Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spiced Chicken with Couscous Salad

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine found this recipe and posted it on facebook. I'd had couscous before in other forms, but this recipe looked so good that I just HAD to try it! It was a smash hit, and I was excited to make it again this week, as it is still fairly diabetic-friendly. I tweaked the recipe a bit and it makes enough for 3 or 4 full servings (if served as the main dish). I'll link the original recipe as well.

Enjoy this easy, creative twist on salad!

Season 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 oz each) with cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper, and perhaps a bit of cayenne. Grill until cooked through. Cut into small cubes.

Cook 1 cup of pearl couscous according to package instructions and let cool just a bit. Add 3/4 lb. of cherry tomatoes that have been quartered, 1/4 lb. of sliced sugar snap peas or thawed peas out of a freezer bag, 1-2 T. of dried basil, 3 T. of lemon juice, and 2 T. of olive oil. Toss to combine. Add cubed chicken and serve!

Spiced Chicken With Couscous Salad

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Grandma is a Genius

This weekend, I went and spent a day and a half with my grandparents, who live about two hours away. My grandma has been my inspiration for MANY things over the years; she taught me to sew and encouraged my creativity; her incredible cooking, baking, and gardening skills taught me to appreciate the home-made and experiment in the kitchen for myself; and her love and care has always supported me, especially over the last few months since my diagnosis.

I'm not sure how long it's been since I just spent an entire DAY with my grandparents all on my own.. in fact, I'm not sure if it's ever happened before. It ended up being one of the best weekends of my summer, and I can't wait to do it again sometime!

So let me dive into the eclectic elements that made this weekend so wonderful:

ONE. Fresh peach pie surprise.
Although I love all desserts, fresh peach pie is probably one of my all-time favorites. When I arrived at my grandparents on Friday evening, my grandma pulled out a mini-pie that she'd made special just for me!! It was a complete experiment on her part, and it ended up, hands down, being the best thing I've tasted all summer! Let me share how she concocted this sugar-free marvel....

First of all, she used a small pie pan, only about 5" I'd say. She took a low-carb tortilla and trimmed it to fit into the pan like a pie crust. She buttered it lightly, sprinkled it with cinnamon and Splenda, then baked it in the oven at 350 for a couple of minutes until it was just barely starting to brown.

Once it was cool, she filled it with slices of fresh peaches. For the glaze, she mashed up one peach and cooked it over the stove, mixing in less than 1 tsp of corn starch and less than 1/4 c. of Splenda. She let it cool just a bit, then poured it over the pie and refrigerated it.

Now, I wish I had a picture to show you, but I don't. It was so good that I'll confess to eating the whole thing in 2 sittings. This marvel ended up being maybe only 12-14 carbs for HALF of that little pie!! (And that's with Light Whipped Topping!) I actually even liked it better than a normal fresh peach pie. The glaze was SO good, and even more flavorful than the sugary gel that you normally use.

TWO. My grandma's sewing haven.
I love to sew, something that both of my grandma's taught me from a young age. This grandma has an incredible sewing room built in her basement, complete with more fabric than any normal person would use in an entire lifetime ;-) We spent much of Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in this lovely little room; she quilted, and I made a new tote bag. I don't care if you're diabetic or not. ALL girls love and need big purses!! Anyway, it was completely relaxing and therapeutic, and I now have a Vera-Bradley-ish purse that was inexpensive and one-of-a-kind!

Amy Butler Birdie Sling Tote Bag Midwest Modern Sewing Pattern

THREE. Home-made berry jam.
After growing up with all home-made jams, I'm rather biased against store bought preserves. Using some sugar-free pectin given to me by a friend and a combination of red and black raspberries, my grandma and I made several jars of delicious, healthy, and sugarless jam! Hello breakfast love.

Natural ingredients and no preservatives! 
Nothing so beautiful as fresh jam!

So that was my lovely weekend. Not to mention feasting on fresh garden veggies, visiting the world's cutest antique/vintage store, and lots of coffee. Thank you, God for family and creativity!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Circumstances do not define you

What defines you? If you had to describe yourself to someone that you just met, what would you tell them... or better yet, what would you not tell them?

After being diagnosed as a T1 diabetic, I felt like my diabetes was beginning to define who I am. It definitely has changed many habits and the way I have to live each day. Some days, I find myself in a little pity party where I feel undesirable because of my diagnosis. Perhaps you're not diabetic, but can you relate? I think we all can share in this feeling... everyone has insecurities in certain areas. Not talented enough? Not attractive enough? Limited by physical conditions or finances?

