5.6 – a sweet number

June 8, 2007 in diabetes, low glycemic index

If you are a regular reader here you might remember when I wrote about how I had gotten a bad A1c hemoglobin glycosylation blood test (6.2) putting me into the diabetic range.

It was scary and all this time I actually thought I was being considered “pre-diabetic” but in truth my doc viewed me as diabetic. He wanted to give me a chance to modify my diet and habits to get the number down before we tried meds.

I did, as you know. I have been doing my best to eat low glycemic foods and its been painless but I have not been a saint by any means!

Just for reference, a test result below 6.0 = not diabetic.

I was also registering a high blood pressure at the previous visit (something freaky like 140/110 I think, very weird for me).

Well, I am happy to say that I astonished both my doc and my new diabetes educator today when my A1c test came back as 5.6!

My blood pressure was 104/68. That made me a happy happy person too. I gained a pound .. I think it was a karmic balance pound to make up for the other good news :-).

My doc immediately wanted to know what the heck I was up to (he is used to me getting up to crazy things like running for political office and all manner of other rather stressful adventures). I told him it was the low glycemic diet but that I was not perfect (he can see that for himself :-).

So today is a happy day, just thought I would share that with you all.

Also, let me just say, low glycemic eating is absolutely effective for me in getting the diabetes monkey off my back.

I am now merely pre-diabetes and will have to keep a close eye on this so that I do not go there again.

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Agave cubed: Partida Agave Nectar used three ways

May 20, 2007 in chocolate, diabetes, Food Porn, low glycemic index, product, review, Spirit World Blog, Well Fed Network

(This post will appear on [tag]The Spirit World[/tag] blog, a member of the [tag]Well Fed Network[/tag])

Hot Chocolate

I received a sample of the [tag]100% Organic Partida Agave Nectar[/tag] some time ago and it has been quite a journey as I developed [tag]recipe[/tag]s for this interesting [tag]product[/tag].

The [tag]Partida Tequila company[/tag] makes their [tag]tequila[/tag], as you might expect, from [tag]blue agave plants[/tag], a succulent that dwells in the arid lands around [tag]Jalisco, Mexico[/tag]. One can also make [tag]nectar[/tag] from these interesting plants and let me assure you, this nectar is quite a wonder. For one, it is sweeter than table sugar. It looks like a thin honey as it is less viscous. It tastes a bit like honey although it’s flavor is not a dominant thing. The most important thing, ok – to me, is that it is fantastically low on the g[tag]lycemic[/tag] scale.

Get this, pure [tag]agave[/tag] nectar has a GI of 11 while white sugar is 100. A 10th of the [tag]glycemic impact[/tag] of sugar!

Today I have two drink recipes and one food recipe to show you just a very few possibilities for working with [tag]agave nectar[/tag].

The first is one I tested just today. Its a nod to the south of the border origin of the nectar as it uses [tag]chocolate[/tag] and it’s consistency is something [tag]Montezuma[/tag] would love – thick and potent.

[tag]Blue Agave Nectar[/tag] [tag]Ghirardelli[/tag] Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

Directions:

Combine agave nectar, cinnamon, chocolate powder and hot water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Mix until incorporated. Add [tag]Ghirardelli chocolate[/tag] squares and then the fat free 1/2 and 1/2, heat until its smooth. Froth with an immersion blender. Do not not add [tag]marshmallow[/tag]s if you want to keep the GI low.
I had my rather fussy toddler give it a try and she loved it, even though it was made with grown-up unsweetened chocolate. She liked it with and without the marshmallows.

The second recipe is one that you will see all over the web and I will repeat it here but, since I do not drink tequila, I have not taste tested it. Its not hard to imagine that it is delicious!

[tag]Partida Agave Margarita[/tag]

Mix it all up in a bucket (or your favorite container), and serve over ice or chilled in a margarita glass.

The third and final recipe is one I developed a couple of weeks ago and, as you likely remember, covered in more detail at this post here.

oatmeal

[tag]Irish[/tag] [tag]Steel Cut[/tag] Oatmeal sweetened with agave nectar and passion fruit gastrique

Ingredients:

Directions:

In a small pan over medium heat, combine the scooped out pulpy seeds of the 2 passion fruits, the sliced apricots, 1 tablespoon of the Agave Nectar, 1 teaspoon of the fig vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Simmer this down until it thickens to your desire consistency. You may need to add some water to thin or simmer longer to get it thicker, up to you! I put the syrup through a strainer to get rid of most of the midnight black seeds (which have these very interesting little divots across their surface) as they didn’t seem very edible to me.

