Slow Cooker Low-Carb Beef Pot Roast

slow cooker pot roast beef recipe by Emma Baird of the Diabetes DietSeasonal eating is valuable, I know but here’s a confession… I don’t mind eating soup and stew all year round, even though the dishes are usually associated with autumn and winter.

Can you blame me? Imagine meat and vegetables soaked in lusciously thick and flavoursome sauces, or onions, carrots and celery melded together and used as the basis for the best soup in the world. [Cauliflower cheese soup, since you ask.]

That said, it’s now the tail end of autumn in the UK and I’m digging into beef stews a-plenty. The miracle of carrots and beef is a flavour combination you can’t beat. Cut those carrots in big chunks, nestle them in your stew and leave to bubble away for hours. I could almost fish them out and eat them as a soup with the juices from the stew.

Recently, I adapted a Mary Berry recipe for pot roast. Mary’s method used suede or turnip as we know it in Scotland. I’m not that fond of it (sorry Rabbie*) and I decided to substitute celeriac. It worked a treat.

One of the rules of stews and casseroles is that they improve the day after cooking. This depends on your self-discipline. If you’ve had a pot of stew simmering on your stove for a few hours or cooking away in your slow cooker, your whole home will smell heavenly and resistance will require added steeliness.

Slow cooker Beef Pot Roast with Winter Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.2kgs (roughly) beef topside or brisket
  • 4 onions, cut into wedges
  • Half a celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Put the oil in a large frying pan or wok and add the beef. Cook over a high heat, turning occasionally until it is browned all over. Place in your slow cooker along with the vegetables tucked all around the meat, and pour the wine around. You might want to add up to 100ml water, but the vegetables will give off a lot of water anyway.

Cook on slow for eight hours. Add plenty of salt and pepper and dot with a little butter to serve. The dish goes well with steamed cauliflower or broccoli.

Allow about 10-15g carbs per serving.

*Scotland’s national dish is haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties, and it’s traditionally eaten on January 25 to celebrate Robert Burns’ birthday.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Diabetes

olive oil pic taken by Emma Baird, author of the Diabetes DietWe’re just back from Crete and enthused with the joys of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Yes, readers, splash it everywhere with gay abandon just as the Cretans do.

The island’s average inhabitant consumes 36 litres of the stuff every year—more than any other nation in the world. Even the Italians, also fond of the EVOO, manage only ten litres of it and they are the third highest consumers.

Does it have implications for we sugar-challenged folks? The factory I visited while there had a sign claiming health benefits for sufferers of all kinds of things, including type 2 diabetes. The Cretans produce mainly EVOO (and they harvest the olives by hand rather than machine), and they don’t bother with the ‘rule’ that you only use it for salads or to dress vegetables. They stick it in marinades, cook with it and even use it to deep-fry chips.

Positive benefits

In the Mediterranean region where olive oil is the main dietary fat, there are lower levels of deaths from cardiovascular disease. A Medicine News Today article also claimed positive benefits for stroke risk, breast cancer, liver protection, Alzheimer’s, ulcerative colitis, acute pancreatitis, maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels and even depression. [The article quoted from different studies, all of which used the words ‘appear to’.]

Anyone with diabetes has an increased risk of all the above conditions. The so-called Mediterranean ‘diet’ isn’t that dissimilar from the low-carb diet we promote. Broadly, eat tonnes of vegetables, some fruits preferably berries, plenty of fish, full-fat dairy, some beans and pulses if you can tolerate them and dress your salad and veggies with plenty of olive oil*.

Apart from the health benefits, a decent splash of EVOO does miraculous things. Steam some broccoli and then finish it off in the pan frying it with olive oil, thin slices of garlic and sea salt and you get to eat something that is three hundred times nicer than the boiled stuff.

The best Greek salad

And naturally a Greek salad needs the stuff… the best ones are simple. Large chunks of cucumber (peeled for purists) and tomatoes, black olives, thin slices of red onion and topped with a slab of feta cheese, plenty of salt and pepper and a generous drizzle of EVOO.

Sadly, because we’d opted for the hand luggage only flight, we could only bring back a 100ml bottle. One of the big issues with olive oil, and especially the extra virgin variety, is fraud. Most olive oil distribution is done through Italy, including the Cretan stuff. Investigations in recent years have uncovered wide-scale issues where virgin olive oil is passed off as extra virgin. There have even been cases where the oil was blended with sunflower oil and others..

The Guardian has a useful article that contains advice about buying genuine EVOO. Basically, it’s best to buy it in small quantities and if you think that stuff in supermarkets is too cheap to be the real thing, you’re probably right.

Olive oil recipes

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for olive oil recipes here are some suggestions from our blog:

What’s your favourite olive oil recipe or use?

*If you are overweight, you might want to be a little more cautious with your use of it, as it is calorie dense.

