Making just a few mindful changes during the cooking process can have a hugely positive impact, both for people with diabetes and those without. Everyone benefits from a healthier meal!
You may be wondering, “But isn’t it easier to make food that’s not healthy?” Actually no, it’s not easier — it’s basically the same amount of effort either way!
The only hard part is learning what makes one food more healthy than another (and, if you scroll down, you’ll see that we made that process even easier for you). Once you have the knowledge, choosing and using the right ingredients is a breeze, and the resulting health benefits will be well worth the effort.
Check out these simple tips for becoming a more health-conscious, diabetes-friendly cook:
1. Subtract Some Sugar
Raw sugar can be good for diabetics who need a quick blood-glucose boost, but when making a full, healthy meal it’s something you’ll want to avoid, or at least reduce. (Unless you’re baking something with yeast, in which case sugar is a requirement.)
Since sugar is a simple carbohydrate, eating it will give you all the calories without much nutrition. If a recipe calls for sugar, try cutting some flour in with it. It shouldn’t affect the taste too much, and it will help you regulate your daily carbohydrate intake.
2. Choose the Right Ingredients
Choosing fresh, healthy food is essential to making a delicious and blood-sugar-friendly meal. Raw, unfrozen fruits and vegetables don’t have the added sodium or preservatives that may be found in frozen or canned foods.
Using fresh ingredients gives you better tasting and more nutritional food. Your body will thank you for not feeding it all that extra junk by generally making you feel healthier and happier.
3. Trim the fat
This is probably the easiest way to health-up a meal. Instead of using saturated and trans fats, which are found in things like butter and lard, you can easily swap healthier oils and fats into any recipe.
If a recipe calls for butter, try using a trans-fat free margarine or spread instead. If it suggests an animal-derived fat, you’ll be better off swapping it for canola or olive oil. This may change the taste a bit, so be mindful when choosing which oil to use in which recipe — and don’t be afraid to experiment!
You can also use 1% instead of whole milk, switch in Greek nonfat yogurt for sour cream, and skim the fat off the surface of your stew or soup as you cook.
4. Don’t Sacrifice Flavor
With just a few substitutions, your meal can be significantly more healthy without sacrificing any of the flavor. Check out our list of food hacks and tricks to make your food more nutritional without sacrificing the ever-important taste of your food!
You can also substitute healthier herbs, spices, and seasonings if you feel like you’re missing out by reducing your sodium and sugar. Some good ones are cinnamon, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar, and fancy mustards.
5. Choose Good Carbs
Choosing the right complex carbohydrates is critical for making a healthy meal. Many forms of carbs, like white rice and pasta, contain enriched white flour — which loses a lot of its nutrients during the milling process.
Whole wheat flour and grains contain wheat germ and bran, which are removed from enriched flour to extend shelf-life, and which contain much of the dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that are inherent to wheat.
Make sure to choose whole grains over high-processed starches. Cooking with nutrient-rich carbs — brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads, quinoa — will surely give your meal a healthy boost, while ensuring that the carbs you eat help you more than they hurt.
Check out our sister site 12 Tomatoes for more delicious and healthy recipes!