Thursday, September 18, 2014

I hate to ask but are you ready for cold and flu season?

Michael Ancher, "The Sick Girl", 1882, Statens Museum for Kunst

I am not ready for the cold snap that has hit the Midwest. I will certainly not turn on the heat – it is just too early to do that – but I am cold. I am also feeling just a bit nasally. You know that feeling that you might be catching a cold. Just those little twinges…

This has me thinking about cold and flu season. Back when Silent Sam was diagnosed with diabetes, we were told that we should be prepared for when colds and the flu will strike so that we have supplies on hand. 

Just like everyone else who read or saw that instruction, we did not prepare. Although, I will admit that I do go through the over the counter medicine drawer (yes, we have it in a drawer) to check for expiration dates and see what supplies we need a couple times a year. And this is definitely that time of year. I have only done this for the last couple of years and it is not foolproof but it has helped. There is just something about feeling sick and going to the drawer and finding either nothing in there or finding out of date medicine. 

So, I think I will let this cold snap be my guide and I will take the time to check out the drawer and see that we are stocked for winter. If you have not discussed with your doctor what over the counter medicines you should use, then now is the time to ask. People with diabetes need to be careful about the ingredients in their over the counter medicines.  It is far better to ask than to find out that your blood sugar is spiking because of your cold medicine.  Your levels will be affected when you are sick and you don’t want to add to the problem with the medicines that you are taking. 

You might want to check your kitchen cabinets also. Are you prepared with food for when you are sick?  One of the hazards is dehydration. Make sure you have fluids that you will drink to help keep you from getting dehydrated. Soups are good but they also can be a source of lots of sodium.  Check those labels and select soups that the sodium levels are not as high. Once again, talk to your doctor and/or dietitian for their recommendations.   

I suggest that while you are getting out the sweaters, putting up the storm windows (does anyone do that anymore?), and getting your heating system serviced, you take a few minutes to make sure you are ready with a plan for if you get sick. You will appreciate your efforts if you wake up feeling awful one morning. 

Thanks for reading!

I have to say, I love the colors of fall
Happy Fall!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Support (and I am Not Talking About Underwear)

Diabetes is a chronic disease. There is not a vacation from diabetes. Granted, there are times that are worse than others but it is still constant. 

Come on, we all need a break!

Unfortunately, you can’t take a vacation like you would from work. But there are things you can do to give yourself some help when times get a bit hard. 

Have you thought about a support group? Did your lip just curl with the thought of that? Keep with me here for a minute. I know, when I think of a support group, I think of some church basement, folding chairs, and bad coffee. A group of sad people talking about their problems is what comes to mind. That certainly does not sound like a vacation.

In-Person Groups

Let’s think about what would make a great support group. To raise your spirits, it would have to have people that you would want to spend (granted a small amount of) time with and the group should be pretty upbeat. If it wasn’t upbeat then what kind of vacation would it be? Then what would you want to the group to do? I would suggest to you that while discussion is nice, if there were a mix of programs you might be happier about attending. What if one week there was a demonstration of an exercise that you might not have tried but wanted to know about. Failing that, what if one week the group met outside (where possible) and took a walk? What if one week there was a cooking or nutrition demonstration? What if another week there was a discussion about an aspect of diabetes management? And then to round out the month, how about a group lunch so that there could just be socializing. 

Would you join a group like that? Are you wondering if that group exists? I don’t know but it could. You could start it. How? I think I might start at my doctor’s office or the local Y or the local health department. Talk to them about starting such a group and ask for space to hold meetings. Actually by talking to all groups, you might find people who can help with the meetings.

Also by talking to your doctor’s office or the local Y or your local health department, you might find that a group actually exists and you could join a group that already exists.  

On-Line Groups      

Let’s say you are not the go out and join a group person. How about an on-line group? There are actually a lot of resources and a large on-line diabetes community.  (Commonly referred to as the DOC – Diabetes On-line Community). There is support for all the different kinds of diabetes. You should look for a group that shares your type because you will be able to relate to each other and your issues.  The latest issue of "Diabetes Forecast Magazine" suggests the following groups:

Please remember that you need to be careful with any on-line group.  This is really not the place to reveal your inner secrets. You never know who is listening.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Sun, the Surf, and Your Feet

I am going to talk about feet today. But not perhaps what you might expect. 

