No matter what type of diabetes you have, whether it's juvenile (type I), adult on-set (type II), or gestational (diabetes associated with pregnancy), a change in diet is a necessary part of keeping your condition under control. In the bad old days, when focusing on healthier eating was something that was just plain odd, diabetics could count on amazingly dull and tasteless choices at the dinner table and were often limited to where they could go out to eat.
Today's restaurants, even the big fast food chains, have gotten smarter, providing selections that taste good and can be worked into the meal plan recommended by your doctor. The recent media attention on obesity in America can only help push the trend to healthier foods. Suddenly, diabetics aren't the only ones concerned about calories and carbohydrates!
Talented cooks have made it their mission to adapt treasured recipes and create new ones that can help diabetics bring pleasure back to their meals. The Ultimate Diabetes Cookbook by Carol Gelles includes not only recipes for diabetics, but it also tailors those recipes so that people with other problems, such as heart disease and kidney problems, can enjoy delicious choices.
Make It Fast, Make It Good
Other authors have taken into consideration the frantic pace of the modern world. Diabetes Meals on the Run and Brand-Name Diabetic Meals in Minutes understand that diabetes is only one part of a person's life. Sometimes fast is necessary, but there's no need to sacrifice health or nutrition when things get a little crazy.
Here in the South, our favorite foods can pack quite a punch of salt, sugar, fat, and carbs. From fried chicken to buttery biscuits to sour cream pound cake, the taste is to die for, but so are the ingredients. Fabiola Demps Gaines and Roniece Weaver wrote The New Soul Food Cookbook for People with Diabetes to make traditional favorites healthy enough for people with diabetes.
Take a Trip to the Farmer's Market
Fresh vegetables and fruits are naturally free of processed sugars. Borrow a copy of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook for ideas on how to try fresh foods in flavorful, creative ways, from Mesclun Salad with Bosc pears, Pecans, and Blue Cheese to Honey Hot Cocoa Au Lait.
Below is a recipe that's perfect for a lazy summer evening and is mindful of diabetics' needs while making the most of fruit at the height of its season:
Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried lemon peel or grated fresh lemon peel
1 tbs lemon juice
4 cups peeled*, sliced peaches (5 or 6 medium)**
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
4 tbs light margarine or light butter, softened
2 tbs sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.
In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon peel and juice. Add peaches; toss to mix. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flours and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
In medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites at medium speed until blended; scrape bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, add dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla, beginning and ending with dry ingredients until blended; do not overmix.
Remove peaches from oven and drop spoonfuls of batter over peach mixture; spread gently. Bake 25 to 30 minutes more or until top is golden brown. Serve warm.
*To peel peaches, plunge peaches into boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and run under cold water; drain. Peel should slide off.
**Can use two 16-ounce cans juice-packed peaches, sliced
Prep time: 15 min
Bake time: 40 min
Serving size: 1/8 portion
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fruit and 1/2 fat (2 carbohydrate choices)
Analysis per serving: 152 calories, 28 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 3 g fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 201 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
From The Diabetic Goodie Book by Kathy Kochan
Other Ways to Great Food Ideas
There's no need to give up creative menu planning when dealing with diabetes. Click here to see the many books that Central Rappahannock Regional Library has on diabetic cooking. Once you have talked to your doctor and understand your daily requirements, Cooking Light magazine can provide some additional inspirations.
You can also get help from the experts. The Diabetes Self-Management Program at Mary Washington Hospital (1201 Sam Perry Blvd., Fredericksburg, VA 22401, 540-741-1460) can help local residents get their diabetes under control with recommendations for diet and exercise. Out-of-towners may find that their community hospitals have similar programs.
Diabetic Recipes on the Web
American Diabetes Association: Nutrition
Try MyFoodAdvisor to learn about different types of food and assist in meal planning. Ask a Nutrionist your questions, and get weight loss advice--all the while learning about what you -can- eat while living with diabetes.
Children with Diabetes: Readers' Favorite Recipes
"Here are recipes that are sure to please, and they're mostly sugar free! Each is on its own page to make it easy for you to print a copy to make tonight. Recipes marked GF are gluten free for celiac." Each recipe includes nutritional information.
Diabetic Recipe Archive from Diabetic Gourmet Magazine
Browse by categories (salads, breads, sandwiches and wraps, etc.) to plan the perfect meal. Top-rated recipes include Texas Red Chili and Unbelievable Chocolate Kahlua Cake. Includes nutritional information.
Phlextech's Diabetes Information Site
If you plan your menus by the numbers, this site can help. Nutritional exchange information for standard portions of foods. Includes meal exchanges for some popular fast food chains, although these may be somewhat dated.
RecipeSource: Diabetic Recipes
Hundreds of great diabetic recipes, from Baked Cajun Chicken to Chocolate Walnut-Filled Cake. Enjoy! Includes nutritional information.