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Celebrating a holiday usually involves enjoying certain traditional foods. It’s not necessary to purchase special cookbooks for diabetes-friendly holiday recipes. Modifying your favorite recipes to improve their nutritional value can produce wonderful results as well as some surprises. Decreasing the carbohydrates, calories and fat in many recipes will result in dishes that are more nutrient-dense, which can lead to better health and increased longevity.
As you keep cooking with natural foods, you will learn how easily you can modify your old favorites. Use the acronym “A-REST” to guide you as you alter your recipes, improving their nutritional value.
A = Be aware of what ingredients should be changed. For people with diabetes, this usually means refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, animal fats and high-calorie ingredients.
R = Reduce the amount of an ingredient. This is easy to do and produces results acceptable to most people.
E = Eliminate an ingredient. This produces an entirely different product which may not satisfy you and your family. For example, completely omitting the cheese in a recipe may not lead to a success at your dinner table.
S = Substitute another more wholesome ingredient. This results in a dish that is more healthful than the original. Adding vegetables, for example, adds color as well as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
T = Try it!
Traditional Easter Meal
|Traditional Food and Nutrients||Suggested Changes||Benefits|
Calories, fat, protein, sodium
|Purchase hams with the bone in and serve with the natural juices. The “honey-cured” hams add about 5 grams of sugar per 3 ounces. The glaze can be eliminated; substitute a mustard sauce sweetened with a very small amount of honey or Splenda. Guests can remove the outside fat.||Bone-in hams are more flavorful. The bone can be used
for making a hearty soup.
The more flavorful meat should be more satisfying; a 4- to 6-ounce portion should suffice even at a holiday meal. Less calories, sugar and fat.
|Buttered and Sweetened Sweet Potatoes
Carbohydrates, vitamin A, fiber
|Use less butter, or use whipped or light butter.
Sweet potatoes are naturally very sweet without added sugars. Try using less sugar, or use one or two tablespoons of orange juice or maple syrup, or use an artificial sweetener.
Consider serving roasted sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and other root vegetables (see recipe).
|Less calories, less fat and less sugar.
Substituting roasted mixed vegetables will reduce the amount of carbohydrates because there are fewer potatoes per serving. Don’t peel the sweet potatoes or the regular potatoes; the skins are high in fiber.
Garlic and onions add flavor, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Fat, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium
|Consider eliminating the cream this year and serve this instead: sautéed mixed greens (see recipe).||Using a mixture of greens adds different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Less fat and calories.|
|Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber
|Substitute coleslaw or a nine-layer salad (see recipe).||Less calories and carbohydrates.|
|Bake cornbread made with part soy flour and whole grain flour; use minimal sugar or Splenda.||Provides the added heart benefits of soy, plus more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.|
Extra calories, polyphenols
|Pour smaller servings of alcohol.
Drink water or sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice.
Drink sparkling or plain water.
|Less calories, more energy.
One glass of red wine will provide phytonutrients and is beneficial for heart health.
Water is the “Champagne of life.”
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.