Balance Your Blood Sugar

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Oven-Fried Chicken is good with a diabetes-friendly side dish, such as whipped cauliflower.
2 / 5
Chicken and Bean Tostadas are easy to make and delicious.
3 / 5
Sarah Vaughan, Waterville, Maine, sells Scrumptious Chocolate Coconut Squares to both diabetic and non-diabetic customers.
4 / 5
Pasta Gardena is, like most things, best when served with fresh, homegrown tomatoes.
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A sugarless apple pie tops off a meal with a touch of sweetness.
Chicken and Bean Tostadas
Oven Fried Chicken
Old-Fashioned Pork Spareribs
Diabetic Sugarless Apple Pie
Pasta Gardena
Butterscotch Pumpkin Pie
Diabetic Eggplant Salad
Scrumptious Chocolate Coconut Squares

Diabetes affects more than 81 million of us in the United States, whether we know it or not. Americans with diabetes – both diagnosed and undiagnosed – number close to 24 million, with 57 million said to be pre-diabetic. With numbers like that, it’s a fair bet this disease directly affects you or someone you know. Cases of diabetes increased 13.5 percent from 2005 to 2007. According to the American Diabetes Association, if statistics hold true, one of three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

The association focuses on diabetes education, particularly during American Diabetes Month in November. This year, the ADA asks, “Why should you care about diabetes?” taking a look at all the possible complications of diabetes while raising awareness of the chronic and progressive disease. Complications arise when high blood glucose levels continue unabated, leading to heart disease and strokes, kidney disease, amputations and blindness.

Type 1 diabetes most frequently appears during childhood, when the pancreas quits making the hormone insulin, allowing glucose levels to rise to dangerous levels in the bloodstream. This form of the disease requires insulin injections to control.

Many people with Type 2 diabetes – and I count myself among that number – can control the disease through diet and exercise, with oral medications added as needed, at least initially. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin levels are somewhat decreased (the pancreas is slowing down) or the hormone is unable to do its job of allowing glucose to enter the cells to be burned as fuel (commonly known as insulin resistance).

Eating plans vary from person to person. Recent research points to a low-carb diet as a so-called cure for diabetes, and another new cookbook I have touts high fiber as the solution (which, of course, contradicts the low-carb philosophy). Of course, there’s also the Glycemic Index to add to the mix. Sometimes the methods of treating diabetes are as confusing as the disease itself. And the way in which each diabetic deals with her or his disease is individualized as well.

What I eat (and how much) has been a struggle since Day 1 of my diagnosis, and it continues on a daily basis. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m a chocoholic and I like to eat!

Many experts point to processed foods, large portions, stress and sedentary lifestyles as the major contenders causing today’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. Weight and diabetes are closely linked, and I, for one, can trace my diabetes to years of fast food and sporadic to nonexistent exercise. The fast-food craze has been fairly easy to overcome on my part, but that exercise component is a tough one. I’d much rather be reading a book than exercising.

I have found the magazine Diabetic Cooking to be helpful, and a couple of the newer cookbooks I own might be of assistance: Eating Well Diabetes Cookbook; Prevention’s Diabetes Diet Cookbook; and Fix-It and Enjoy-It! Diabetic Cookbook. Many cookbooks also contain a variety of information about the disease. The American Diabetes Association’s Web site,, offers myriad information as well as a number of books and publications to help diabetics with all phases of the disease.

The following eight recipes have been offered by other Grit readers; some have dietary information attached. Consider ingredients carefully, and make an intelligent decision as to whether a recipe fits into your individualized eating plan.

Let us know how you cope with diabetes – motivational tips, recipes, diagnosis stories and more are welcome. E-mail me at, or visit our forums.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes from Diabetic Cooking, a bimonthly magazine I recently discovered, thanks to my niece’s scouting troop.


¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 green, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup chunky salsa, divided
1 can (15 ounces) fat-free refried beans
8 prepared tostada shells
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or green onion
Coat large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat until hot. Add chicken, bell pepper, onion and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in 3/4 cup salsa. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
Meanwhile, combine beans with remaining 1/4 cup salsa. Heat in microwave on high 3 minutes or in saucepan over medium-low heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Spread mixture over tostada shells. Top with chicken mixture and cilantro. Yields 4 servings (2 tostada shells, 1/2 cup bean mixture and 2/3 cup chicken per serving).
One serving equals 349 calories, 8 g fat, 27 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates, 49 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 766 mg sodium, and 21/2 starch and 3 meat dietary exchanges.

