Posted in Learning Project

Learning Project Wrap Up

What I learned over the course of this semester and learning project is a reflection of  just how little I knew about healthy eating, but how important it is.
Going into this, my learning project was not just about myself, it was also something I needed to learn to be able to take care of a loved one, who at times was not well enough to take care of them-self.

The salt-free step was a big one for us, because we come from a family that puts seasoning salt on eeeeeevvverything, but also are a bunch of fancy eaters. We love our food. And we love it seasoned, and we especially don’t like to mess with tried and true recipes. But the lemon for salt replacement in soup was actually genius. I would have never thought that could work, but thanks to the internet, and this learning project, I think I may have been converted? Going to keep sneaking in sub’s like this and seeing if my family notices. It’s like feeding kids….don’t tell them what it was until after they’ve eaten it right? (aaaand that’s also the story behind how I ate squid for the first time).

Coming from a family who has cupboards full of Company’s Coming cookbooks, using the internet for recipe ideas is not something I would typically do in my first attempt to find a recipe. I got my first Kids Can Cook book when I was about five. We had fiddle-diddles alllll the time, my blood is 1% cocoa, I’m telling ya! What most impressed me about the sites and apps I found though was the ability to tell it what ingredients I had on hand, and it would spit a recipe back at me. Imagine doing that with a cookbook?!

Another really cool thing I figured out was the Mrs. Dash secret! I’m a tried and true Back Eddy fan, so it truly was a matter of health necessity to convert me away from that, but it happened. Now when I go to the grocery store and down the spice aisle I find myself looking at the Mrs. Dash section looking for any blends I don’t already have, and at home my regular seasonings have been pushed back in the cupboard. From the post I made, I know there is a world of Mrs.Dash I have yet to acquire, so I’ve made it my mission!

Finally, the low-carb diabetic friendly cookies recipe I found and tweaked is a life saver  (quite literally) for both of us. I’m quite sure my sweet tooth is inherited from Spare Parts (aka my mom) because pre-transplant it wasn’t uncommon to find her in bed with pieces of pie and cake and sweets, and don’t even get me started on how we’d fight over Turtles chocolates at Christmas time (eventually everyone got their own box in their stocking). So learning how to seek out recipes that don’t mess with blood sugar was a really beneficial thing for both of us.

Before this project started, I was kind of floundering at the idea of how I was going to figure out how to feed my mom. I considered joining one of those meal delivery programs but dang it if I’m not an impoverished student. Taking on this project forced me to figure this out, but also to document how I have genuinely learned things during this process. I also became hyper aware of just how bad processed foods are for you! I’m actually feeling really glad that 1) we had this assignment, 2) that I chose this topic for my project and 3) that I really did learn stuff instead of muddle through it (and possibly make risky mistakes) with blood sugar and sodium readings.

Cheers to a healthier year!

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Posted in Learning Project

La Dolce Vita in a low carb world

So recently we’ve started taking a new direction with the adventures in specialized diets! Low carb!

So because Spare Parts usually spends five days a week in the hospital gym doing physio, I was quickly running out of excuses not to be working out either. So here I am, three days a week, sweating like a pig in July in my university’s gym. Yep, I’m going three days a week and she’s rocking a full five. Keep in mind this is my mother, who, not 6 months ago underwent a double lung transplant, with leukemia, AND diabetes, and she’s in better shape than I am currently…..wild right?!

Anyway, part of my “regimen” now involves a low carb diet. Keto, Atkins, Weight Watchers, etc, pick your poison. I just call it “dont eat sugar or grains” diet, but the science is there” carb-reduced diets will help you cut weight, and when they are managed properly they are safe. They can also be beneficial to diabetics because they regulate blood sugar.

Mealtime for both of us is a little more harmonious now, and it’s going well, except that I without a doubt, cannot ever give up chocolate. I just cant. Ever. My blood is probably 1% cocoa.  So I found this peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie recipe that is SO easy, healthyish (hey man it’s still got gobs of peanut butter), and most importantly, SO delicious.

4 ingredients:

-1 cup of peanut butter
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon (or 5-6 packets) of stevia powdered sweetner
-a handful of Lily’s Stevia sweetened chocolate chips

mix the first 3 ingredients together.
roll
press
bake for 12 minutes on 350.
drizzle melted chocolate chips on top.

so easy a baking inept person like myself could make them easy peasy pudding pie!

