A few weeks ago, a situation presented itself that was too irresistible to pass up. With only 24 hours advance notice, I found out that I would be a plus one at a lunch of a lifetime. This may sound like I’m overselling the opportunity, and perhaps I could point to the catered lunch of smoked salmon with roasted cauliflower, kale salad edging up against quinoa as a reason. I could tell you about the fascinating mini discussion I had with a doctor studying the effects of exercise on stress or the other doctor I learned is studying the effects of sleep on weight loss. Alternatively, I could point to the retired cardiac surgeon now sitting on the city council of Richmond, CA and trying to bring a healthier present and future to the city by trying to enact a soda tax.
But the real delight of that meal sat directly to my right in the person of Dr. Robert Lustig.
You may know Dr. Lustig’s work from the Youtube video that has now garnered 2,913, 642 views or from the New York Times article which highlighted his groundbreaking work. There are many things I find interesting about Lustig’s work and one of them is that he deals in Pediatric Neuroendrocrinology but namely, I, like many others am intrigued by his research on sugar and the damning effects it has upon our health. I even found myself trying to write a Dear John letter to sugar shortly after watching and reading the two resources mentioned above, but sugar and I have a long, sordid history and this is not the kind of break-up to happen only once. At this lunch, I learned his book “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Foods and Disease” will be coming out next month.
I tried to contain my fangirl expression knowing my enthusiasm and energy sometimes is misunderstood and scares people off. Instead, I sufficed with a simple introduction of “a fan of your work” and then found him sitting next to me during lunch. I felt an obligation to tell him how I had engaged with his work. As the other attendees for that day’s panel presentation on community health were collecting their mish-mash of catered lunch, I had a few minutes to talk with Dr. Lustig and share my story of someone I love dying younger than necessary due to heart disease and diabetes. He acknowledged that this story is unfortunately too common, especially in the U.S.
I listened raptly when Dr. Lustig and several people from the lunch we attended began their panel on community health in Richmond and comments by a member of the San Francisco Health Department on steps being made in San Francisco to educate on making healthier drink and food choices. I left a bit more buoyant than when I had gone in, believing this group of doctors, researchers, and people involved in the health field are looking and researching ways to make our everyday lives more full of life and healthier living.
Today is World Diabetes Day, so thank you for humoring me in taking a break from the usual fare of food and poetry, and instead look at this disease and consider how we might live so as to avoid it if possible. Carolyn of All Day I Dream of Food invited fellow food bloggers to participate in a World Diabetes Day round-up of diabetic-friendly recipes and stories to highlight this disease. She posited that raising diabetes awareness through food is a good way to get people’s attention on a topic most people don’t really want to talk about. I would imagine each of us would be hard-pressed to not know one person with diabetes. Her own story is pretty compelling, so I would encourage you to click on the link above if you want to check it out or see which other bloggers are participating.
According to the CDC, “As of 2010, 25.8 million people—8.3% of the population—have diabetes; 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older in 2010.” (source) You can imagine how much that number has increased just two years later. I keep hearing about the staggering number of children and youths for whom diabetes might be a reality in the not-so distant future and this makes me so grateful for education / awareness groups like Edible Schoolyard, California Food Literacy Center and Three Squares’ Cooking Matters program. Imagine the adage of “teach a boy to fish…” then when he becomes a man, not only does he know how to fish, but has all that span of time of making healthier choices. He will walk what he mirrors. He will set out on a path that is deliberate and mindful.
Diabetes is brutal. Make no mistake of that. I have seen its insidious activity in someone I cared for who needed an amputation and later died of the disease. Then again, I have seen people living with diabetes change their lifestyle and keep the disease in check- and these people give me so much hope!
Instead of just posting one recipe that would be diabetic-friendly, I am posting photos and links to previous recipes shared here. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Instead, and notably for diabetics, sugars in food have to be tracked. I would imagine that fiber with its ability to slow down the effects of sugar becomes a friend.
So, what are some of your diabetic-friendly recipes? (Think low glycemic, n0 to low sugar, whole grain, not processed – the bread in the photo of the fish burger wouldn’t fly, veggie-heavy, lean proteins, etc…)
Fish Burger with Lentil Dip and Cucumber Yogurt
Omit the bread and serve on a bed of spinach for a delectable meal. This recipe is by Chef Michael Moore who is diabetic and wrote a fantastic cookbook called “Blood Sugar” typifying the foods into the types of energy they provide. I do think the title kind of feel undersells the sumptuous recipes inside. It is the cookbook that my non-diabetic husband has told me is his favorite of the ones we have reviewed thus far.
Bok Choy Bell Scramble
This recipe came together easily from the outcroppings of produce that needed to be used. Scrambles are an economic and easy way to use what you have on hand, notably lots of veggies and eggs.
Toasted Walnut Green Bean & Labneh Salad
This salad stands out for the creaminess of probiotic-rich labneh and the toasted walnuts with the bright flavors of the tomatoes. Then again, the green beans with tomatoes is such a classic flavor.
Creamy Black Beans with Melted Onions
Beans are their own version of comfort food. These beans taste good on their own with some polenta or rice. If you stir in a bit of salsa or yogurt, you can puree them into a soup and then, watch out.