Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Diabetic Friendly Sloppy Joe's

Hubby and I are big fans of Sloppy Joe Sandwiches.  I used to get the kind with brown sugar in it.  I don't even know if they sell it in the stores anymore, but it was tasty.  Nowadays, brown sugar is something I have to watch.  Too much and my glucose goes up.

My stomach can't hack peppers and onions much either.  Unless I want to be up all night with a stomach ache, I kinda can't eat those store bought cans of Sloppy Joe sauce anyway.  So, I started looking around for alternatives.  Through a combination of a few places online, I compiled a recipe that Hubby and I both enjoy.  Yes, this one gets the Hubby star of approval.  Woo hoo!

While this recipe isn't nearly as sweet as the old brown sugar style, it does have some very tasty spices.  Of course, I don't like a ton of spices, so you may want to up them for yourself to add flavor.

I leave out a few things others typically use. 
To keep the recipe low carb, there's no ketchup, tomato paste or brown sugar.  I use just a tiny bit of regular sugar to add some sweetness.  The sugar can be left out and it's still really tasty!  During weeks when my sugar is higher than I like, I'll leave out the sugar.

How it's served matters.
Most people eat Sloppy Joe's on a big 30-45g carb bun.  To keep it extra low carb, I serve mine open face on a slider bun, piled with meat.  Yummy!

Variations you may want to try.
The veggie approach - In some of the recipes I pulled from, they include bell peppers and celery.  To lower carb count and bring up the veggie factor, add these in when you add the onion.

Worcestershire - 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire adds a different twist on this recipe.  Hubby's not a fan, so when I'm cooking for him, I leave it out.  When it's just me, I sometimes throw it in.

Pizza snack - When I was in Elementary and High School they used to serve these "pizzas" that were basically Sloppy Joe's on a bun with cheese thrown on top and broiled.  We'll sometimes do this with leftovers.  It's a tasty snack.

Crock Pot Style - Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover; cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Servings: 4
Starchy Carbs: 3.85 grams/serving

My Recipe
1 pound Lean Ground Beef or Turkey
1⁄4 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1⁄4 cup Onion, diced (I use just enough to add flavor, not enough to upset my tummy)
8 ounces Tomato Sauce, can - 14 grams of carb
1⁄8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon Chili Powder
1⁄3 teaspoon Sugar - 0.35 grams of carb

Brown ground meat and thoroughly drain.
Add garlic, onions, celery, and green pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes
Add tomato sauce, sugar, chili powder and pepper. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pizza is one of my favorite foods.

One of the things that's been a challenge to give up is making a meal out of pizza.  I used to eat 4 regular slices of pizza (or 2-3 thick crust pieces), plus garlic/cheese bread and a salad for dinner.

I still eat pizza and I do it frequently, because it's one of my favorite foods.  However, most of the time, my numbers tell me one regular slice is enough.  Can't really make a full meal out of one slice of pizza and be full.  Plus, I need more carbs than just 15 grams or I'm asking for a low.  While I don't make a whole meal out of pizza, I have found ways to make those carbs stretch.  Here are some basic tricks I use:

  • I always order thin crust.  Sometimes thin crust just means no thick crust on the edge.  Sometimes think crust actually means a cracker thin crust.  If I can find a good thin crust, I can eat quite a bit of pizza.  Almost a whole dinner, but I still need salad and some starchy vegetables.  
  • I double up on toppings (not by ordering extra, though).  Hubby and I go to a local pizza buffet every now and then.  This makes it easy for me to double up on toppings.  I do this by taking two pieces of pizza from the buffet.  Then I take my knife, scrape the cheese plus toppings off of one piece and pile it on the other.  Double the toppings, but not double the crust.  It's tasty!
  • I've been known to order crustless pizza.  There's a chain, here in the midwest, that has a soy crumble "crustless" pizza.  It's a 10" pizza and the whole thing is only 15 grams of carb.  Regular pizza toppings don't taste all that good, so I usually order it with chicken, spinach, mushrooms cheese and spices.  Plus there are enough carbs left over that I can have a little garlic bread with it.  Add salad and it's a very filling pizza meal.
  • Pizza makes a great snack!  When I'm really hankering for some good old fashioned pepperoni pizza, I sometimes make it at home as a snack.  I get pre-made whole wheat dough, use a 15 carb gram portion, roll it extra thin, add toppings and bake it.  I've also been known to use Naan bread.  1 quarter of the store bought whole grain Naan bread is 15 grams of carbs.  Top, bake and you have pizza.  

Thanks to Pinterest, I discovered the most tasty, pizza craving killer snack ever; Zucchini Pizza Bites (My picture below). 
Oh, these are so tasty and yummy!!  I had some zucchini left over from a failed recipe and all the toppings, except the mini pepperoni's, in the house.  So, I substituted bacon pieces (which I almost always have around) and made some for a snack.  My compliments to The Comfort of Cooking blog for posting this.  

