Experiments in No/Low Carb Cooking: Baked Spaghetti Squash

It’s edible gourd season! In my house I’m the one with unapologetic love for decorative and edible gourds, so given my love for gourd season and interest in low carb cooking, I decided to work on a dish that treats spaghetti squash like baked spaghetti.

About a third of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac, and while no one in our house has been diagnosed with celiac, not infrequently, we prepare gluten free meals. Also, when thinking about how carbs, fat, protein, and fiber are digested, I look for ways to increase the fiber and or protein content of dishes, hence the addition of ground flax seed to this recipe.

Here’s the basic recipe.

Half the spaghetti squash scoop out seeds, coat with oil, salt & pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Use a fork to scrape out the flesh, creating long strands. Wrap in a tea towel and squeeze out the excess moisture.

img_1283

Meanwhile, sauté three cloves of chopped garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Let the garlic cool slightly, and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of ground flax seed, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1 tablespoon of a mixed seasoning. I really like Fox Point from Penzey’s Spices. Stir together. Add the squash and about 4 oz. of tomato sauce. Mix and place in 9 inch baking dish. Cover with 4 more oz of tomato sauce and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 25 minutes and then uncover dish and bake at 400 for 10 minutes.

The Verdict:

Matt, known squash hater since childhood, had to go to work an hour early and didn’t get to try it.

Ava: “Does that have tomatoes?” More about Ava’s feelings for fruits and vegetables explained in this video.

Henry: “This tastes like pizza.”

Me: It’s definitely not pizza, but it’s flavorful and not watery like many baked squash dishes.

Advertisements

Experiments in No/Low Carb Cooking: Zucchini Garlic Bread

When scrolling through social media, I sometimes pause on those sped up cooking videos that require a few ingredients. Usually, I’m appalled, and think that the simple recipe made from processed food is all that’s wrong with America (I’m thinking of you, S’mores Dip and Donald Trump). However, other times I decide to try the recipe, which is the case for Cheesy Zucchini Sticks, featured on Buzzfeedtasy’s Instagram.

Of course, people with type 1 can eat anything they want. However, it can be easier to manage blood sugars if fewer carbs are consumed. There’s a controversial method of type 1 management called the Bernstein method, of eating few to no carbs, which would require less insulin. Dr. Bernstein was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 12 in 1946, when outcomes and control were not good. He’s now in his 80’s, living proof that his method has worked for him.

While we don’t use the Bernstein method, I do cook some meals with the objective of decreasing the carbs we consume. Last week, I decided to make a summer vegetable soup and Cheesy Zucchini Sticks.

I knew Henry would love them, but his bread, pasta, couscous loving sister would not. Please take 57 seconds and appreciate the aforementioned sister as a toddler who could not eat an entire Bing Cherry purchased roadside from the farm where it grew, still warm from the California sun that nourished it.

So some clever rebranding was in order. I called it “Garden Bread.” The rebranding worked at first.

IMG_0737

Garden Bread

The Verdict:

Matt, known zucchini hater since childhood, ate three pieces.

Ava, cannot eat a cherry (or any other fruit or vegetable) to save her life, gobbled down one piece, but slowed and then stopped when she spotted “something green” on her second piece.

Henry and I ate the rest. It was neither bread nor zucchini, but it was a flavorful low-carb accompaniment to our meal.  Next time, I’m peeling the zucchini first, to take care of the “something green,” but it’s back to the drawing board for names.

When New Recipes Go Wrong

Welcome to type 1 diabetes: where you should know how much you will be eating, when, and what it’s made of— it’s like having a meeting to plan a meeting for the meeting.

Our son’s blessing (and curse) is that he loves food. Two weeks after his diagnosis at three-years-old, we started pre-bolusing because we knew he’d eat the food on his plate and probably ask for more.

In our house, no food is off-limits, but we try to eat locally and responsibly: a little bit of all things. We’ve observed vegetarian diets, belonged to a CSA, garden, and eat fast food on a bi-annual 1,700 mile road trip.

A little bit of all things. All this is to say, in general, we read nutrition labels, understand them, and conduct a quick benefit analysis for the food and occasion. If you read nutrition labels, you’ve probably figured out that about half of the shelf-stable food sold in the typical American grocery store should be a rare treat instead of a staple.

No food is off-limits for our child with T1D, but we’re using our insight of carbs and insulin (that we can see with a Dexcom) to inform more of our family meal and food decisions. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a few substitutions: almond milk (1 carb per cup, instead of cow’s milk, 12 carbs per cup), applesauce and ripe bananas as a sweetener, almond meal and coconut flour, and chia seeds. We rocked a post breakfast BG with these Paleo banana chia bites.

IMG_8559

An ounce of chia seeds contains 12g carbs, 11g fiber, and 4g of protein. I was fairly certain we’d come across a diabetes superfood. Then I made this chocolate pudding, that uses dates as a sweetener, almond milk, cocoa powder, and chia seeds.

IMG_8520

WTF chia seeds? We had something special, then you had to go and ruin it with an overly sweet date.

