love it so much, I can forgive the few steps at the beginning.

What you’ll need:

2 slices turkey bacon

1 3-and-one-half pound chicken, cut into eight pieces and skinned

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1 large carrot, chopped

3/4 cup of red wine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 10-ounce package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (I use shitake, but button or baby portobella mushrooms would work, too)

2 cups of frozen pearl onions

1 cup of reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Cook turkey bacon in a large non-stick skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and refrigerate. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add half of chicken pieces to skillet, turn heat to medium-high and cook until browned, turning once, about 10 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to 5- or 6-ounce quart slow cooker. Repeat with remaining chicken.

3. Add chopped onion to skillet, lowering heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in carrot, wine, tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Pour over chicken in slow cooker. Add the mushrooms, frozen onion and 3/4 cup of broth. Cover and cook until chicken is fork tender, about 4-5 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low. Cover and refrigerate remaining 1/4 cup of broth.

4. At the end of cooking time and using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a deep serving dish. Cover and keep warm. Combine flour and 1/4 cup of broth in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in about 1/4 cup of slow-cooker liquid. Stir the mixture into the slow cooker. Crumble in bacon. Cover and cook on high until the liquid thickens, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Pour sauce over chicken.

Makes 8 servings (one piece of chicken and scant 1/2 cup of sauce)

Nutrition per serving:

194 calories

6 grams fat

10 grams carbohydrates

2 grams fiber

25 grams protein

 

Give me some sugar 02/04/2012

Filed under: snacking smart,Uncategorized — Diabetic Diva @ 8:51 am
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One of my pet peeves since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is when someone says to me, “Ummm. Aren’t you diabetic? Should you be eating that [insert sugary treat here]?”

Hurts so good!

The myth that diabetics must cut out all forms of sugar for the rest of their sad little lives is a persistent one. And while I admit that I often go overboard on sugary treats, it’s frustrating that people think I am a “bad diabetic” when I indulge in a mini candy-bar.

Going right along with that pet peeve is another — people who think that a carb is simply sugar and high fructose corn syrup. A carb is a carb is a carb. And overdoing it on potatoes can be just as unhealthy as getting intimate with a bag of Jelly Bellys.

So when I came across this article on sugar and type 2 diabetes, I had to share. Feel free to pass it along to those misguided souls who wag their finger when they see a diabetic eating a doughnut.

 

February goals 02/01/2012

Filed under: Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 7:07 am
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Instead of coming up with some vague New Years resolution this year that I’d stick to for all of three weeks, I decided instead to set two goals per month in an effort to develop healthy habits. My goals for the month of January were to exercise for 210 minutes per week and to cut out fast food.

You don't want to disappoint Journey, do you?

I can’t say I stuck to either goal perfectly. Not that I’m expecting perfection. In fact, “good enough” is good enough for me. But I didn’t get in 210 minutes of exercise for two of the four past weeks. This is unacceptable, since it is a completely reachable goal.

The fast food ban was a little easier to adhere to. I grabbed a burger and fries only a handful of times in the last month. But when I did, I refrained to ordering the giant-size calorie bomb with a side of bacon and opted instead for a more modest order of a small burger, which I ate with only the bottom half of the bun, and small fries.

Even so, I’d be forced to declare the month a total wash if I was measuring it on formal goals alone. But I also made some other strides, specifically in joining Weight Watchers after admitting to myself that “trying to avoid most carb-laden junk food” as a diet plan wasn’t really working. And despite the struggles I had in sticking to the WW plan last week, I’m not ready to give up on WW altogether.

My New Years resolution plan all along was to build on, instead of replace, each month’s goals. So I’ll continue to strive to getting in 210 minutes of exercise each week and to avoid fast food restaurants. I’m adding two goals for February: Eating meals mindfully and getting some exercise outside of the gym at least once a week.

One of my biggest bad habits is eating meals and snacks in front of the television, while curled up with a book, on the computer or while driving. I think some of this is psychological: I don’t feel I deserve to enjoy my food, or if I’m not concentrating on eating “bad food,” it doesn’t count.  It’s also situational: I’m often pretty busy and it saves time to eat lunch at my desk while answering e-mails or in my car while driving to a meeting.

But it also makes food less satisfying and causes me to eat more than I need to to feel satisfied. By really focusing on the taste and texture of what I’m eating, I’ll likely feel more full. It will also force me to think twice before shoving junk food in my mouth.

Getting out and trying new forms exercise — whether it’s enjoying a walk outside, trying a Zumba class or finding an indoor tennis court — will help me continue to enjoy working out instead of seeing it as a chore. Going along with this goal is a plan to start asking friends to meet up for a hike or an aerobics class instead of for lunch or dinner. I socialize a lot with friends over food, which is bad for my diet and my wallet.

Despite the setbacks and failures I’ve had over the past month, I have to say that I feel hopeful about making the changes I know I need to make. I have a long journey ahead of me, but I feel like I can continue walking down the path. Thanks to everyone who has visited this blog over the past month. I’ve had more than 500 views in the past 30 days, and I’m so happy to have a group of readers who are supportive and understanding.

Let’s make it a great February!

Your turn: What’s your goal for February? What are your strategies to accomplish it?

 

What’s cooking: Tomato basil soup with chicken 01/29/2012


I have a cookbook addiction. I like paging through them, salivating over the photos and gathering ideas. To feed my habit on the cheap, I often check cookbooks out of the library and copy out recipes I want to try.

This is one of these recipes. I borrowed a cookbook called 15 Minute Diabetic Meals and jotted a few recipes down. I never got around to actually cooking any of them, though. But since it’s finally feeling like winter in my little corner of Pennsylvania, I was hankering for a soup.

Homemade soup is kind of tough for the single person. Most recipies make a LOT of soup. And even though you can freeze it, I find I’m pretty sick of soup after a few days.

I was also looking for a soup that could help me use up some bobs and bits around the house — a little leftover boneless, skinless chicken breast I had broiled to add to salads, a half-package of spinach that was nearing the end of its life span, the last few leaves of basil from my increasingly pathetic basil plant.

This soup is everything I was hoping it would be and more. It does use a lot of canned ingredients, which is not too great on the sodium side. On the plus side, it’s a quick recipe (TWO STEPS!! 10 MINUTES!!) that results in a really flavorful, hearty soup packed with veggies.

I modified the original recipe slightly to use no-salt-added tomatoes. To pump up the flavor, I added my own spices — opting to make it spicy with some chili powder and cumin. You can play around with the spices, though.

What you’ll need:

1 14.5-0unce can of diced tomatoes (with italian seasonings or low-salt if you’re watching your sodium)

1/2 of a 15-ounce can of navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 14-oz can of reduced sodium, nonfat chicken broth

1 c cooked diced chicken

2 ounces baby spinach, washed and destemmed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

dash each of cumin and chili powder (optional)

1. Combine tomatoes, beans and broth in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken, spinach and basil. Add spices to taste, if using. Cook 2 minutes or until greens are well-wilted. Remove from heat and stir in oil.

Makes 4 servings (1 heaping cup of soup per serving)

Nutrition per serving:

Calories: 195

Total fat: 5.0 g

Cholesterol: 35 mg Sodium: 725 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 18 g

Dietary Fiber: 4 g

Sugars: 6 g

Protein: 18 g

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