Diabetes and Vegetables

Posted: March 13, 2011 by amygilman in Nutrition Q & Amy
Tags: , , ,

I am a Nutrition Editor at Foodpicker.org, a website designed to help people with diabetes.  Here is a question I recently received:


I have a very big issue when it comes to having diabetes and that is I do not eat vegetables.  I have tried.  I want to control my diabetes and be around to raise my young children.  What suggestions do you have to add vegetables to my diet?”


Welcome to the “Vegetarian Barbarian” where vegetables are my “specialty”, so to speak.  I do eat a lot of vegetables.  But, I must tell you, I would rather stick a fork in my eye than eat food without flavor.  Perhaps raw or steamed vegetables is not your cup of tea.  No problem… This gives you an opportunity to find new ways to make vegetables an enjoyable part of your day.

Here are some tips:

  1. Flavor vegetables with spices. Choose from a wide array of flavors – Indian, Italian, etc.  You can find spices in your regular grocery store or, to find some really fun flavors like BBQ 9000 go to penzeys.com.  It is a fantastic spice store/website.  My husband made broccolini (similar to broccoli, but smaller florets and long thin stems) this weekend with BBQ 9000 and the dish has a great smokey flavor to it.
  2. Look to vegetarian sources for tons of ideas for making vegetables flavorful. Do a google search for vegetarian recipes or find a vegetarian magazine (Whole Foods sells a few of them).  I subscribe to Vegetarian Times magazine (vegetariantimes.com) and have found some pretty tasty recipes that are also quick to prepare and packed with vegetables.
  3. Check out nutrition websites for children such as superkidsnutrition.com. A website like this will showcase recipes that are easy to make, the kids can get involved in preparing it, and it may be a good intro into veggies for you too.
  4. Add vegetables to dishes that you love (disguise them). Wait, don’t leave this article yet, hear me out.  For example – if you love macaroni and cheese, consider adding something such as butternut squash (puree it so it has a smooth cheesy look and texture) or pureed cauliflower.
  5. Buy Local and Fresh. Buying locally grown vegetables may play in big part in taste and freshness.  If you are eating vegetables that are traveling from another state or another country, then you may be missing out on flavor (and possibly losing nutrients).  Try looking into a local farmer’s market or sometimes a larger chain grocery store might have a section of produce that was grown by local farmers in your area.    Check out localharvest.org for more info on where to find farmer’s markets in your area (click on the “Farms” tab at the top of the page).
  6. Try using different types of oils to cook with. By branching out and using a variety of oils, you will get different flavors and hopefully prevent boredom.  Try safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, or olive oil (there are many more oils to choose from).  Using a small amount of oil can go a long way in a dish and for people who smother their veggies in butter, they may save a few calories. Here is a quick frozen spinach recipe that includes sesame oil:

Ingredients:  water, one 16oz bag of frozen spinach, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, ground black pepper

Directions: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a pot, add the frozen spinach and a tablespoon of sesame oil.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Drain the spinach.  Add spinach to a bowl and add ½ tablespoon of sesame oil, 1                   tablespoon of sesame seeds, black pepper to taste – mix together well and Enjoy!  I also add spicy ingredients such as siracha (asian hot sauce).

I applaud your efforts for wanting to change your eating pattern.  Vegetables have so many benefits – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, to name a few.  If your children are not eating vegetables, this may be a good way for everyone to try new recipes together.  Maybe if they see you eating vegetables, they will want to as well.  Good luck on your new vegetable dish journey…


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