“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~Hippocrates
When stay-at-home orders began in mid-March, I really sort of enjoyed the eat-at-home that came with it. I’ve always enjoyed food preparation. I’ve always enjoyed learning how to cook a food from a different culture — taking care to note the qualities that elevated the food from good to great. This was well appreciated by my family for the first two to three weeks. Then . . . although the food was good . . . there was discontent among the ranks. We needed a change. Creativity took over.
In an earlier article I shared how years as a diabetes educator had created a “diabetes plate method” organization style in the pantry. Plate method is also where a change of taste would emerge.
As I gazed into the pantry and refrigerator I realized I had lots of little containers with food . . . a little of this . . . a little of that.
My first creation began with half an onion, 1/4 bell pepper, a little shredded cabbage, a diced chicken breast, diced small steak and about 1/2 cup of pico de gallo. It was the pico de gallo that led me in the direction of TexMex. I added about 3/4 - 1 cup of shredded cheese, about 1/4 cup Taco sauce, 1 teaspoon of sour cream and some taco seasoning. I stirred all of this together. It had the consistency of a dry chicken salad. With a little olive oil on my hands I rubbed three low carb flour tortillas on both sides. One by one I lay a flour tortilla on a medium heat non-stick skillet, put the above “filler” on one half of the tortilla, flipped the other half of the tortilla over to cover (so now it was looked like a half circle vs a big round tortilla), and slowly grilled the tortilla and filler. When beautifully browned it was removed, cut into wedges with a pizza wheel, and served with guacamole dip. It was so good! I repeated versions of this “leftover” creation every week. The early part of the week determined what the leftover creation would represent.
I felt the leftover creations were a good way to reinvent leftovers. Not a recipe, a creation. Today I share some of these with you. There’s no recipe for the following. Keeping the plate method proportions of ingredients and using varied seasoning, the following ideas came to life:
Low carb: onions*, sweet peppers*, pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado guacamole.
Protein: beef*, chicken*, pork*, and/or shrimp*, pepper jack or cheese of your choice and / or nuts (I prefer pepitas / pumpkin seeds)
High carb: flour tortilla, legumes (black beans, pintos, or other beans), rice, seasoned potatoes* (Remember only 1/4 of the plate comes from this category)
Seasoning: Taco seasoning or fajita seasoning.
Saute fajita filler ingredients (denoted with *). Wrap cooked ingredients in flour tortilla (we always use the low carb version). Serve with rice or beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, and/or guacamole.
Low carb: onions*, sweet peppers*, tomatoes, lettuce or fresh spinach, Tzatziki sauce
Protein: beef*, chicken*, pork*, and/or shrimp*, feta cheese or nuts
High carb: flour tortilla (we always use the low carb version), hummus dip, lentils, fava beans, or chick peas, and/or pita bread
Seasoning: Commercially prepared Greek seasoning.
Saute wrap filler ingredients (denoted with *). We put a “smear” of Tzatziki in the wrap. Wrap cooked ingredients in flour tortilla. Serve with remaining ingredients of choice.
Low carb: onions*, sweet peppers*, favorite spaghetti sauce (made from scratch or commercially prepared), and green salad ingredients of your choice
Protein: beef*, chicken*, pork*, and/or shrimp*, ricotta cheese or Italian cheese combination
High carb: flour tortilla (we always use the low carb version), cannellini beans
Seasoning: Italian spaghetti seasoning blend, Herbs de Provence or other Italian flavors of your choice.
Saute wrap filler ingredients (denoted with *). Wrap cooked ingredients in flour tortilla. Serve with remaining ingredients of choice.
Low carb: onions*, sweet peppers*, mushrooms
Protein: sausage*, bacon*, and/or eggs*, favorite cheese combination
High carb: flour tortilla (we always use the low carb version), fruit
Seasoning: your choice
Saute wrap filler ingredients (denoted with *). Wrap cooked ingredients in flour tortilla. Serve with a juice or fruit of choice.
Note that any of the above ingredients can be served as a quesadilla by spreading the filler ingredients on half the tortilla and folding the other half of the tortilla over the filler before grilling on both sides until lightly browned.
Meal Kababs (great for a meatless meal option):
Low carb: tomatoes, sweet peppers, mushrooms
Protein: cubed favorite cheese(s)
High carb: fruit(s) of choice
Season: fresh basil leaves or mint and/or favorite balsamic or fruit dressing
While intended to be served on skewers, it’s okay to just serve tossed as a salad on a bed of your favorite salad greens.
Similarly, any of the above can be tossed with your favorite pasta being mindful of the high carbohydrate content of pasta.
Mini Crustless Quiche
Low carb: tomatoes, sweet or hot peppers, mushrooms, green onions, fresh brocolli or spinach, other low carb veggies.
Protein: Eggs, milk or cream, favorite cheese combination, and/or cooked ham, chicken, turkey, sausage of your choice.
High carb: small diced potatoes (or you can leave out high carb completely)
Seasoning: Sea salt and pepper to taste.
Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray. Load each tin with veggies and cheese of choice. Create egg and milk filler: For every egg used you should add enough milk or cream to create a 1/2 cup. Expect to use 4 - 5 eggs on a regular size muffin pan. Bake for about 30-45 minutes until the quiche is cooked through and the center allows a little movement when gently shook.
I hope cooking with the plate method as a guide triggers your own creations. Keep the proportions balanced and you, too, can have diabetes friendly meals.