When I served this all up, I put some agave nectar in the [tag]oatmeal[/tag] and stirred it up. I put the oatmeal into the bacon round (secured with a bit of wooden skewer) and then drizzled it with the [tag]gastrique[/tag] and added a bit of apricot. The remainder of apricots were put into a passion fruit rind. Do NOT eat raw passion fruit rind (has cyanide compounds in it).

I hope that these three recipes opened your eyes to the possibilities of agave nectar.

I plan on doing more work with chocolate because when I was making the hot chocolate, I saw how perfectly agave nectar married/melded with the chocolate (I feared it might seize but it didn’t).

Low GI chocolate sauce, oh how thou callest my name.

Products of Interest:


Sites of Interest:

Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal sweetened with agave nectar and passion fruit gastrique

May 2, 2007 in breakfast, diabetes, Food Porn, low glycemic index, product

oatmeal

If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, following a low carb diet, or simply trying to eat lower processed foods, breakfast can be one of the hardest meals of the day. So much of what we eat here in the US for breakfast is high glycemic.

If you want to eat on the go, it can be extremely difficult to find something that is not almost pure carbs and often highly processed carbs (breakfast cereal, oatmeals, juice, etc).

Before my recent blood sugar test results, this was my breakfast – French Roast Starbucks with milk and a LOT of sugar. (I buy the Starbucks coffee in the bag from the store so I am not talking about a coffee bought in one of their stores). Though this killed my hunger immediately this drink is bad on several levels!

Obviously, loads of white sugar first thing in the morning is non-nutritive and simply counterproductive.

Caffeine causes insulin resistance (Keijzers GB et al. 2002, Graham TE, et al. 2001), especially in skeletal muscle (Thong FSL. et al. 2002) (you can somewhat reverse this effect with exercise).

“Diminished response to insulin, but not exercise/contraction signals leading to glucose transport in skeletal muscle, is a major factor responsible for insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes.” (Thong FSL. et al. 2002)

This is a super negative thing because, if you “starve” the skeletal muscles of glucose then your metabolism is not going to be optimal and thus your weight loss efforts will be side-tracked. Further, if you reduce insulin responsivity then your blood sugar will rise. If you “poison” the skeletal muscles, taking them out of the sugar consumption loop to some degree, then blood sugar is even harder to control.

It is well known that a walk will decrease your blood sugar levels, drinking a cup of coffee before hand may not be the best idea.

Just as an aside, we use caffeine in the lab to do all sorts of nasty things to culture cells. It speeds up the cell cycle and can lead to aneuploidies or chromosome abnormalities. Fun stuff isn’t it!

I have to tell you, giving up caffeine is extremely difficult for me but this is just one MORE reason to reconsider cutting it out. The only time I have been able to cut it out has been during pregnancy and its easier then because you have an increased blood volume and all sorts of hormones that seem to help with the feelings of wellness that I use caffeine for.

breakfast

Today’s breakfast featured here is McCann’s Irish steel-cut oatmeal, sliced star fruit, bacon, a [passion fruit gastrique with dried apricots, and an egg.

This entire thing started out simply with the oatmeal and then grew into what you see here because this is what I had on had after going to the grocery store and buying little oddities like passion fruit, star fruit and Alessi White Balsamic Fig Infused Vinegar. I had to figure out a way to make the oatmeal look attractive and taste delicious while not going crazy on sugar. I also wanted to try my sample of Partida Agave Nectar which has a stupendously low glycemic index! I got my sample as a review product from the Well Fed Network but I can not seem to find ordering information online! Will update if I do find it.

Why steel-cut oats? It has a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. Why is that? Because rolled oats have been so processed (rolled, steamed, beaten within an inch of it’s life) that they have a higher percentage of simple sugars. Steel-cut oats are more whole and thus have not been “pre-digested” to some degree by the rolled oat processing.

The other ingredients are listed below with their GI values or cal counts:

  • Steel cut oatmeal – 52 (Rolled oats oatmeal – 75)
  • Agave nectar – 10 (White sugar – 100)
  • Passion fruit – 30
  • Star Fruit – 40 cals – tastes sort of melon like but brighter and its juicy too, delish and not JUST a garnish! See note at the bottom*.
  • Egg and bacon – zero (though protein is insulinic)

I followed the package directions for the oatmeal (a bit more than 30 minutes of cooking)

The passion fruit gastrique is something I made up so I will provide the recipe below.

