Following a healthy eating plan doesn’t have to mean spending extra time and effort in the kitchen. We’ve gathered some great list of kitchen shortcuts for the diabetes diet…easy peasy!
Get equipped with kitchen ‘helpers’
Take advantage of gadgets and products that are specially designed to cut the time and work of meal preparation.
The first big one in this category is a microwave of course. It’s brilliant for steaming veggies and fish, in addition to heating up previously frozen meals.
Buy special steamer bags to make healthy steaming a synch. Ziploc® makes a fantastic product called Zip’n Steam®, which are microwave steaming bags. You just put your rinsed veggies in a bag, seal, and steam in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Exact times are on the pack. You will end up with perfectly cooked, healthy vegetables with barely any effort on your part. The bags can also be used to steam fish and chicken.
Parchment cooking bags are also available in many supermarkets. These can be used like Zip’n Steam® bags in the microwave, but have the extra convenience of being oven-friendly too. (Zip’n Steam® bags are strictly ‘microwave only’). Use parchment bags for super-healthy oven-braised fish and chicken dishes.
And, of course, you can steam in the microwave without the help of special bags of any kind. Just use a lidded microwave-safe kitchen dish. Depending on the vegetable being steamed, you may need to add a tiny splash of water to the dish.
The other fantastic kitchen ‘helper’ in this category is a tiered rice steamer. In addition to making rice dishes simple, the tiered models can also be used to steam veggies and/or proteins at the same time.
Buy pre-prepared vegetables and fruits
Most supermarkets now offer a wide variety of pre-prepared vegetables and fruits. These included pre-packaged salads and pre-chopped and rinsed veggies, fruits and berries. The pre-chopped veggies can be steamed with no preparation required on your part. And the salads and fruits can go straight to your plate as-is.
Bake instead of frying
Baking is not only healthier than frying, it’s also easier on the cook! When you fry foods, you have to stand over the stove, constantly watching the fry pan and moving the food around so it doesn’t burn. In contrast, you can wrap a chicken breast in aluminum foil or parchment, for example, and leave it in the oven to bake while you get on with other things.
Poultry, fish and meats are all well suited to a number of baking recipes. You can also use foil or parchment packets to oven-steam vegetables. Just splash your veggies with a dash of stock or wine before sealing in packets. You can also roast sweet potatoes easily and conveniently in foil. Just season and add a splash of olive oil. If you like garlic, it makes a wonderful accompaniment!
Stock up with convenient foods
Notice that we say ‘convenient’ and not ‘convenience’ foods. ‘Convenience foods’ is a term usually given to processed, pre-prepared foods, which are often high in unhealthy salt and fats. ‘Convenient foods’, on the other hand, are regular healthy foods carefully selected for their ease of preparation.
Cans of tuna, salmon and sardines are high on this list. All are versatile and healthy and can be eaten uncooked or in a wide variety of cooked recipes. Buy the cans that are ‘packed in water’ where possible. You may also want to add cans of beans and pulses to your cupboard. Rinse before using to remove any unwanted salt. And don’t forget frozen veggies – they are as healthy as fresh and are easy to prepare.
When buying dried pasta, look for the thinner types for speedy cooking. Angel hair pasta, also known as capellini, is perfect in this regard. It literally cooks in four to six minutes. Look for whole wheat varieties where possible. Whole wheat pasta may take marginally longer to cook than the white counterpart but is much healthier.
Whole wheat couscous is another speedy way to fill the carbohydrate portion of your plate. Again it is ready in literally minutes. Mix cooked couscous with a pre-packaged salad and a dressing made from a splash of red wine vinegar or lemon juice with olive oil, plus a serving of tuna or salmon. It makes a tasty, healthy and wonderfully easy meal.
Get more information on healthy carbs in our expert dietitian’s great article on this site: Carbs and Healthier Carbs. You will also find more tips and ideas to help with the diabetes diet in our article Tips for stocking a diabetes-friendly kitchen.
Quick tip –You will find some fantastic overall healthy eating tips in our video on this site: Healthy eating for people with diabetes.