I prefer to eat my chocolate frozen like some kind of weirdo (the crunch), so I popped these in my freezer and now I eat one or two or ten a day (just kidding, 4 has been my binge max so far).
You’d never believe that these are flourless and sugarless! Here’s a pic of mine.

Sketch (1).png
And here’s recipe they’re derived from. (Note that I did the sugar to stevia conversion myself using google) Enjoy!

 

Posted in Learning Project

Spice Cupboard Overhaul

Sooooo…..I am a self-professed hot sauce and seasoning salt junkie. When i was a kid I would eat salt and vinegar chips until my tongue hurt (okay maybe I still do that), I regularly put hot sauce in my soup, an if you’ve ever tasted or seen Back Eddy’s Seasoning Salt you’d know (and know why) that it is a staple in every kitchen in the Northwest Territories. Seriously, you can buy it by the bucket!
                                           (photo credit http://www.backeddys.com/ )

Back Eddy’s is a seasoning salt invented and sold in the NWT, and highly revered around the north, Canada, and apparently worldwide from the testimonials on the site. I have a friend in the Yukon I make sure I keep supplied with after every trip home because he raves about how good it is. Seriously, I don’t work for the company…it’s just thaaaaat good. But alas, my beloved Back Eddy’s is loaded with sodium, so it’s been “shelved” for the time being for Spare Part’s sake (truthfully: I still sneak it into my eggs after I’ve cooked them.)

Seasoning salt heartbreak aside, cooking and flavouring is a whole new ballgame now. Every trip to the grocery store is a new opportunity to find “healthier” options and substitutes.

Enter: Mrs. Dash. What is Mrs. Dash anyway, you ask? Just kidding you probably don’t care but I’m going to tell you anyway. In their words: “Mrs. Dash® is the salt free alternative for spicing up your favorite meals. Each blend, seasoning packet or marinade contains a multitude of spices allowing your palate to enjoy the flavor without the salt.”

Here’s my “stash” of “Mrs. Dash” (see what I did there?):

dash

I have what I would consider the essentials, and between whats in my cupboard as far as spices and herbs I could probably throw together any sort of blend a recipe called for, but its always nice having it ready-made and on hand. I made steaks with the Mrs. Dash last week for the first time and they were better than any other steak I’ve made in recent memory! Win!!
I keep feeling like I’m giving away free advertising for these companies but truly I’m just a fan and I love food and love sharing food, so when I find something I like that works I like to talk about it. According to their website, they have over fifteen spice blends, 4 marinades….and some other stuff.

Sketchdash

I’m interested to try the marinades once I find out how to get my foreman grill out of the locked cabinet no one has a key to! Also, my birthday is coming up if anyone want’s to complete my stash 🙂

So in summary  (seriously these companies need to pay me) Mrs. Dash has overtaken salt and Back Eddy’s as the seasoning we use so often we hardly bother to even put them back in the cupboard. Spare Parts has been giving them her seal of approval so far, so we’re all winners here!……for now.

Posted in Learning Project

Harvesting food….ideas

A great internet resource I’ve managed to find to help with Diabetic/Transplant cooking has been Allrecipes. There is so much more depth to this website than simply being a recipe sharing page.
For instance, you can cater the recipes you are presented with by editing your preferences.  You can also share, subscribe to, create grocery lists, watch videos of the recipe being cooked (hello visual learners), review, add friends, photos, and personal recipes to the site.
After I set up my profile, I edited my food preferences to select the kinds of recipes to show up  on the front page after I login.
Because I am an efficient (see lazy) cook, I also subscribed to “Quick and Easy” recipes. I consider it the Holy Grail when I can find a complete meal recipe with five ingredients or less. Bonus points if they are common ingredients I already have.
Here is a shot of my preference page on Allrecipes:
aR
You can see where I subscribed to “Diabetic” and “Heart-Healthy” recipes above.
So what is really cool, is that now as soon as I log in, Allrecipes will display meal suggestions based on my preferences. See below where a bunch of different ideas are offered, categorized by my preferences:
ARSS