Yes, I have talked several times about diabetes and feet. Today, my foot thoughts are for everyone whether they are diabetic or not. 

Things that surprised me about foot melanoma -

1.        It is the most deadly form of melanoma. It is deadly because it is so rarely caught before it has spread.

2.       You can get skin cancer under your nails. If you see a spot under your nail and it does not grow with the nail, you need to go to the doctor right away.  Women should make sure that they look at their nails without polish so that they can see if there are any spots under the nail. 

3.       The bottoms of your feet and between your toes are susceptible to skin cancer.

4.       Melanoma is not as common as other types of cancer but its rates are increasing.

5.       One person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes

You should do periodic self-exams for skin cancer. For directions on how to do a self-exam, there are guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation

When you go out, you should be applying sunscreen. Even if you are just making a quick trip to the store. Always apply sunscreen and re-apply it often especially when you are at the beach or pool. Don’t forget to apply it to your feet – top and bottom. 

And for goodness sake, don’t use tanning beds. 

End of lecture for today.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It’s a Turkey! A Three-peat!

It isn't every blog that brings you video of wild turkeys.

How can I shock you this week? I know that having two recipes in a row from me was pretty shocking. 
What is it called in bowling when you have three strikes? A turkey?

I am writing a turkey! Yes, that is three weeks in a row of recipes. 

I really could not help myself with this one. I have to share it. It is so easy that I know you will love it. 

Crock Pot Chicken Pesto - Serves 6

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
6 oz. Pesto
½ cup low sodium chicken broth

1.        Spray the inside of your crock pot with a non-stick spray. I do this to be nice to the person who has to do the dishes after dinner. Cleaning the crock pot is often the worst job.
2.       Put the check breasts in the crock pot
3.       Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix over the top of the chicken breasts
4.       Add the pesto over the chicken
5.       Pour in the chicken broth.
6.       Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. 

Nutrition info for 6 chicken breasts (the ones I used were about 9 oz each so they were pretty big), per serving: Calories 455, Fat 16.3g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 151.7g, Sodium 1257.8g, Carbs 6.8g, Dietary Fiber 0.7g, Sugars 1.4g, Protein 61g.

That is it! Really, it is so easy and the chicken comes out moist and tender with some flavor! 

My mistakes –

Really with this recipe you think I made mistakes?  Even I got this one right.

My Suggestions –

I understand that the ranch dip mix is high in sodium so you might want to look for a recipe that you can use to make the powder yourself.  I did a minute’s worth of research and found one recipe here.

This recipe also uses prepared pesto.  It is not exactly light on the calories.  You might want to find a low calorie way to make it yourself.  Here is a "skinny" recipe that you could try from skinny  

Please note - I have not tried either of these recipes.  They are just suggestions for things you could try if you want to cut back.  

This is a great meal for the summer. It takes all of about 2 minutes to put everything in the crock pot and then you can just be ready to serve dinner.  I got the recipe from a friend who made it to serve on the 4th of July.  Everyone loved it and she didn't spend any time making it. 

So make it easy on yourself and try this recipe.   

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 11, 2014

HA! Fooled You! Another Recipe This Week!

This cookbook has a lot of great recipes. 

Just to surprise you, I have another recipe this week. Yes, I have cooked something else new.

This recipe is from the same cookbook that I used last week, The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook.  This book is available from The American Diabetes Association or from Amazon. (The cookbook  is less expensive from Amazon.  If you can buy it from the American Diabetes Association, you are giving to a good organization.)

I will first give the recipe as it is written and then will tell you my mistakes and suggested improvements. Also, in case you are an  intimidated cook, please know that I am a self-professed terrible cook. I do think that if I were  interested in cooking it would help but  I am not that interested. Oh, I LOVE to eat but just not cook.  Given the knowledge that I am not much of a cook, you will know that the recipes I provide are always easy to make. I also like them easy to clean up.  That is why I am drawn to recipes like this one.

Carne Asada Tacos - Serves 8 - Serving size is two tacos

1 lime, juiced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions chopped
1 lb. flank steak
1 tbsp. canola oil
16 small whole wheat tortillas (about 6 inches in diameter each)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, garlic, and green onions. Pour into a large sealable bag. Add steak, seal and marinate in refrigerator for 45 minutes
3. Add oil to a medium oven-safe skillet and heat over high heat. Remove steak from marinade and sear on one side for2 minutes. Flip steak, pour marinade over it, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove steak from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice meat thinly against the grain.  Divide meat among whole-wheat tortillas.