 

 

99 Diabetes Problems and Breakfast Is One Of Them

Having type 1 diabetes means following a pattern of exact measurements and calculations, all the while knowing that a pattern or desired result could likely not be the outcome. One day, Henry can run around like a madman at the playground and then come home to compete is some serious sofa jumping, and sometimes this physical activity will cause him to have a low blood sugar, but other times his blood sugar can go up.

However, there is a constant calculation in type 1, a perfect diabetes storm: food, stress, and biology, otherwise known as breakfast.

Food

Common breakfast foods such as sugary cereals, pancakes, waffles, and bagels are refined carbs that jack up blood sugars. The quickest way to see two arrows up (which indicates a rapidly rising blood glucose) on a CGM is to eat these common, simple carb-rich breakfasts foods.

Stress

I’m always confused by those scenes on T.V. shows and movies where families sit down in work clothes to pitchers of orange juice, bacon, and omelets before work and school. Really? Does this really happen? Really? A montage of a morning scenes at my house involves waking up two young kids, brushing hair and eating at the same time, putting at least one article of clothing on backwards, forgetting something, the kids playing a last minute game of school with stuffed animals just minutes before they go to their actual school. And diabetes care.

Biology

Breakfast is literally breaking a fast. When we go a long time without food, our body makes its own energy through glucoseneogensis, which is exactly what the word sounds like: the creation of new glucose, which is done from glycogen stores in the liver. In someone without T1D the beta cells of the pancreas send a message to the alpha cells of the pancreas to start the process of glucoseneogensis, which prevents our blood sugar from dropping too low, or around 70, in long time periods without food, like overnight or interminable work meetings.

In someone with T1D, the beta cells are non-functioning and therefore can’t communicate with the alpha cells. So the result of this is sporadic and unreliable glucoseneogensis. If endogenous (originating inside the body) glucose is being circulated, it takes exogenous (coming from outside the body) insulin to bring a blood glucose back in range. People with T1D are taught to account for exogenous glucose (glucose coming from food), but endogenous glucose is a crapshoot.

I don’t have type 1, and I’ve worn my son’s continuos glucose monitor on occasion. In the picture below, you can see a CGM on the top, which is my son’s. He woke up with a high blood glucose just below 200, and experienced a quick rise from the carbs he ate for breakfast. I woke with a blood sugar around 80, and it rose after I got up, cooked, and got the kids ready. The arrow points to where my blood sugar rose because of glucoseneogensis, but my endogenous insulin production quickly brought my level back down. The rising line on my son’s CGM shows just how difficult it is to get biology and math to line up.

morning glucose

Top CGM: T1D with high waking BG post breakfast with insulin and carbs, Bottom CGM: non T1D with waking BG around 80 and glucoseneogensis

Here’s one of the great challenges of diabetes care: a person caring for type 1 diabetes has to make decisions that simultaneously require anticipation and reaction. Every morning, we have to react to the waking glucose value and anticipate the food, activity, emotion, and invisible metabolic processes that Henry will encounter during his day.

It’s taken a while, but here’s how we’re navigating the perfect storm of diabetes and breakfast.

Food

Now that we’re paying attention to food, it’s really obvious that everyone should not eat some things. On occasion, I’ve worn my son’s CGM, and I can watch my non T1D blood sugar rise after eating a few crackers or a bit of bread. When I eat a salad or lean protein, there’s no rise in the line that indicates my blood sugar. It’s an easy conclusion: some foods, usually shelf-stable refined carbs, should not regularly be eaten.

For breakfast we try to balance our son’s plate with a fat, a protein, and carb. A typical breakfast for him might be something like an egg sandwich (check out this low carb bread) with cheese and an apple, or a wholegrain waffle with sugar-free syrup, sausage, and an egg.

Stress

I got nothing here. Diabetes makes everything harder. In related news,  (see above) we’ve opened a casual breakfast diner at our place.

Biology

Diabetes brings consistent inconsistencies. This morning Henry’s waking blood sugar was 94. Yesterday, it was 186. His blood sugar will be inconsistent, but we can consistently pre-bolus. Lately, while our son is still waking up, often in bed, or as part of getting dressed, we pre-bolus his insulin for breakfast. As his body goes through the metabolic process of waking up, and we complete the morning tasks of getting ready, this is a great time to pre-bolus and let the insulin’s onset of action time line up better with the carbs he’ll be eating in about 15-20 minutes.

With all this science, research, and effort, here’s yesterday’s two-hour post breakfast data.

IMG_8023

Looks like we’ll be pre-bolusing and serving up eggs over easy at Casa Del Semisweet from now on.


 

Announcing our first GIVE AWAY!

You’re invited to comment and with a recipe, link, or breakfast idea that’s blood sugar friendly. I’ll leave a few ideas and links in the comments to some breakfast foods we’ve been trying. If you post your comment by December 31st, a winner, at random, will be selected to receive a bar of handmade Semisweet Soap. I’ll contact the winner for shipping information, and we only ship within the U.S.