Chicken Caesar Salad – crouton-free

picture of chicken caesar saladEaster greetings to you all… here’s an idea for lunch or dinner for you. Now, Caesar salad without the croutons?! C’est sacrilege, surely? But if you follow a low-carb diet, the concept of tearing up the rule book on food is one you embrace.

I’m back from a terrific few days in the Scottish Borders (abbey-visiting a-plenty), and my favourite meals while there was a Chicken Caesar salad I had in the Townhouse in Melrose. Now that one did feature croutons, albeit small ones, but the dressing and the juicy chicken made it stick out.

I decided to re-create it at home. Issue one—chicken breast, a dry and often flavour-free meat. Issue two—my husband hates anchovies and they’re are often added to the salad or at least the traditional dressing.

Poached, not fried or roasted chicken

To avoid dry chicken, I poached mine in chicken stock (I used two cubes) with a handful of sage and thyme added to the cooking liquor. And to make an anchovy-free dressing*, I found an American recipe online and adapted it.

Here it is—crouton-free Chicken Caesar Salad suitable for low-carb and gluten-free diets.

Chicken Caesar Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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<em>A fresh, light recipe that is still filling and perfect for a late spring or summer dinner</em>.


Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (the best quality you can afford)
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Handful fresh sage leaves and several thyme twigs)
  • 3 rashers smoked back or streaky bacon
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces
  • 10 baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 30g Parmesan shavings

Dressing

  • 4tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard

Steamed green beans to serve (and boiled new potatoes for your carb-lovers).

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and add the breasts. Depending on their thickness, they will take 10-15 minutes to cook, but you shouldn’t have any pink meat remaining.
  2. Meanwhile, wash the Little Gem lettuces and pull off the outer leaves. Use them to line a wide bowl so you have a ‘tray’ for your salad. Shred the rest of the leaves finely, slice the tomatoes and put in a bowl with the lettuce. Add the Parmesan shavings. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss the salad to coat it evenly with the dressing.
  3. Grill the bacon until crispy. Once the chicken is cooked, chop or slice it and add to the plate. Top with the grilled bacon (one and half slices each).

About 5-7g carbs per serving.

Please note—the dish is high in protein and protein can affect your blood sugar levels after a few hours. Test your blood glucose accordingly. Our book The Diabetes Diet outlines how to deal with the protein content in meals.

 

*Ssh, don’t tell my husband one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is… you guessed it, anchovies.

The Quirky Things About Being a Type 1 Diabetic

Because I am hyper-organised (crap), I scheduled time to write a post for World Diabetes Day—spot the deliberate mistake. Said designated day took place on 14 November, unmarked by we at the Diabetes Diet. Hey ho!

Instead, here I am posting about it more than a week later. You could argue that living with diabetes also takes place on the other 363 days (and the extra one every four years) of the year, so why make the 14th special, although awareness-raising exercises are always useful.

Anyway, I thought I’d list some of the quirky things about living with diabetes. We all know the big stuff, but there are some teeny-tiny bits you put up with which aren’t obvious to those who don’t have the condition…

Gnawing anxiety when parted from your bag. I have an industrial-sized handbag so I can carry around everything—blood testing equipment, two pens, spare needles, jelly babies and a full make-up kit*. When I visit people and they try to take my bag from me to put it with coats, I cling to it. I’m never more than a few metres from that bag.

a picture of a blood testing machine on The Diabetes Diet

A trail of litter that follows you everywhere. I do my best to dispose of it at the time, but I wish someone would invent a small bin that magically appears at your side every time you do a blood test or injection so you can throw away your used needles and blood testing sticks there and then. Every few days or so, I have to do a clear out of my bag where old needles, their wrapping and used sticks gather at the bottom. Once, I was in Regent’s Park in London and I spotted a used blood testing stick on the group and it delighted me. I knew it wasn’t mine**, but the thought that there was another type 1 in the vicinity felt comforting.

An aversion to ordering drinks when you are out that are in a glass. How do you know it’s the diet version? I only feel secure when my drink comes in its bottle or can. Otherwise, you might end up drinking the full-sugar one which will hit you like a sledge hammer almost immediately.

