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Acres and Acres of Carbs

Most Supermarkets Are—To Me Anyhow—Carb-filled Minefields

Most Supermarkets Are—To Me Anyhow—Carb-Filled Minefields

Under my new way of life, after I learned that my pancreas was in the process of giving up the ghost, mealtimes are fraught with danger. This morning was all right: I ate a can of smoked trout from Trader Joe’s and a few stoned wheat crackers. I made it through lunch all right, too: A tasty spicy calamari salad at a local Thai restaurant. Tonight, Martine and I will eat some of my ham and lima bean casserole, which has not proven too destructive, along with, perhaps, some cherries and a white peach. As for my beverages, it’s always unsweetened hot or iced tea.

But God, how I miss the carbohydrates! There are times I would sell my soul for some white rice, potatoes, noodles, bread, or candy. As for pizza, it is a thing of the past, a fond memory of times gone by.

I wish I had something to replace rice. My doctor says that barley has too many carbs (though it has an acceptable glycemic index). In tonight’s casserole, the lima beans are filling in for the carbs, though again my endocrinologist says they have too high a carb count, but an acceptable glycemic index. Perhaps I could serve Styrofoam pellets with meat and vegetables?

Going to the supermarket is like crossing a dangerous border. Whole aisles of the market are loaded with stuff I can’t eat. I never realized before that our whole culture is based on carbohydrates, that Americans eat vast amounts of the stuff. Some of them become grossly obese, some of them develop diabetes sooner than they normally would otherwise.

Tonight I will go to the market, mostly for tomatoes (they’re OK) and sweet peppers and other stuff I can munch upon without sending my sugar levels into the red zone.

It used to be that my doctor told me that if I lost weight, I might overcome my diabetes. But how does one lose weight when one has to take Prednisone, a known appetite-enhancer, just in order to survive? Oh, I can lose weight all right; but I would have to be in a concentration camp.

But I have free will to choose anything I want at the market. Perhaps some tasty noodles, some sugar-laden breakfast cereal (like 99% of them) or a fruit smoothie. But no, I will try to be good. I lost both of my parents to Type II Diabetes. I want to survive, even at the cost of jettisoning virtually everything I like to eat and concentrating on salads, fish, fruits, vegetables, and tea.

If you see a sad guy in the supermarket line with a pile of stuff that’s good for you, it may well be me.


10 thoughts on “Acres and Acres of Carbs

  1. You need to get Tom to tell you about rice substitutes and all the wonderful things you can do with cauliflower, which is surprisingly low carb and adaptable. You can make rice substitute with it and it is as good as mashed potatoes as well. Truly. Also you might want to know about Walden Farms sauces and things — tasty, no carb, no fat, no calories… This need not be as bad as you think.

  2. Jim, the doctors wanted to give me insulin. I went on a semi-vegan diet. Two doctors out there, Dr. Furhman and Dr. Hyman have versions of it. I understand about the carbs, but since I have avoided all carbs, most animal fat and diary, and not too much oil, I have lost weight and my A1C has dropped. I still eat some meat and fish, the random egg, and cheese like bits of feta. I eat really well and enjoy my food a lot more, and of course cook a lot more. But I enjoy it. I also found I had a low thyroid, and had to take a supplement; this also stimulates appetite. I find that small amounts of hummus or falafel doesn’t raise my blood sugar much. Everybody is different, of course. I surely wish you the best, and I encourage you to reach for the kale and salads and long life, and forget the pizza, if that is what it takes to keep you healthy. Love to you and Martine! Hope she is feeling better and sleeping better as well. We are excited about going to a Greek festival this weekend; I love Greek chicken and green beans!

  3. don’t know to much , but there must be a way to go around the carb question found two and seen more this sounds good

    Thai-Style Chicken Salad Recipe


    1 lb cooked chicken breast, sliced thin (can use any chicken meat desired)
    3 cups shredded Napa cabbage (can use regular)
    3 cups peeled jicama cut into strips
    1 small sweet red peppers, cut into strips
    1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, including stems
    3 Tablespoons white vinegar
    2 Tablespoons lime juice
    2 Tablespoons Thai fish sauce
    1/2 cup sugar equivalent from substitute (liquid such as Sweetzfree preferred)
    1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
    1/2 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (such as Sriracha) or other hot sauce
    1/4 cup chopped peanuts
    Mint leaves
    Cilantro leaves

    Mix together all the salad ingredients, and in a separate bowl, the dressing ingredients. Toss to combine. Garnish as desired.

    Nutritional Information: Each of 4 servings (including peanut garnish) has 8 grams effective carbohydrate plus 7 grams fiber, 42 grams protein and 297 calories.

    Warm Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
    This version of the classic warm (or wilted) spinach salad can easily be made into a meal by adding chopped cooked chicken, turkey, or even fish or tofu. Chopped egg is also a classic option. If you want more vegetables, mushrooms and red pepper work especially well.

    1 package baby spinach (about 9-10 oz) or that much washed spinach leaves
    4 pieces of thick-cut bacon or 6 pieces thin cut (about 150 grams), chopped
    ¼ cup minced onion
    1 clove garlic
    2 Tablespoons cider vinegar (or the same amount as the bacon fat)
    A pinch of salt
    Two pinches of pepper
    2 teaspoons worth sugar substitute


    Put the spinach (and other vegetables if you like) in a large bowl. The spinach will shrink down some in the hot dressing, but you need room to work.
    Chop the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
    If you like a lightly dressed salad, leave about 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan. If you want more dressing, leave more fat and then balance it with more vinegar and a bit more sweetener. (This dressing is a sweet and sour sort of thing.)
    Cook the onion in the fat for 2-3 minutes, and then add the garlic – cook for 15-30 seconds or until it is starting to be fragrant. Be careful not to brown the garlic or it will get bitter.
    Add the vinegar, and scrape up the brown bits in the pan. (The vinegar will seem potent, but it mellows quickly with the heat and sweetener.) Add the salt, pepper, and sweetener. Stir to dissolve, and pour the dressing over the spinach.
    Toss the spinach (tongs work well) until coated. Transfer to individual plates or bowls and top with bacon bits and other toppings as desired.

    Makes three ample servings as a side dish.


  4. My problem is that my whole cooking repertoire is based on meat and vegetables with some sort of starchy base. Sweet potatoes taste great, but don’t go WITH anything. They’re best served alone or with butter or — gasp! — brown sugar.

  5. Ah, I don’t eat a lot of meat, so my meals are mainly fruits and veggies. Chunk up microwaved sweet potato with pineapple, raisins (if you tolerate them) and yogurt.

    Something I’ve never fixed for myself, but have enjoyed is sweet potato with pearl onions. Can’t remember the sauce though. It was a bit spicy and pungent without being hot.

  6. Part of my problem is that I do all the cooking in our household, so whatever I make has to meet Martine’s approval as well. That sometimes makes for difficulties.

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