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Cooking against diabetes
For people suffering from diabetes, the phrase “watch what you eat” may sound like an all too familiar refrain. With nearly 11 per cent of the population living with diabetes, many Trinidadians should know the phrase all too well. But in this land of heavy seasoning and rich food, how do you watch what you eat? Chef Joe Brown of Jaffa at the Oval has a few suggestions.
On Wednesday, at a diabetes cooking demonstration hosted by global healthcare company Sanofi at Fanatic Kitchen Studio, Brown made a three-course meal including a wide variety of dishes such as bruschetta, stuffed white fish fillets and chicken breasts, Cajun Jambalaya and even a cheesecake pudding dessert. There was no salt in any of the food Brown prepared. Cooking without salt is a key factor to maintaining your health as a diabetic.
Alongside Brown was nutritionist Dianne Charles, who explained that high sodium diets were extremely unhealthy for diabetes. According to Charles, sodium thickens the blood and narrows the blood vessels if not regulated properly. For a person with diabetes, excessive salt can increase the risks of medical complications such as high blood pressure, strokes and kidney failure.
Decreasing the salt intake is a preventative measure, she added. However, cooking without salt is not as difficult as it may sound. Brown said salt was an “embellishment” and pointed out that foods have natural flavours which can easily be manipulated and enhanced. In his demonstration, Brown made frequent use of garnishes such as basil, parsley and oregano. Another frequent ingredient was lime juice. As Brown pointed out, lime juice “awakens the appetite and brings out the flavours of the food.”
Brown also used extra virgin olive oil in all his dishes because it has less saturated fats than other cooking oils. Charles added that extra virgin cooking oil could be used as well. She advised, however, that oils should generally be used in moderation whether they were extra virgin or not. It is also important to make sure meals are nutrient-filled. The simplest way to do this is not to overcook vegetables.
Brown said vegetables lose their nutrients when boiled or steamed too long. Using lean meats such as turkey and removing the skin from chicken to reduce fat is yet another aspect of cooking for people with diabetes, Brown stressed. Here are some salt-free recipes suggested by Chef Joe Brown:
Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast, Sundried Tomato and Basil Sauce
Vegetable oil or spray
2 packs fresh spinach or
(12 oz frozen)
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 clove chopped garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp lime juice
2 large boneless skinless
Preheat an oven to 375˚F.
Lightly oil a baking dish.
1) Using a little oil sauté onion and garlic, add spinach and stir until wilted, add feta
cheese, lime juice and nutmeg. Set aside to cool.
2) Butterfly cut the chicken breast, then gently flatten under a plastic sheet. Evenly distribute spinach filling onto chicken then roll up. Place on baking tray seam side down and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
1 cup fine diced sun-dried tomato
1 tin low sodium tomato juice or sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaf
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
Heat all ingredients together, then blend.
Reheat and serve with chicken breasts.
2 cups water
1 onion, finely chopped
2 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 head patchoi, roughly cut
2 onions, cubed
2 tomatoes, cubed
1 head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 ea green bell pepper
4 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp no salt Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp liquid smoke
Dash of Worcester sauce and tabasco
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1) Heat oil from section 1 (in heavy bottom pan). Add onion and garlic and saute for two minutes. Add uncooked rice and mix. Add two cups water and bring to boil, cover, lower heat to simmer and cook until rice has absorbed all the water.
2) In a separate pan heat olive oil from section 2. Saute onion and garlic then add okra, peppers cauliflower, broccoli and tomatoes. Season with Cajun spice and liquid smoke.
then add okra, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and tomatoes, season with Cajun spice
3) Reduce heat and cook vegetable for two minutes stirring occasionally.
4) Add vegetable mix to cooked rice and add patchoi. Mix well and season with tabasco and Worcester sauce.
Cajun seasoning (no salt)
Cayenne pepper, paprika and onion powder mixed together.
Cous-Cous-Filled White Fish Fillet
For cous cous filling:
1 cup uncooked cous cous
1.5 cup boiling water
Juice of one lemon
15 oz cooked channa
1 diced bell pepper
Chopped basil and parsley
4 cloves chopped garlic
1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Add cous cous to boiling water. Turn off heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add all other ingredients. Lay fish on plastic wrap and knot each end. Wrap in aluminim foil and poach while unwrapping. Save fish stock and add lime juice and chopped herbs. Reduce heat and serve with sliced fish roulade.
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