Plant-Based – Does it Just Mean Vegan?

diabetes diet by Emma Baird
Avocado, mushrooms, bacon and salad – plant-based, hmm?

Happy New Year from all of us at the Diabetes Diet. Here’s wishing you health and happiness in 2018.

Anyone with an interest in health and fitness can’t have missed noticing the current furore around veganism. Proponents tout it as THE ethical and environmental way to eat, and it is very fashionable. Your local supermarket has probably vastly increased its vegan offerings (or the labelling of such foods anyway) and you’ll notice many restaurants and take-away chains have jumped on the bandwagon too.

There are even those who argue a vegan diet is helpful for diabetes, such as Dr Neal Barnard who promotes a vegan, fat-free way of eating as the way to reverse diabetes.

I don’t dispute veganism as an ethical choice. As far as environmental factors go, you could point out that wide-spread veganism would increase the production of mono-crops, a process that depletes the soil and cause issues. The recent over-consumption of coconut oil and avocados in the west has caused enormous problems in their countries of origin.

Health Benefits

When it comes to health, the bonuses of veganism often occur because people shift from a diet of highly processed foods and little fruit and veg to a way of eating that is plant-based. The health benefits may not come from ditching meat, fish and dairy per se, but more from vastly increasing how much fruit and veg they eat and getting rid of processed foods which are hard to find on a vegan diet*.

Let’s argue semantics here. I eat a plant-based diet. The bulk of the food on my plate is plants, nuts, some lentils and pulses and the odd wholegrain.

I just happen to eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy too. Yesterday, I ate scrambled eggs and chopped tomatoes for breakfast, an avocado, mushroom and bacon salad for lunch, and for dinner I had tomato, onion and barley stew with some haddock and steamed broccoli. I ate some peanuts for a snack.

That’s a plant-based diet, isn’t it?

Plant-based Taken to Mean Veganism

For whatever reason, plant-based is now taken to mean veganism. Perhaps someone somewhere thought plant-based sounded nicer than veganism, or they wanted distance from the term, which in the past might have had negative connotations.

Just as Dr Barnard puts forward an argument for veganism as a way of treating diabetes, so do we with low-carb eating. The global diabetes community,, runs an award-winning digital health intervention for people with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and obesity. It was developed using the feedback and opinions of more than 100,000 people who reported good results from low-carb. Like our approach to diabetes, the site’s website promotes lots of vegetables. Plant-based again, right?

If ethical concerns still bother you (as they do me), there are steps you can take.

  • Buy your eggs from the Farmers’ Market where they are likely to be free-range and organic.
  • Buy meat that has an RSPCA stamp on it, or again from the Farmers’ Market where animals are more likely to have been raised and slaughtered in a better way.
  • Eat dairy sparingly, and again choose organic options, preferably from local producers.
  • Investigate where your fish comes from and how it is farmed.
  • Base some of your meals around egg-free Quorn products and tofu.

Here’s to a plant-based 2018! And if you’d like to start a low-carb diet, check out our book – available in e-book and paperback on Amazon.

*Though the food industry is now doing its best to up its production of vegan junk food.

Food2Share: Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry



Vegan Sunday – food2share

Cauliflower and Chickpea curry

Recipe (4 servings) ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbs Indian curry powder
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • florets of 1/2 cauliflower
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 3cm fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • I drained can of chickpeas (400g)
  • parsley leaves (for garnish)
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tbs Greek yogurt (optional)

In a large cooking pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and the red bell pepper and cook until they are soft and light brown, for about 4-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the Indian curry and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the canned tomatoes, the sugar and a cup of water. Place the cauliflower florets and let them cook with the cooking pot covered. This will take about 30 minutes, until the florets become soft. Stir occasionally to be sure that your sauce does not stick on the bottom of the pot. Once the cauliflower softens, add the chickpeas and cook for about 6-7 minutes, until they are cooked through.

Remove the pot from the heat and if desired, add 2 tbs of Greek yogurt. Season with salt and pepper and add fresh parsley for garnish.


Jovina Cooks Italian: Marsala mushroom sauce





Once again Jovina shows us how little additions of garlic, herbs and wine can bring a little touch of Italy into your life, wherever that is. 

Garlicky Marsala Mushroom Sauce

This sauce can be  folded into an omelet or served with pan-fried chicken breasts or over pork chops.


