When I was asked to write a blog about type 1 diabetes, cooking, and eating during the festive season, I didn't need to give it a second thought. I live and breathe cooking, food, and diabetes.
l also enjoy all the good things in life and love being in the kitchen every day. When my pancreas decided not to produce insulin anymore, I accepted it pretty quickly. I'm still fascinated by the fact that that meant all the types of carbohydrates would cause a unique effect on my blood sugar levels, and I continue to think of the different ways how to best handle this situation. Should you follow a low-carb diet or should you just stick to slow carbs and avoid all the fast sugars? How do you avoid high meal peaks and deal with the hypos after too high a bolus dose because you didn’t calculate the carbohydrates carefully enough?
I have used an insulin pump for over thirteen years, which makes it easier for me to dose insulin at the times that suit me. During the festive season, we're bombarded with parties and dinners that aren't planned around your schedule. It was difficult to manage this with pens, as this restricted me to punctual mealtimes. But now I can rely on my basal pump settings to get me through the periods between meals and can count on the bolus calculator in my pump to measure how much insulin I'll need for the snacks that I want to eat.
I also always carry a bottle of fizzy soft drink in my bag that I can close again, because you just don't know what's going to be served at parties. All I need is a sip to keep me going. If alcohol is served, I always choose a glass of sparkling wine. Not only is it one of my favourite drinks, as I don't really like sweet drinks, but it's also the drink with the least effect on my blood sugar level. I also like to snack on high-carb bites – I don't administer insulin for these – with my glass of bubbles. Soups are also always a great choice, and I always scan the room to see what's being served, as I like to spread out my carb-intake. I do tend to stay away from bread, because it causes my blood sugar levels to spike quite quickly and I need a lot of insulin to counter it. And, added to that, the bread is generally not that tasty anyway.
What it comes down to is that I'm quite selective about the carbohydrates I choose to eat. But I count myself really lucky that I'm not obsessed with desserts, and I can imagine how difficult it must be if you have a serious sweet tooth. The best advice I can give is to be very aware of what you're eating and to enjoy it. Don't worry about one day of ‘bad’ eating undoing all the hard work you put into eating healthy for the rest of the week. Enjoy the parties during the festive season, enjoy the snacks, and most of all: enjoy the time spent with family. You can do it – even if you have diabetes!
If you're looking for a special recipe that doesn't send your blood sugar levels into a complete spin, then this quinoa salad with edamame beans is a great appetizer. It has a fairly low carbohydrate content with just 13.5 g carbs per 100 g. If you want to serve this as an appetizer, I recommend serving 75 g of salad in a small glass (as shown in the photo). This is just 10 g of carbs per serving.
- 120 g tricolore quinoa (64 g carbs/100 g) = 76.8 g carbs
- 300 g water
- 70 g canned sweet corn (13 g carbs/100 g) = 9.1 g carbs
- 125 g canned kidney beans (14 g carbs/100 g) = 17.5 g carbs
- 75 g shelled edamame beans (frozen) (11 g carbs/100g) = 8.25 g carbs
- 60 g red sweet pepper (4.5 g carbs/100 g) = 2.7 g carbs
- fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 spring onions
- 45 g red onion
- 30 g blanched hazelnuts (17 g carbs/100 g) = 5.1 g carbs
- 130 g uncooked cauliflower (5 g carbs/100 g) = 6.5 g carbs
- 60 g fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 25 g olive oil
- 30 g mustard
- freshly ground pepper
- garden cress
- Bring the water to the boil and add the quinoa. Cook the quinoa over medium heat. The quinoa is done when all the water has been absorbed and you can see a tiny ‘tail’ emerge from the grain. Leave the quinoa to cool.
- Rinse the sweet corn, kidney beans, and defrosted edamame beans and set them aside to drain.
- Chop the sweet pepper into small cubes and mix it with the sweet corn and beans.
- Add the finely chopped parsley, finely chopped spring onion, and finely chopped red onion.
- Toast the hazelnuts in a hot pan without any oil. Leave to cool before chopping into small pieces. Stir the nuts into the salad.
- Finely chop the cauliflower florets to create cauliflower rice and add this to the salad.
- To make the dressing, mix the lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and mustard. Season with freshly ground pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad.
- Leave the salad to settle for fifteen minutes and divide into glasses or bowls to serve as a starter or side dish.
- Garnish with a little extra red onion and garden cress.
My name is Cathy. I'm married and have two daughters. I live in Belgium and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002 when I was 30. My diabetes aids are my Accu-Chek Insight insulin pump and Dexcom G6. I am passionate about baking and cooking.