I'm not the biggest fan of zucchini, but I do like it in tomato sauce and I almost always have some sort of organic marinara on hand (I use organic because the carb count is usually a lot lower than the brand names).  I think I'll have to make these at Christmas time this year.  

Nutrition-wise, it's loaded with protein and vegetables.  How can you go wrong?!  Healthy AND tasty...um, and I don't usually like these sort of "substitute out the bread for something else" things.  The zucchini adds the crunch and the toppings are delicious.  Try it and let me know what you think.  

What are your tricks for curing a pizza craving? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The difference between thin and regular bread is more than just carbs.

Picture ©Kristen Beireis
When I was diagnosed with Diabetes, I thought I had to give up all carbs.  In fact, for the first two weeks, I went without carbs.  Thankfully, I was sick with a sniffly/coughy/yucky flu or I woulda gone through carb withdrawl (been there and it's not fun).  Want to quit carbs?  Get a 3 week long flu and quit then.  It's MUCH easier.

When I wrote down what I'd eaten for the Diabetes Educator during Diabetes Training Day, she took one look and said "You aren't eating enough carbs."  What?!  That's possible?!!!  Who knew!!  Come to find out we need carbs in order to create energy.  So, I got to put carbs back into my diet.  Not as many as I was eating before I got sick and went off cold turkey, but still more than I was eating.

So, in order to keep carbs low and get my 3 allotted grain servings per day, I bought very thin bread (pictured on the right).  Of course, whole wheat does actually effect me like most diabetics...my numbers are way better after whole wheat than if I eat white bread.  The thin bread was the only whole wheat bread I knew I liked.  Then we found a really tasty regular sized bread that Hubby and I would both eat (pictured on the left).  So, we started using that all the time.

Recently, I bought a fresh loaf of the thin.  There's a big difference between the two.  Ok, yes, I can have 2 slices of the thin for the same carb count as 1 regular piece of bread.   You can see in this picture the size in diameter and thickness is a lot smaller.  So, carb count is a difference, but that's not the fun and exciting difference!

What's fun and exciting about the thin bread is that I can stuff a lot more between two square slices of toasted thin bread than I can between two halves of a slice of regular bread.  I can get a whole bunch of protein, lettuce and tomato in that puppy.  So, I get a much more filling sandwich.  And I feel like I actually ate a sandwich, not a half-sandwich (brain tricked!).

That's not the only exciting part!  If I only have 15 grams of bread carb at lunch, then I can have grains later in the day!!  I can even have ANOTHER sandwich at dinner if I want.  I don't do that often, but what a treat when I do.  Two sandwiches in one day was a regular occurrence before my diagnosis.  So, anytime I can enjoy two sandwiches now is an extra special treat.  With thin bread, I can!

One of my favorite things to do is have a sandwich at lunch on thin bread, then have rice or oats at dinner and have crackers and cheese for a snack later in the evening.  It feels like I've been eating "bad for you" food all day, but it's still all within my carb count, all whole grain and it's also food I love to eat.  No deprivation for me!!  Just spreading it out over a day vs. eating it all in one meal like I used to.  I kinda like savoring my food that way now.

What about you?  How do you trick your brain into eating less carbs without feeling deprived?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What happens when healthy food is in the house.

If it's winter where you live, I'm sure you've noticed that it's been an unusually harsh one in most areas of the USA.  Pre-diabetes diagnosis, there was cheese, bread, chips, cereal, mac & cheese, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, frozen hamburgers and frozen dinners.  I'm not a fan of frozen dinners so I didn't even eat those most of the time.  Only if I absolutely had to. Usually, I relied on Hubby to cook anything if we were snowbound.  

I had heard the predictions this September.  Then in December, when we had two snowfalls before Christmas, I was convinced that they were right!  So, after the holidays I decided to stock up on some foods.  I've been keeping eggs, spinach, cheese, lettuce, tomato, some sort of fruit and whole wheat bread in the house at all times.  I've also had a stashed freezer with easy to warm up frozen meats and veggies. 

Since I've been cooking for the last two years I find it funny that we actually have spices and canned veggies in the house all the time too.  What happens when all these healthy foods are in the house?  I find myself throwing together meals.  Hubby and I were debating on whether we needed to go to the grocery store for lunch food one day.  Suddenly, I started rattling off food we had in the house to use up (eggs, bread, spinach, frozen chicken, apples, tuna and cucumber).  First of all, two years ago...without looking, I wouldn't have had a clue what food was in the house!  What's even scarier is that I actually suggested what we could do with those ingredients (fried egg sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, baked apples, cucumber slices with tuna etc...).  Did we need to go to the grocery store?  Nope!  We had several days of lunches right there in the house.  Ones easy enough, I could quickly throw them together.  Eeeks!!  Did I just say that?!

So, the key to eating healthy is to have a stockpile of healthy foods in the house.  Noted!  Will do from now on.  What about you?  Do you stockpile healthy food, especially when the weather is bad?