From time to time, all of us are annoyed when someone makes a categorical statement or generalization, such as, “everyone should avoid junk food”, or “all rednecks are stupid.” These types of proclamations demean us as human beings – let’s face it, all of us are different. So please don’t dump anyone in a category without considering the circumstances in they find themselves.
With that admonition in mind, I am going to make some categorical statements, maxims, touchstones, etc. dealing with health, but will start with a delightful topic, perhaps on neutral ground: tasty food. The sub-topic is, tasty food for those with diabetes and those who are gluten intolerant.
Ten years ago, when a chubby physician who smoked lots announced that I had Type 2 diabetes, I felt the curtains of life had dropped on my stage. Henceforth, I was marred, charred, and scarred forever. My self worth sagged, and I was again reminded that I had once again failed in life. But I try not to quit, so I fought the notion that I could no longer eat tasty food, such as Krispy Kreme donuts, pizzas, breads of all types, mashed potatoes, bananas, pineapples, and the like.
So what did I do? Lots, but let’s cut to the chase and fast forward 10 years, and get to the point: I changed what I ate, and in the process, discovered that I could eat tasty food, and control my blood sugar along the way. The road to being a sugar-free gourmand has not been a straight one: along the way, Fran (my wife) developed gluten intolerance, which has changed my eating habits, again.
I am not switching topics (OK, I am), but I am going to add a bit of science, which is useful information in formulating diets choked full of tasty foods. You have to learn a bit of physiology in order to understand what you can get away with, in your eating habits. Since I’ve studied physiology, I’m giving you my most useful resource on the combined topics of physiology and nutrition, Advanced Sports Nutrition by Dan Benardot. From this treatise, I learned that the human brain requires 130 grams of carbohydrates per day to function properly (note: he probably meant 130 grams of glucose, which come from carbs, converted protein and fat reserves). Now one of the principles of a diabetic diets is: avoid carbohydrates; so should we follow the advice of Dr. Bernstein, David Mendosa, the South Beach diet, the Atkins diet, and so forth, or abandon the carbohydrate ship?
Let’s not answer that question, but focus on ingesting a minimum of 130g of carbs a day. We need to feed our brains (our brains like foods that have a high concentration of carbs). All carbohydrates turn into glucose, so eating foods with carbs has to be a good thing. However, there are good carbs (e.g., those found in plums) and bad carbs (those found in white potatoes, white rice, white bread). What then is our goal? To eat food that does not produce too much glucose into our system at once. Foods that spike our blood glucose levels are classified as those with a high glycemic index. Foods that don’t spike our sugar levels (those having a higher level of fat and protein) have a low glycemic load.
For openers, let’s consider breakfast. Your day’s work ahead of you will cause your body to burn off carbohydrates ingested at breakfast, so you might consider what some dietitians scorn: eating toast and jam.
Breads normally turn into glucose pretty quickly, so we are told to avoid them. However, one of the “freebies” in eating breads is sour dough bread, which may have 15 carbs per slice, but doesn’t convert into carbohydrates quickly (i.e., its glycemic index has a “slow load”). Fortunately, we live close to a Panera bread store, and can buy loaves of sourdough bread regularly (the sourdough offerings of Wal-Mart and other grocery stores doesn’t work well for me, for their breads spike my glycemic load).
So everyday (or almost every day), I have sourdough toast, and add butter, sometimes add sugar free orange marmalade or other sugar free jellies or jams (which also have abundant carbs), or mayo and fresh tomatoes, and voila: good food, but minimal glycemic load.
But breads contain gluten, which can cause disastrous results if you are gluten intolerant. There is a bright spot, however, because merchants are offering more and more gluten free breads (as well as pizzas, and even some breakfast rolls). However, for a person with diabetes, there is a downside: these breads are made from such things as white rice flour, which have lots of carbs and are high on the glycemic load index. And these gluten free products, loaded with carbs, can cause you to gain lots of weight, if that is an issue for you.
In summary, you can “cheat” on certain breads. However, don’t overdo it.
That’s enough for today.
Salmon is sold fresh from the butcher, or in a frozen sealed package (similar to what I recently bought at Whole Foods). It is rich in Omega 3’s, low carb, and when prepared properly, it’s hard to beat its creamy, rich taste, however you prepare it. If you don’t do it right, however, the meat can be smelly and dry. So here’s my suggestion, to produce a juicy and non-fishy smelling entrée:
Sprinkle fresh basil over the top (or dried if that’s all that is available). Add a sprinkling of chives, then a bit of lemon zest (for a different taste, add Adobe seasoning to the mix). If you prepare the meat using the sous vide method (a topic to be covered in later issues) add at least a tablespoon of lemon juice to the bag. Vacuum seal the salmon in a Food Saver bag (or something of that type, that’s suitable for sous vide cooking), and cook it for 45 minutes to an hour, at 134-137 degrees. If you don’t eat the salmon immediately, put it in an ice bath (half water, half ice) for half an hour, then move it to the freezer. When you are ready to eat, put the bag back in the sous vide device at the same temperature, and heat it for at least 15 minutes. The skin is edible, and you won’t notice the fishy taste, because of the lemon juice you have added.
The preferred and more tasty method is barbecue (charcoal if you have it; I use the Big Green Egg). I like to cook it at 225 degrees, and depending on the thickness of the filet, you can use a digital thermometer to determine if it’s done (normally 130 degrees), or look at it: the fat will turn white, in little droplets (or even cut it open a bit). The skin will normally fall off, or can be easily removed.