When carb counting is an issue because one is keeping blood sugar in a healthy range, a lot of cuisine options become fraught with peril. A whole, magnificent world of pasta becomes a thing of the past, as do Asian noodle dishes, and dishes customarily served with rice, like curries and stir-fries. A modest portion of rice or noodles is an option, but the psychological reality is that when you are already a bit bedeviled by having restrictions on your diet, it’s often necessary to have the feeling that you are “allowed” to eat hearty portions of something. The half-cup portion of rice or pasta that fits our diet just doesn’t fit the “abundance” profile. Once every couple of weeks we splurge on some Thai or Indian, but most of the time it’s a hunk o’ protein, a modest portion of carbs, and the star of our show: the side dish.
Tonight we had Italian sausages in whole grain buns, with my “Easy Caprese” salad on the side. The buns have only 21 grams of carbohydrate, and the cup of cherry tomatoes in a serving of the salad add only 5 carbs, so we can eat what feels like a very filling meal for fewer than our 30 carb limit. The “Easy Caprese” really is the easiest thing in the world: slice a cup of cherry tomatoes per person in half, and mix with a purchased 12 ounce package of marinated mozarella balls. Use the marinade in the package as a dressing. I serve it with a slotted spoon so that most of the oil drains out; you could also drain most of it from the package before mixing. It’s fresh, it’s delicious, it uses the tomatoes that are just coming into season, and it takes all of 5 minutes if you’re a skilled slicer of tomatoes. Do not underestimate the seductive charms of silky little balls of cheese balanced against the firm sweetness of ripe tomatoes and the tang of oregano and basil.
Another side that tastes decadent but fits our “rules” is a Cheesy Squash Bake. It’s the closest I get, these days, to my beloved macaroni and cheese, and it’s a good and healthy way to use some of the gross ton of zucchini that seems to appear around this time every year. I have doubled the cheese because it is low-liability for us and makes the dish really luxurious; if you are concerned about calories as well as carbs, you are welcome to use only half a cup.
Cheesy Squash Bake
(adapted from Diabetic Living’s “Our Best Diabetic Recipes”)
6 1/2 cup servings
7 net carbs per serving
- 1 pound yellow summer squash and/or zucchini, sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon reduced-fat margarine (I use real butter)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a large saucepan, cook squash and onion in a small amount of boiling water 8-10 minutes or until tender; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt margarine r butter over medium heat. Stir in flour. Add milk all at once; cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbbly. Remove from heat. Add shredded cheese, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; stir until cheese is melted. Add the drained squash mixture; toss gently to coat the vegetable mixture.
3. Coat a 1 to 1 1/2 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the squash mixture into the prepared dish, Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 15 minutes or until top is golden.