Renovating recipes: A little nutritional creativity can put pizzazz in diabetic diets


These pineapple squares made with unsweetened pineapple juice are about 40 calories per square.

These pineapple squares made with unsweetened pineapple juice are about 40 calories per square. Photo by: Kelly Tippett


Columbus physician Jacqueline Hampton, pictured, and pharmaceutical company NovoNordisk partnered with the Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute to provide diabetic cooking demonstrations for the doctor’s patients.


From left, Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute students Chris Black, 23, and Audrey Randle, 20, both of West Point, and Jermeka Smith, 22, of Greenville, prepare to demonstrate simple, budget-friendly recipes tailored for diabetics. The future chefs are enrolled in Amanda Dahl’s Demonstration Techniques class.



Jan Swoope



Where is it written that diabetic diets must be bland and limiting? With resources and products available these days, those living with diabetes — almost 350,000 in this state alone, according to The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi — shouldn’t have to sacrifice flavor.


“The most common questions — particularly from people living in the South where we’re used to deep frying food, or cooking with animal fat or bacon grease — are about how to prepare the foods we grew up with and love,” says Amanda Dahl, assistant professor of nutrition at the Mississippi University for Women Culinary Arts Institute.


“Healthier substitutions with ingredients is a main thing,” states the registered dietitian. Partnering with Columbus physician Jacqueline Hampton and pharmaceutical company NovoNordisk, Dahl’s Demonstration Techniques class periodically conducts diabetic cooking demos for the doctor’s patients.



“When you’re baking, instead of regular sugar, use Splenda,” Dahl advises. You can also use egg substitutes (in recipes). Instead of cooking oil, you might use applesauce or other fruit purées. Incorporate more fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains.”


When fresh isn’t an option with vegetables, frozen usually trumps canned.


“Generally, the thing with canned vegetables is that a lot of them are packed in a lot of sodium as a preservation method,” says Dahl. “Most diabetics are also at increased risk of developing heart disease, so it’s very important — you don’t need to consume that salt. With frozen, you can at least control the amount of sodium or fat added. The vegetables are usually frozen at the peak of freshness, too.”



A shift in thinking


Ample Internet and book sources out there offer plenty of inspiration for revising menus and recipes, including these suggestions from


Instead of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, why not try chicken breasts marinated in Italian dressing, then broiled and served with roasted new potatoes and green salad?


Opt out of that sirloin steak, French bread and a baked potato slathered in butter. Instead, how about 6 ounces of lean roast beef, a baked potato with a tablespoon of sour cream and Ry Krisp?


Rather than French toast with butter and syrup, why not try two whole grain waffles with two tablespoons of low-sugar jam?


And instead of a hot fudge sundae, satisfy a sweet tooth with a cup of no-sugar-added ice cream or a cup of sugar-free Jell-O topped with two tablespoons of whipped cream.



Get serious


Noting her practice, like others, has seen an increase in the number of patients with diabetes, Hampton is adamant about education. The cooking demonstrations have been a big hit.


“There’s always a full house; it’s gone over really well,” she says, adding she hopes the program can continue next year.


“You have to take an active role in dealing with diabetes,” the doctor states. “If you’re not willing to take care of yourself, my patients know they need to go somewhere else. They know I’m going to fuss at them about making the changes they need to.”


In today’s food pages, Dahl shares recipes that are “generally low in fat, sodium and cholesterol and are “pretty quick, very inexpensive to make, with ingredients found at local grocery stores.”


What better time than The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi’s Diabetes Discovery Week, March 15-21, to take a fresh look at lifestyle changes in diet and exercise that can help prevent the onset of the disease, or improve your health if you’ve been diagnosed?


Yes, dealing with diabetes creates challenges in the kitchen, but thinking outside the box and moving away from fried and starch-laden meals to those starring more whole grains, poultry, lean meats, seafood and vegetables will pay big benefits for the whole family.



Pineapple squares


(Makes 25 squares)


3/4 cup juice-packed canned pineapple chunks, drained


One large egg


1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice


1/4 teaspoon orange extract


1 tablespoon vegetable oil


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1 teaspoon baking soda


1 teaspoon baking powder


- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with aerosol spray. Measure out 1/4 cup of the pineapple chunks and purée until smooth in a food processor or blender.


- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the puréed pineapple, egg, pineapple juice, orange extract and oil. Beat these ingredients with the mixture while mixer is running. Add the flour, baking soda and powder and remaining pineapple.


- Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 25 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and cut into 25 squares.


Nutrition analysis, per two squares: 82 calories (19 percent calories from fat); 2 grams protein; 1 gram total fat; 0.2 grams saturated fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; trace dietary fiber; 18 milligrams cholesterol; 146 milligrams sodium. Diabetic exchange: One carbohydrate (bread/starch).



Turkey, Roast Beef and Swiss Wrap


One 10-inch low-carb tortilla


Two slices 98 percent fat-free roasted turkey


Two slices 98 percent fat-free roasted roast beef


Two slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese


Two pieces lettuce


Two tomato slices


2 teaspoons fat-free roasted red pepper Italian dressing


- Place wraps on a flat surface. Lay turkey and roast beef evenly across the lower third of the wrap. Place cheese evenly on top of the meat. Add lettuce and tomato over the cheese and drizzle Italian dressing over it.


- Fold the lower lip of the wrap over the ingredients. Give it a good tuck and then begin to roll the wrap, tightening as you go along. When finished rolling, slice in half and serve.


Nutrition analysis, per wrap: 260 calories; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 24 grams protein.



Banana Chocolate Parfaits


(Makes four servings)


1 cup plain low-fat yogurt


One 8-ounce box sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix


Two medium bananas


1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


1/4 cup fat-free frozen dairy whipped topping


1 tablespoon chopped walnuts


Unsweetened cocoa


Four fresh Bing cherries with stems for garnish (optional)


- In a food processor or blender, combine the yogurt and pudding mix until smooth.


- Cut each banana into six pieces on the diagonal; sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent browning.


- Place two banana slices in each of four dessert parfait glasses or goblets. Top with one-quarter of the pudding mix. Top each with 1 tablespoon of whipped topping.


- Using a fine sieve, sift a little cocoa powder on top of each serving. Sprinkle with walnuts and add a cherry on top, if desired.


Nutrition analysis, per serving: 131 calories; 2.7 grams fat; 0.5 grams saturated fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 4.7 grams protein.



Berry Dessert Nachos


(Makes six servings)


3/4 cup fat-free sour cream


3/4 cup frozen fat-free whipped dessert topping, thawed


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Three 10-inch low-carb tortillas


2 teaspoons Splenda


1/2 cup each of strawberries and blueberries


2 tablespoons nuts, almonds, sliced


2 teaspoons grated semisweet chocolate


- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together fat-free sour cream, dessert topping, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Cover and chill while preparing tortillas.


- Lightly spray both sides of each tortilla with the cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together Splenda and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over tortillas. Cut each tortilla into eight wedges and arrange on two ungreased baking sheets. Bake for eight to ten minutes or until crisp. Cool completely.


- To serve, divide tortilla wedges among six dessert plates. Top with strawberries and blueberries and the fat-free sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with almonds and grated chocolate.


Nutrition information (per serving): 123 calories; 5.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5.5 grams fiber; 5



Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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