Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Still Isn't Easy
Diabetes Still Isn't Easy

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Seasonal Eating: Winter Edition

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It’s the time of year when many people are still holding out in their plan to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions are typically related to goals about diet and exercise. Part of my job as a diabetes educator is to educate patients about which foods to avoid and which foods to eat more often.

I encourage everyone whether they have diabetes or not to cook more often instead of eating takeout.

Benefits from cooking include:

  • When you cook at home you can control the amount of oil that goes into your food. Even if you’re cooking with heart-healthy oils, such as olive oil and canola oil, it’s important to know that portion size still matters. A little bit of oil goes a long way calorie-wise, so if you’re trying to watch your weight, limit the oil used in cooking. 
  • It’s also fun to experiment with different herbs and spices instead of using the salt shaker. 
  • When incorporating more vegetables into your diet you want to choose what’s in season. Now that it’s January, let’s talk about what you’ll find at the market this time of year. 

Winter Eating

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables (think parsnips and rutabagas) are dominating the displays at the Farmer’s Market. They offer an earthy sweetness to soups, purees, and stews. 

Potatoes are a common food eaten in the winter but they are very starchy. When you have diabetes there is no need to completely avoid carbohydrates, you just need to have them in smaller amounts. Instead of making plain mashed potatoes, puree rutabagas and parsnips with fewer potatoes to reduce the carbohydrate content of the dish. Another great way to enjoy vegetables is to roast them. Roasting is just like baking in the sense that food items are cooked in the oven in an open pan or dish with a small amount of fat, such as olive oil. 

Cooking tip: Preheat your oven to 350-400 degrees, line a baking sheet with tin foil, use any wintry root vegetable (parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions, celery root, leeks or beets), add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss with your hands to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for about 30-45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally while in the oven. 

Winter Greens

Kale, collards, chard, dandelion greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens are other seasonal greens to experiment with. All of these greens differ in flavor, appearance and texture, but all are vitamin and mineral superstars! They may be more difficult to find at standard grocery stores so hit up your local Farmer’s Market to find these Vitamin K and calcium rich foods. 

Cooking tip: Boil the more delicate greens such as chard, dandelion greens and mustard greens for about 5 minutes. The more robust greens like kale, collards and turnip greens can take between 20-40 minutes to cook. 

Broccoli rabe looks similar to broccoli with its deep blue-green leaves, thin stems, and small florets. It has more of a bitter taste, so cook it with strong flavors such as garlic, red pepper flakes, and less than a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Other Winter Options

Kick off 2012 right and experiment with different seasonal vegetables. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, grab a piece of fruit instead of a baked good. For variety, always choose what’s in season! Wondering what type of fruit to choose this winter? Go with citrus such as grapefruits and blood oranges. Enjoy!

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About the Author


MS, RD, CDN, CDE

Lynn is a nutritionist and diabetes educator at the Friedman Diabetes Institute.

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