Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shopping for Diabetes does not have to cost a fortune.

Hubby and I haven't actually changed our budget for groceries since I was diagnosed with Diabetes.  However, we did set aside some money to allow me to stock up on spices and pantry items in the beginning so I would have what I needed to cook at home more.  Now, we just replace as needed.

I have some weeks where I'm very under budget because I cooked enough for leftovers and other weeks where I go over because I need to stock up a little.  We also still go out to eat most days and sometimes we adjust on the caliber of restaurant to save money for groceries.  All in all it balances out to the same yearly budget we've always had.

I buy lots of fresh vegetables.
The biggest change we've had is that I buy more vegetables than I used to.  I can eat 3 snacks on one cucumber and it only costs me a dollar and change.  In the fall I buy those little lunchtime apples (just small enough to be one carb serving) and get generic cheese cubes to munch on for snacks as well.  All of this is very inexpensive, delicious and healthy.

I sometimes go back to canned and frozen foods.  Broccoli, Brussels sprouts (no sauce), grilled chicken and turkey burgers are frozen staples in the house.  When I have a lite extra cash, I'll buy a big bag of frozen, cooked, peeled & deveined shrimp.  We always have canned green beans, tomato sauce, corn, black beans and soup in the pantry...all the low sodium versions ($0.25 more than the usual kind at most, but usually the same price).  All of these things can be easily turned into lunch, dinner or snack at any time.  I replace as I run out, so I don't have to spend a fortune in one trip restocking.

Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive.  Notice I didn't say I buy low-carb this and low-carb that?  First of all, low-carb products DO cost a lot more.  They also usually taste like crap.  I have yet to find a low-carb product I like.  I buy whole grain foods which cost the same as the other stuff.

Eating for diabetes means eating regular food in different quantities.  I eat more veggies and meat now than I used to.  Fresh veggies and meat can cost a little more than pre-packaged meals, but if you mix up canned/frozen with fresh, it's about the same.  I eat real food.  I make dinners from real food.  That is the biggest change from before my diagnosis and it doesn't cost a fortune.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuna and Noodle Casserole Diabetic Makeover.

Hubby and I really enjoy tuna & noodle casserole.  It's been one of our staple dishes since we started living together way back in 1996.  In fact, we love it so much, we usually would polish off a whole casserole in one sitting.  Just the two of us!

Since I was diagnosed with Diabetes, we've stayed away from tuna & noodle casserole.  I mean, the name of it just screams glucose high.  This week, I was feeling a bit creative.  I wanted to reinvent the dish to be a lot less carb, but keep it just as yummy and filling as it always was.  Yes, me, the non-cook is coming up with new ideas on her own.  It's scary and someone should write this down on the calendar.

I knew I'd need to cut down on the noodle part, but what do I replace it with?  Veggies!!  This has been my answer to a lot of things lately.  I happen to know that the more veggies I eat, the better my numbers are.  This is likely because I eat less carbs if I eat more veggies.  Lately, I've been throwing broccoli and mushrooms into one-dish meals to make the carbs stretch farther.

Most recipes for diabetics that are low-carb and one-dish use a lot of pepper and onion or zucchini.  Um, well, Hubby doesn't like squash and I have acid reflux flare ups with onions and peppers.  I also notice with a lot of the low-carb tuna & noodle casseroles, they were still so high on the noodle carbs that there was no way I could eat half a casserole.  So, I got thinking.  What if I throw in my new carb stretching, veggie amplifying solution to one-dish meals; broccoli and mushrooms?  

Not only did I add broccoli and fresh mushrooms, but I also added some shredded carrots to the dish.  The best part is, I could still eat half the casserole and only eat 42 grams of carbs (my allowance is 45!).  Oh joy!!  Just like old times.  Hubby and I made short work of it tonight, although, I pretty sure he ate more than half.  We both loved this dish!  We will certainly make it again.

Below, I share the ingredients for my old way of doing tuna & noodle casserole along with the full recipe and directions for the new way.  Here's a picture of the finished product.  It looked so much more tasty than the usual stuff I used to make.  I couldn't wait to dig in.

1 can of mushroom soup
1 can of peas
1 jar of mushrooms
2 cans of tuna
2-3 cups of uncooked pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste.
(I don't even want to think about how many carbs there were!)