Calories – 260, Total Fat – 8 g, Saturated Fat – 1.6g, Cholesterol – 20 mg, Sodium – 415 mg, Total Carbohydrate – 29g, Dietary Fiber - 4 g Sugars- 2 g Protein- 15 g

 My mistakes 

I know you will find this hard to believe but I didn't make any significant changes to this recipe. I did use lime juice instead of the juice of a lime.

When you read the directions for this recipe, it sounds like you will be pouring the juices that are left in the bag over the flank steak after you turn it. In reality, there are very few juices.          

I did leave the steak marinating longer than 45 minutes. I didn't think it would really matter. I don't think that it did.

My changes

Okay the recipe calls for you to just put the steak in the tortillas and eat it that way. I did try one that way. While it was okay, there was a strong taste of lime to the taco. We had some salsa that we tried putting with the meat on the tortilla. That just seemed to overpower the whole thing.

Then like Goldilocks I found a way that I felt really worked great. I put the steak on my salad. It was delicious. The lime taste was subdued and it was a great addition to my salad.  So, I would vote that it should be Carne Asada Salad not Carne Asada Tacos.

(Okay, it was good but I will also say that flank steak is not cheap so this is an occasional recipe at best. This is not a weekly staple.)

Have a great week!

Thanks for reading!

Here are some pretty roses for you!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recipe - One Pot Skillet

It has been a long time since I gave you a new recipe to try. If you are thinking it is because I have not been doing much cooking, you might be right but really, you shouldn't think that way about me.  I cook, I really do. I just have not felt like finding new recipes. 

But I decided that it was time to expand the choices again. Also, while I have not made any new recipes, it does not mean that I have not marked recipes that I want to try. 

I have found many good recipes in this cookbook

This week for new recipes, I turned to The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook.  This book is available from The American Diabetes Association or from Amazon. (Sadly, it is less expensive from Amazon but if you can, if you buy from the American Diabetes Association as you will be giving to a good organization.)

If you have followed this blog before, you will know that I will first give the recipe as it is written and then will tell you my mistakes and suggested improvements. Also, in case you are a slightly intimidated cook, please know that I am a self-professed terrible cook. I do think that if I were slightly interested in cooking it would help but generally, I am not that interested. Oh, I LOVE to eat but just not cook.  Given the knowledge that I am not much of a cook, you will know that the recipes I provide are always easy to make. I also like them easy to clean up.  That is why I am drawn to "one pot recipes" like this one. (Oh, and it is a misnomer - it takes two pots) 

One-Pot Skillet – Serves 7 - Serving size 1 cup
2 cups whole-wheat rotini pasta, uncooked
1 lb. lean ground turkey breast
1 medium onion diced
1 14.5 oz can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Splenda
1 cup reduced-fat, shredded Monterey Jack cheese (You can substitute reduced fat mozzarella or Swiss)

1.        Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt. Drain.

2.       In a large skillet, cook ground turkey until it begins to brown, about 6-7 minutes. Drain excess fat. Add onions and sauté about 5 more minutes or until translucent.

3.       Add next six ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-7 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Fold in cheese and toss with drained pasta. 

Calories 225, Calories from fat 40, Total Fat 4.5 g, Saturated Fat 2.2g, Cholesterol 55 mg,
Sodium 390 mg, Total Carbohydrate 25g, Dietary Fiber 4 g, Sugars 5 g, Protein 23 g

Did we like it?

Yes, we did. Despite my feelings about the extra lean ground turkey, (see listings of mistakes below)  it was good. 

My mistakes –

First of all, it seems that Silent Sam bought extra lean ground turkey.  It is just my opinion but I would suggest that you not buy extra lean ground turkey.  It is just TOO DRY. You do not have to worry about draining excess fat from it BECAUSE THERE ISN'T ANY. I didn't like the way it cooked.

We also have trouble finding some whole wheat pastas. I used Trader Joe’s Organic vegetable radiator pasta in the recipe. (It is made from organic durum wheat semolina, spinach, beet, red bell pepper and paprika.) I like to use it because it adds color and a different look to a dish.  I cannot tell you if it increased the carbs. 