Passion fruit Apricot Fig Gastrique

Ingredients:

Directions:

In a small pan over medium heat, combine the scooped out pulpy seeds of the 2 passion fruits, the sliced apricots, 1 tablespoon of the Agave Nectar, 1 teaspoon of the fig vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Simmer this down until it thickens to your desire consistency. You may need to add some water to thin or simmer longer to get it thicker, up to you!

I put the syrup through a strainer to get rid of most of the midnight black seeds (which have these very interesting little divots across their surface) as they didn’t seem very edible to me.

When I served this all up, I put some agave nectar in the oatmeal and stirred it up. I put the oatmeal into the bacon round (secured with a bit of wooden skewer) and then drizzled it with the gastrique and added a bit of apricot. The remainder of apricots were put into a passion fruit rind. Do NOT eat raw passion fruit rind (has cyanide compounds in it).

breakfast

* A note on star fruit: If you have renal disease, and especially if you are on dialysis, please do not eat star fruit. You can not clear a substance or toxin (oxalic acid) found in it. This is called star fruit intoxication.

Star fruit, belonging to the Oxalidaceae family, species Averrhoa carambola, is a popular fruit among Orientals. There have been reports of hiccup, confusion, and occasional fatal outcomes in uraemic patients after ingestion of star fruit. An excitatory neurotoxin from star fruit has been implicated although the exact nature of this toxic substance has not been identified. A group of seven patients is described from the dialysis centres at Queen Mary and Tung Wah Hospitals who developed symptoms including hiccup, confusion, vomiting, impaired consciousness, muscle twitching and hyperkalaemia shortly after ingestion of star fruit. Symptoms of most patients resolved after intensified dialysis or spontaneously, and no mortality was observed. The close temporal relationship of ingestion of star fruit and onset of symptoms strongly suggests the existence of a causal relationship between the two. It is recommended that uraemic patients should totally abstain from star fruit due to these rare but potentially fatal complications. The clinical manifestations of other reported series and current evidence for the possible candidate(s) of the neurotoxin are discussed. (Tse, KC et al. 2003)

References used:

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Low GI Recipe: Whole wheat tortilla ginger tumeric tofu wrap with young spring peas

April 23, 2007 in diabetes, Food Porn, gluten, low glycemic index, recipe

tofu-450-1

I am continuing to explore [tag]low GI cooking[/tag] that not only appeals to me but also must pass the very rigorous and often fickle family test. I like to cook with [tag]tofu[/tag] but my 10 year old has decided she doesn’t like it while the rest of the family will eat it happily. When I set out to cook the above [tag]wrap[/tag] for yesterday’s lunch, I was aiming to make tofu in a way that my daughter likes and will eat because she has my body type and needs to develop better eating habits and likes. Previously, I have served her tofu, [tag]stir-fried[/tag] in many different ways, but never as part of a wrap like you see above. Its the [tag]tortilla[/tag] that I think made all the difference. Below, I am going to share my “recipe” for this relatively simple and very [tag]low GI[/tag] lunch and the results of the Family Voting Panel.

Even though you see various [tag]recipe[/tag]s posted here that doesn’t mean I am a recipe-following kind of cook. Its a strange dichotomy.. its more like I am a recipe creator because I want to share some of my ideas, not because I like recipes in and of themselves. I love [tag]cookbook[/tag]s, not because of the recipes so much as the photos, the anecdotes and the notes written by the author.

Because I do not do the recipe thing, I don’t go to the store with a list of things to buy. Rather, I go to the store and, within the budget, buy things that I find interesting. This makes the shopping trip last longer but I promise you, I spend less time shopping and cooking than the average [tag]Rachel Ray[/tag] fan spends watching her show on how to cook in the least amount of time (that has always seemed oxymoronic to me).

Sometimes, I come to the checkout with foods that the cashier has never seen someone buy. Thats sort of odd but I guess that the grocery store TRIES to have new and interesting things but probably many people do not deviate from their usual list.

La Tortilla Factory

In the most recent trip, I noticed a product I had not seen before (I was also shopping in a store far from my home and a new one at that, [tag]Hannafords[/tag]), [tag]La Tortilla Factory[/tag] low carbo low fat high fiber whole grain tortillas (they also have [tag]gluten-free[/tag] tortillas). I picked these up as an alternative to the white flour ones we tend to buy for [tag]quesadilla[/tag]s.

