A Farewell to Carbs

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

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

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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?

 

Overcoming all or nothing 01/20/2012


I have a confession to make. I am a perfectionist.

Now, I know I don’t look like it. I need to lose 75 pounds and I could probably spend a little more time in the mirror before I leave for work in the mornings. Or, you know, at least make sure there aren’t any visible stains on my shirt.

I guess calling myself a perfectionist isn’t quite accurate. Really, I use the excuse of perfectionism to throw in the towel when I come up against any tiny setback or obstacle on my way to losing weight and getting healthy.

I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about. Here’s a couple of choice quotes from the voice in my head:

o You already ate that bag of chocolate this morning. You blew it. So it doesn’t matter what you do for the rest of the day, you big fat failure.

o You can’t make it to the gym today. The day is ruined anyway, so why bother even trying to eat right?

And on and on. Here’s a little nugget of truth, though: It takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound. I’ll pause for a moment to let that … uh … digest.

Come to mama, you big doughy ball of calories

That’s a lot of calories. I’m trying to eat between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day (I’m fat, so I get to eat more and still lose weight. Woo!). So to gain a pound (a pound!), you have to eat more than an extra day’s worth of food.

Let’s be honest. I can probably plow through 3,500 calories in a day. Take me to the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland and I could probably do it in a couple of hours. (Mmmhhh … funnel cake. Mmmhhh …. saltwater taffy. Mmmmhhhh …. margaritas….. Oh, you’re still here. Uhhh, hello.)

Knowing that 3,500 calories makes one pound puts that 300-calorie screwup between breakfast and lunch in perspective. I’m not saying I can screw up every day. But one screwup, especially one that I can defuse quickly, shouldn’t ruin my whole week. And I’m going to focus on that the next time I’m feeling defeated about that doughnut that jumped into my mouth at work.

Your turn: What’s one of your biggest struggles as you try to lose weight? What are some strategies you use to combat them?

 

Finding some friends 01/19/2012


I want to thank all of you readers for stopping by and listening to my musings about health, eating, working out and living life as a young diabetic. I appreciate especially the comments and likes. It’s nice to know I’m not just typing from a black hole in space.

One blog I’ve discovered through the comments is Diabetic in Denial, whose author is so similar to me and my experiences it’s scary. I hope she’ll continue to post about her successes and setbacks. It helps to read about someone who is in the same boat.

I’ve also really been enjoying Fat Chick Fed Up, especially a recent post about how much success she and her husband have enjoyed on the scales. She’s been an inspiration to me, and I wish her all the best.

Finally, Mindful Eating Mama has a lot of very thoughful posts about eating. Her post on keeping a food journal and not writing down the “bad food” she eats — like it won’t count if it’s not put to paper — is something I do ALL THE TIME.

Your turn: Are there any other health/fitness blogs out there that I shouldn’t miss?

 

Deen’s diabetic 01/17/2012

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 4:52 pm
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Well, the rumors were right. Paula Deen announced today that she was diagnosed as a diabetic three years ago. The article I linked to has some quotes at the bottom from her saying that she’s always encouraged moderation and doesn’t eat the way she cooks all the time.

I am deeply conflicted about this story. On one hand, people have a responsibility to eat healthily and to find out nutrition information before consuming something. On the other hand, there is a constant barrage of food ads, cooking shows, candy displays and temptations that are hard to resist when you’re battling the bulge.

The biggest problem I have with this story is that Paula Deen was diagnosed so long ago and continued to almost exclusively cook high-fat, high-sugar foods on television. Sure, we know what causes type II diabetes. And she wasn’t forcing anyone to cook or eat that way.

I’d be interested to know what experts say in the coming days, as well as what you think about this item.

 

 

Human Guinea Pig*: Greek yogurt dip 01/16/2012


*An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Suggest one by e-mailing Diabetic Diva at diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

I was at the grocery store the other day, stocking up on fresh produce to nibble on during the week when I saw a new dip. No, not a dorky guy feeling up the out-of-season peaches! A new creamy concoction near the bags of mixed lettuce.

Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know I like dunking things into sauces. Apples in peanut butter, carrots and celery into spicy ranch, tortilla chips into warm, cheesy spinach artichoke dip,  chicken wings and (imagine me making Homer Simpson-like noises) ….

Ahem! OK, getting back to the topic at hand. The new dip. Yes. I’m a big fan of Marzetti’s southwestern ranch dip for my veggies, but it’s pretty high in calories.

So when I spied their new line of greek yogurt veggie dips called Otria, I was intrigued. With 60 calories and 2 grams of carbs for the spinach artichoke variety, it isn’t such a bad choice.

And it tastes pretty good, too. I tried it with the classic carrot sticks and also with some whole wheat pita triangles. There’s a definite tang that you get with greek yogurt, and it’s a little watery. I was a little weirded out by egg yolk and fish oil listed in the ingredients, too.

Rating: 3 stars out of a possible 4.

Cost: About $3 for an 8.75-ounce package, which has about 8 servings.

For more information: http://www.marzetti.com/products/marzetti/product.php?bc=44&cid=65.

 

Battling self-doubt 01/13/2012


I’ve had a bad week.

I have set foot in a gym exactly once in the last six days, meaning I’ve completely blown my goal of fitting in 210 minutes of exercise for the week. I haven’t been keeping track of what I’m eating (meaning I am shoveling unspeakable amounts junk food into my mouth at all hours of the day and night). I completely gave up any facade of trying Thursday and grabbed takeout for lunch and dinner instead of sticking with my eating plan.

All that healthy food I bought over the weekend is just sitting in the fridge, slowly going bad. My sneakers and my iPod have been sitting in my bedroom, gathering dust.

I hate myself for not honoring my commitments. It’s the second full week of the month and I’m already spiraling back into all my old habits. I’m a complete failure.

I’ve been in this place before, too many times to count.  It’s a dark place to be — full of long hallways of self-loathing and entire rooms of guilt. I can’t do anything right. I don’t deserve to be thin and healthy. I’m going to die young (and alone!). I can’t stick with anything.

The worst part, I think, is that I feel crappy this week because I’m not going to the gym and making good food choices. I feel tired, sluggish and heavy.

Last week, though, I felt great. I was energetic, happy, ready to take on whatever life threw at me. After a workout, I felt sexy and fit.

Why do junk food and inertia have such power over me? How do I find the motivation to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle when it’s so much easier to wave the white flag from the couch while stuffing fistfuls of gummy bears into my mouth?

So far, the ability to stick to a diet and exercise plan has largely escaped me. What will it take for me to make these changes?

I don’t have the answers to those questions yet. Maybe I won’t ever. But I want to keep fighting, because the alternative will mean being unable to find anything other than a Hefty bag (OK, several Hefty bags with duct tape trim) to wear when the firemen are forced to bust me out the house because I’m too fat to fit through the front door.

So today I’m going to track what I eat. And I’m going to strap on my sneakers and clip on my iPod for a long workout at the gym. Maybe I’ll find my misplaced motivation there.

Your turn: What motivates you to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle?