Posted by: andreaslewis | April 5, 2010

Perimeter Shopping & Lists

Many grocery stores are organized in very similar ways.  Am I saying that aisle 10 is always the frozen pizza aisle?  No.  What I am talking about today is the perimeter of the store.  The perimeter of most grocery stores consists of the bakery, produce section, fresh meat department, and the dairy section.  Coincidentally, these sections make up the bulk of the foods needed for a healthy and balanced diet.  So the challenge is to try and avoid the center aisles that contain the pre-packaged foods that are typically higher in calories, fat, sodium, and preservatives.  According to a step-by-step article on perimeter shoping, filling up your cart first with fresh produce can help encourage better choices throughout the rest of the shopping trip as well.

Understandably, there are going to be staples that you will need like flour and other baking supplies that are located within the aisles.  This is when a shopping list becomes more important.  Sticking to a shopping list while venturing down the aisles will help you stay focused consequently keep you from buying items that you do not need.  Discovery Health’s website offers an article on the 10 Musts for a Diabetics Grocery List.

I challenge you to try some of these suggestions and see if they help in bringing healthier foods into the home.

Posted by: andreaslewis | April 5, 2010

Price Matching

I have frequently heard the debate that the reason people do not eat many fruits and vegetables or other healthy food items is because they are “too expensive.”  Well, I am happy to take care of this problem right here, right now.  All it will take are your local ads for the week, a pen, and about 5 minutes.  Did you see, I didn’t even mention pesky, time consuming coupons!

Step #1:  Go through your ads and find the items that you want to buy and circle the ones that are priced the best.

Step #2:  Go to Wal-Mart or Target*

Step #3:  Fill your grocery cart with the circled items in your ads plus any other items you may need.

Step #4:  Proceed to the checkout with the ads in hand.  As I place my groceries in my cart and then later on the checkout conveyor belt, I try to place the items I am price matching on top of the ad that they coordinate with.  I find that this simple step can save a ton of time in the end.

Step #5:  Be kind and help out the cashier in locating the different items that you are matching in the ads (this is when the time spent circling the items pays off).

Step #6:  Enjoy your savings!

See, that wasn’t that hard.  Ever since my husband and I have converted to price matching, our grocery bill has gone down to around $30-35 a week and we are eating more vegetables and fruit and in a greater variety than we ever did before.  So I challenge you to give it a try, and if you have questions the people at customer service have always been very helpful.

*I am from the northwestern part of the US, and around here Target and Wal-Mart are the best places for price matching.  If you live in a different area of the country there may be other stores that are better.  If so, please leave a comment and let us know.

Posted by: andreaslewis | April 5, 2010

Magic Foods for Better Blood Sugar

I was gifted this book by my great-grandmother-to-be as a bridal shower present.  I know it is not the typical bridal shower gift, but over the past three years it has become the most used and well loved gift I received that day.

The Magic Foods book is broken into four parts:

  • The New Blood Sugar Solution
  • The Magic Foods
  • Meal Makeovers
  • Magic Recipes and Meal Plans

Two sections of this book have been of particular interest and enjoyment.  The first is the section they call magic foods.  This section highlights foods that contribute to good blood sugar levels.  Each food is given an entire page where the food item is discussed, the glycemic load is rated, a perfect portion size is assigned, health bonuses of the food are discussed, and ways to incorporate this food item into you diet are shared.

My other favorite section is the recipe section.  There is everything from breakfast recipes, to appetizers, and even desserts!  The directions are clear and straightforward and many of the recipes are coupled with full color pictures.  My favorite aspect is definitely the fact that none of the recipes call for artificial sweeteners.  Additionally, the nutritional facts per serving are given.

My husband and I have enjoyed trying many of the recipes as well as reading about the different magic foods and incorporating more of them into our diet.  One of the recipes that we love the most and use frequently is the multi-grain pancakes or waffles, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Multi-Grain Pancakes or Waffles

Serves 8

2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

11/2 cups sliced strawberries or blueberries

1.  Mix the buttermilk and oats in a small bowl.  Let stand for 15 minutes.

2.  Whisk the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

3.  Whisk the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Add the buttermilk mixture.  Add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until flour mixture is moistened.

4.  To cook the pancakes:  Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray.  Heat over medium heat.  Spoon about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake into the skillet and cook until bottoms are golden and small bubbles start to form on top, about 3 minutes.  Flip the pancakes and cook until browned and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.  (Adjust the heat as necessary for even browning.)  Keep the pancakes warm in a 200 degrees F (90 decrees C) oven while you finish cooking remaining batter.

To cook the waffles:  Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray.  Heat the iron.  Spoon in enough of the batter to cover three-quarters of the surface, close the iron, and cook until the waffles are crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Keep the waffles warm in a 200 degree F (90 degree C) oven while you finish cooking the remaining batter.

5.  Top with berries or syrup (I’d suggest not doing syrup if you’re a diabetic) or whatever topping you prefer.  Wrap any leftover pancakes or waffles individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.  Reheat in a toaster or toaster oven.

I just found a pretty in-depth review of the book from a diabetic cookbook critic, click [here] to read it.  The book can be purchased through the Reader’s Digest website as well as many other online book distributors.  Hope you enjoy this book as much as I have!

