Dinner With Diabetics

Image by Polina Tankilevitch

3 Healthy & Delicious Recipes 

A diagnosis of diabetes can come as a shock. It’s tough to learn that you have a chronic condition that will require treatment for the rest of your life. And you may be worried about following all your doctor’s guidelines. 

Having a doctor tell you to change your diet and lose weight can be overwhelming. And many diabetics have to cope with those changes while also learning to test their blood sugar and self administer insulin. 

The good news is that you are not alone. Many people have learned to live with diabetes. And they live rich and full lives with few symptoms. You may know several people with diabetes, and you didn’t even know they had a chronic illness. 

The other good news is that changes to your diet will not be as hard as you think. There are a few foods that diabetics should avoid, but there are many, many foods that you can still enjoy.

And still more foods that you can discover. A diagnosis of diabetes is a great time to experiment with healthy foods on which you never before wanted to take a chance. 

Can I still entertain?

Of course you can still have people over for dinner! It’s just a matter of swapping out a few ingredients. Meeting with friends is one of life’s great joys, and diabetes will not slow you down if you don’t let it.

When you do decide to throw a dinner party, be sure to follow the KVA Plan. The KVA Plan will ensure your safety and that of your guests. 

In fact, you should adopt KVA Plan for all your social engagements, like meetings with doctors, parties, business meetings, etc. 

Here are a few easy recipes, with limited ingredients, to get you started:

Tomato and yellow pepper salad

This salad is rich in low-glycemic ingredients that provide Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. It keeps well in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large fresh tomatoes
  • 1 fresh yellow pepper
  • ½ raw onion
  • 10 leaves of raw basil
  • 2 basil sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Directions:

Chop up the tomatoes and pepper into small cubes and mince the onion and basil, setting aside the sprigs as toppings. 

Combine the vegetables in a salad bowl. This can be the bowl in which you will serve the salad. 

Combine the salt, lemon juice, and olive oil in a small pitcher or bowl, and stir them together briskly for at least ten seconds to ensure that they don’t immediately separate. 

Add the lemon, salt, and oil dressing to your salad and toss it with the vegetables well, making sure that the dressing spreads around all the vegetables. Plate your salad. Then top off each serving with one or two basil sprigs.

Tips: 

This is a very malleable recipe. You can substitute a green pepper, steamed broccoli, or asparagus for the yellow pepper. If you find the lemon juice dressing too bitter, you can add half a teaspoon of stevia or other sugar substitute. 

A better way to offset the bitterness, however, is to add a few blueberries or apple slices.

This recipe makes two to four servings, and it keeps very well for two days in the refrigerator. 

Super easy white fish with vegetables

Fish is high in protein and low in calories and sugar. It’s a superfood for diabetics.

Ingredients:

  • Two to four fillets of fish. This can be tilapia, flounder, sea bass, or cod. Be sure to buy the boneless fillets unless you enjoy deboning. 
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice 
  • 1 peeled and chopped orange
  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup of chopped summer squash
  • Optional: ⅓ cup of minced onion
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika

Directions:

Defrost the fish if it is frozen.

Get a pot of water boiling and steam all the vegetables together for five to ten minutes, depending on how crisp you like your cooked veggies. The easiest way to cook with steam is with a steamer insert that you put right inside the pot above the water line. Alternatively, you can put two inches of water in the pot, bring them to a boil, add the vegetables, and put a lid on the pot. 

When the vegetables are cooked, turn off the heat and set them aside with a lid on them to keep them warm.

Steam your fish the same way or poach the fillets in a non-stick saute pan in an inch of water. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, use a teaspoon of cooking oil to grease the pan. The fish will take approximately seven or eight minutes to cook on each side, depending on how many fillets you are cooking at the same time. 

Plate the fish and drizzle the lemon juice and salt on top. Drain the vegetables and add the orange slices to them. Put this mixture on top of the fish. Add the salt and paprika. 

Tips:

If you happen to find fillets of fish that are frozen and individually wrapped in plastic, you can make this even easier by simply dropping the fillets, still in their plastic wrap, in boiling water for fifteen minutes. 

If this recipe is too bland for you, you can add some other seasonings, like curry, marjoram, turmeric, or saffron. For a real shot of extra flavor, add a dash or two of hot sauce, but be sure to check the label to make sure your hot sauce doesn’t pack any sugar. Tabasco brand is always sugarless. 

You can always add more lemon juice for taste. If you find lemon juice too bitter, you may substitute rice vinegar which is much milder, but also provides great seasoning. Just be sure to read the label on the rice vinegar in the store, because many varieties have sugar added. Look for “plain” or “natural” rice vinegar. These ones are usually pure. 

Easy roast chicken with onions and turnips

Here’s a recipe for comfort food. This might be amazingly similar to what your mother made for dinner. And the turnips in this recipe are much lower in starch and sugar than potatoes. 

Ingredients:

  • One medium raw chicken, already defrosted
  • Four medium white or purple turnips
  • Four raw yellow, red, or white onions
  • Two tablespoons of salt
  • Three tablespoons of rosemary (optional)
  • Four tablespoons of peanut or other vegetable oil

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Peel the onions and cut them into quarters or eighths.

Scrub or peel the turnips, and cut them into quarters or eighths. 

Rub the chicken down with oil and salt so that it has a thin film of both all over. 

Also rub down the vegetables the same way so that they are lightly coated with salt and oil.

Place the chicken in the middle of a large baking dish. Arrange the onions and turnips around it on all sides. Cover the chicken and vegetables with a lid or with a long piece of aluminum foil.

Place the chicken and vegetables in the oven and cook for 60 to 70 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. To make sure your chicken is cooked through, use a knife and fork to pull back some of the meat and look at the bone. If the meat around the bone is red or too bright a pink, leave it in the oven for another few minutes. 

If you want a browner, crispier skin on your food, take the lid or foil off for the last ten minutes of cook time. 

Tips: Organic chickens are more expensive, but if you can afford organic food, you should choose that. Studies have yet to determine to what extent the growth hormones in factory chickens might interact with diabetes. But. But. How do you really feel about eating growth hormones?

You can swap out the onions in this recipe for garlic bulbs, and you can swap out the turnips for broccoli, green peppers, or plantains. 

Finally, I hope you enjoy these recipes. If you already like eating salads, chicken, and white fish, you will notice that these meals have familiar ingredients. And a diagnosis of diabetes also doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor. 

Bon appetit!  

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