Sunday, January 19, 2014

Love Your Vegetables!

 It doesn't matter what diet you're on, the mantra is the same: Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables!  When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, that was the single, most difficult change I had to make.  Fruit was easy, although as a diabetic fruit is limited, but vegetables?  Not only did I not eat many vegetables, especially those leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli or cabbage), I struggled to eat more than one serving per day!  My attitude and eating habits have changed dramatically since those days, but not without a struggle, a few setbacks and a lot of creativity.

After winning the war against vegetables, I now admit I have a love affair with them!  I eat them at every meal, including breakfast.  I hide them in everything and sometimes I have fooled myself into believing that I'm not even eating them, when my entire plate is heaping with nothing but vegetables!  I even taught a cooking class in my community where I convinced other skeptics how to love their vegetables.  This blog is FULL of dozens of vegetable recipes, but in this post (and more to come later) I wanted to share some of my favorite toys that make incorporating more vegetables into my diet super fun, easy and delicious.  These tools, tips and recipe ideas just might make a believer out of you, too.


A Spiral Vegetable Slicer/Cutter: Inexpensive, no electricity needed, easy to use and clean, available online (Amazon or other sites) and as fun as playing with a Playdoh machine!  I use the Paderno brand, but there are others available. Usually several different blades come with it that quickly and easily make vegetable noodles, spiral ribbons of fruit or vegetables and curly vegetables for oven baking (think Sweet Potato Fries!)  One of my favorite ways to use this low-tech kitchen tool is to make vegetable noodles for either a main dish or side dish.  Vegetables I've used and recommend for noodles are: butternut squash, zucchini, parsnips, eggplant and carrots (if they're fat and big).  Quick Tip: Use any leftover vegetable or fruit pieces in your morning green smoothie.

RECIPE IDEA: Make zucchini noodles using a spiral slicer (plan on one per person, or two if they're small).  Cut any long strands into pasta-length; set aside.  Heat your favorite marinara sauce in a large saucepan.  Add the zucchini noodles and heat until noodles are cooked through and begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.  (see photo at top of this post)

Carb Cutting Tip for Vegetable Skeptics: If a heaping plate of delicious zucchini noodles sounds too weird for you, try adding a small serving of your favorite spaghetti pasta cooked and drained according to package directions to the recipe.  (If you're watching gluten, choose a gluten free pasta.)  Cut the amount of pasta you'd normally use by at least half (or more) and add to the zucchini noodles and sauce at the end of cooking, stir until well combined and serve.  As you twirl both types of noodle onto your fork and eat, your taste buds will be fooled into thinking you're getting an enormous serving of naughty, carb-ladened pasta, when the truth is really that you're eating mostly healthy vegetables resulting in a minimal spike to your blood sugar!


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