7 Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cooking
Using Sugar in Diabetes-Friendly Recipes
The problem with sugar is not just that it's another form of carbohydrate. It's a simple carb that can quickly raise blood sugar, unlike the carbs from vegetables or starches that are absorbed more slowly. Carbohydrates are what make your blood sugar levels rise. Beyond that, sugary foods are also usually high in calories and low in nutrition. As for all carbs, use sugar wisely.
Instead of using the amount of sugar called for in a recipe, try using less. Many times you can reduce the amount of sugar without seriously affecting taste or texture. You may need to add more flour. In yeast baked goods, though, the yeast needs the sugar in order to do its job. You could also try using a sugar substitute. Check the product label to be sure it is a sugar substitute designed for baking. Another thing you can do is find other ways besides adding sugar to enhance the flavor. For instance, using spices (see below) or fruit juice concentrates can liven up a recipe.
Spices, Flavor, and Diabetes-Friendly Recipes
Often, recipes rely on sugar, salt, and fat to satisfy your taste buds. You can change that by experimenting with herbs, spices, and flavored vinegars and mustards instead. These can give foods unique flavors without extra calories. Some spices may even have health benefits of their own. Cinnamon, for example, may help lower blood sugar levels.
Here are some flavor-enhancing ingredients to start experimenting with:
- Vanilla and other natural flavorings
- Any kind of vinegar -- balsamic to sherry
- Flavored mustards
Salt Substitutes and Diabetes-Friendly Recipes
Salt is often used to preserve food and as an inexpensive flavoring. We've gotten used to the taste of salt, but its effects can be bad news. Excess sodium in the diet can lead to cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and heart disease, especially for people with family history of these conditions. People with diabetes are at greater risk for these health problems, so it's not a bad idea to cut back on salt where you can.
Instead of using salt, try reducing the amount of salt in a recipe -- but not for recipes with yeast, which needs the salt for rising. A good alternative is replace some of the salt with spices and other flavorings. You can also add salt at the table instead of during the cooking. Another way to reduce how much sodium you get is to choose fresh over canned and frozen foods. Canned and frozen foods tend to be higher in salt.
Check other ingredients such as nuts, too, to be sure they don't also contain salt. If they do, substitute lower-salt items or don't add additional salt.