Helpful tips for January 2016

. It is useful information for anyone interested in healthy eating, not just diabetics. Healthy food choices are key to a good diabetes diet. But, when you get home after a long day, the last thing you want to do is go to the grocery store. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just whip up a quick meal or snack with basic ingredients? It’s surprisingly simple if you just rethink your weekly shopping list. You can easily create a pantry stocked with dozens of delicious options to create healthy meals for diabetes. Stocking your pantry with the right foods can help you succeed with your diabetes diet, and the reason is very simple: “It’s more likely that, if healthy food choices are available, you’ll choose them,” says Susie Villalobos, LDN, RD, program coordinator for the Tulane Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Weight Management Program in New Orleans. Make restocking your pantry an easy-to-attain goal. That way, says Cathy Kapica, PhD, RD, an adjunct professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston and director of Global Health and Wellness at Ketchum in Chicago, you’ll always have some convenient diabetes-friendly foods on hand. Make room in your cupboard by reducing or eliminating foods that you don’t need to include in your diabetes diet, such as candy, cookies, cake, sweet rolls, white bread, pretzels, crackers, soda, and fruit drinks. Your Diabetes Diet Shopping List: If your pantry shelves are somewhat bare, take heart. Work your way through this list to create an arsenal of healthy food choices for diabetes: a. Canned vegetables. “It’s easy to add a can of vegetables to almost any recipe to boost nutrition,” Kapica says, who recommends keeping no-salt or low-salt canned green beans, mushrooms, and spinach on hand. b. Canned fruit. Look for fruit that’s packed in its own juice instead of syrup. c. Canned beans. “Beans are nutritious and have a lot of fiber,” says Nessie Ferguson, RD, a diabetes educator and nutritionist at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Add them to soups or salads. Look for beans that don’t contain sodium, or rinse them for about a minute under water to cut the sodium content. d. Canned soup. Soup is great to have on hand, but it can have fairly high sodium content. Look for labels that say “low sodium” to keep salt under control. e. Canned tomato products. Tomato paste, tomato sauces, and diced tomatoes are healthy, versatile cooking essentials. f. Canned fish. Stock up on tuna, salmon, and sardines packed in water–and always check the sodium content. Canned fish can make a quick filling for a sandwich and a tasty addition to salads, soups, and whole-grain pasta dishes. Plus they’re a reasonably priced way to help you meet the American Heart Association’s health goal of at least two servings of fish a week. g. Canned chicken. This is a good backup source of protein to add to quick meals. h. Roasted red peppers. Ferguson says roasted red peppers make a tasty addition to a variety of dishes, from salads to rice. i. Whole-grain products. Look for whole-grain pastas and other whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, polenta, kasha, and wild rice blends, which you can cook for a side dish or use as a base for a meal. j. Salsa. A jar of salsa makes a healthy dip for raw vegetables, a zesty base for a bean soup, and even a tasty salad topping. But read labels to steer clear of too much added sugar and salt. k. Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are healthy snacks and great to have on hand, but eat them in moderation. One serving of shelled nuts is about two tablespoons. “Nuts have fiber and will keep you feeling full,” Ferguson says, who recommends buying them in the shell when possible because the time it takes to crack open the nuts can keep you from overeating. l. Dried herbs and spices. “Pepper, cinnamon, curry, oregano, rosemary, and other seasonings without salt are key cooking ingredients to have on hand,” Kapica says. They all add unique flavors without relying on salt and butter. m. Vinegars. A variety of vinegars–such as white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinaigrette–means you have interesting taste additions for marinades and salad dressings. n. Low-fat dressings. Another option for marinades and salads, low-fat dressings are also an instant dip for veggies. o. Low-salt soy sauce. This flavorful condiment adds an Asian flair to dishes like stir-fry and vegetable fried rice. p. Sugar-free gelatin. This is a safe, sweet treat for your pantry. If you can have a bag of chocolate chips, chocolate kisses, or mini cookies around and not eat more than one or two, that’s okay, Villalobos says. But, if temptation always wins out, keep your dessert shelf a sugar-free zone with instant gelatin instead. q. Sugar-free syrup. This adds a sweet note to whole-grain pancakes and fruit–an excellent breakfast choice for healthy diabetes eating. r. Cooking spray. Your favorite cooking spray can help you produce dozens of healthy meals for diabetes without added fat. s. Whole-wheat flour. “If you like to bake, you can cut any flour mix with whole-wheat flour,” Ferguson says. Try replacing half of the white flour in your baking recipes with whole-wheat flour. t. Beverages. Keep club soda, low-sodium tomato juice, and low-calorie powdered drink mixes in the pantry for beverage variety. u. Popcorn. Popcorn is an excellent snack, especially if you pop your own in a hot-air popper, which doesn’t need any oil. Serve with a sprinkle of spices from your collection rather than salt and butter. Whether you love cooking or not, this pantry list will let you get as creative as you want. However, if you’re new to cooking or are unsure of how to make the needed adjustments for a healthy diabetes diet, talk with a diabetes educator or contact your local American Diabetes Association chapter to learn more and find healthy cooking classes in your area. “People learn to cook better if they see a dish made and know they can do it themselves,” Ferguson says. _________________________ From the pages of Donna’s travel diary A touch of Paradise? I used to think that it was not possible to find Paradise on this crazy busy earth but trust me when I tell you that for the past six years I have found such a place on my annual vacation. For me, a touch of Paradise definitely exists on the tiny Caribbean island of ST. Lucia and since 2010 I have made it my business to vacation annually there with my family. Ah yes, sweet ST. Lucia! One of the Windward Islands in the blue Caribbean sea. Where vacationers from Europe and North America frequently go to get away from the emails, ringing phones, and clutter and confusion of our spinning world. I call this sweet island Paradise because it not only enables me to get away from the above but it also allows me to experience things that I have not found anywhere else on my wide travels. ST. Lucia is sweet not just for its sand, sea, sun, surf, and singing birds! It is Paradise because of its people. Special people because of their respect for each other and for those visiting them. ST. Lucians are super special because of their politeness, their generosity, their honesty, and above all! Their willingness to enjoy life to its fullest, appreciate what they have, and be grateful for whatever comes their way. The cuisine of ST. Lucia is a combination of French and Caribbean dishes. You can still keep in touch with the rest of the world at your own pace; top notch cable and Internet services abound. Access to this sweet island is easy; through airlines and via sea travel. Beaches are some of the best and sea bathing is second to none. So you see! Paradise definitely does exist on this earth! My biased plug for sweet ST. Lucia! I’m Donna J. Jodhan enjoying my travels. On your next trip you could enrich your down time with some of my audio mysteries. Take them with you wherever you go! In the car, on the plane, on the bus or train, at the beach, anywhere! Affordable, portable, (computer or i device) and you could either purchase or Subscribe for unlimited access to my library at and you can now take advantage of our free downloads here.]]>

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