Puncture-marked fingers. I’m still on the waiting list for the FreeStyle Libre so in the meantime, my fingers keep that little collection of black dots that marks frequent finger pricking. You are supposed to vary the fingers, but my right hand bears the brunt of tests because I’m left-handed.

Toilets are very important. High blood sugars make you pee a lot and the first thing I work out whenever I go anywhere is—where’s the loo? Also, I’m not fussy. I have friends who won’t use dirty toilets such as the ones you get on trains. I don’t care. It’s a loo and it’s going to take me from bursting discomfort to huge relief in minutes.

It’s a full-time job. Managing diabetes takes up a lot of time and energy. You don’t get holidays and you can’t quit, and you have to do it on top of everything else you do. The boss is often a moody cow too. The skill-sets needed include arithmetic (figuring out insulin doses to match food), organisation (making sure you have everything you need when going out and keeping on top of your prescriptions), an understanding of biology and how your body works, and the ability to forward plan for most aspects of your life.

 

*Strictly speaking, not needed for diabetes

**On second thoughts, it could have been. Those things get everywhere. I’m always finding them in weird places.

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
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  • 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.

Sausage, Pepper and Red Lentil Casserole

Plate of sausage casserole on The Diabetes DietProving once again, a low-carb diet can be plant-based*, I bring you the sausage, pepper and red lentil casserole!

My ‘beef’ (see what I did there) with the hi-jacking of the term ‘plant-based’, is that it’s assumed to mean vegan, whereas I’d argue you can eat meat, fish and eggs and still have most of your diet made up of plants.

Sausages and lentils have a long dating history. The French twin them together for cassoulets as lentils soak up meat juices and add cheap bulk to a dish. Bulk’s important to me. Who wants a small bowlful of food when you can have a big one?

The better quality your sausages, the better the finished dish. The casserole is great with buttered cauliflower or broccoli. Or you could add another 250-300ml of vegetable or chicken stock to turn it into soup.

And a cheeky helping of grated cheese on top always adds extra deliciousness.

Sausage, red pepper and lentil casserole

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • Two peppers, insides removed and chopped
  • 100g celery, sliced finely
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 75ml red wine
  • Four, good quality pork sausages, each cut into chunks
  • 75g chorizo, sliced
  • 75g red lentils
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 400g tinned, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chilli, chopped (optional)
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper

Put everything into your slow cooker, stir well and put on the high setting for four hours.

The mix makes a soupy casserole because it’s done in the slow cooker. You might want to take the lid off yours for the last 20 minutes to get rid of some of the excess liquid.

To make the recipe on the stove, use a large saucepan. Place the chorizo slices in the pan, then turn on a gentle heat so the oils from the sausage run out. Add the other sausages, celery, peppers, mushrooms and garlic, mix well and cover. Cook over the gentle heat for ten minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils, red wine, chilli and paprika, stir well and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for a further 30 minutes, mixing from time to time.

In both instances, add salt and pepper to taste.

Each portion has 17g carbs and 4g fibre.

*And also that my food styling and photography skills get no better.

 

Half-Marathon Training – an Update

 

a picture of a blood testing machine on The Diabetes Diet
Post-run blood sugar today. Ten out of ten for me (for smugness too).

“Stone the crows, Emma! Wouldn’t have thought excessive temperatures would be the weather issue throwing a spanner in the half-marathon training, hmm?”

Good people, the woman who signed up for the Glasgow half-marathon in January uttered various predictions about running in Scotland. Most of them involved rain. As it turns out, my lightweight shower-proof coat has needed minimal use. Instead, I’m reaching for the sun cream and hugging the walls in a bid to stay in the shadows as I pound the pavements.

Smell that sizzling tarmac! Scotland has just reported its hottest June ever. Let’s give a shout-out to the poor polar bears in Aviemore.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered I can run in the heat. Again, not something I’ve had the chance to test out much over the years. When I trained for a half-marathon ten years ago, there were two hot days in May. I ran during them and hated it.

