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7 Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cooking

Who says that having diabetes means you can’t still whip up delicious, homemade food? When you know the basics of meal planning, you can make almost any recipe work.

So don’t throw out your cookbooks or toss your favorite recipes. Instead, take some tips about how to cook wisely.

Editor's Note: Food Pyramid Replaced

In June 2011, the USDA replaced the food pyramid with a new plate icon.

1. Cook with liquid fats in place of solid fats.

Solid fats often include saturated fats, which you should limit, or trans fats, which you should avoid totally.

If a recipe calls for solid fat like butter, lard, or hydrogenated shortening, try trans-fat free margarine, spreads, or shortening instead. Check the label to see whether the product will work for cooking or baking.

Many liquid fats -- oils such as canola, corn, olive, and grape seed -- can be healthy when used in moderate amounts. Some oils have stronger flavors that may affect the taste. So experiment to find which oils work best with which recipes.

2. Switch to low-fat dairy.

Many dairy products used in cooking and baking are high in fat. You can lower the fat content without compromising taste.

Instead of whole milk or half-and-half, pour 1% or skim milk, condensed skim milk, or nonfat half-and-half. Instead of sour cream, try low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt, buttermilk, or even low-fat cottage cheese (you may need to blend it first to make it smooth.)

To make a sauce that calls for cream or whole milk, use cornstarch and skim milk.

3. Use less fat altogether.

For many dishes, you can use 25% to 33% less fat than what the recipe says. Another tip: Substitute applesauce or mashed bananas for some or all of the fat in baked goods.

Or, if you’re whipping up a treat that calls for chocolate or chocolate chips, try cocoa powder, or use mini-chocolate chips and use fewer of them.

When cooking up a soup or stew, skim off the fat that floats to the surface while it’s on the stove. Or, place the pot in the refrigerator. When the fat has hardened at the top, it's easy to skim off.

4. Be smart about carbs.

Choose those that give you energy that lasts and fiber.

When a recipe calls for "white" flour, "white" rice, or other refined grains, try substituting whole wheat flour, brown rice, or other whole-grain flours or grain products. You can also use ground nuts such as almond or hazelnut (filbert) meal. Or you can mix several of these whole-grain ingredients together in the same recipe.

5. Skimp on the sugar.

Sugar can quickly raise your blood sugar, unlike the carbs from vegetables or starches, which are absorbed more slowly.

Many times you can cut the amount of sugar without seriously affecting taste or texture, though you may need to add more flour. An exception: You can’t cut corners if something you're baking needs yeast, because the yeast needs the sugar in order to do its job.

If you’re using a sugar substitute, check the product label to be sure it’s designed for baking.

WebMD Medical Reference

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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