Just saying the word cooking for many people feels overwhelming. Cooking doesn’t always mean following a 10 step recipe though. It can be simplified with some meal planning and a well-stocked kitchen. Cooking basically means putting some healthy ingredients together. Whether or not you like to cook, we all do it and should be doing more of it. Cooking at home helps us to eat healthier by reducing processed foods and makes it easier to control carb intake. When you cook at home, you control the ingredients and the portions served. This is so important for people with diabetes who need to follow a healthy meal plan.
I often get questions about cooking healthy lower carb meals. I encourage the diabetes plate method (Create Your Plate) as a starting point. An ideal plate is ½ non-starchy vegetables, ¼ starch, and ¼ protein. Carbs aren’t a food group to completely avoid. Goals for carbs should be individualized. Many people struggle eating smaller portions of rice, pasta, or potatoes. Sometimes it’s helpful to know how to make some changes to lower carbs at meals.
I enjoy trying to make recipes healthier with some simple substitutions. Ingredients in recipes do have specific functions, so follow a recipe if you aren’t sure about making changes. Instead of focusing on foods to eliminate, think of these substitutes as foods you can add. Try half rice and half cauliflower rice. And another bonus- all of these are healthy plant substitutions. When looking for recipes try some of the ideas shown at the end of this article (see below).
There are many other healthy recipes substations you can do. Review your recipes and pick some foods you can drop and swap. Another benefit of cooking is being able to plan and enjoy some healthy leftovers. Keep your kitchen stocked, meal plan, prep foods, and be creative with recipes. Maybe staying in is better than going out!
by Christine McKinney, RD LDN CD