If people with diabetes should restrict carbohydrate what’s left? Well, pretty obvious isn’t it? Vegetables. Yes, if you’re restricting carbs then you need to fill up on something, but, and it’s a big BUT for some people, they say they don’t like vegetables. My first reaction to that is “How can you not like vegetables?” I mean a carrot tastes nothing like a Brussel sprout, so even if you don’t like sprouts, there must be some veggie you can stand the taste of. So I set out to compile a list of interesting things to do with vegetables. Most I have tried and enjoyed. I hope this will help newly diagnosed people, and also those not so newly diagnosed, but looking for new ideas.
Firstly if you have been used to eating a lot of carbohydrate – and those people born in the 70s will be used to that – then substitutes are the place to start. What can take the place of mashed potato/jacket potato/pasta and rice? The things you use as a base for sauce. I have used the substitutes and find them acceptable and actually in some cases I like them more than the originals.
Baked potatoes - substitute a sweet potato and you shave 10g carbs per 100g off a traditional baked potato, plus they are lower GI/GL (as I understand it). Even better, in Autumn use one of the lovely little autumn varieties of squash, such as Festival Squash cut in half, seeds scooped out, sprayed with oil and baked in the oven, the texture is filling and the taste is absolutely delicious plus they are only about 2.2g carb per 100g!
Mashed potatoes - lots of choices here! Peel and make fairly large dice out of sweet potatoes, spray with oil and roast in the oven for about 40 mins until blackened round the edges, at 20 mins throw a whole bulb of garlic into the oven and spray again. When they are done, either puree them in a food processor or mash with the garlic squeezed out of the roasted garlic bulb and a knob of butter.
Celeriac, boil until tender and mash – this is virtually zilch carbs – if you like add a large spoonful of garlic and herb cream cheese, or boil a couple of garlic cloves with the celeriac and mash together.
Pumpkin, treat the same way as the sweet potatoes, and a further twist is to pack the pumpkin mash into an ovenproof dish, top with grated cheese and bake until browned.
Cauliflower, steam or microwave cauli (it must be very fresh or it will taste too strong) until it’s very soft and then mash with black pepper, butter and cream – or the garlic and herb soft cheese.
Carrot and Swede. Boil until tender and puree with butter – use to top a shepherd’s pie made with lamb mince – delicious! Or just mash coarsely as an accompaniment to stews.
Butternut squash – treat as sweet potatoes but add a dash of cinnamon for sweetness.
Butter bean mash – one of my favourites – a little higher in carbs than some at 16.8g per 100g but really delicious. Finely slice an onion and gently fry until browned with some crushed peeled garlic. If you use canned beans drain them and rinse them and then warm them in some water, drain and put into a food processor, or mash them with a little of the liquid you warmed them in. Add the onions/garlic and mash well – actually I cannot see this working with a masher, (I love my food processor which is all of 30 odd years old and still going strong). Add a good handful of chopped herbs to your taste and mix well.
Pasta, what can be used instead of pasta? Here I am a teeny bit short of ideas, but three spring to mind right away. Spaghetti Squash is an excellent substitute, unfortunately it”s not very easy to get your hands on any. I once had one given from a friend who grew some. It was baked in the oven for about 1.5 hours and then cut open and the spaghetti scooped out, a dollop of butter onto it and it made a marvellous base for a Bolognaise sauce.
Alternatively there’s a recipe on the forum for courgette tagliatelle and you can use griddled or grilled courgettes in place of lasagna sheets, also griddled or grilled Aubergine in place of lasagna. Just spray them with oil and grill or griddle until lightly browned.
Cauli Rice makes a good substitute for rice. Grate a very fresh cauli (I use the grating disk of a food processor to do this), and then lightly steam it, or stir fry it with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Goes well with any type of curry or with Beef Stroganoff.
Then again, this is about comfort food and rather than using substitutes for things we’re used to… what about thinking out of the box? I adore Lentils and they’re very comforting and useful as “stodge”. There’s a great recipe here for Lentils with Ginger (Lentils once cooked are around 16g carb per 100g). Celeriac Dauphinoise is another comfort food, recipe here
Beans are another great resource at between 9 and 16g per 100g cooked. Try making your own baked beans with canned tomatoes and herbs, or a Spanish style bean stew.
