Rainbow Swiss Chard, The Morning Star Ranch3

If you’re working with clients who have type 2 diabetes, hopefully you’ve consulted with nutritionists and learned what a well rounded diet is to keep them healthy and happy. All the experts say the best foods for T2 diabetics—the “free” foods—are the green foods. Lettuces, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and the like. This isn’t to say they shouldn’t eat carrots, squashes, beets, string beans, radishes, sweet potatoes, or other vegetables. They absolutely should eat a rainbow of vegetables to get all the nutritional benefits. But many—like carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes—have higher carb counts so they can’t enjoy a free for all with them.

But if you think vegetables, especially greens = salad, stir fry, steaming, or boiling but nothing more imaginative, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here are some alternatives to the same old, same old.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Carol Borchardt’s Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Roasting vegetables could become your best weapon to beat veggie boredom. Your client may wince at the thought of eating Brussels sprouts, for instance, but roasting them brings out a whole other set of caramelized flavors. You can do the same with baby artichoke hearts in the spring and summer—just strip off the outer leaves till the light green ones appear. Broccoli, string beans, and asparagus also benefit from roasting, as does cauliflower. In fact, you can make “steaks” with cauliflower. Cut the head into thick slices, rub with olive oil and herbs, and roast. Red bell peppers are terrific roasted, skinned, then marinated in olive oil, herbs, and salt for an appetizer. Try steaming, then marinating eggplant in olive oil and garlic for an appetizer.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

Soup can be a terrific way to eat greens. Add Swiss chard or kale to a mushroom barley soup or bowl of lentils. Or feature greens in its own soup. Don’t love the texture of broccoli? Want to change up asparagus? Chop it up and place it in a pot with low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock just to cover and a couple of chopped red potatoes. Add herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are softened. Then either put the mixture in a blender or use a stick blender to create your own low-cal, low-carb creamy soup.

In the heat of the summer make a chunky gazpacho soup. Nothing could be better for you nutritionally and it’s packed with the bright flavors of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, chiles, cilantro, and garlic. Want some protein with it? Add roasted shrimp or fresh crab.

Use greens as wraps instead of bread. It works at In ‘N Out. It’ll work for you. Slice roasted chicken or turkey, add some marinated veggies or pickles, wrap in Romaine and you’ve got a crunchy “sandwich.”

One of my favorite dishes to teach to kids in the kitchen is zucchini pancakes. But what we always do is list off other vegetables you can make the focus of pancakes. How about spinach or other greens? Or carrots? Or broccoli? Or turnips? Or a combination of favorites? The key is to shred them so they’ll incorporate into a pancake.

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

Are you clients missing potato chips? Try kale and Swiss chard chips. Here’s a way to mix your greens and get your crunch. Wash and thoroughly dry the greens. Then strip leaves from the tough ribs and roughly chop the leaves. Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees until crisp.

You know you can sub spaghetti squash or spiralize zucchini for pasta. But what about a substitute for rice or couscous? Cauliflower comes to the rescue. This is a neat trick I learned. Cut up the florets, putting aside the stems to snack on. Then put the florets into a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse until the pieces look like little grains of rice. (Be careful that you don’t just run the food processor and it turns to mush.) You can use it raw, like a grain, tossed in a green salad. Or sauté the “cauliflower rice” in a little oil, then top it with tomato sauce for an extremely low-carb dish. You can freeze the raw “rice” to use later.

And don’t forget the smoothie. Most people assume smoothies are fruit based, but I like to mix it up with spinach and low-carb berries (frozen in the off season)—and a little banana. This is a perfect breakfast and for someone trying to make sure the day doesn’t go by without vegetables, you’ll know at minimum you packed in a couple of cups first thing in the morning.

How do you make sure your diabetic clients get enough greens? Share your favorite dishes!

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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