I learned the theory of managing diabetes as a student. Throughout my nursing career I put what I’d learned into practice. In my mid-forties, I created monthly diabetic dietary menus for seniors living in my personal care homes, many of whom suffered from multiple disease processes.
My grandfather was diabetic; my brother is, but it was not until I married a brittle diabetic, brittle meaning a diabetic with unstable blood glucose levels in spite of his best efforts, that I began to truly understand the dietary complexity and daily frustrations associated with the disease.
Getting a diagnosis of Diabetes feels like the end of the world as we know it, according to Rich, because you have to say goodbye to many foods you often associate with comfort and home, satisfaction and tradition, while simultaneously feeling forced to eat foods you don’t like, that far too often, taste like cardboard.
I am not a nutritionist, but I am a registered nurse who is married to a diabetic. Because of my personal history with this seemingly daunting disease, I’ve learned it is possible for you to enjoy healthy meals and manage your numbers while LOVING the food you eat.
Enter Aunt-Bea shaking her stubby finger in our face, reminding us we are responsible grown-ups with creative minds, and while we may not get everything we want in life, we have the power to transform what we have into what we need.
It begins with a commitment, she says, to change the way we think about eating food, exchanging the sugary fast-food mentality that permeates society to a healthier food plan that improves the quality and duration of life. Imagination and tenacity can bridge the gap between the want and need. Aunt Bea reminds us that life is short and every day is a celebration of something or another, and that it is always up to us to decide exactly how tight we wear our garters.
No nonsense, practical minded guru of all things comforting and traditional, Aunt Bea can find her way around any kitchen, her tiny granny shoes shuffling, and the ruffles on her apron keeping beat to the music in her head while she experiments with old recipes, transforming them into modern, health-conscious feasts.
This isn’t your mama’s Southern-Fried Kitchen, my friends; this is Aunt Bea’s House, and the joint is jumping with healthy-yummy!
Whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, fiber, fish, poultry, and a day or two a week of lean red meat is our rule of thumb! Aunt-Bea-Me is an herb-nut, often substituting them for salt. Salt is okay in small doses, but lacks the unique flavors and natural healing elements present in herbs. A single pinch of salt is enough to make complex herbal flavors and textures POP in any dish. She is also hooked on Olive Oil and quality Infused Vinegars, counting on them to do more than dress a salad; they add unique depth to simple flavors, elevating the ordinary to star.
Aunt Bea is a thrifty little munchkin who delights in pinching pennies, so nothing goes to waste. She rules the kitchen with a pot holder in one hand, a spatula in the other, and a grin as wide as the front door on her face, as she sticks to the cardinal rule of keeping things simple.
From my experience and research, I can tell you both Low Fat and Low Carb diets are equally successful in acheiving weight loss, but which of the two is better at keeping the weight off? That question I can’t answer, it varies from person to person, so it’s an individual choice; but it seems to me, if you’re of a mindset to eat low carb products, more likely than not, the consumption of low fat foods is a normally occurring consequence of that choice. At our house, we tend to focus more heavily on carb counts because it more effectively manages Rich’s numbers, and it fits well with the diabetic rule of thumb: of all the calories consumed daily, 45-65% should be in the form of carbohydrates.
If the numbers confuse you, the internet is full of sites that provide free calculators for figuring out how many calories you actually consume each day. There are also sites that calculate the number of calories you should be eating based on your weight, activity level and age. And there are sites available that breakdown every food showing its Nutritional Value, IE: proteins, fats, calories, fiber, carbs, cholesterol, etc. I suggest you get in the habit of using these tools as you build your Diabetic education.
Every carb you eat is converted into 4 calories. Understanding that helps me keep my perspective when shopping for groceries or eating out. Since we keep it as simple as possible at our house, I round the numbers out, making sure no more than half of the calories we consume daily are healthy carbs. Here’s what was on the menu last night:
Carrot, Red Grape and Cucumber Salad
Dressed in Olive Oil and White Balsamic Vinegar
and Baked Potato topped with a heart smart butter alternative
and a dollop of fat free Greek Yogurt
Ingredients You Will Need:
Egg substitute, Panko bread crumbs, Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Pam or similar spray, one Foil, Wax Paper or Parchment Lined Baking Sheet.
Trimmed cube or round steak
Always trim fat from meat.
Cut portions into 4 ounce servings and set leftovers aside.
Preheat oven to 375. Spray pam on grill. Set grill in parchment, foil or wax paper covered pan. Trim beef to 2 4 ounce portions. Set left over beef aside for later. Dip the 2 pieces of beef in Egg Beaters on one side and set on rack inside baking dish. Season each patty with a pinch of garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. If you want a different flavor, use your imagination! Using a measuring spoon or your fingers, sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs over the surface of each serving. (I used 2 tablespoons on each.) Then lightly spray the Panko crumbs with drizzle of Pam or a similar spray product; (this will add to the crunch by deepening browning as the meat bakes).
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
While dinner is baking, chop the left over meat and cover with water in a deep saucepan. Add a stalk of cut celery and about 1/4th of 1 onion. Season with spices of your choice; I used thyme, a pinch of salt and black pepper. If you want this to be a vegetable beef broth, add more veggies. Feel free to play with your spices here. I keep broths fairly simple, using them as savory bases to build more complex dishes that will have various levels and depths of flavor.
Place the pan on the stove and bring contents to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover saucepan with a lid. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, depending on the amount of beef. When the broth is complete, the flavors of the meat and vegetables will be imparted into the broth liquid. Set aside to cool, then remove and discard the meat and the vegetables. Strain remaining liquid and transfer into a freezer bag; mark and freeze. There you have it, Beef Broth, ready for another dish.
Left over cubed steak ready for conversion.
vegetables and seasonings added to beef and water.
The final product, ready for next cooking adventure!
The prepared meal above is less than 600 calories, containing around 50 carbs, and calculating out as less than 10% of total meal calories.
Don’t panic! I’m not starving Rich! He eats three meals, two snacks and a dessert every day coming in at between 1,800 -2,000 calories daily. Keeping a meal calorie count light opens possibilities for the remainder of the day. Often lunch is the heaviest carb meal of the day since often it consists of a sandwich, or a half of a sandwich. Just be sure that the added carbs are as healthy as they can possibly be, whole grain breads, a mayonnaise substitute, and baked, not fried chips; or you can forego the chips altogether choosing to enjoy a serving of fresh fruit instead.
From Aunt Bea’s Kitchen to the glucometer: This one is for you!