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 :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gotta have the chocolate!

After my diagnosis, there were many things that I craved... but I think that one of my biggest initial cravings was for chocolate chip cookies. So simple. So delicious. I never realized how much I'd taken them for granted! And thus began my search for a cookie recipe that didn't produce sandpaper rocks... Here's what I found and created!

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup Splenda (or other sugar substitute) 
  • 1/4 cup Splenda/brown sugar blend (or you can use 1/2 cup of regular brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 5-6 oz. Ghiradelli's bittersweet chocolate chips (my personal favorites)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Beat butter on medium/high speed for about 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, then beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat in as much flour as possible, although you may have to stir in some by hand. Stir in chocolate and pecans.

Drop by spoonfuls 2" apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. I use a cookie scoop to make sure that all of my cookies come out to be the same size so I have a consistent carb count in each cookie. Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and cookies have set up.

Yield: 36 cookies      Carbs: approx. 10 per cookie

Gotta love the cookie scoop!

Finished product... delicious!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sugar... the sickeningly sweet truth

American's are sugar addicts. No, really!!

According to WebMD, the average individual consumes 22 tsp. of simple sugars a day, which is a total of 355 calories. This is in comparison to the recommended amounts of 6 tsp/day for women and 9 tsp/day for men. Good grief!! That adds up to... approximately 129,575 calories of SUGAR per year. Women.. based on the recommended amounts, you should only get about 35,347 calories from sugar per year; men, 53,020 calories. We're consuming between 76,555-94,228 extra calories per year on sugar alone, on average.

Gag. Disgusting. And we wonder why America is fat???? Not to mention the fact that many Americans are completely inactive couch potatoes.

But sugar does more than make you fat. Eating excessive sugar causes a dangerous increase in blood fat levels and can triple your risk of heart disease, whereas low sugar diets actually protect against heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels and elevating HDL levels. Additionally, it greatly increases your risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life. Sadly, because of our eating habits, there is an increasing number of obese children being diagnosed with Type II diabetes... children who should have been able to avoid it had they been fed more nutritious meals and less sugar. A recent study revealed that 1 out of every 4 children is obese, and of those children, 70% of their parents thought that their child was healthy or even underweight. We don't even recognize healthy weight anymore!

I find that absolutely heartbreaking. As a kid, I was forced to eat my fruits and veggies, and I spent my days playing outside. I'm so thankful that my parents didn't feed me junk all the time!

Whether you are diabetic or not, it's time to wake up to the reality of our dreadful eating habits and do something to change the trends! No, you don't have to cut out all simple sugars, but please start considering the amount that you consume each day! One can of regular pop usually exceeds the recommended amount of daily sugar intake. Find ways to cut out excessive sugar, and practice eating fresh fruits for snacks and desserts, rather than candy, ice cream, and Little Debbies. Start using  sugar substitutes in your baking. While many tout the excuse that sugar substitutes cause cancer, they have been approved by the FDA. Some are less controversial than others, including Stevia and Truvia, which are natural sweeteners, and Splenda. One cup of Stevia has zero calories.. Splenda has 95.. and white sugar?? A heaping 770 calories.

Do yourself, your family, and friends a favor by exercising control over your diet. Our obsession with food and sugar is not only destroying our health, but it's also become an idol of our hearts. Wait. Did I just say idol?? Yep, I did. If you think that you can't live without that can of pop or daily piece of chocolate, think again. What are you truly depending upon? So-called "comfort food" or our Almighty, Holy God who has called us to excellence in all things, even eating and drinking??? (I Cor. 10:31).

Next time you're tempted to have a little coffee with your sugar, think again! Make a conscious effort to glorify God through the way you take care of your body... find your satisfaction in Him!Joy in Christ.... is truly the sweetest thing you will ever find.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Keepin' it simple... even with snacks

I'm a "snacker". Always have been, always will be.... unfortunately, we tend to snack on foods that are high calorie, high fat, and high carb (chips, cookies...... you know). So here's a couple of my personal favorite snacks!!