Blood sugar levels

But now? I’m okay. Running’s so bloomin’ difficult for me, the heat isn’t the thing that’s bothersome. It’s still the breathing, the adjusting of blood sugar levels to minimise low or high blood sugars and my reluctance to build up my miles

My half-marathon is three months away. I’ve yet to go farther than six miles. Most training plans are for 12 weeks, so there’s still plenty of time to add them up. I’ve found my ‘pace’, a super-slow snail-like jog. I’m hoping my general fitness will stand me in good stead, so that if the pre-race miles don’t stack up, those walking miles will cover ‘em.

I ought to join a running group too. Nothing like surrounding yourself with like-minded idiots people to spur one on. And they might know some different routes. I run the same roads all the time, favouring the reassurance of knowing at what point I draw on my reserves of energy and where I get excited because the end’s in sight.

Jessica Smith TV

Last week, when it was very hot (32 degrees), I exchanged outdoor for indoor exercise. I found an indoor jogging work-out on YouTube. “T’uh!” smug self said, “This’ll be easier than running out there in that heat.”

Not so! Ten minutes in and I decided I’d have been better off running outside in the blazing sunshine.

The heatwave here is set to continue. I’ll be training in high temperatures for a little while yet. Again, I’m hoping this magically builds up my fitness so that when I do talk myself into running more than six miles, it’ll be easy.

 

 

 

Coping with T1D in the Heat

Inforgrpahic about the heat by The Diabetes Diet

A screenshot of the weather in Scotland on The Diabetes DietHeavens above—this isn’t a post I’ve needed to write before but the last few weeks of incredible sunshine and heat in Scotland (Scotland! I’ll say it again, Scotland!) necessitates it.

If you’re a type 1, what special precautions do you need to take when the mercury rises? I prepared this handy infographic to help…

Please note—if you have neuropathy (nerve damage) this can affect your ability to sweat and therefore cool down. Go out early in the morning or later in the afternoon if you can, drink water to stay hydrated and exercise in air-conditioned gyms. Cut down on drinks with caffeine and alcohol, and take care of yourself as best you can.

Inforgrpahic about the heat by The Diabetes Diet

#TalkAboutDiabetes – Diabetes Awarness Week June 2018

What do you struggle with when you’re talking about diabetes? It’s Diabetes Week 2018 (June 11-18) and the theme of this year’s awareness-raising seven days is the stuff we find awkward, embarrassing, difficult or even funny to mention.

Here are mine:

  • I don’t like telling people in general. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed; I just don’t like drawing attention to myself.
  • Jelly baby etiquette. When you eat sweeties in front of someone, politeness dictates you offer them around. But they’re the medicine that corrects low blood sugars*, so stinginess is understandable.
  • Explaining a hypo when you’re in the middle of one. Most of my low blood sugar episodes are manageable. But I can be in the middle of a conversation and my mind goes blank. “Bear with me! My mind’s distracted. It’s screaming ‘SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR’ at me. My word power will return in a few minutes,” is what I should say.
  • Or don’t talk to me. When I’m high, conversation is too much effort. Please don’t take it personally.
  • I don’t talk much either when I’m high because I’m conscious of the nasty taste in my mouth and am reluctant to impose halitosis on anyone.
  • And don’t take the grumpiness low blood sugars produce personally either. First aiders once told me about diabetics who punched people when they were low, so grumpiness seems moderate in comparison.
  • Please know that managing diabetes is like having a part-time job that you do on top of everything else.
  • If you manage to work out I’m hypo long before I do, be aware I’ll deny it in an exasperated fashion. “Flip’s sakes, no I’m not. Look I’ll even do the blood test to show you and here it…oh. Alright then.”
  • Sometimes when I say I can’t do something because of the diabetes, I might be using it as a fab, ready-made excuse. It’s not me, it’s you. OH NO! I’ve just given away diabetes’ best-kept secret!

*I told a little girl my jelly babies were medicine once. She gave me one of those, ‘why do adults lie to me?’ looks.