In our grocery store, crushed tomatoes come in a 28 oz. can. There was not a 14.5 oz. can and really not a no-salt variety. In a moment of inspiration or idiocy, I used a 14.5 oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. The mixture seemed so dry; I thought this might add more liquid. I cannot always explain my thought process. The only thing was that it was the right amount which made it easier. 

I did not add the optional cayenne pepper. I am a spice wimp. 

I also did not add the Splenda. I might have added it if I had it on hand but I was not going to buy Splenda so that I would have 1 tsp. for this recipe. Silent Sam did bring home 3 packets from work the day after I made the recipe. I am not clear as to why you would want the Splenda in the recipe but perhaps my substitution of the diced tomatoes for the crushed tomatoes made the difference. I don’t know.

Also, we did not find reduced fat Monterey jack cheese. I used reduced fat mozzarella. 

What would I change the next time?

I think that I would try making it with the crushed tomatoes and I would experiment with adding more than the 14.5 oz. that the recipe suggests. I think that it depends on what you like - the diced tomatoes are chunky while the crushed tomatoes would probably make more of a sauce. I would also add sliced black olives, spinach, and mushrooms. I think it would add just a bit more flavor without adding many calories.

(Let’s face it – I think that you should add spinach to almost everything. It is good for you and adds color and a bit of flavor to a dish.)

Thanks for reading!

I wish you a safe and happy 4th of July. Please take a quick moment to breathe a "thank you" to all the men and women who have served and currently serve to make our country safe and free. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Vitamin D – What do you know about it?

Sunbathing is mostly a lost art.  Art?

I started paying a bit more attention to vitamin D when my daughter and a friend were told that blood tests indicated that they were deficient in vitamin D. I didn't know that you could be deficient in vitamin D nor did I understand why this was included in the battery of blood tests. 

It seems that research on vitamin D has increased in recent years and the research has indicated that there detrimental effects from having lower levels of vitamin D. 

Why are we low in Vitamin D?

Most of the vitamin D that your body absorbs is from the sun. While you can get some vitamin D from food, you cannot get the amount you need from food. (so much for those Wonder Bread ads!) Vitamin D is absorbed from the sun and collected in the body in a time release method so that when you need it, it will be there waiting. 

When we all started worrying about skin cancer and avoiding sun exposure and wearing sun screen all the time, we have cut back on the collection of vitamin D through our skin. Also, darker skin does not absorb vitamin D as well. Add into the mix the rise in vegetarianism – natural vitamin D comes from some fish, fish liver oils and egg yolks – there has been a drop in the amount of natural vitamin D that we absorb. 

What does Vitamin D do?

We know that vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is used by the body to strengthen bones.
It also seems that in recent years, researchers have been finding a link between a vitamin D deficiency and higher rates of heart disease in African Americans. In the July 2014 issue of “Diabetes Forecast” magazine, there is an article about the American Diabetic Association funding a study by Dr. Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi . The study is looking into the question of correcting the amount of vitamin D deficiency in African Americans and whether that will lead to a slowing or a halt to cardiovascular disease.   

There was also a study done at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City that found that approximately 50 percent of the patients undergoing orthopedic surgery had a vitamin D deficiency. It is felt that if the patients were tested and prescribed a regime of vitamin D to reduce or eliminate the deficiency that surgical outcomes would be improved. As a result of this and other studies, it is much more common to check a patient’s vitamin D levels pre-surgery. 

Wow! Should I go out and start taking Vitamin D supplements?

No you do not take vitamin D supplements without talking to your doctor.  See, you have made this kid yell at you!

This is not a good idea. You should, however, talk to you doctor about it. See if you have been tested for Vitamin D levels with your normal blood tests and what the results were. See what your doctor has to say about the issue.

If you are the “want to proceed before I talk to my doctor” type (yes, I know you…) Then the safest thing for you to do is go outside. Do not take supplements. Go outside for 5 – 10 minutes and expose your skin to the sun. Do this 2 -3 times a week during the summer. Go out in your bathing suit but do not expose your face to the sun.  

Here is the important part – are you listening? – that was 5 – 10 minutes. Not an hour, not 15 minutes. Just a short exposure 2-3 times a week with no sunscreen to have your body absorb some vitamin D.

But really, talk to your doctor.

Thanks for reading.