I didn't realize how much this was harming my thinking until my pastor asked me about it directly. He challenged me then with this phrase: "You are not broken. You are not less of a person." 

Although I didn't realize it initially, I had begun to believe that I was broken, and thus limited in my ability live life and serve God. But it's not true!! My joy and purpose is rooted in Christ alone, not in my health, my relationship status, or my abilities. This truth, if fully grasped, is freeing and beautiful! Why focus on my human limitations, when there is a heavenly purpose to pursue??

And you know, my diabetes really doesn't have to ruin my life (as I'm discovering). Proof of point.... this past weekend, I was able to spend hours hiking through beautiful mountain scenery in Colorado... conquering mountains, discovering breathtaking views. My approach to hiking is slightly altered, as I have to plan food, snacks, insulin, etc, in advance, but the result was the same, and perhaps even more rewarding.

Praise God for reassuring me of this truth!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Southwest Chicken & Avocado Salad

Consider the following setting:

- The clock finally strikes five, and you eagerly recall that it's nearly time for supper (as your grumbling stomach indicates). As you leap up from the task at hand, a sinking feeling comes over you.... Wait.. what am I making for supper?

Can anyone relate??

Here's another of my favorite quickies when it comes to meal time! You can never go wrong with a salad, and fortunately, the possibilities are endless! So run home, throw a piece of chicken on the grill or your George Foreman, and let's get supper going! And when you're done, come back and tell me about YOUR favorite salad combination.. I'm always looking for something new!

 (**thanks to my sister for this tasty concoction)

  • Spring salad mix with spinach
  • 1/4 c. Sweet corn 
  • 1/4 c. Black beans
  • Your favorite salsa
  • Light Avocado Ranch dressing, by Kraft
  • Tomato chunks (fresh)
  • 2 T. Sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. Avocado, sliced (never cut up an avocado before?? scroll down for tips!)
  • Grilled chicken breast, cut into strips

Lightly toss all ingredients together and enjoy! I suggest treating yourself with a chunk of some hearty bread on the side. 

Slicing Avocados... the quick 'n easy:

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and gently pull the two halves apart. The pit will remain in one side. Cut each half in half again, and then carefully pull the pit off the flesh. Make cuts lengthwise as well as across the flesh of the fruit, being careful NOT to cut through the skin. Using a large spoon, scoop all of the cut pieces out of the skin. Easy enough?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brownie Bites

Here's yet another treasure harvested from my BHG diabetic cookbook! I've always loved brownies more than any other dessert, but let's face it: they're pretty rascally little fellows when it comes to being healthy. So give these a whirl! True, they are a bit more cake-y and not quite as fudge-y as some box mixes, but they're still very satisfying! Plus, they're made with real sugar *gasp*, and still only 15 carbs per cookie. My goal is to attempt them with Splenda next time.. I think they'll still turn out. But I'll keep you posted! Until then.....


  • 2 T butter
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 T. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1 tsp.  powdered sugar
Melt butter in small saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in granulated sugar, cold water, and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa, and baking powder until thoroughly combined, then add nuts.

Spray the bottom of a large (8x4x2") loaf pan. Pour batter into pan and top with extra nuts, if desired. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until no longer gooey. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Cut into 8 equal bars; sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

(I'd have a picture here, but my mountain-top wifi here in CO is currently refusing to deal with pictures. Fail. Guess you'll have to make them yourself to figure out how delicious they look and taste!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Routine Check-ups

