We all know people with diabetes tend to have issues with food. And I know this better than most because my father, sister, and I all have Type 1 diabetes. Throughout my life with diabetes my own attitudes have spanned the spectrum from devil-may-care cookie monster to numbers obsessed low-carb fanatic. Finding health, balance, perspective and quality of life has often been elusive. From talking to others with Type 1 diabetes I’ve found the same broad range of attitudes toward food and glucose control.
When my father, sister, and I get together it is often a flurry of glucose control talk, comparing notes and techniques. There’s always plenty to discuss, because diabetes management is never totally perfect and always a work in progress. But, this past fall I got together with my sister, Ariana, in person for the first time in three years and shockingly, we didn’t talk about insulin or glucose at all. It was probably the only thing we didn’t talk about. Why? We have settled in… it seems like we’ve each found some peace and perspective with our situation. We have both found a place where we are enjoying our food, managing diabetes well enough, and living healthy lives.
Ariana lives overseas, and is an American ex-patriot with her husband and daughter. They have lived in Germany, England and will soon move to Spain. She writes a fascinating blog, And Here We Are, about living abroad. Much of her writing is focused on food, culture and enjoying life. As an outgrowth of her blog she has self-published a grain-free cookbook titled And Here We Are at The Table, and it represents a great perspective on eating, especially for a person with Type 1 diabetes. There are no carb counts in the cookbook, but the intuitively cooked meals are low-glycemic and represent a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbs. This grain-free cookbook contains the same recipes Ariana cooks for herself and her family, with a focus on whole high quality ingredients. With food allergies and autoimmune disease in her family, she has found going grain-free has been a great solution for all members’ health issues.
Ariana and I spent part of our childhood living in the Philippines, and she’s had many homes abroad. Her cookbook shows her interest in foods from around the world, with recipes that borrow from places she has visited and lived. Her cookbook is as much about the stories that go with the foods as the recipes themselves.
In addition to the stories, and personal details from Ariana’s family table, she has accomplished something remarkable with the imagery. She is a fantastic photographer and does a great job populating her blog with gorgeous images. This extends as well to her cookbook. It is a beautiful book. I say this not as a proud brother, but as a high school photography teacher. I’d be pretty pleased if one of my students grew up and illustrated a book this well.
And Here We Are at The Table comes in two formats, published by Amazon. Ariana has released a physical book that is a full color 8.5×11 printed book. She has also created an ebook version that includes interactive links and video lessons in the kitchen.
I’m not an unbiased reviewer by any stretch, but I hope that anyone who is looking for a little healthy adventure in the kitchen will check out this fun cookbook. Ariana approaches her recipes with simplicity and family time around the table in mind. For people with Type 1 diabetes who want to go grain-free and eat freely, it’s a great guide.
Sample recipe from And Here We Are at The Table
Chelo Kebabs with Cucumber & Yogurt Salad
Our winters in England can be pretty mild, but I still get that intense ache for brighter, longer days. I self-medicate with flavors that come from sunny climes, making foods I associate with summertime. One of my favorites is Chelo Kebabs.
These are super-quick to make, freeze easily, are budget friendly and– most importantly– seriously delicious. We buy ground beef every week, and this is one of those things that I can whip up quickly when I don’t know what else to make. A few condiments, olives and some Cauliflower Rice (page 33) round out the meal easily, and we’re all happy.
Chelo Kebab Recipe
This recipe is an adaptation from Ariana Bundy’s recipe from her gorgeous cookbook, Pomegranates & Roses. And I will just go ahead and tell you right now that you should double the recipe because these are great as leftovers for lunch! I also like to chop them up and put them in Greek salads the next day.
1 medium onion, skinned and cut into quarters
1 lb. (500g) fatty ground beef or lamb (I usually ask my butcher to give me a blend of 75% beef, 25% lamb)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
a generous pinch of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon dried mint
chopped fresh herbs like coriander (cilantro) or parsley to garnish, optional
chili flakes and ground sumac to garnish, optional
lemon wedges to garnish, optional
Equipment: You will want to use a food processor for this recipe (it’s possible to make it without, just a lot more work) and a rimmed baking sheet. Shish kebab skewers are optional.
Put the onion into the food processor and process until finely chopped. Gather the onions to one side of the work bowl and use a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to press as much liquid out as you can.
Add the meat, salt, spices and baking powder, and process for about 30 seconds to one minute. You want the meat to be smooth and well-blended. This might seem weird, but it works!
Form the meat into kebabs. It will be sticky, and if you want you can dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water between kebabs to make them less sticky. You can either put them on kebab skewers, or just form them into a long sausage shape and place them on the baking sheet. (The authentic way to form them is to make them much thinner and longer than the ones you see here. I do them like this because it’s much easier, logistically.) If you have more than you need, or are cooking ahead, you can put them on an extra
baking sheet to flash freeze.
Cook them under the broiler under full heat. This will be very quick, about 5 minutes on each side. You’ll know they’re done when they start to brown a bit and smell ridiculously good. For the ones that you have frozen, bake straight from the freezer at 450º F (230º C) for 8-10 minutes
on each side.
Garnish the Chelo Kebabs with fresh herbs and lemon wedges, and serve with cucumber yogurt salad and rice (we do Cauliflower Rice, page 33).
Cucumber Yogurt Salad
This is a really simple, adaptable salad that’s light and refreshing.
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs– one or any combination of the following: dill, mint, coriander (cilantro) parsley or oregano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
half of an English cucumber, chopped into fine dice
Combine everything except for the cucumbers into a bowl, and whisk together until the olive oil is fully incorporated. Taste and see if this dressing needs more salt or lemon juice.
Stir in the diced cucumber and garnish with fresh herbs, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Enjoy! We eat this as a salad itself, or as a dip or condiment.