Pizza – Before going on to vegetables as vegetables, I just wanted to mention a fantastic low carb pizza base that Ziggy posted a recipe for. Experiment with your own toppings.
So what can you do with vegetables. A few ideas…
Aubergine try Aubergine, sweet potato and chick pea curry or simply griddle it, or use it in Moussaka. Also it’s lovely roast in Mediterranean Veggies. Chop up your Aubergine into largish chunks, add Courgettes, red onions or shallots, butternut squash, Green, red or yellow peppers, carrots, mushrooms – or any combination your imagination can think up (I don’t like to put tomatoes in because they tend to make the roast veggies too sloppy and watery). Toss in a generous glug of olive oil, add fresh basil leaves and some peeled garlic cloves and roast for approx 40 minutes, in the last 10 minutes you can add sliced goat’s cheese or feta. Aubergine Parmigiano is another lovely recipe, but a bit faffy.
Artichokes use the hearts in salads – or add to the roasted veggies. Jerusalem artichokes are wonderful and I wish I could get my hands on these little knobbly veggies more often. See the recipe for Jerusalem artichokes with pork sausages
Asparagus eat as a veggie lightly steamed or add to salads whilst still war. It\’s delicious with Hollandaise sauce. Or toss it with a few blanched and toasted almonds and a little olive oil, then stir fry.
Beans, green brilliant in any stir fries. Combine with mini corn, Pak Choi and tinned drained water chestnuts, green or red peppers, stir fry in a little Sesame oil and top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Or use the Thai seasoning from the herb/spice section of your supermarket – or simply toss in a little soy sauce.
Broccoli. Steam or microwave lightly, don’t forget to slice up the stalk bit and add to the florets. Cook in cheese sauce in the oven combined with cauliflower or on it’s own. Top with grated parmesan or cheddar, or to ring the changes use a blue cheese such as Dolcelatte, Gorgonzola or Stilton.
Brussels Sprouts, there’s the obvious Christmas dish where you toss them with Chestnuts, but try them sliced and fried with sliced mushrooms and onions. Use them as “Bubble and Squeak” with the mashed celeriac. I have done this recipe for Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic and Parmesan and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Carrots – toss in butter and sprinkle with Caraway seeds, or try Fennel Seeds. Cook until tender, put into a frying pan with a knob of butter and some chopped Dill, fry until lightly caramellised. Try sprinkling them with cumin, cinnamon and black pepper.
Cabbage – I like to dry fry some Pancetta or diced streaky bacon, chop cabbage and add a thinly sliced leek. Add to the bacon in the pan and toss until cooked through, add a couple of tablespoons full of double or sour cream and black pepper before serving. Or chop cabbage finely, add a grated cooking apple, and a cup of cider, pop in the oven and cook for about 1 hour until tender and the cider has reduced to a sticky glaze. You can also do this with red cabbage but I tend to add a bit of Splenda to red cabbage.
Cauliflower - Everyone knows how to make Cauli cheese, but if you want to be a bit more adventurous try this recipe by Jamie Oliver. I’ve done it for a dinner party and it was very well recieved. There are lots of lovely recipes for Cauliflower only a google away. I had a half cauli left the other day and I cut it into florets and roasted it in the oven with a chopped up Fennel bulb and a couple of red onions after tossing everything in olive oil and sprinkling with Balsamic vinegar.
Chicory is something people don’t use a lot, but it’s a very useful addition to salads and I like it cooked too. I cut it in half lengthwise, saute it in a mix of butter and olive oil, just enough to colour the cut side, then pop it into an oven proof dish, insert a sliver of garlic into each piece, drizzle lemon juice over and grate parmesan on top, cook for 20 mins.
Courgettes I have already mentioned, however, try them in a cheese sauce baked in the oven. Or sliced and simply fried with some chopped Tarragon.
Fennel is another veggie that’s nice sliced raw and added to salads. It’s also great roasted, or add it, thinly sliced to the Celeriac Dauphinoise recipe. I’ve also done this recipe which we enjoyed.
Kale isn’t something I have cooked very much. I did have a recipe that involved Goat’s cheese that I did a few times, but I cannot find it. However there are lots of recipes here which is a recipe site I use quite a lot for inspiration.
To be continued…..