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Archive for the ‘Diabetes’ Category

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Every three months I take a trip to see Cyril, my podologue, for a foot service–an essential on a diabetic’s check-up list.

Eyes next month.

It’s a relaxing 45 minutes–he has a naturally calm manner and doesn’t flinch at my halting French.

We chat while he gently works.

He’s signed the French version of our petition au sujet de l’église, he tells me.

Merci beaucoup, Cyril!

He told me he and his wife are expecting their second child–a girl–in three weeks time. They are favoring “Rose” as a name.

I booked another session in the first week of April and, stepping lightly on my “new feet”, headed across the road to the car.

I started pondering dinner–before lunch.

(One can never be too prepared….)

“Ah!” I remembered a friendly family butcher (husband and wife) nearby whom I occasionally frequent–and I recalled a one-pot recipe in Delicious Dishes that calls for spare rib chops, white beans and oranges. See recipe below….

From Delicious Dishes for Diabetics

From Delicious Dishes for Diabetics

Both husband and wife were busy working as I entered.

“Deux bouchers!”

Une bouchère, Monsieur!” [One of us is a woman, Sir!]

“Ah–tout a fait!–excusez moi, Madame! Est-ce que vous avez d’ échine de porc?” 

“Bien sur!”

“Deux, s’il vous plait–assez fines [not too thick].”

Comfort food again.

I picked up some broccoli at the quiet Tuesday open-air market in Castres and headed home.

A couple of nights ago, I’d mis-timed the broccoli; it was ready too soon–so I drizzled it with olive oil, seasoned it and sautéd it a low flame to keep it warm.

When it came time to serve, one side was slightly charred but it tasted GOOD.  I enjoy happenstance in cooking and decided to try it again–deliberately!

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It works–and made a nice color contrast to the pork.

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Serves 4

This lovely autumn/winter comfort dish is based on one by the talented Frances Bissell.

2 x 400 g/16 oz tins/bottles white beans
4 spare rib chops (echine in France – these are the tastier ones)

1 onion – sliced
1 stick celery – sliced
2 oranges
1 tsp coriander seeds
150 ml/5 fl oz/1⁄2 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper
chopped fresh coriander or parsley

The timing for cooking depends in part on the thickness of the chops.

Heat the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Rinse the bean and pour into the oven proof dish you will serve from.
Brown the chops well in a non-stick frying pan. (No oil needed as the chops are a bit fatty.)

Lay them  atop the beans.

Brown the onion and celery in the same frying pan – the fat from the chops will be enough to cook them in.

Lay them on the chops.

Carefully cut some strips of zest from one of the oranges.

Bury these in with the chops and beans.

Squeeze the juice from the two oranges over the chops.

Crush the coriander seeds and sprinkle over. Add the stock.

Cover and cook in the oven for about 2 hours.

Check after an hour to ensure that there is enough liquid–but be careful not to add too much–or the concentrated taste of the sauce will weaken.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, sprinkle the chopped coriander or parsley over to garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bought a cauliflower this morning. There wasn’t a lot of choice–it’s freezing cold and the local growers’ produce is limited.

What to do with it?

I flick through this cook book and that–then suddenly remember comfort lentils from Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

COMFORT is the key word.

Outside it’s damp and cold–so comfort food that acts as an interior blanket is just what I need.

I search the index for “cauliflower“.

Aha! Cauliflower with mustard seeds and fennel seeds–inspired by Madhur Jaffrey.

YES!

Double comfort!!

A fire in the grate and the evening holds promise!

COMFORT LENTIL DAL

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Rinse thoroughly a pound of red lentils–until the water runs clear.

Add two vegetable stock cubes to a litre of water and bring to the simmer.

Add the lentils.

Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked–about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile chop a medium onion and in a separate pan color it gently in four tablespoons of olive oil .

Then stir in these spices:

One and half teaspoons cumin powder; one teaspoon coriander powder; half teaspoon cayenne powder; and (if you have it) one teaspoon garam masala.

Cook the onion in the spices for a couple of minutes and then stir this mix into the lentils.

Gently reheat the dal.

Check for salt.

Comforting…

CAULIFLOWER with FENNEL and MUSTARD SEEDS

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Deconstruct a large cauliflower into bite size pieces.

Heat six tablespoons of olive oil in a pan (large enough to hold the cauliflower in a single layer–more or less–but don’t add the cauliflower yet!).

Add a tablespoon of black mustard seeds and two teaspoons of fennel seeds.

When they start to pop–add three garlic cloves chopped fine.

When they start to color add a quarter teaspoon each of turmeric and cayenne powder.

Cook these briefly to release their aroma–and then stir in the cauliflower pieces.

Turn these thoroughly in the spicy oil and add four tablespoons of warm water.

Add a decent pinch of salt and cook covered until the cauliflower is tender–about 20 minutes.

These two comforting friends make good partners for a chilly winter night.

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Meredith, who used to think that cauliflower was a pointless vegetable, had seconds!

 

 

 

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This got the “ding” from Meredith at lunch today.

Spotted in “Jamie’s Italy“–Jamie Oliver’s lively and loving tour of the peninsula–it offers a twist on roasted pumpkin by including fresh sage, cinnamon and a hint of heat in the mix.

