Taking the “Yuck” Out of Diabetes-Compatible Eating

Written by Ward Alper

A year or so ago I created a recipe for Creamy Broccoli Soup. It could have been any recipe that involved a vegetable or fish—or any of the hundreds of items on your "least favorite foods” list. While many people thought the soup would be “yum,” there was one comment of “yuck”.

Hey, I get it. Some people just don’t like broccoli. Didn’t we have a president that felt that way? In that recipe, I could have substituted cauliflower, zucchini,  asparagus or mushroom in place of the broccoli, but there are as many (or maybe more) people who just don’t like any of those choices.

My late sister was one of those people. Later in life she learned to like mushrooms well enough, however. In fact, Chicken Masala was one of her favorite dishes. She must have forgotten about those little cans of rubbery mushrooms we grew up using—but she never took to broccoli or cauliflower, no way! For her they rated a “yuck.”

There was also my aunt Kate. She and I sat in a café in Paris as she proclaimed (all too loudly) that the reason the French cook with all that terrible wine is because the meat was rancid (yuck). (THE MEAT IN FRANCE IS NOT RANCID!) 

Poor Kate, she must be rolling in her grave at the very mention of my Gallic Pot Roast. The recipe clearly states: “don’t let water touch the meat.” In place of water, I use red wine and brandy. I am certain that Kate would never understand why I would do such a thing. Kate had never listened to Julia Child. The phrase about the water touching the meat was one of Ms. Child’s admonitions. The ONLY exception was boiled dinner and I think Ms. Child was not too happy about that.

Wine in Cooking

I use a lot of wine in my cooking. To be clear, I often use wine in cooking. Not a lot in terms of the volume, just enough to add a depth of flavor to a dish. What can be simpler than splashing some wine in the pan that has just cooked your steak or chicken? Voila, you have the world’s fastest pan sauce. That last minute step adds so much flavor to a dish. It allows you to use up the “kitchen treasure” that was stuck to the bottom of the pan while adding a subtle flavor of a decent wine. The heat of the pan burns off most of the alcohol leaving nothing but pure flavor.

Simpler still, adding a splash (1-2 tablespoons) to a soup. This raises the level of that basic staple to decadence.

In case you are wondering, Kate also thought that the reason restaurants served lemon with the fish was…you guessed it—the fish was old. According to Kate, the food world seemed always to be playing tricks on the unsuspecting eater. The concept that lemon added flavor to fish (and chicken) was not part of her thought process. For Kate it was FOOD FRAUD. I don’t want to take anything away from auntie Kate. She was a great cook in her own right. It was Kate that got me to use orange as a flavor for chicken and turkey.

Ok, fair is fair. I have to admit that for many years after I left my grandmother’s home I all but refused to eat chicken. Who could blame me? Bless her soul, she would get a chicken, plop it in water, boil the life out of it (for amazing soup), and serve the drastically over cooked chicken to the family. 

Oh no—it got worse. What was not eaten the first night was then seasoned with paprika (her most adventurous spice) and baked in the oven. If there was still any leftover, she would chop it up and add egg and bread crumbs and fry it up. That poor bird died a thousand deaths. And I rebelled against chicken.

I have countless friends that eat a vegetarian diet but hate some vegetable or other. They take an already limited diet and limit it even more because they think they don’t like it. My favorite example is my friend Glen. He will not eat mushrooms. He has never eaten a mushroom. The thing is that Glen knows that mushrooms are a fungus form. The very thought of eating a fungus, even if sauteed in butter and seasoned with wine, makes him go…yuck. Sadly, his wife loves mushrooms. She comes to our house to eat. No matter what meal I make for her, there is a fungus on the plate. She however, won’t eat asparagus.

Everybody doesn’t like something, even me. I don’t think I have a recipe that someone will not say yuck to.  But I keep trying…and so should we all so we all have something new and wonderful to add to our Diabetes-compatible menu options.

Enjoy! Be healthy, be happy, be DECADENT!......be open to new foods?...Well can’t kill a chef for trying?