  • Kroger's carb-master yogurt with ground flax seed. Don't be so skeptical! Each cup of yogurt is only 4 carbs and 60 calories, and mixing in a bit of flax adds a great nutty flavor (instead of topping it with, say, granola). Love flax seed.. only 2 net carbs in 2 T., and because it's high fiber, it'll help you stay full much longer. You'll see flax showing up again in other things.. I use it frequently! I like 
  • Bob's Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal Organic -- 16 oz, available at Amazon and health food stores. (Haven't checked Kroger yet)

  • Low-fat string cheese (like Weight Watchers) - Carb free :)
  • 1/4 cup of peanuts - 5 carbs
  • 1 Pickle spear - Carb free!
  • Baby carrots... depends on how large they are, but it's a satisfying crunchy snack, and very low carb
  • Sugar-free popsicles (carb content varies)
There's just a few things... if you don't mind going for a few more carbs, I also enjoy FiberOne 90 calorie granola bars (17 carbs), pretzels, and fresh fruit (especially berries!! They're also very low-carb in comparison to apples, bananas, melon, etc.)

Happy munching!

Tortilla Calzones

First of all, a quick apology for my absence of late. School and travelling drew me away....

But meanwhile, I have been capturing several recipes that I'd love to share with you! So let's get started...

I love pizza. What good American doesn't? But as a diabetic, the rules have changed a bit, and the days of mindlessly devouring as much grease and carb-laden crust as I could handle are over. (Yes... I've been known to eat half of a LARGE pizza at a time.) No matter how you choose to bolus it, pizza just is tricky.. and it's one of those that likes to come back and bite you a few hrs later!

So here's my little invention to satisfy my cravings. We'll call it a tortilla calzone. Unfortunately, I don't have an exact recipe, because every time I make it, I just chop up whatever is on hand, weigh it on my super hand Salter food scale that gives me the exact carb count for any food item (available at Amazon.. check out the link!), and then add it to my tortilla.

Basic Instructions:
  1. Use a low-carb tortilla ( I like La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat, with 6 net carbs
  2. Place on cookie sheet and use whatever toppings you desire... I did cooked chicken (cubed), green pepper, onion, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oregano, and a dash of salt
  3. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes or until the tortilla and cheese are just beginning to brown
  4. Fold the tortilla in half, cut into triangles, and enjoy! I believe that just one of these totaled about 11 carbs! If you desire, serve with marinara, just remember to count those extra carbs :)
Baked tortilla, before I folded it in half

Here's the tortillas I use... love them! I also use them for wraps, burritos.. etc.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crispy Peanut Butterscotch Pie

This little recipe caught my eye one day as I perused several cookbooks from the library. I quickly copied it down, but didn't have time to try it until tonight. We'll be having family in town for the holiday weekend, so I thought I'd test this out in advance to see if it would qualify as good "party food".

It's safe to say that I've found a new favorite dessert!

So... without further ado.. here we go!

  • 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 1/2 c. Rice Krispies
  • 1 (1 oz.) package of sugar-free butterscotch instant pudding mix
  • 2 c. 1% milk
  • 1 c. frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Combine peanut butter and honey in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 30 seconds, stirring until mixture melts. Stir in cereal. Line an 8" cake pan with wax paper and press mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Making the crust

Still on the crust...

Prepare pudding mix according to package directions, using 2 c. milk; fold in whipped topping. Spoon pudding mixture into pan. Cover and freeze until firm. Let stand at room temp 10-15 minutes before serving. (Now, I'll confess, we left it out longer than that, and while it got really messy, it was actually better than if it was frozen solid!)

Yield: 6 servings  
Carbs: 23 g per serving
Calories: 175 per serving

Seriously, you gotta try this.. the perfect blend of cold, sweet, and crispy!

When life gives you lemons...

Make Lemonade.
You know the saying.

Today, I decided to take this catchy little phrase literally. Diabetes can sour life if you let it, but with a positive attitude and willingness to learn, any situation can be sweetened.

