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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Insulin Resistance Fun (or something like it)

As many of you may know (from talking to me, or from reading on one of the many social media outlets I employ) I found out in June that I am insulin resistant.  In layman's terms, I am pre-diabetic. 
 The complicated explantation is that when I eat foods, my body produces insulin so that the energy gets to my cells and is used correctly.  My cells right now turn it away and the energy and food is left with no where to go.  In turn, the cells go "where is the energy!?" which makes my pancreas thinks that means I need more insulin produced.  This cycle just continues over and over until, one day, my pancreas will go "eff this noise!" and stop making insulin...and BAM: diabetic.
  Since I do not want that, I am taking every precaution I can to bring the likelihood of that down and, ideally, train my body to use my insulin appropriately (by taking meds and changing my diet).  Also, just to keep you all from webMD-ing and thinking you have this too, it DOES tend to be hereditary.  Now, if you've ever eaten a meal with me before, you know I have always been very protein and vegetable heavy and light on the starches/sugars.  That's just a preference, really, but the biggest change in my diet has been the starches.  I no longer get to eat starch.  Ever.  It's a lot like being gluten free, except that I also cannot eat gluten-free products.  No breads, no baked goods, no corn, no potatoes... ever again.  It turns out when I DO eat those things, I usually spend the next day in bed with a headache, sweats, a stomach ache and lethargy...
On a positive side, this probably couldn't have happened to anyone better.  I have always loved to cook from scratch as well as take recipes I find online and tweak them to my liking, so this is just another opportunity to do well as help my health.  Plus, it's a very dealable problem.  I am now in the business of making sure I can say "I did everything I could" to prevent diabetes...and that's all I can do.  ANYWAY, I thought it'd be fun to share some of the recipes I've made or substitutions I have made so that my meals aren't a constant soup and salad or chicken breast and broccoli.
Substitution for Mashed Potaotes: Mashed Cauliflower
It still takes a little like a veggie rather than a potato, but absolutely worth it.  I take a head of fresh cauliflower and break it into florets, steam it in a steamer basket for 10-15 minutes or until the florets are fork tender.  Then I drain them and let them sit on a towel or paper towel to drain out (you don't want them very moist - you can press the liquid out if you want).  Then I put the florets in a large bowl, scoop in a couple tablespoons of margarine, a spoonful of greek yogurt, salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper) and then go mash crazy.  Once it's about as mashed as I'd like it, I pour in a cup of grated cheese (and I change types of cheese each time: white cheddar, mozzarella, grueyre, etc.) and mix it up.  Then EAT.  It will make enough for a few meals and it tastes just as good reheated in a microwave.
Substitution for pasta:
Zucchini Squash
You have some options here, so play with it.  I've done this with both yellow squash and zucchini.  Using a peeler, make strips of the veggie.  For fetuccini-like noodles, use a regular peeler; for spaghetti-like noodles, use a julienne peeler.  Do not peel when you hit seeds, just move to another part of the veggie.  After you have a heaping bowl of peeled veggie, steam them in the microwave by adding a tablespoon of water to the bowl, cover it with microwave safe plastic wrap, and zap on high for 2-3 minutes.  You can also use a steaming basket: wait for the water to boil, then put in the veggies, cover and steam for 2-3 minutes) and then drain.  Then toss with whatever sauce you have or make for it.  Add chicken, meatballs, veggies, etc to make it a more well-rounded meal.
Eggplant Lasagna
I made this in a 9x9 cake pan, but I'm sure you could make a larger one with more of each ingredient.  Maybe double it?
Take an eggplant sliced about 1/4" thick, brush them with olive oil on both sides, salt and pepper and bake in a 350degree oven for 15 minutes or until soft but not singed.  Meanwhile make filling of 1 egg, about 8oz of ricotta cheese, sauteed mushrooms, onions and garlic (cooled before mixed into the filling) and whatever else you want.  Next time, I'm putting ground turkey in there, too.  I added thyme, oregano, salt and pepper as well.  Use whatever sauce you want (bought or made).  You can add more shredded cheese per layer, if you're interested.  Then, in a baking dish, layer: thin layer of sauce on bottom, layer of eggplant, layer of filling, shredded cheese, thicker layer of sauce x 2, top with a layer of eggplant and a layer of shredded cheese or parmesan cheese.  Put in a 350degree oven for 30-35 minutes (until cheese looks melted) and, if desired, broil for 2 minutes to crisp up the top layer.  Let cool 5-10 minutes and serve.

Sandwich alternative: Lettuce
I know this sounds basic and obvious, but the options are a more vast than the average person might assume.  Utilize bibb lettuce and romaine hearts for the following sandwich situations: Instead of tortillas for wraps or tacos, make lettuce wraps with romaine hearts.  The tops may become a little messier, but they have a valley type area where food will pool and hold much like a taco or tortilla.  For burgers and flatter sandwiches, bibb lettuce is thick and curved the correct amount so that a couple layers will be successful at holding your food together.
Pizza Alternative: Eggplant Pizza
Slice an eggplant the long ways about 1/2" thick.  Spray with cooking spray and lay flat on cookie sheet.  Spread sauce (I used a pesto sauce), shredded cheese and preferred toppings on each slice.  Bake in a 325 oven for 10-13 minutes or until cheese is browned.  Allow to sit for a few minutes then serve and eat.  It may be too smushy to pick up, so just fork and knife it.  It was, hands down, the best pizza I'd ever had.  Not the best eggplant pizza, the best pizza.
That's all I can think of for now.  If I come up with more, I'll post them.  For all 1 of you that actually think this is interesting and for the 4 of you that read what I write no matter what - bless you, by the way.


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