Learning to cook for someone with diabetes doesn’t have to mean throwing out all your favorite recipes. Most recipes can be adapted to the requirements of a diabetic diet once you have a solid understanding of meal planning. Here are a few tips that can help you continue cooking delicious homemade meals that those with diabetes can still enjoy.
Go for Low-fat Dairy
Switching from high-fat dairy products to ones with lower fat content is one way to continue using your favorite recipes while making them healthier for everyone. You can substitute skim milk and nonfat half-and-half, or 1% or condensed skim milk in place of whole milk or half-and-half. Consider using low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt for recipes that call for sour cream. You can even substitute buttermilk or low-fat cottage cheese for sour cream in some cases. And for sauces that call for cream or whole milk, try using skim milk with cornstarch to get that creamy consistency.
Try Liquid versus Solid Fats
Some fats can be used in moderation, while other fats should be avoided when cooking. Solid fats, including saturated fats and trans fats, should be limited or completely avoided. When recipes call for butter, hydrogenated shortening, or lard, these are considered solid fats. Substitute trans-fat-free spreads, margarine, or shortening for these types of solid fats. You’ll want to check labels to ensure you choose the substitute that will work best when it comes to baking or cooking. Canola, corn, olive, and grape seed oils are considered liquid fats and can be used in moderation as a healthier substitute.
Reduce Fat Altogether
Soups and stews often have fat that surfaces while they’re on the stove, this can be skimmed off to reduce the fat content. Another way to do this is to place the pot in the refrigerator. As the soup or stew cools, the fat will solidify on top and can easily be skimmed off.
Recipes can sometimes call for 25% to 33% more fat than truly required. One trick is using mashed bananas or applesauce in place of some or all the fats in baked goods.
Another tip is to use cocoa powder in recipes that call for chocolate or chocolate chips. You could also try mini-chocolate chips and use fewer of them.
Smart Carb Consumption
Not all carbs are created equal. Select the ones that provide fiber and lasting energy.
Whole-grain flours, wheat flour, and brown rice should be substituted for refined grains such as white flour and white. Another substitution can be using ground nuts like hazelnut or almond meal in place of white flour.
Unlike carbs from starches or vegetables which are slow to be absorbed, sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar.
Consider cutting the amount of sugar used in your recipes or using a sugar substitute. Often cutting the sugar doesn’t have a significant effect on taste or texture; however, in some cases, you may need to add more flour. If you’re baking, be sure to check the label on sugar substitutes to make sure they’re suited to baking. The only time you really can’t cut the sugar in baked goods is if they call for yeast because the yeast requires sugar to work. In those cases, moderation in consumption is necessary.
These are just a few of the adjustments you can begin making in your cooking and baking that are beneficial for those with diabetes. These small changes can improve the health of the entire family, not just the individual with diabetes. It’s all about being willing to experiment with your favorite recipes to make them healthier for everyone to enjoy.