Adapting your recipes
Cooking from Scratch
A healthy, balanced diet gives each food the importance it deserves.
Making home-cooked meals is an excellent habit to cultivate if you want to eat a healthy diet. It gives you full control over the quality and quantity of the ingredients.
If you want to have better control of your glycemia, lose weight, and prevent such diabetes complications as cardiovascular complications, here are some changes that can help you achieve these goals:
- Reduce your consumption of added sugars (e.g.: commercial pastries, candy, white sugar, etc.)
- Increase your consumption of dietary fibre (primarily found in vegetables and fruit, whole-grain products, legumes and pulses, nuts and seeds, etc.)
- Give prominence to vegetables on your plate
- Limit your consumption of fats and opt for heart-healthy fats
Whatever recipe you make, it must take into account your plate’s composition – the elements that make up the meal and how they are apportioned. The “balanced plate” is a useful model to follow. A healthy, balanced diet gives each food the importance it deserves.
Tips for Appetizers and Main Courses
Appetizers and entrées
- For dips, replace half the mayonnaise or sour cream with plain regular or Greek yogurt.
- Serve your favourite homemade spread on cucumber slices instead of crackers to increase your intake of vegetables.
- Add more vegetables than called for in recipes that combine multiple ingredients.
- Use cooking methods that require little or no fat (e.g.: sautéing, grilling, boiling, etc.)
- Opt for vegetable fats or soft non-hydrogenated margarine, which are better fats for heart health, and use only small amounts.
- Choose low-fat cheese (less than 20% milk fat (M.F.)).
- Use whole-wheat pasta for lasagna or other pasta dishes.
- Use brown-rice vermicelli for Asian stir fries.
- As a side dish, serve brown rice, whole-wheat couscous or quinoa.
- In recipes calling for ground meat, replace some of the meat with a source of vegetable protein, such as tofu or legumes/pulses. This substitution works well in spaghetti sauces, stuffed peppers, taco fillings, shepherd’s pie (pâté chinois), meatloaf, etc.
Tips for Muffins and Cakes
To reduce the amount of sugar:
- You can usually halve the amount of sugar called for in recipes. For satisfactory results, you’ll need 2 to 3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) of sugar per cup (250 ml) of flour.
- To add flavour other than with sugar, use vanilla, maple or almond extract, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom, or citrus zest.
- Remember: sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, brown sugar, molasses, powdered sugar, dried fruits, fruit purée, chocolate chips, etc. all add to the sugar content.
To reduce the amount of fat:
- 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) of fat per cup (250 ml) of flour normally suffice for satisfactory results.
- Replace shortening, lard and butter with vegetable oil or soft non-hydrogenated margarine – which are better choices for heart health.
To increase the amount of dietary fibre:
- Replace half the white flour with whole-wheat flour.
- Replace about ¼ cup (60 ml) of flour with oat bran or wheat bran, oat germ or wheat germ, or ground flax seed.
Although it is possible to slightly increase the nutritional value of cakes and still maintain a pleasing texture, appearance and taste, you must still use a minimum amount of sugar and fat.
Cake, like other food that is very high in sugar or fat, should be reserved for special occasions and enjoyed in tiny portions.
- To reduce the amount of sugar and still obtain satisfactory results, you can use as little as ½ cup (125 ml) of sugar per cup (250 ml) of flour.
- To reduce the amount of fat, cut the quantity to 3 tablespoons (45 ml) per cup (250 ml) of flour. To ensure a moist cake despite this modification, replace some of the removed fat with thick yogurt.
Even with these modifications, cake is still very high in carbohydrates for very little nutritional value. That is why it is important to pay attention to how often you eat cake and how much of it you eat. But don’t forget to take the time to enjoy every bite!
Research and text: Diabetes Québec Dietitian Team
Novembre 2014 (Updated June 2018)
©All rights reserved Diabetes Quebec
Blais, Christina (2012), “Healthy Cake, Fact or Fiction?” http://www.ricardocuisine.com/articles/food-chemistry/416-healthy-cake-fact-or-fiction (web page consulted in November 2014)