Dining out can often be the largest hurdle and a treacherous culinary path for diabetics and anyone who, for whatever reason, favors a particular diet program.
"Dining out" covers everything from restaurant meals (gourmet to the grab-and-go drive-thru) to family get-togethers and all the other reasons you find yourself in the center of a feeding frenzy when it's time to eat.
Food doesn't affect everyone in the same way, and it takes a little practice to see what you can and can't enjoy when dining away from home. Your new eating habits may accommodate more taste treats than you realize and still keep you feeling comfortable about your intake.
I heard from Beverly Page, staff assistant in Charleston Mayor Danny Jones' office, about where she and her husband like to go. Since they both prefer to limit fats, they recommend A Taste of Asia in South Charleston "because they steam the vegetables and have a fat-free garlic sauce that is very good."
One note of caution about eating out: you may develop peculiar dining routines. I do recall the waiter at a Carrabba's Italian restaurant (not in this city, alas) who quizzically observed my sizeable "haystack" of diced potatoes that I had carefully lifted from my bowl of minestrone and placed on the plate. He inquired if I found anything wrong about them. I explained that I kept an eye on carbs and wanted to have their bread (house made in a brick oven, but white, not wheat) and dipping oil instead of white potatoes that go-round. He was satisfied.
I would love to hear from juvenile diabetics (still junior to adult) and those who cook for them. Please share how and where you eat healthfully in the pizza-nacho-Blizzards-Slurpees-spaghetti-cheesy mac world. That is outside my experience. And send your favorite recipes. You are a large segment of the diabetic population.
The late Dorothy Arthur, a friendly acquaintance from earlier years, had the distinction of being the first diagnosed juvenile diabetic in West Virginia. I once asked her what food she would have loved to try, but was never a part of her diet. We can all probably relate to her immediate answer: chocolate.
To keep you going until you eat out again, I dug around for at-home recipe ideas that might appeal to the junior division.
Next time, the first in the restaurant series.
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 small cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces ground turkey*
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with puree
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook carrot, onion, celery and garlic in skillet or pot, sprayed with cooking spray, on low until softened. Add turkey, cooking until no longer pink, breaking up larger pieces; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to boil on high; immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often. Serve over whole wheat or multigrain pasta. Makes 8 servings.
*Wal-Mart carries Honeysuckle White Italian-flavored ground turkey (not a turkey sausage), perfect for this recipe.
Note: Here's a tip about "breaking up larger pieces" when browning meat. I cook it and separate the meat as well as I can with fork, but not as intensely as in earlier days. Drain, then process in food processor until evenly crumbly, then back into skillet or pot and continue recipe. So much easier than poking and mashing by hand. The particles never seem to get small and uniform enough anyway. It doesn't hurt if meat is still a tad pink when it goes into processor - it cooks well when placed back in skillet.
Nutrition information: (1/8 recipe, but 1/2 cup sauce is generally one carb choice, if you don't want to divide sauce into portions) 90 calories; 20 calories from fat; 2.5 grams fat; 0.5 grams saturated fat; 20 milligrams cholesterol; 290 milligrams sodium; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 7 grams protein.
Border-style turkey burger