 

 

 

The FreeStyle Libre—a two-week report

a sensor and reader on a post on the Diabetes DietYou find me, un-sensored and sad… Yes, I’ve completed two weeks on the FreeStyle Libre sensor and reader system, and now I’m back to finger pricks, at least temporarily.

At my last diabetes clinic appointment, my consultant* agreed that I’m a candidate for flash glucose monitoring (which is different from blood glucose testing, but more on that later) and sent me off with a 14-day sensor while I wait for bureaucracy to kick in.

So, what’s flash glucose monitoring like? For the uninitiated, the system comprises a sensor you wear on the back of your arm and a reader that can be used any time. Type 1 diabetes tends to encourage obsessive compulsive behaviour, and the FreeStyle Libre system facilitates that, though it’s no bad thing.

Where flash glucose monitoring differs from blood testing is that the sensor reads levels from interstitial fluid, so it lags about four and a half minutes behind blood glucose readings. If you drive, the DVLA requires you to do blood tests, rather than scans beforehand to avoid the risk of hypos while driving.

Parents love them because they can check children with type 1 diabetes while they sleep, able to work out if they are risk of a hypo, and they are also routinely prescribed for pregnant women who have diabetes as frequent testing makes it easier to maintain the tight control you need while growing a baby.

The accompanying app can be downloaded by others, who can gain access to your information if you give them permission. Again, something that is useful for parents although such scrutiny would have horrified the teenage diabetic me.

Here’s what I found:

Frequency of testing

After a day or so of overcoming the hesitation—I can’t do another test, I just did one an hour ago… Oh. Yes, I can—I averaged 11 scans a day, and about two blood tests usually at the same time to check accuracy and a few times because I was hypo.

Ease of testing

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! You can use the reader through clothing, it only takes a few seconds. It’s much easier than pulling out a meter, sticks and finger-pricker—especially when you’re out and about.

Accuracy of readings

I had the odd bit of disparity—usually if my blood sugar was low, as the sensor lags behind blood glucose readings. However, most of the blood tests I did at the same time varied only by 0.1 o 0.2 mmol, and I did get hypo readings that registered at the same time.

Sensor adhesion

No issues there. That thing stuck to me for the two weeks. I didn’t do any swimming in that time, so I can’t attest to how well it works in that setting. Nor did I try it out in the sauna/steam room as threatened—though one suggestion a fellow user came up with was using cling film to bind it onto your arm. The reader lasted on the battery charge for the full two weeks too.

Most useful bits

There are lots of things that sell flash glucose monitoring to me—ease and frequency of testing two of them—but there are other super-useful components. One is the pattern tool. You can see where you have the most glucose variability and when you tend to have hypos. In the two-week period, I had (ahem) 17 low glucose events, most of them between 11am and 5pm and that corresponded with the time of day I have most glucose variability.

I’ve never been good at logging my blood tests. It just feels too much like hard work. I know you can download from your meter, but the checks I made on the flash glucose monitor gave me a clear idea of what happens. And, more importantly, some ideas of how to fix it.

The excess hypos may have been because of the half-marathon, which happened not long after I started my 14-day sensor and because I’ve been eating more carbs. As we say in the Diabetes Diet, more carbs mean more insulin. Bigger amounts of insulin mean bigger mistakes. A salutary reminder, then, that it’s back on the low-carb for me.

Thanks too, to Steven Morrison—my blog and book co-author’s son—who emailed me in detail about his own experiences using the FreeStyle Libre. He’s a convert too, and the cling-film tip came from him.

So when does my prescription come in? I’m now on a list for a short course at the hospital and once I’ve taken part in that, the organisers write to my doctor recommending she add sensors to my list of prescribed diabetes medications and gear. Fingers crossed, it doesn’t take too long.

 

* #LovetheNHS

Back on the Low Carb!

picture of chorizo sausage, the Diabetes Diet
I could probably eat this Every. Single. Day.

Goodbye carbs. It was fun while it lasted, particularly that beef mac and cheese*, but you and I need to rethink our relationship…

While practising for a half-marathon, I upped my carb intakes. Some type 1s have managed endurance training on a low-carb diet, but I wasn’t one of them. My body refused to put one step in front of another without fruit, bread, protein flapjacks or potatoes, but now I’m fed of blood sugar levels that rollercoaster all over the place, and the particularly nasty lows you get thanks to too much rapid-acting insulin where you eventually surface from mental fog surrounded by sweetie packets and the sinking feeling, ‘Blast. I’ve completely over-treated that hypo.’

