How to A-REST Your Easter Meal

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By: Gerri French

Celebrating a holiday usually involvesenjoying certain traditional foods. It’s notnecessary to purchase special cookbooksfor diabetes-friendly holiday recipes. Modifying your favorite recipes to improvetheir nutritional value can producewonderful results as well as some surprises.Decreasing the carbohydrates, calories andfat in many recipes will result in dishes thatare more nutrient-dense, which can lead tobetter health and increased longevity.

As you keep cooking with natural foods,you will learn how easily you can modifyyour old favorites. Use the acronym “A-REST”to guide you as you alter yourrecipes, improving their nutritional value.


A = Be aware of what ingredients should be changed.For people with diabetes, this usually means refinedcarbohydrates, simple sugars, animal fats and high-calorieingredients.

R = Reduce the amount of an ingredient. This is easy to doand produces results acceptable to most people.

E = Eliminate an ingredient. This produces an entirelydifferent product which may not satisfy you and yourfamily. For example, completely omitting the cheese in arecipe may not lead to a success at your dinner table.

S = Substitute another more wholesome ingredient. Thisresults in a dish that is more healthful than the original.Adding vegetables, for example, adds color as well as fiber,antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

T = Try it!


Traditional Easter Meal

Traditional Food and Nutrients Suggested Changes Benefits
Ham
Calories, fat, protein, sodium
Glaze
Sugar, calories
Purchase hams with the bone in and serve with the natural juices. The “honey-cured” hams add about 5 grams of sugar per 3 ounces. The glaze can be eliminated; substitute a mustard sauce sweetened with a very small amount of honey or Splenda. Guests can remove the outside fat. Bone-in hams are more flavorful. The bone can be used for making a hearty soup.
The more flavorful meat should be more satisfying; a 4- to 6-ounce portion should suffice even at a holiday meal. Less calories, sugar and fat.
Buttered and Sweetened Sweet Potatoes
Carbohydrates, vitamin A, fiber
Use less butter, or use whipped or light butter.
Sweet potatoes are naturally very sweet without added sugars. Try using less sugar, or use one or two tablespoons of orange juice or maple syrup, or use an artificial sweetener.
Consider serving roasted sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and other root vegetables (see recipe).
Less calories, less fat and less sugar.
Substituting roasted mixed vegetables will reduce the amount of carbohydrates because there are fewer potatoes per serving. Don’t peel the sweet potatoes or the regular potatoes; the skins are high in fiber.
Garlic and onions add flavor, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Creamed Spinach
Fat, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium
Consider eliminating the cream this year and serve this instead: sautéed mixed greens (see recipe). Using a mixture of greens adds different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Less fat and calories.
Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber
Substitute coleslaw or a nine-layer salad (see recipe). Less calories and carbohydrates.
Biscuits
Refined carbohydrates
Bake cornbread made with part soy flour and whole grain flour; use minimal sugar or Splenda. Provides the added heart benefits of soy, plus more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Wine
Extra calories, polyphenols
Fruit Juice
Sugar, vitamins
Pour smaller servings of alcohol.
Drink water or sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice.
Drink sparkling or plain water.
Less calories, more energy.
One glass of red wine will provide phytonutrients and is beneficial for heart health.
Water is the “Champagne of life.”

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