     Some thoughts on my current health... both physical and spiritual.. hope it's encouraging.
     For those of you aren’t diabetic, you probably don’t even know what an A1C test is, so let me first provide a very brief explanation before I dive in. An A1C test reveals the average level of your blood glucose for the past three months. Healthy individuals tend to have an A1C that is below 6; at 6, you may be cautioned  that you are pre-diabetic; at 6.5, you are classified as diabetic.
     On May 13, when I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, tests showed that my A1C was at an incredible 13.4… indicating that my average blood glucose for the prior three months was around 350 mg/dL! (Remember, healthy blood sugars range from 70-110 mg/dL.) And that was my average, which may have included some time before I was actually diabetic. My fasting blood sugar was in the 300’s at diagnosis, and I went to the ER that night due to a blood sugar in the 600’s. Honestly, with blood sugars that high, I should have been feeling nauseous and faint. In fact, it’s a miracle I never passed out or went into diabetic shock (a coma). I’m so thankful for God’s protection, especially considering that I had been living completely on my own in an unknown area right up until I was diagnosed!
     Anyway… that was then. Three weeks ago, my A1C was retested, and just 7 weeks after being diagnosed, it had come down to 8.4. Woohoo! Big progress! Obviously still not optimal, but you have to remember that this test was still including some of the incredibly high numbers in the weeks before my diagnosis. In talking with my doctor this week and examining my latest BG numbers, he said that my average BG is currently closer to 111. If I continue to maintain these numbers, my next A1C in 8 weeks should be somewhere around 6!!! (For a diabetic, 6-7 is GREAT.)
     Now, allow me to make a little jump here. Perhaps you’re not diabetic and thus unconcerned about A1C’s.. but what is your spiritual A1C??? Granted, this is not a perfect analogy, but bear with me. My mind thinks in terms of all things food, numbers, and health these days! We’ve been studying Hebrews in church this summer, and I’ve been really challenged to reevaluate my faith. A couple of weeks ago we took a break and looked at 1 Corinthians 11: 23-32, which provides instructions for the Lord’s supper. But more than instructions, it is a call to believers to examine, examine, examine our hearts. Pastor Jim made the statement, “You come to the table (of the Lord’s supper) unworthily when you no longer have the vision of the righteousness and holiness of God before your eyes.” That hit me hard. The last few months, my time has been consumed with figuring out how to eat differently and manage my diabetes. At the same time, I was also fighting to survive several challenging online accounting courses. Frankly, I’ve been in “survival mode” all summer, and in the busy-ness of it all, I’ve lost “the vision of the righteousness and holiness of God”. Now, I’ve cried plenty of tears this summer over things “lost”, such as freedom to eat whatever I desired, freedom from excessive meds, etc. But that day, as I sat in church, I cried over the greatest loss of all… my loss of wonder, passion, and trust in God. While I could see how God was working through the situation, I somehow still ceased to truly depend upon God for daily strength. My “Spiritual A1C”, as it were, revealed alarmingly dangerous levels of self-dependence. We’ve been instructed to live “in, but not of” the world; but instead of allowing my soul to be saturated with the Scriptures, the things of this world are making me spiritually sluggish. The Bible is the nourishment that my soul needs, and without it, my spiritual health starves.
     The solution is simple: make a daily plea to God to reawaken my soul to the joy and satisfaction of His gospel (because I can’t force that according to my own will). Hebrews 6:1-3 makes it clear that we must actively “go on to maturity”, although ultimately it is only if “God permits”. And we must never allow ourselves to think that we’ve arrived spiritually. Philippians 3:12 says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” We press on because of Christ.
     My challenge to you is to step back with me and take a close look at your heart. Consider what things fill your day and consume your time. Are those things pushing you closer to God, or away? Just like my physical A1C, a “spiritual” A1C also requires consistent work and maintenance to remain healthy. Flee apathy, and join me as I seek to improve the health of my soul, which is the only thing that is truly lasting!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Slow-cooked, Sloppy Sandwich & Coleslaw

Sloppy Joes always take me back to childhood for some reason... and they ALWAYS make me think of summer. Not to mention the fact that they're easy to make with a can of Manwich sauce! This recipe for Sloppy Joes doesn't take much more prep time than a jar of pre-made sauce, plus it's sugar-free and better tasting! Next time it's too hot to cook, give this recipe a whirl..... I found it in Simple Everday Diabetic Meals by Better Homes and Garden, and tweaked the recipe just slightly.

Sloppy Joes: Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of LEAN ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, or 1 tsp of minced garlic out of a jar
  • 1 6 oz can of vegetable juice (I use V8's small cans)
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 T. Splenda (or other sugar substitute)
  • 1 T. Mustard
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire 
Brown the beef with onion and garlic; drain off the fat. Combine all other ingredients plus meat in crockpot. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hrs on low, or 3-4 hrs. on high.

***A couple quick notes: I tend to let it cook on low for about 5 hours, then I turn it up to high for the last hour or two. The original recipe also called for 2 T. Jalapenos, but I excluded those and added a bit of cumin and cayenne... it adds just a bit of delicious warmth. Serve on your favorite low-carb bread or bun! (I like Arnold's Sandwich Thins)

Now.. this is great served with some fresh coleslaw on the side, which is a very easy, low-carb dish. So here's a recipe I found while digging online one day that I simply love:

Coleslaw: Ingredients
  • One bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup Mayo
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • 1 T. horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend. Summer ease is served :)