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2 Quick Dinners With Lots of Flavor for Less than 300 Calories

a quick and easy diabetes-friendly dinnerLike the title says, this chili is "darn good" and won't send the diabetes police after you!

A number of years ago, I happened upon a package of what was then called Bear Creek Damn Good Chili in my local supermarket. I found the name irresistible. Apparently, there were enough people out there who didn’t agree with me because Bear Creek eventually renamed it “Darn Good Chili.”  However, I’m here to say it’s still damn good!

 Adding one packet of chili and only a 6 oz. can of tomato paste to boiling water, there’s enough flavor to satisfy most chili fans. OK, maybe not hardcore chili afficionados, but for “Hey, it’s Wednesday, what should we have for dinner?”,  it’ll do just fine. And, at 140 calories per cup as prepared, it’s a bargain in terms weight watching. Sugars are only 2g with 23g total carbs. 

In their original instructions (back when the chili was “Damn Good,”) Bear Creek had suggested two 6 oz. cans of tomato paste. I still prefer using two rather than one. Their instructions also say “salt and pepper to taste.” In our house, however, salt is never added, but granulated garlic and pepper? We buy those in bulk. A little chili powder also adds to the kick.

Speaking of kick, Bear Creek suggests what you might add to make this dish your own. I chose the recommended one pound of ground beef, but I make sure it’s 96% fat free, adding about 60 calories to each cup. So we’re still at roughly 200 calories per serving. Then one day, I decided to go crazy.  At Trader Joe’s (my home away from home), I found spicy Italian chicken sausage, and my crowd (all two of them) went nuts. I serve the guys chili over pasta or rice, and I opt for cut-up Persian cucumbers with a few chunks of fake crab and a drizzle of Hidden Valley Fat Free Ranch. I feel like I’ve had a real treat and still haven’t broken 300 calories!

In the same supermarket section, you’ll find Bear Creek Gumbo, also embarrassingly easy to prepare. They suggest a cup of shredded chicken or Andouille sausage to spice things up. Well, heck, if one is good, both must be better!  I found chicken Andouille sausage so as not to add too much fat or calories to this tasty soup. Even with adding last night’s leftover chicken breast, you can get away with about 230 calories for a cup of this very satisfying meal accompaniment (though for me, it’s lunch or dinner all by itself!).

So every couple of weeks in our house, it’s Bear Creek to the rescue—for great flavor without falling off the low-fat, low-cal, low-carb, diabetic-friendly wagon. It’s also great for sending to kids away at college, whether they’re in their own apartments or in a dorm room with a sauce pan and a hot plate.

As we all know, eating healthfully with diabetes isn’t an on-and-off proposition. It’s an everyday thing and we have to make it interesting enough to stick with it. Feeling deprived doesn’t encourage long-term good eating habits… and boy, don’t we all know about that! If we remember that adding taste, texture and enjoyment doesn’t necessarily mean adding things that make our blood sugar spike, we’ve actually got a shot at staying even. 

So eat hearty and eat healthy!  See you next time!

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