Posted by: andreaslewis | April 5, 2010

Diabetes and Oral Health

There is the list of checkups that most all diabetics know about from regular eye exams to regular A1c testing.  But what about a regular dental visit?  According to the American Diabetes Association, “…if you have diabetes, you are at higher risk for gum problems.  Poor blood glucose control makes gum problems more likely.”

The Mayo Clinic‘s website suggests that diabetics brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and visit a dentist twice a year.  The American Diabetes Association also notes that you should not visit the dentist if your blood sugar is not in control.

Posted by: andreaslewis | April 5, 2010

The Vegetable Challenge

You have been diagnosed with diabetes.  You’re looking over the menu suggestions and the lists of foods that are best for your blood sugar.  You notice that there are a lot of vegetables on the list… A LOT!!!  You think to yourself, “Wow!  That’s a lot of  vegetables.  I’ve never eaten that many vegetables.  Maybe I can eat that many vegetables.”  So you give it a shot.  You pack fresh cut veggies in your lunch, you have  a green salad with every dinner, and when you’re craving a snack you force yourself to grab some celery sticks.  This lasts for about two days before you never want to see another vegetable again.  Sure, you’re proud of your behavior change, but lets face it, raw vegetables can get really old really quick for many of us, especially if we have not had them as a part of our regular diet up until then.  So what should you do?  You can’t give up vegetables.

Allow me to make a few suggestions that may cure your vegetable aversion:

  • Tip #1:  Variety is key.  Explore new vegetables.  Eating carrot sticks with your lunch every day, celery as your go-to snack, and a simple green salad with dinner every night is sure to get old and turn your taste buds away quickly.  Challenge yourself to get at least one different vegetable from your normal fair every time you purchase veggies.  Another way to work in variety is to simply buy whatever items are in season.  Eventually you will get through all the vegetables your produce provider carries.
  • Tip #2:  Preparation techniques can drastically change the palate-ability of many vegetables.  For example,  I thought I hated tomatoes (yes I’m aware that technically they are a fruit, but just work with me on this one), however, over the past few years I have come to find that I love roasted tomatoes and cooked tomatoes in soups.  I still hate raw tomatoes, but by simply preparing them differently I have allowed one more vegetable to enter my veggie rotation.  So go ahead, try vegetables raw, steamed, stewed into soups, and grilled.  Check out TLC’s Cooking section to get ideas on vegetable preparation techniques as well as recipe ideas.
  • Tip #3:  Spice it up!  Salt and pepper aren’t the only things you can use to season your vegetables.  In fact, I suggest dropping the salt completely and in it’s place use fresh herbs, citrus, or dried seasoning blends.  My personal favorites come from the Mrs. Dash product line.
  • Tip #4:  Puree and hide the vegetables that you have a harder time eating and incorporate them into baked goods and sauces.  In order to do this, begin by steaming the vegetables in minimal water.  Transfer the vegetables to a food processor or blender and puree until they reach a desired consistency.  Pureed carrots, broccoli, and zucchini work great in a red sauce and pureed cauliflower works well in white sauces.  Outside of pureeing vegetables, I have also finely shredded certain vegetables and mixed them into dishes such as omelets.
  • Tip #5:  Fork it.  Many of us believe that a salad is not complete without the dressing, however, there’s not much room for ranch and such dressings on a diabetic’s meal plan.  If you don’t feel like you can skip out on the dressing and that items such as salsa and herbs wont cut it, try this new approach.  Pour your dressing in a small dish instead of on your salad, then dip the tines of your fork in the dressing before forking the salad.  This method allows for a bit of dressing on every bite, yet results in consuming a significant amount less.  Other options include transferring your dressing to a traditional condiments container with a small tip so that you can get greater coverage on the salad without overloading it with dressing.  Many companies are also beginning to make certain salad dressings in squirt bottles so that you can mist the salad with flavor instead of drenching it.  Might I suggest one last tip:  make your own dressing.  Use fresh herbs, minced onion and garlic, plain yogurt, and fat free sour cream for a tasty, yet healthier dressing option.

Above all, have fun with your vegetables, they are not a punishment, and disregard all those times your mom told you to not play with your vegetables!

Posted by: andreaslewis | April 5, 2010

Online Diabetes Tracking

Tracking diabetes testing results can be very difficult.  Thankfully, new web-based innovations are making this task easier by creating online tracking options that allow the diabetic, family, friends, and doctors to see how the diabetes management process is going and where help may be needed.  This new method eliminates the need for the paper and pen option.

One such program that I found was SugarStats.  SugarStats offers both a free and a paid membership.  According to the information on their website, “SugarStats provides online diabetes management, community support and collaborative sharing to motivate and improve health.”  “With SugarStats you will be able to:  visualize your progress, meet other diabetics, share your statistics, get rid of that pen and paper log, track and manage, and drill down into specific time frames to get a clear picture of your stats over time.”  Below is a picture of what someone’s personal page on SugarStats may look like:

Other such programs exist.  I would suggest using a search engine such as Google to locate such programs as well as reviews.  Do your homework, and never give out personal information to sites that are not secure.  Please comment if you have used SugarStats or any related program to let us know what works best for you!