But back to the real lemons. Okay, the 4th of July weekend is nearly upon us, and I've been thinking through all of my favorite summer holiday foods, trying to plan a menu that my extended family will enjoy... and that I can enjoy as well! In my opinion, lemonade is essential to any and all picnics. We happened to have two lemons sitting in our kitchen, so I grabbed them and set out to discover sugar-free lemonade.

With the combined input of several websites, this is what I came up with! It's so quick and easy.. because you use Stevia (sugar substitute), you don't even need to heat water to dissolve the sugar into a syrup, like most lemonade recipes!

(Keep in mind.. this only makes about 1 qt. of lemonade since that's all the lemon I had to work with! This is easily doubled, tripled... etc.)

  • 2 large lemons (to make about 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice)
  • 1 qt. of cold water
  • 2-3 packets of Stevia sweetener (It depends on how sweet you like it! I made it with just two, and loved the bit of tartness that remained)
Set the lemons out at least one hour before you want to use them to let them warm up. Before cutting the lemons, roll them on the counter top, applying firm pressure with your palms to soften them. Cut lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup until you have about 1/3 cup. Mix with cold water and Stevia, and enjoy!

Next time I make this, I think I'll serve it with crushed ice and some fresh raspberries or strawberries. I may even add a bit of lime juice for some extra tangy-ness! 

Happy summer!

Moussaka: A Lasagna Wanna-be

My sister introduced me to moussaka just a few weeks, ago, and I'll be honest.. I was pretty skeptical at the time. If you're like me, you probably haven't even heard of it before! So.. a quick description. Moussaka is a Greek dish similar to lasagna, the primary difference being that it uses eggplant instead of noodles, and it also contains cinnamon and nutmeg. (Thus my skepticism... eggplant? cinnamon? nutmeg? in one dish??)

It would seem that my sister had every right to rave over this dish. The eggplant is a great substitute for carb-laden pasta, although it has a slightly different texture. My favorite part of the dish, however, is the addition of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Delicious. Think comfort food. Think warm, cozy flavors. Moussaka was a hit with the whole family, and we'll definitely keep this one around!

Warning: this dish does take 30-40 minutes of prep time, as well as 45 minutes to bake, so make sure you set out on this venture with time to spare!

Serves 4, approximately 12 carbs per serving.


  • 2 medium eggplants
  •  olive oil (as needed)
  •  1 lb lean ground beef (or can use ground lamb)
  •  2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  •  2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (or to taste, I use lots!)
  •  1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  •  1 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste)
  •  1 teaspoon salt, divided (or to taste, I use seasoned salt)
  •  1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 T. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 T. ground cinnamon  

Cheese Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt (I use seasoned salt)
  •  1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  •  2 tablespoons flour
  •  1 cup half-and-half cream
  •  1 egg
  •  1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (can use more) 
1. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan 

2. Peel the eggplants then slice 1/4-inch thick (or a little thicker won't hurt).
3. Lightly coat each side of sliced eggplant with olive oil then season slices with salt and pepper  
4. Place the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet; broil under the broiler until brown; turn and broil the other side, brushing with oil if needed; repeat with all eggplant slices. (Don't go overboard with the oil.. you don't want it to be greasy!)

5. In the bottom of the prepared baking dish arrange half of the eggplant slices.
6. In a large skillet, combine beef and onions; cook stirring until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are soft; drain fat.
7. Add in the garlic, tomato sauce, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper to taste; pour mixture over eggplant slices. 
8. Arrange the remaining eggplant slices over the beef mixture.    

9. Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in flour, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste; gradually stir in half and half or milk, cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
10. In a small bowl, beat egg; stir in some of the hot sauce, then add egg to sauce mixture, mix well; add in Parmesan cheese, and stir again.
11. Pour the cheese sauce over mixture in baking dish.
12. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes.

 Note: If doubling this recipe to serve 8 it is best to make two separate casseroles instead of one larger one.

Voila! Dinner is served! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Asian Chicken and Mandarin Orange Salad

Nothing speaks summer like a light salad topped with fruit and grilled chicken!

This was my supper tonight, and it was delicious! Even better, it's so easy to throw together. (Sorry there's no picture.. I'll try to add one later!)