Servings: 4 (for Hubby and I it's 2)
Total Starch Carbs for the entire recipe: 65.5 grams (27g noodles, 22.5 grams mushroom soup, 13 grams peas, 3 grams milk)
Starch Carbs: 16 grams (for me, 42 grams)

1 Tbsp oil
1/4 of a lb. frozen broccoli florets
8 oz. fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 cup uncooked egg noodles (whole grain, if possible)
1/3 can of peas
2 cans water packed tuna
1 can of low fat mushroom soup
1/4 cup 2% lowfat milk
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste
(Note: I might add a little bit of onion to the veggie mix next time.  Just enough for flavor.  Not enough to upset my tummy.)

Cook noodles as directed on package.

While noodles are cooking, heat oil in large skillet.  Add broccoli, mushrooms and carrots to the skillet.  Saute until broccoli is tender and mushroom juices are mostly gone.

Combine veggie mixture, noodles, tuna, soup, milk and peas in a casserole dish.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes (more if you like the top brown and crunchy).  Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes.  CAUTION: Broccoli will be extra hot.

We had salad along side the dish.  Next time, I might add a fruit for dessert.  

Post Prandial Glucose (2 hrs after): 97. Woohoo!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I buffet, do you?

I have heard a lot of people say that a buffet restaurant is a diabetics nightmare.  I do admit that a buffet can go horribly wrong if you have absolutely no self control.  For me, a buffet is a chance to eat a lot of great food that I don't get to eat very often.

Not all buffets are alike.
When I was first diagnosed, I tried several different buffets.  I found that some were easier to eat healthy than others.  So, it's important to look at what kind of food is served.  For example, I find it very difficult to eat at a Chinese buffet, but I can pig out at an American buffet.

Start with a ginormous salad.
I start at the salad portion of the buffet and make a huge salad with some protein in it (because it's filling).  I get egg, ham or something like that.  I pile it on and make the largest, tastiest, carb free salad I can possibly make.

Keep it small after that.
My Hubby goes up to the buffet 3 times or so.  If I were to load my plate 2 times after salad, I'd definitely have trouble.  So, I just get little bits of food a couple times instead.

1 Non-starchy vegetable.
The hot foods are my favorite part of the buffet.  Usually, an American buffet will have several different non-starchy vegetable options (green beans, cabbage, broccoli etc...).  So, I always make 1/2 the food on my plate a non-starchy vegetable.  Think about it.  If you go up to the salad bar and load your plate, then have non-starch veggies with every other plate you get, you're filling up on veggies.  This is a GOOD thing!

1 Starch
After I grab my hot veggie, I look for something that is a treat and get one carb serving of it.  A piece of fried chicken, a small scoop of mashed potatoes, a roll, a small scoop of macaroni and cheese etc...

The trick is to take time to scope.
I find that I need to take time at a buffet.  Before I get my first plate of hot food, I walk the buffet and look at all the food options.  This way, I don't miss something and get to the "Oh, I didn't know that was there...I want some of that!" place.  That's where buffets go horribly wrong for me.  When I scope, I get to pick the foods I'm really hungry for.  Sometimes I change my mind, but it's because I already knew what was there and chose one thing over another.  Surprises are dangerous, knowledge keeps me on track.

Now, eat!  Twice!!!
Once I've got my 1 non-starchy veggie and one starch, I go eat.  Then I repeat and get another plate with 1 non-starchy veggie and 1 carb.

Don't forget dessert!
One of my favorite parts of a buffet is the dessert.  Sometimes, you can get a 1 carb serving sized brownie or a sliver of pie (vs. the regular sized piece of pie).  Most non-diabetics get 2-3 desserts so the restaurant tries to keep it small for them.  However, it's perfect for me!  It means I get to treat myself to one dessert that's extra special.

Flexibility is important.
Sometimes, I'm not jonesing for dessert, so I'll choose to get one more carb from the hot foods.  Other times, I'll skip my third carb and opt for more veggies.  I allow myself the freedom to choose how I want to eat my carbs every time I eat at a buffet.  I stick to my 3 carb serving limit, but I get to eat some extra special foods.

What are your buffet tricks?  How do you make it work?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I do not like Frankenfood.

I don't mind substituting a few things, but I can't stand eating Frankenfood.  As defined by Hubby, Frankenfood is a food that is supposed to look and taste like a food that it's not.  For example: tofu balogna.

Hubby and I can't stand Frankenfood. I don't want food that's pretending to be something it's not (I'm the same with people, btw).  If I want a burger, I want a burger and that's just all there is to it.  Don't give me a Tofu burger.  It just doesn't taste right and it won't cure my craving for a burger.