  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, caps quartered
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced and 2 minced
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives


In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the white and shiitake mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring once. Uncover and cook over high heat, stirring once, until the mushrooms are browned all over, about 3 minutes.

Add the sliced garlic, the shallot and rosemary and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the minced garlic, chives, olives and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

From Cooking The Italian Provinces – Trapani | jovinacooksitalian

Jovina cooks Italian: Cheese stuffed celery, salmon and crab rolls with salad


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Southern Pimento Cheese Stuffed Celery


  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons drained chopped pimientos
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • Celery stalks, cut into 4 inch lengths


Process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pulse to combine.

Scrape into a serving  bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Use the spread to fill celery stalks and serve immediately.

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Grilled Crab Stuffed Salmon Rolls

  • 1 Salmon Fillet, about 8 oz, skin removed

Crab Stuffing

  • ½ cup shelled, fresh  lump crab meat
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


For the stuffing

Mix the crab meat with the vegetables and seasoning.

For the salmon rolls


Cut the salmon fillet in half lengthwise. Divide the stuffing in half and spread on the skinned side of the salmon fillet. Roll up tight and secure with metal skewers or Butcher’s string.

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Refrigerate until time to grill.

Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Place pinwheels on a sheet of heavy-duty foil that has been coated with olive oil cooking spray. Poke a few holes into the foil.

Slide the foil onto the hot grill and grill with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.

To cook indoors

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Place pinwheels the pan. Brush pinwheels with butter, cover loosely with foil and bake 15-20 minutes..

An August Dinner For Two | jovinacooksitalian

Tomato Cucumber Arugula Salad



  • 1 large tomato cut in half and sliced
  • 1/4 of a cucumber, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 scallions, finely diced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Italian vinaigrette


Combine the salad ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add enough salad dressing to just moisten the ingredients and toss, Serve immediately

Jovina cooks Italian: Fresh tomato sauce

Summer Tomatoes | jovinacooksitalian

Fresh Tomato SauceIMG_0009


  • 4-5 pounds of fresh Roma tomatoes, quartered and seeded retaining as much pulp as possible
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey, if needed


Place the following  herbs in a piece of cheesecloth and tie the cheesecloth closed.

  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of parsley


Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat.

Add the onions, celery, garlic and carrots.

Saute for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the tomatoes and sea salt.


Simmer on low heat, covered, for about an hour until the tomatoes cook down.

Remove the pot from the heat and using an immersion blender, process the mixture until smooth.

Return the pot to the heat and add the herb cheesecloth package.

Taste the sauce to see if the tomatoes were too bitter. Add the honey, if needed.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook  until reduced and thick, an hour to an hour and a half more. Remove the cheesecloth package and discard.


Pour the sauce into a refrigerator container and store the sauce up to 1 week, or freeze in batches.

This sauce can be used with courgette or squash spiralised  “spaghetti” or with chicken and pork.

Jovina cooks Italian: Summer eating


Cauliflower Cheese

This is my very easy take on cauliflower cheese making the most of pre-prepared supermarket ingredients.

Easy Cauliflower Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • Frozen cauliflower florets (or prepare from fresh) equivalent of one cauliflower
  • Frozen chopped onions (or prepare from fresh) one handful
  • Lazy garlic (or prepare from fresh) one teaspoon
  • 250mls double (heavy) cream
  • Pre-grated mature cheddar cheese (or grate yourself) 3/4 of a bag
  • English mustard (or use French if preferred for a milder flavour) one teaspoon
  • White pepper ground one teaspoon
  • 1-2 oz unsalted butter
  1. Put on the oven at 190 degrees.
  2. Put cauliflower in the microwave to cook. Add some water to a microwavable pot and seal with lid or cling film.
  3. Cook as directed or around 7-9 minutes. Check for firmness. Cook as you like either firm or sloppy or somewhere in between.
  4. Meanwhile melt butter in a saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and brown.
  5. Take off the heat and add the double cream.
  6. Add the pepper and mustard and stir.
  7. Add the grated cheese and stir (leave some cheese over).
  8. Drain the cooked cauliflower and put in a Pyrex bowl or similar oven-proof dish. Pour over the cheese sauce.
  9. Sprinkle on the remaining grated cheese and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove and serve immediately.

Goes well with sliced meats, especially ham.