Ingredients (for one salad):

  • Spinach and lettuce salad mix
  • 2 T. slivered almonds
  • 1 small chicken breast, grilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup of canned mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 cup chow mein noodles
  • 2 T. Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
Toss all ingredients together and enjoy! I calculated this to be approximately 24 carbs. That's my kind of supper right there! I was left with plenty of carbs to enjoy a side of fresh pineapple and raspberries, as well as a sugar-free fudgsicle. 

Summer has never tasted better :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Possible Cure for Type I Diabetes??

Fascinating new study that may have some great implications for diabetics in the future! Check it out...


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Coffee love


One of the first thoughts to cross my mind when I was diagnosed with diabetes was "Oh no! Can I still drink coffee?!?"

Answer: YES. Coffee and tea have essentially no carb content! (Just don't drink too much, because excessive caffeine dehydrates your body, which will lead to high blood sugars.)

Ahhh.. sweet relief. I'll be honest, I HAVE to have my daily bit of caffeine, and that usually comes in the form of a cup of high quality, dark roast coffee. (Fortunately, I've never liked pop/soda.. and that's definitely out). I also love tea, so on days that I miss my morning coffee, I usually end up with a cup of tea in hand by 10 a.m. 

While I'm usually content with my one cup of tea or coffee per day, and that being sugar-free or just lightly sweetened, sometimes a girl's gotta have something purely delightful... such as a cappuccino. Even after learning that I could still have coffee, I was convinced that I'd kissed the cappuccino days goodbye.

Until this:

I may have done a slight "happy dance" over this. Did you know... a cappuccino made with low-fat milk and sugar free syrup is, on average, only 9-12 carbs? Most specialty coffee shops, like my personal favorite, Stoney Creek Roasters, offer a variety of flavors of sugar free syrups. In fact, even McDonalds has vanilla sugar free syrup!

Sometimes, I still mourn the loss of the days when I could drink a large mocha shake without fear or shame. But with artificial sweeteners once again to the rescue, I'm so excited that there are quite satisfying alternatives.

Diabetics, rejoice. You can still have your capp and drink it too. 

Carb Counting: The CalorieKing

As most diabetics SHOULD know, counting carbs is essential to healthy blood sugar levels! Carbs may include sugar, fiber, starch, etc, but in the end, your body breaks all carbs down into simple sugars to be used for energy. Without insulin to transfer the sugars into your cells, the glucose builds up in your blood... thus, diabetes. A healthy body naturally matches every carbohydrate that you eat with the proper amount of insulin, but as diabetics, we have to figure it out for ourselves! That's why it's so important to know exactly how many carbs you are eating so you can give yourself the correct dose of insulin.

Unfortunately, many diabetics find carb counting to be difficult, time-consuming, and overwhelming. And to be honest, it can be at times. It does take extra time and dedication. Over time, however, you'll find yourself memorizing the carb content in different foods, which speeds the process up considerably.

As a new diabetic, this little book has been a huge lifesaver! The CalorieKing's Calorie, FAT &Carbohydrate Counter makes it easy to learn how to count carbs.

Ahh. Gotta love this. Here's my favorite things about this book:

  • It's small (only about 4x6"), and thus easy to slip in a purse or bag when you're on the go
  • It lists almost ALL common foods, arranged by categories such as fruits, vegatables, beverages...
  • For each food listed, it tells you the calorie, fat calorie, and carbohydrate content (remember, as diabetics, we need to be careful not to consume too much fat. It slows down how quickly our body can break down carbs, and places us at higher risk of heart attack and other complications)
  • It includes common restaurants.... you no longer have to be afraid of eating out!
  • There is a section geared toward diabetic eating
  • It's cheap! Find it anywhere, including Amazon.com!! 
Honestly, I couldn't make it without this book! I keep two.. one in my purse, and another on the kitchen counter so I always have a quick reference on hand. Whether you're a beginner at counting carbs or an old pro... or if you're a non-diabetic looking to eat more healthily, definitely give this book a try! 

Here's a quick peek at the inside... great formatting. So user friendly. Love.