Brenda Abernathy, Edgewood, Maryland, writes, “I found this recipe after my dad was diagnosed with diabetes. The recipe is a little spicy for me, but my dad loves it. I usually make a whipped cauliflower dish as a side, as a substitute for potatoes.”


Nonstick cooking spray
2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 cups plain nonfat organic yogurt
2 cups Special K cereal, crushed with rolling pin or in food processor
Heat oven to 375°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In large plastic bag, combine salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil and garlic powder. Shake well. Add two breasts at a time to bag and shake to coat chicken. Continue until all chicken breasts are coated.
Place yogurt in large bowl and cereal on large plate. Dip each breast in yogurt, and then in cereal. Place each chicken breast on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35-45 minutes.

Viola Smeins, Loveland, Colorado, has been cooking for a diabetic husband for 60 years. “I had to learn how to prepare a balanced meal to fit his rigid schedule. At that time, sugar was not to be used in a diabetic’s diet. These are from my recipe file. My husband and family really enjoyed the spareribs. They are easy to prepare on top of the stove.”


3 pounds lean pork spareribs
1 pint water, or enough to cover ribs
1 pint tomato juice or pureed tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
In large, covered skillet, place spareribs and water and bring to a boil. Simmer until grease is well out of ribs. Drain to remove water and grease. Add tomato juice, salt and pepper. Simmer 1 hour, or until ribs are brown and tender.


Double crust for 9-inch pie
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 can (6 ounces) frozen apple juice, thawed
5-6 Jonathan apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
Heat oven to 450°F. Place bottom crust in pie plate; set aside.
In medium saucepan, stir flour,
cinnamon and salt. Gradually stir in apple juice; bring to a boil. Add apples and coat with thickened juice.
Fill pie shell with apple mixture. Dot with butter, add top crust and seal. Bake 15 minutes; lower heat to 350°F and continue baking for 30-35 minutes.

Muriel Kroening, Berlin, Wisconsin, sent a number of recipes, including Pasta Gardena.


8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, or other pasta
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried basil
Dash salt
Dash pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. While pasta cooks, combine oil and vinegar in jar; cover and shake vigorously.
In large skillet, combine cooked pasta, oil-vinegar mixture and tomatoes. Heat over low heat, tossing gently. Add parsley, basil, salt and pepper; heat thoroughly. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese. Yields 4-5 servings.


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
3 packets Equal
1 package (1 ounce) sugar-free instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 cup lowfat milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup light whipped topping
½ teaspoon vanilla
Combine crumbs, melted butter and Equal; pat into 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes; cool. Combine pudding mix and milk; beat well. Stir in pumpkin. Add cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well.
Pour into crust and chill at least 2 hours. Combine whipped topping and vanilla.
Serve each slice of pie with 2 tablespoons topping. One serving equals 2 1/2 fats, 1 starch and 148 calories.


1 medium eggplant (about 1¼ pounds)
4 medium tomatoes (4 cups)
3 hard-boiled eggs, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup lowfat French salad dressing
½ teaspoon pepper
Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Place, cut edge down, in greased, 9-inch square baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until tender. Cool, peel and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in large bowl.
Add tomatoes, eggs and onion. Add dressing and pepper. Toss, cover and chill 1 hour before serving. Yields 10 servings. One serving equals 2 vegetables, 1/2 fat and 76 calories.

Sarah Vaughan, Waterville, Maine, also sent a few recipes. “I bake for sales at the hospital where I volunteer. After being asked why we had no sugar-free items, I went to the diabetic dietician, and she gave me several. The Chocolate Coconut Squares were purchased by non-diabetic people as well. I hope they give you as much pleasure,” Sarah writes.


½ cup margarine
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut, divided
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup lowfat 2 percent evaporated milk
½ cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-by-13-inch baking pan, melt margarine in oven; remove pan. Sprinkle crumbs over margarine, stir well and press mixture into bottom of pan. Sprinkle nuts, 1/2 cup coconut and chips over crumbs.
In 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl, combine evaporated milk and Splenda. Pour evenly over chips; sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Bars are difficult to cut when hot, so be sure to store overnight in refrigerator, and then cut into bars. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Yields 48 bars. One bar equals 90 calories, 50 from fat, 5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol and 8 g sugar; 1/2 starch and 1 fat exchange.

