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?

 

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

 

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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Tackling breakfast 01/18/2012

Filed under: cooking,Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 9:06 am
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I am not a morning person. I prefer to stay up late and get up late. Luckily, I’m in a job that allows me to do this most days.

The drawback of keeping much the same schedule since my college days is that eating a healthy breakfast is a challenge. When I don’t get up and about until 10 a.m., it seems easier to wait an hour and just have an early lunch instead.

I also find myself rushing in the morning, so I don’t have time to cook breakfast. Most of the “grab and go” breakfast foods on the market are full of carbs and sugar, and I feel like I crave sugary stuff all day if I eat something really sweet in the morning.

I have a couple of breakfasts I enjoy, including Hungry Girl’s Egg Mug recipes (check ’em out, they’re terrific), and a double serving of trail mix (remember to watch those carbs). To stave off boredom, though, I thought I’d go on a hunt to see what else is out there. This is one of the recipes I found at Better Homes and Gardens.

A few notes: This serves two. I modify the recipe to cook it for one and use one large egg and 1/4 cup of egg substitute or egg white (I like Egg Beaters). By using only half the cheese and canadian bacon the recipe calls for, it ends up about the same totals for nutrition facts. I also add in some mushrooms, spinach or tomato to get at least a partial serving of veggies, which does change the calories and carb content a little.

Your turn: What do you usually eat for breakfast?

What you’ll need:

1 egg

2 egg whites

1 and 1/2 oz Canadian-style bacon, finely chopped

4 and 1/2 teaspoons of water

1 tablespoon fresh chives

pinch of salt

cooking spray

1 large pita round

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. In a small bowl, beat together egg, egg whites, Canadian bacon, water, chives and salt.

2. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Over medium heat, add egg mixture to skillet. Cook without stirring until eggs begin to set on the bottom and around the edge. Using a spatula or large spoon, lift and fold the partially cooked eggs so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking 2 minutes or until eggs are cooked through but glossy and moist. Remove from heat.

3. Cut pita bread in half crosswise. Fill pita halves with egg mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.

Servings: 2

Nutrition per serving

Calories: 233

Fat: 9 g

Carbs: 18

Dietary fiber: 1 g

Protein: 18 g

 

What’s cooking: Easy chicken cacciatore 01/15/2012

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 9:27 pm
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If I take a few minutes to think about my favorite meals of all time — the dishes I’d want as a last meal if I should ever find myself on death row and out of appeals, the entrees that make me think of love and comfort and deliciousness — one thing stands out as a pattern.

Tomato sauce.

Whether it’s a plate of chicken parmesan oozing with cheese or a fresh, spicy salsa topping a pile of tortilla chips, tomato sauce takes up a special plate in my heart and tummy. But tomato sauce is high in carbs (relatively speaking), especially when you add it to a heaping plate of pasta.

So I started flipping through recipes to find one that was heavy on the tomato sauce but light on the carbohydrates and came across one I cut out of a Diabetic Cooking magazine a year or so ago: Easy Chicken Cacciatore.

My mom made a version of this often as a family meal, and I’ve made it many times without a recipe. Cacciatore, or at least the dish as we know it in the U.S., has a couple of constants regardless of whether you’re going high-brow or bachelor: bell peppers, mushrooms, chunky tomato sauce and braised chicken.

This recipe, as the name states, is super-easy and doesn’t require you to use all the pots and pans in your kichen arsenal (or my kitchen arsenal, at least, which is admittedly lacking because I haven’t gotten married and thus have not benefitted from the wedding registry tradition).

Couple of notes: This recipe serves 6, which is a little much for a single girl like me. I either invite a friend or two over for dinner the first night and then pack the leftovers for my dinner the next three nights, or I cut down the recipe to serve four. I also skip the first step, but you might not want to. Finally, this recipe does not call for the dish to be served with noodles, rice or another carb. If you do serve it with a side dish to soak up the sauce, make sure you add on the additional calories, fat, carb, protein, etc.

What you’ll need:

1/4 c all-purpose flour

6 (4 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 6 (5-6 oz) bone-in breasts, skin removed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

1 large green bell pepper, cut into short strips

1 medium onion, cut in half lengthwise and sliced crosswise

1 package (6 oz) sliced button mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cans (about 14 oz each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

1 and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella

1. Place flour in a large resealable food storage bag. Add chicken, 2 pieces at a time and  shake to coat.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on both sides and remove from pan.

3. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to same skillet. Add veggies, cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add garlic, cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, seasoning and salt; bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 18 minutes if using boneless chicken, 23 minutes if using bone-in chicken. Check to make sure chicken is cooked through before taking off the stove.

4. Serve chicken with veggies and sauce. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheese.

Servings: 6 (1 chicken breast, 2/3 cup of sauce and 1 tablespoon of cheese per serving)

Nutrition per serving:

Calories: 233

Fat: 6 g

Carbs: 14 g

Fiber: 3 g

Protein: 31 g