Hello cheese, meat, eggs and fish! Welcome back butter, cream and mayo in lavish amounts. And planning of course—the writing of endless lists, shopping, menu plans, revisiting old low-carb favourites. I haven’t eaten chorizo for a few months and my mouth waters at the thought of it, dry-fried crispy in the pan, oozing red oil that coats mushrooms and salad leaves… yum.

a picture of a blood testing machine on The Diabetes Diet
This will be my blood sugar levels from now on. All the time. Yes sirree.

I’ve eaten low-carb on/off (and mostly on) now for almost ten years. Whenever I come back to it after spells on the bread, a few weeks of super-strict low-carbing make me feel I can conquer the world. I get a rush of energy and mental clarity. Give it a month or so and I’ll be banging on the door of Number 10. Step aside, Theresa May. I’ll deal with Brexit for you!

[Perhaps I should write to Theresa, a type 1 herself, and suggest she try 14 days on a keto diet to help with the thorny issue of how the UK exits the EU. Or keto clarity might give her the strength to say, ‘Citizens! Remain calm. We’re staying in.’]

Then there’s the other thing. Between you and me, reader, the digestive issues of the higher carb diet are a LOT to contend with. We’re talking bloating, rumbling noises and let’s not be coy here—gas. After one race, I ate fish and chips and delicious as it was, the heartburn was horrific. Low carb, high-fat meals don’t make me uncomfortable most of the time. A sore, bloated stomach or having to spend a lot of time trying to hold in gas make a person tired and very grumpy. One of the case studies in our book, the Diabetes Diet reported that several months on a low-carb diet cut out the farting issue for her, much to the relief of everyone around her…

So, full charge forward on the low-carb meal making front. Moussaka via the Diet Doctor, cauliflower cheese, peanut butter cookies via Fit to Serve, lamb with hummus, low carb chicken wings via Yummy Lummy, and crust-less pizza.

Good times!

 

*For the love of food, good people, please try this. Ragu sauce, macaroni and cheese, topped with bread crumbs and yet more cheese. What’s not to love?

Slow Cooker Sugar-free Pulled Pork

can of diet coke on The Diabetes DietRegular readers will know—I’m upfront about my addiction to a certain fizzy drink. I have, however, never cooked with it before*.

Fair enough. Why would I? I’ve seen recipes that use the regular version for glazing ham or even chocolate cakes. I did try something this weekend though, using the sugar-free kind. I love pulled pork—it’s the most flavoursome thing you can do with the meat. It’s cheap, easy and a crowd-pleaser. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s tried it and didn’t love it.

Most recipes quote quite a bit of sugar in the sauces for pulled pork. My version uses a big fat zero, unless you include the natural sugars in onions and tomatoes. Try it and see!

Slow Cooker Sugar-Free Pulled Pork

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1.5-2kg pork shoulder
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can diet cola
  • 3 tbsp hot smoked paprika
  • One small onion, finely chopped
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 1tbsp rape seed or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper

Cut the skin off the pork shoulder. Slice into strips and put it in the fridge. This will make your crackling.

Heat a wok or large frying pan and add the pork shoulder. Sear all over. Place in your slow cooker and top with boiling water. Mix in two tablespoons of the paprika and cook on slow for 10 to 12 hours.

Half an hour before the pork finishes cooking, heat your oven to 200 degrees. Mix the pork strips with a little salt and half a tablespoon of the paprika. Place on a wire rack over a tray and cook at the top of the oven.

Make the sauce 15 to 20 minutes before you want to serve your pork. Blend the onion, tomatoes and garlic together and add half a tablespoon of paprika. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the tomato mix with the vinegar and the diet cola. Bring to the boil turn to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce should be a little thicker, and smooth.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker, place in a rectangular dish and use two large forks to shred. Add the sauce and mix well. You’ll need plenty of salt and pepper.

Serve with the crackling and home-made coleslaw.

About 5g carbs per portion.

 

 

*Partly thanks to those conspiracy theories that went round in the 90s about Gulf War Syndrome.

#Type1Runs—Race Report

An oxymoron I know—the words ‘race’ and ‘me’ aren’t a natural fit. If what I did on Sunday 30 September could be described as racing, I challenge you to find that tortoise and it isn’t the one that beats the hare.

Anyway, here’s how the Great Scottish Run panned out for me. The annual race is the largest running event in Scotland and this year it attracted 30,000 participants in both the 10k and half-marathon.

I started in the pink wave (i.e. the slow coaches) and the start was snail-like thanks to the sheer numbers. No complaints from me there as a slow start is what every expert recommends.

Kingston Bridge

Running over the Kingston Bridge is something else—it presents the views of Glasgow that turn up in black backdrops on TV programmes, in films and books set in the city. You see the armadillo, the Finnieston Crane, the towering Hilton Hotel and the odd church spire or two, silent monuments to the man-made standing either side of the mighty Clyde.

The run always attracts the elites and the fastest man, Chris Thompson, finished in 1.02.07 with the fastest woman at 1.09.15. There was also a proposal at the finish line and the woman said ‘yes’.