Since my diagnosis of Diabetes, I've had people offer me all sorts of Frankenfood.  Cauliflower mash vs. mashed potatoes, egg crust vs. bread crust for pizza, spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti etc...  Have you tried spaghetti sauce on squash?  Yuck!  

Every time I try a Frankenfood, I am sadly disappointed.  I know the people who suggest these things are well-meaning.  They don't want me to give up my favorite foods. What they don't realize is that I'm not giving up anything. I'm just reducing the quantity I eat and finding new things I like.  Just because I'm diabetic, doesn't mean I'll starve.

Instead of eating Frankenfood, I WILL make simple substitutions.  I'll use whole grain pasta, corn tortillas and corn starch instead of white flour products and I'll happily eat smaller portions.  I'd rather do that than eat food that tastes nothing like what it's trying to be.  

I also look for dishes that make sense.  The zucchini pizza bites I posted on this blog make sense.  Zucchini and marinara go well together.  Why not add pizza toppings?  I've been known to make ground chicken tacos instead of using beef.  Chicken tacos are a real thing and they taste good.  I really enjoy Parmesan crusted food and it's way lower in carb than regular breading (usually 50% lower).  I'm even willing to skip the mashed potatoes if there is a delicious side dish made with some great veggies.

 I accept that some people actually like Frankenfoods.  Do you?  If so, chow down and enjoy.

What are your favorite substitutions? 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Snacks are the key to eating for Diabetes.

Eating the right amount of carbs per meal is important for staying on track with healthy eating for Diabetes.  What I notice is that snacks are the key.  Snacks are why I either do or do not make healthy choices.  Why?  Because if I eat snacks, then I'm not as hungry come meal time.  For some reason when I'm hungry going into a meal, I just can't say no to seconds, a big bowl of pasta or the fried fish.  When I'm eating out, I will order way more food than I need and most of it will not be healthy.  So, snacks ARE the key for me.

I must have snacks at home.  While I don't deprive myself of crunchie munchies, as previously mentioned on this blog, I do keep the house stocked with a variety of other snacks to go with them.  I almost always have fresh fruit carbs in the house (blueberries, lunchtime apples, grapes etc...).  There is always low to no-carb protein in the house too (cottage cheese, turkey, ham, cheese, frozen grilled chicken patties etc...).   My most favorite staple is eggs.  I also have some sort of non-starchy vegetable (veggie tray, baby carrots, snack sized cucumbers etc...).  

Having these things in the house allows me to eat based on how my day has gone.  If my numbers are little a high, I'll have veggies for a snack.  If they are low, then I'll have a crunchy munchy.  If I'm extra hungry during a 1 carb snack time, then I have extra protein and veggies I can throw in along with my carb so I can fill up.

I must have travel snacks.  For days when I know I'm not going to be home during snack times, I think ahead and make sure I have some travel snacks.  Raisins, diabetic snack bars, an insulated bag with veggies, wax wrapped cheese, turkey sausage sticks...these are all snacks I'll carry with me.  I've been known to carry a small cooler to make sure I have enough food for the day.  Again, if I don't have the food on me, then I'm likely to eat what's available and that usually isn't the best choice.  When the easy thing is healthy, then I usually choose healthy. 

I'm a fan of fresh made grocery store foods.  We have two stores near us that make foods fresh at the store and then you can take them home.  I love this idea!  I can get roasted chicken, gourmet veggies or ONE slice of pizza.  They even have fresh soups packaged up and ready for an afternoon snack.  Warm and go.  I've been known to buy high protein dips that are tasty with veggies.  I sometimes get thick cut turkey that the store makes for dinners.  I'll cut the turkey into little squares and make a snack out of it while watching tv.   Hubby and I even sometimes get these foods for lunches.  I had one cabbage roll for lunch one day.  It was tasty!!!  Paired with some veggies and yogurt, it was a very tasty lunch.  
Leftovers make great snacks too.  I've been known to make a taco salad for an afternoon snack with leftover taco meat from a dinner.  I also have been known to heat up dinner veggie leftovers.  When there's not enough for a meal, there's usually enough for a tasty snack.  These are some of the most filling and satisfying snacks I've had too.  They keep me out of trouble.    

In short, planning ahead and keeping healthy foods on hand keeps me on track.  What do you need to stay on track?