Diabetes, the disease which means the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether or doesn't produce enough, can have a big impact on what you eat. As a lot of the experts say, while it can seem daunting, it is a disease that can be managed through nutrition.
Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas stops producing the hormone insulin, which controls how glucoseis absorbed into the body. Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas is producing insufficient levels of insulin, and this can often be brought on by lifestyle choices, such as smoking and obesity.
Glucose is essential to the body - it is the main fuel that gives us energy, which is why so many undiagnosed diabetics suffer from symptoms of over-tiredness. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells, so you can see why it's essential.
Food expert Michelle Berriedale Johnson has just written a book called Diabetic Cooking published by Grub Street, on the basis that various foods and herbs are "helpful in stimulating pancreatic function and improving blood sugar control".
As there is no cure for diabetes, it is a helpful addition to living healthily.
The recipes are well thought-out, and the aim is to make food on a restricted diet taste good. Even if you aren't diabetic, if you've ever tried diabetic chocolate (most of it is ghastly), you'll appreciate that this is no mean feat.
Take a look at what you'll be cooking in the next few weeks:
CARROT AND RED LENTIL SOUP:
A North African soup with lots of flavour. The crumbled bacon adds an extra dimension – although it strays somewhat from the soup’s ethnic origins! If you prefer it to be vegetarian, just a squeeze of lemon juice and a few leaves of parsley will be just perfect.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 level tsp ground cumin
1/4 level tsp ground coriander
125g/5oz carrots, scrubbed and sliced
100g/4oz red lentils
450ml/15floz vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice 1/2 -1 lemon
2 rashers bacon, chopped small and briskly fried till crisp (optional)
few leaves of parsley (optional)
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy pan and add the garlic, cumin and
- Stir and cook for a minute or two taking great care that it does not burn.
- Add the carrots and continue to cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the lentils and the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the carrots are quite cooked.
- Purée in a processor or liquidiser and adjust the seasoning to taste.
- To serve, reheat, add lemon juice to taste and sprinkle with the bacon bits or chopped parsley.
Note: Despite the fact that both carrots and lentil feel starchy and filling, they are both low Glycaemic Load so you can enjoy this soup with a totally clear conscience.
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RACK OF LAMB WITH MUSTARD CRUST
A rack of lamb is another joint which is good for a small number of people as you can get as few or as many cutlets on it as you need. However, you need to be sure, as it is small, that you do not let it dry out – which is why cooking it over the vegetables is a good idea.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, sliced thickly
1 rasher bacon, chopped roughly
350g/12oz potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thinly
1 small rack of lamb
2 sprigs each fresh rosemary and fresh thyme or 1 level tsp each dried
2 tbsp fresh brown breadcrumbs
2 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
- Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.
- Heat the oil in the bottom of a small, heavy oven proof casserole large enough to hold the lamb. Briskly fry the leeks and the bacon till both are lightly coloured, then add the potatoes and continue to fry gently for 5 minutes.
- Lay the springs of herbs (or sprinkle the dried herbs over the vegetables.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the mustard and spread the mustard mixture over the lamb.
- Lay the lamb on top of the potatoes, skin side up. Cover the casserole tightly and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or until the lamb is cooking to your liking.
- Serve the lamb from the pot with the potatoes and a green vegetable.
BEETROOT AND CHICKPEA OR BUTTERBEAN SALAD
Both chickpeas and butter beans are low on the Glycaemic Index and both work equally well in this salad – so take your pick. The salad benefits from time to mature so if you have too much it will be fine for at least another 24 hours in the fridge.
1 raw beetroot, peeled and grated
400g tin chickpeas or butter beans, drained
3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
1 dessert spoon soy sauce
1 dessert spoon vinegar (of your choice)
2 tbsp olive oil or 1 tbsp each olive and pumpkin oil
Freshly ground black pepper
- Mix the grated beetroot thoroughly with the chickpeas and the spring onions. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, oils and pepper and mix again thoroughly.
- Cover the dish and heat for 1 minute in a microwave or tip them into a saucepan and warm gently for 2-3 minutes. Warming the chickpeas and beetroot helps them to absorb the dressing. Set aside for 2-3 hours but do not chill. Mix again thoroughly before serving.
Note: Tinned legumes tend to have a higher glycaemic rating than freshly cooked so if you have the time, it is better to cook your own. However, this does often mean that you have to soak them overnight first so will include some planning ahead. However, you should not stress about this as the increase for canned is only a matter of a few points still leaving both beans in the lower end of the table.
PEAR WITH CHOCOLATE AND GINGER WINE SAUCE
A very simple dish to make – yet it does look, and taste, delicious – and you can make it just for yourself.
Serves 1 (double quantities for 2)
1 slightly under-ripe pear
4 tbsp ginger wine
25g/1oz dairy-free dark chocolate – I use 85% cocoa solids but you may not wish to use quite such a bitter chocolate
2 tbsp cream, regular cow cream or soya or oat cream
- Carefully peel the pear with a vegetable peeler and leave it whole. Sit it in the bottom of a small saucepan and pour round the wine.
- Cover the pan and simmer very gently for 15 minutes or until the pear is cooked – how long will depend on how under-ripe it is.
- Meanwhile break the chocolate into small pieces into the cream and heat very slowly, stirring regularly, until the chocolate melts. Take off the heat.
- When the pear is cooked transfer it to a serving dish and carefully stir the ginger wine into the chocolate sauce. Allow to cool but not get cold.
- With a spoon, carefully pour/dribble some chocolate sauce over the pear so that it can drip down the sides and spoon the rest of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Serve at room temperature.
Note: If you are concerned about your fat levels, especially your saturated fat levels, you may wish to substitute oat or soya cream for cow’s milk cream. Both are really excellent (you can buy them in small long-life packs in most health food stores and many supermarkets).
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