 

As the fastest woman crossed the finishing line, yours truly was still at mile seven chanting the mantra “you can, and you will do this” over and over in a mind versus body competition. Thanks to clever tech, my husband was able to track my progress through the Great Scottish Run app and managed to cheer me on those last 50 metres over the finishing line, two hours and thirteen minutes after I started.

[Instead of missing my triumphant sprint to the end as happened at the last race.]

Diabetes care and exercise

And the diabetes care? Ahem! Everything I did points to how not to train for a half marathon and what not to do on the day. Dear reader, the furthest I ran in training was seven miles, although I had the odd day where I ran twice as per what ultra-marathon runners do in training. I managed to run the whole thing without even a toilet stop.

On the day, I woke up with super-high blood sugars thanks to a roll I’d eaten the night before. Yes, just one lousy bread roll rocketed my blood sugar levels through the night and my first test of the day was 18.6. I took one and a half units of fast-acting insulin and my basal dose, minus two units.

Super-high sugar levels made me wary of eating before the race, but I did have a Trek protein flapjack one hour before. Ping! As the race was about to start, my blood sugar levels went up again to 16.6. I knew I couldn’t start running on that, so I took one unit of fast-acting insulin and crossed my fingers.

Body feedback

I took my insulin pen with me, jelly babies and the FreeStyle Libre sensor—and, er, didn’t use it at all on the way round. I couldn’t be bothered routing around in my little pack to find it, and there is something to be said for relying on the feedback your body gives you. At the seven-mile mark, I decided I’d better eat a jelly baby or two, and at the nine-mile point, I accepted a gel from the SIS stall. From then on, I ate eight jelly babies spaced out for the rest of the run.

Blood test at the end said 8.3, rising to 11.1 an hour later and then plunging to 5.4 half an hour after that, at which point I ate a meal roughly 50/50 protein and carbs.

Lessons for another time? Do more blood tests during the race. Ignore the carb loading advice for the night before (or don’t do it with bread or flapjacks) and watch out for adrenaline. The nerves kicked in an hour before the run and that might have contributed to those high sugar levels, so the next time I might not lower the basal insulin rate as much…

Next time

But wait! There’s not going to be a next time, is there Emma?! Confession—having sworn I wouldn’t do it again, I’ve changed my mind. The Glasgow half-marathon is so atmospheric you can’t help but be swept up in running fever. Crowds cheer you almost all the way round armed with witty signs—my favourite was the one telling us we were getting in good practice for the zombie apocalypse—and the sense of achievement you experience at the end is… Indescribable.

And seeing as I proved I can do a half-marathon without ever running more than seven miles in training, the idea of doing it again next year appeals.

 

Hypo Awareness Week

the hypo awareness logo on the Diabetes DietIt’s Hypo Awareness Week—what’s your favourite symptom?!

Kidding. Apart from a brief spell of time as a food-obsessed teenager when a hypo gave me the legit excuse to eat half a packet of Lucozade tablets, most of us hate the hypo.

From people who’ve found themselves in supermarkets eating handfuls of cereal from boxes (one of our lovely readers), to those nasty little spells where your mind goes blank and gives you a taste of what dementia might be like, most of us would banish hypos from our lives if we could.

The symptoms include:

  • hunger—your stomach might growl
  • turning pale and sweaty
  • tingling lips
  • shakes or trembling
  • dizziness
  • feeling tired
  • a fast or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
  • becoming irritated, tearful, stroppy or moody
  • seeing floaters (a little blob of bright colour that moves) when you close your eyes or experiencing blurred vision

Most diabetics I’ve spoken to will add in another symptom—we don’t like others telling us we’re hypo. It’s to do with hypos making us irritable, and also because many of us strive to lead independent lives. Someone else noticing you’re unwell before you do undermines that ambition. Please bear with us and try not to mind our irritation.

We can’t moan about the symptoms too much, though. Still getting them after decades of diabetes is A. Good. Thing. If you lose the signs that your blood sugar levels have dipped too low, you risk passing out or having a seizure, and ultimately an untreated low blood glucose level can kill.

There are plenty of causes, such as

  • when you skip or miss a meal
  • if you take too much insulin to cover a meal
  • your basal rate being too high
  • exercise
  • unplanned activity
  • alcohol
  • changes to your routine

And because diabetes is a b***h to women, your cycle interferes with diabetes control too. Most women experience insulin resistance in the week or so leading up to their period and thus will need to take extra insulin to cover it. But the day the insulin resistance eases off can vary—it might be the day you get your period, it could be a few days later and BANG, higher than normal insulin doses, hypos left, right and centre…

 

Want to add any of your unusual symptoms or any scenarios you have found yourself in, thanks to a hypo? We love your comments…