I bought them with some trepidation because when I have bought [tag]whole wheat[/tag] ones previously (different brands, not this one), I have been unhappy as those tortillas had several problems: they can be really dry or dry out very quickly or they can be really excessively gummy in an unpalatable way. I found these La Tortilla Factory tortillas to be hardy, able to retain their moisture during the foil-wrapped warming up process I put them through and also while sitting on the plate. They are not only tasty and a robust product, they are just fantastically good for you. They are high in fiber so that they have only 5 [tag]effective carbs[/tag] on board per tortilla.

There are a variety of ingredients in this wrap that are low GI, are tasty, and will be really good at inducing the “[tag]Second Meal Effect[/tag].”

Some of them are:

  • [tag]Soy beans[/tag] have a VERY low GI – something like 18. As you might imagine, [tag]tofu[/tag] is also very low in the [tag]glycemic[/tag] [tag]index[/tag], if any [tag]carbohydrate[/tag] at all.
  • [tag]Chickpea[/tag] [tag]Hummus[/tag] (with [tag]sesame[/tag] [tag]tahini[/tag]) has a [tag]GI[/tag] of 6!
  • Low Carb Low Fat Tortillas (5 effective carbs, not likely specifically tested yet
  • Fresh [tag]sweet pea[/tag]s have a GI of 3
  • The side of [tag]grapefruit[/tag] slices – GI is around 25.

I did not have to try very hard to put these ingredients together. I mostly went with what caught my eye at the store and what I have been [tag]craving[/tag].

One more note before I get to the recipe, I used tumeric in my tofu stir-fry. Like tofu, I tend to crave [tag]tumeric[/tag]. Not only is it amazing in it’s ability to perk up the color of any food but it is also deserving of your respect on the grounds that it is a potent [tag]medicinal[/tag] agent.

I am going to do a post on tumeric in the future but suffice it to say that tumeric is a very good thing to cook with. Anecdotally, but relevant to my life, I really feel an increased sense of well-being when I eat foods with it. I hope you will give it a try and also come back for the post on tumeric to learn more about this amazing spice.

Low GI whole wheat tortilla tofu wrap

[tag]Ingredients[/tag]:

  • Homemade hummus, made as you desire
  • La Tortilla Factory tortillas
  • 1 block extra firm organic tofu
  • 1/2 small spanish [tag]onion[/tag], sliced thinly
  • 1/8 teaspoon minced [tag]garlic[/tag]
  • 1 teaspoon sliced [tag]ginger[/tag] (leave in large chunks, remove at end)
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • pinch of [tag]sea salt[/tag]
  • 3 tablespoons [tag]organic[/tag] [tag]soy sauce[/tag]
  • 1-2 tablespoons [tag]olive oil[/tag] (add sesame oil if you have it and like it) to saute
  • 1/2 C frozen sweet peas
  • fresh [tag]basil[/tag] leaves

Directions:

Turn the oven on to 200 F, wrap your tortillas in foil and warm them while you prepare everything else.

Rinse the tofu block and then wrap in paper towels. Put it on a cutting board and put another one on top. Put weights on the upper board to press out excess packing liquid. Watch the boards so that your weights do not fall off and scare the child, cat or dog that is at your feet in the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, unwrap the tofu and slice into cubes, set aside.

Make your hummus the way you prefer it and let it sit in the fridge, covered, while you make the rest of this. I make hummus like this: in a food processor dump in 2 cans organic chickpeas, 3 tablespoons sesame tahini, 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (or both!), pinch of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic. Mix and then add a dribble of water until its the consistency you like it. I also added some basil leaves. Taste for seasoning and then store cold and covered.

In a low-medium heat saute pan add the olive oil, onions, ginger, and tumeric; heat through to begin cooking the onions. Turn up the heat to medium and add the garlic and then the tofu chunks. Saute until the tofu gets some color. Add the frozen peas and then add the soy sauce, allowing it to simmer down to a thicker sauce. Turn off the heat.

Take out one warmed tortilla, spread a layer of hummus, put down a laye of basil leaves, add the tofu stir-fry, wrap up, and enjoy!

I served this with a couple slices of sweet ruby red grapefruit and tangerine iced tea with sugar free ginger ale.

Results of the Family Tasting Panel:

  • The 10 year old LIKED it and wanted more, said it tasted like meat
  • The Husband said a similar thing and that it was pretty filling
  • The 3 year old said “Mommy, can I have some more please?”

Ingredient Information:

Sites of Interest:

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