If I see something I like, I can save it to my favorites by simply clicking the heart icon on the recipe. Here is where it gets interesting: I can save it under pre-loaded categories, or I can create my own. We eat a lot of chicken in my family. Its affordable, its healthier than other meats, and it is ooooh so versatile. This recipe passed the salt and sugar test, and I know that Spare Parts loves mustard of all forms, so I had to add it to my favorites. I created my own chicken category though so that when I am inevitably staring at my thawing breasts in the sink I can come to this place quickly for inspiration. Winner Winner Chicken Dinners! No seriously, that’s what I categorized it under. WWCD

So that is Allrecipes in a Nutshell. The user-friendliness of the site is a plus for me, and the diverse recipe content is a definite plus for finding food that matches our needs and desires in my family. Did I mention that they have an app?!

Posted in Learning Project

Salt-Free is hard

Let me be the first to admit how much I loooooooathe food blogs.
The irony of that is not lost on me here, tell me I’m not alone here?
There is nothing that gets my goat more than having to read someones life story just to get to a recipe. I find Pinterest particularly rife with food blogs, but the recipes on them are usually pretty delicious.
Before I try a recipe I’ve pulled from online, I usually take the time to read through comment sections as well to see if they worked, and what people added, omitted, or changed.
SketchRecipeMy background knowledge with Pinterest and comment sections has made searching for Diabetic recipes a little easier, because I kind of know how to weed through them now.
So this week, discussing what to make for dinner with Spare Parts, she suggests that we try to use whats available in the house to make chicken soup.
Drumsticks? Check. Carrots? Check. Onions? Check. Celery? Check. Rice? Check. Chicken bouillon? Big fat check! Its very rare that I can put together a meal that isn’t Kraft Dinner without requiring at least one trip to the grocery store.
So I proceed to start making the age old family recipe of chicken soup. Did not think I would need technology for this recipe at all.
But then, reading the bouillon nutritional ingredients, I realized that there is a lot of sodium in it. Added salt (sodium) has become the enemy in our house.
Cue technology:
Sketchgoogle

Trusty ole Google.
One of the search results returned a page from the British Heart Foundation with a complete list of herb and spice substitutions for salt. Bingo!!
This list is very helpful and one I have bookmarked, but sadly I did not have any of the spices it suggested on hand. Again, trying to avoid a trip to the grocery store halfway through cooking dinner. Back to google. I definitely needed that salt flavour to add to my soup because at that point it was looking and tasting a lot like dishwater.
Stack Exchange ended up being my saviour. It was neither a food blog, nor a recipe site. Rather, it is a discussion board! Discussion boards are like comment sections, but usually aren’t accompanied by other content such as a blog. Typically you will see a question posed or a topic of discussion where users are free to contribute. I like discussion boards. There usually isn’t a ton of media in them, and you can tell which ideas might be good or bad depending how how they’ve been voted upwards or downwards. Democracy at its finest. There are some pretty good suggestions in this thread but it was the one mentioning lemon juice that caught my eye. I know enough about cooking to know that lemon and chicken are complimentary flavours to each other, so by George, this just might work!
Boy Howdy, let me tell you, lemon juice is an excellent substitute for salt in chicken soup!
I had to give myself a pat on the back for 1: successfully avoiding a food blog for another day, and 2: salvaging my dishwater soup while keeping it diabetic friendly and 3: reaffirming my faith in discussion boards.
The lesson here? Shop around without leaving the house when it comes to cooking! 🙂

Posted in Learning Project

Cooking with Spare Parts

So, my learning project requires a bit of a backstory.
On November 24th, 2017, my mother underwent a double lung transplant. She spent a month in the hospital and came out better than ever. Life changing experience for our whole family.
That being said, WOW! There are sooooo many dietary restrictions that come along with being a transplant recipient (goodbye soft cheeses and rare steak!) We have pages and pages of restrictions in the book I like to call “The Bible”, which is basically her manual for post-op life.  On top of that, shes also duhn duhn duhn…..Diabetic! Yay! So fun!
So, needless to say, managing blood sugar, potassium, sodium and iron levels has been quite a challenge.
I figure what better new skill to learn that to master the art of diabetic friendly cooking while still keeping Spare Parts happy and fed. Spare Parts is the nickname we gave my mom because well….obviously. 😉
Join me over the next few months as I chronicle my triumphs and tribulations in diabetic cuisine.