Meatloaf with a twist

Marilyn Steele, Flint, Michigan, lost her recipe for a meatloaf recipe that contains oatmeal and chicken with rice soup.

A number of readers sent recipes containing oatmeal. We didn’t, however, receive any that included chicken with rice soup. Sallie VanEver, Mount Dora, Florida, sends a recipe containing oatmeal, but no soup. She writes, “I have used the Campbell’s prize-winning meatloaf recipe from the Quaker’s oatmeal box since the 1960s. I believe this is the recipe that Marilyn is looking for.” Perhaps the chicken with rice soup was used in place of the tomato juice. What do you think, readers?


1 cup tomato juice
¾ cup uncooked oats, quick or old-fashioned
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ pounds lean ground beef
Heat oven to 350°F. Combine juice, oats, egg, onion, salt and pepper; mix well. Add beef; mix lightly but thoroughly. Press into 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Yields 8 servings.

The Recipe Link, at the Web site,, has a couple of meatloaf with soup recipes posted. One of these might be what Marilyn remembers.


1½ pounds lean ground beef
1 can (10¾ ounces) Alphabet Vegetable Soup
¾ cup oatmeal
1 egg
¼ cup chopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients. When thoroughly mixed, place mixture in 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. Let cooked meatloaf stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings.


1 can vegetable soup
1 package ground chicken or turkey
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place mixture in loaf pan and smooth top. Cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour.

Sharon Fridolfson, Woodbine, Georgia, writes, “My sister lost her recipe for her homemade sandwich spread, which she made every year. I’m hoping someone will have a recipe so I can surprise her with it.”

This was one of those requests for which I wasn’t sure we would receive a response. However, a number of readers knew exactly the recipe to which Sharon refers.This version comes from Carolyn Hankins, Cross Plains, Indiana.


12 red peppers
12 green peppers
12 green tomatoes
4 large onions
3 cups sugar
½ pint mustard
3½ teaspoons salt
1 cup vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup flour
1 quart salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
Grind together peppers, tomatoes and onions; cover with boiling water. Drain and place in large kettle. Add sugar, mustard, salt, vinegar and water. Boil 10 minutes. Make paste of flour; add to vegetable mixture. Return to boil and boil 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat, add salad dressing and mix well. Place in hot pint jars; seal.

Meatloaf memories

Harold Sanders, Edwards, Missouri, requests recipes for meatloaf.Mike Moore of Albany, Georgia, sends this classic.


1 small onion
½ green bell pepper
½ cup milk
1 egg
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1½ pounds lean ground beef
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with foil, spray with cooking spray and set aside. Chop onion and bell pepper together. Note: Use food processor if available.
In large bowl, combine milk and egg. Add bread crumbs, basil, parsley and pepper. Stir until blended. Add onion and pepper; mix well. Add beef and mix to combine ingredients. Shape mixture in loaf pan; do not pack.
In small bowl, combine ketchup, honey and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Spread evenly over top of loaf.
Bake until cooked through, about 1 hour. Place pan on wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes. Lift meatloaf out of pan and place on serving platter. Remove foil and serve.

Senior Associate Editor Jean Teller figures her diabetes began sometime in the 1990s when fast food and a work-aholic lifestyle were the norm. Her
official diagnosis was in 2001.

Help wanted

• Esther Harmon, Banner Elk, North Carolina, wonders if anyone has an old recipe for a cooked dressing for wilted lettuce. The ingredients included milk or buttermilk, vinegar, sugar and egg. It was cooked for a short time, and Esther thinks there may have been other ingredients.

• Marlys Reddemann, Andrews, North Carolina, would like a recipe for tomato preserves. Does anyone remember such a recipe or have an old cookbook that would include this recipe?

• Alice Ewers, Portland, Oregon, is searching for a recipe called Slip Easy Sauce, a sweet and slightly sour sauce her mother made to go with bread pudding. A box of cookbooks, which included this recipe, was lost in a move in 1944.

• Rita Anderson, Belleville, Michigan, is looking for a black pepper cookie recipe.

• Lora Rivarde, Metairie, Louisiana, writes, “When I was young, my mother had a recipe for pound cake, supposedly from Tammy Wynette. I believe Mom said she found the recipe in Grit in the early 1980s or late 1970s.” The recipe was for either sour cream pound cake or buttermilk pound cake.