Three columns of numbers, L-R: Calories, Fat Calories, Carbs

Friday, June 24, 2011

Coming Soon!

Check back for hints on managing diabetes while living life to its fullest!

Peanut Butter Cookies

Let's get our priorities straight.. dessert must always come first! I'm the sort of girl who could eat dessert with every meal. One of my biggest frustrations as a new diabetic has been finding substitutes sweet treats. Here's one of the first recipes I discovered online for a quick-n-easy, low-carb & sugar free cookie!


  • 2 cups smooth natural peanut butter (I like Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter.. only 6 carbs for every 2 tablespoons!) 
  • 2 cups no-calorie sugar substitute (I prefer Splenda or Apriva... I'll explain why in another post!) 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 3/4 cup of oats 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 

Directions:Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a baking sheet. Thoroughly mix together all ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto pan. Bake until center appears dry, about 8-9 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies.

Total carbs in recipe: 137 
Carbs Per cookie (based on yield of 36): 3.8

**Note: These freeze really well! Make them in advance and store in freezer to stay fresh.

And there you have it! So easy, and so delicious. My family couldn't even tell that I'd used artificial sweetener. Enjoy!

About Me

I'm Sami, and I'm just average.

Really. I grew up in the cornfields of Ohio.. and that's where I still live, to date. My 21'st birthday is quickly approaching, and this fall I'll be a senior accounting major. I was diagnosed with diabetes on May 13, 2011. Needless to say, it's been a huge life adjustment in many ways. Thus the title, Curious Crossroads. It seems as though we spend the majority of life working through changes, good or bad. But, as I'm daily reminded,

"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken." (Psalm 62:1-2)

What a comfort! The twists and turns of life will not destroy me as long as I cling to God, who planned my life according to His perfect will. Because of Christ, I have hope, no matter what comes my way!

So what's this all about??

I've always loved food... making it, eating it, sharing it. In fact, I'm one of those girls that takes food to work and class all the time.. just because it's an excuse to bake! As a food lover, changing my diet was initially devastating. But as I get farther into this, I'm enjoying the challenge of discovering new recipes and a new approach to cooking and baking as a whole! My biggest priority right now is to find recipes that are quick and easy to make, considering I'll be a full-time student again shortly! Few of us have the time, energy, or resources to create masterpieces, so hopefully my In the Kitchen section will help you find practical alternatives for a busy lifestyle!

In my Journey section, I'll be sharing thoughts and lessons that I'm learning along the way. Being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease is an emotional journey! Laughter, tears, grief, and joy in simple things are all healthy and necessary emotions. Trust me, there have been plenty of tears on this end!

Look in Tips & Tricks for thoughts on managing diabetes and taking care of yourself (or your friends/loved ones). I'm no medical expert, but there is a lot to learn about diabetes, and I'm eager to share with you things I'm discovering.

Finally... Must-haves. That's right. There are plenty of great tools, resources, etc. that will help you manage your diabetes and enjoy life while you're at it! Check this section for updates on little things that may simplify your life.

I'm excited! Whether you have been recently diagnosed or have been managing diabetes for years, there's always something to learn. So journey with me through these curious crossroads.... together, let's find the sweet things in life!

The Start of a Journey

As a food-loving, active 20 yr. old, my world was shaken on May 13, 2011, when I was diagnosed with late-onset Type I Diabetes. Over the past several weeks, God, my family, and dear friends have been faithful to encourage me along as I seek a "new normal" in life.

Whether you personally or a loved one is diabetic, this blog is here to give you the support you need! From one diabetic to another, I know the lifestyle changes aren't easy. Diabetes can be an overwhelming disease, but with help, it is entirely manageable.

And perhaps you aren't diabetic... well, stick around! The recipes and tips in this blog are really for anyone who is interested in building a healthier lifestyle. 

Be patient with me.. it'll take some time as I put together the thoughts, recipes, and facts that I've already collected along the way. But as I'm learning, there is joy in the journey (and tears, too), and ultimately there is hope! I look forward to sharing with you... and all of your ideas and feedback are welcome!