It is simplicity itself.

a small pumpkin–sliced in half and seeds removed

1 small cinnamon stick–split into smaller–not too small–lengths

1 small chili–chopped

a good handful of fresh sage–chopped roughly

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oven to 220C/430F
  • Slice the pumpkin carefully into smallish crescents
  • Add them to a large bowl
  • Add the sage, chili and olive oil to a mortar and pound gently to release the flavors
  • Add the cinnamon pieces and mix them in thoroughly without allowing them to break up too much
  • Add this mix to the large bowl and season well with salt and pepper

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  • Turn it all over to coat the pumpkin boats
  • Arrange the boats in a shallow, oven-proof pan

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  •  Roast in the upper part of the hot oven for about 20-30 minutes–the time it takes to cook them to tender depends on the thickness of the pumpkin pieces
  • Check after 15 minutes for doneness
  • They should develop a pleasing seared look

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We ate them with magret de canard (duck breast) to welcome in the New Year on a spectacularly beautiful winter’s day.

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Also spectacular is the walnut and garlic sauce, nestling in there.

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(The recipe for this sauce is in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.)

All good wishes to everyone everywhere for a healthy, happy New Year!

Bonne Année!

Bonne Année!

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The name came into my head when I took the leftover Brussels sprouts out of the fridge with a view to frying them up for lunch today.

Bubble and Squeak--named for the noise they make in the pan while cooking.

Ho-hum–I didn’t hear a thing!

Wasn’t this quaintly-named concoction part of my mother’s post Christmas leftover strategy?

Dishes to go with cold turkey that only needed heating up?

Then a memory of added bacon floated into my mind.

Didn’t bacon get mixed into the brussels?

Well, bacon bits were already part of the feast on Christmas day–no harm in adding even more oven-crisped smoked bacon to the fried-up sprouts….

They’ll go nicely with a slice of the chickpea (socca) bread cooked in the oven as well.

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Add a poached/fried egg and “Bob’s your uncle”–to revive another phrase from my childhood.

 

1 small onion–chopped

1 clove of garlic–chopped

leftover cooked Brussels sprouts–chopped

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leftover Swiss chard–chopped (or you might have some OTHER leftover to try out in this recipe!)

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a few very thin rashers of bacon–smoked or green to taste

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion and garlic.

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Let them color a little before adding the brussels and the swiss chard (or other leftovers).

Mix together and cook gently for about 10 minutes–just long enough to heat them through.

Cook the bacon separately to a crisp state and scatter broken up bit over the sprouts.

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Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

We enjoyed it on a slice of the homemade socca–chickpea flour–bread.

And the only sound was “umm”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Touching story this.

Meredith and I were at the La Gare in Castres some weeks back seeing our friends Anne and Ray from Maryland onto their midday train to Toulouse.

Double seat benches faced each other in the waiting area–perfect for two couples.

Problem was that on one of the benches sat a hooded figure hunched forward, asleep perhaps–his face hidden, anyway showing no signs of being about to move.

Not a threatening presence exactly but hooded figures give you pause.

It was a chilly early autumn day. He was wearing shorts and sandals and a plastic bag rested at his side.

When the train arrived, the four of us made our way onto the platform with the other waiting passengers.

Mr Hooded Figure followed amid the general animation, fearing perhaps being moved on unless he gave the impression he was traveling too.

We said our goodbyes to Ray and Anne and headed back towards the hall.

Meredith looked for Mr HF.

He was sitting on a bench on the platform still hooded looking straight ahead; unfocused, dazed, unengaged–certainly benign but lost and hungry, Meredith thought.

She made her first move.

For this story is about the moves that Meredith makes that others (like me) might not always leap up to make.

I said I’d get the car started–wary of being too eager a samaritan.

Meredith doesn’t recognize “wary”, be it dog or human, when she senses need.

She went up to him and asked if he’d like something to eat and drink.

He said he would and they made their way to the little news stand where the refrigerated shelf held sandwiches and salads.

He said he just wanted water but Meredith persuaded him to accept a small tabbouleh salad with the bottle of water.

She was also concerned about his state of mind and asked him if he wanted to see a doctor or go to the hospital.

He eventually agreed to go to the hospital.

My face when she turned up with him was a picture, she says.

She explained the situation and the young man got into the back of the car.

I said “Bonjour Monsieur”; took a deep breath and set off.

When we arrived at the hospital Meredith accompanied him into “Urgences”, the emergency reception.

I parked the car and hung out.

It took a while.

When she came out she said she’d left him waiting to see a doctor.

To her surprise he’d produced his identity card and carte vitale (health system card) from a deep pocket in his shorts, when asked by reception.

She later went back to the hospital with a bag of clothes but found that he had been discharged–to her dismay.

The receptionist said the doctor who’d dealt with him was busy with other patients and she’d have to wait.

After 45 minutes she reluctantly gave up and drove home.

She later found him on Facebook and left a message wishing him well and hoping he was alright.

Last week she received this email from him.

Bonjour, je suis la personne que vous avez aidée à la gare de Castres.

Merci pour votre humanité et votre gentillesse.
Je vous souhaite une bonne continuation.
Thanks,
Denis

She found this quote from Voltaire to include in her reply:

 La vie est un naufrage, mais nous ne devons pas oublier de chanter dans les canots de sauvetage

“Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats!”

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 Today is World Diabetes Day–Nov 14th, birthday of Fred Banting, who along with Charles Best first discovered insulin, revolutionizing the treatment of diabetes.world-diabetes-day

The World Diabetes Day 2014 campaign marks the first of a three-year (2014-16) focus on healthy living and diabetes.

Special focus will be placed on the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast. (see below!)

Facebook question for Robin & Meredith: What do you guys have for breakfast? The cookbooks don’t mention anything and I’m curious ~Maire Martello 

To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.

                                     ~ W. Somerset Maugham

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.            ~ John Gunther

Oysters are the usual opening to a winter breakfast. Indeed, they are almost indispensable.

~ Grimod de la Reyniere (1758-1838)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” 

~ I’m sure my mother said that a few times!

Breakfast–before I set off on my walk–is the same every morning (and no sign of an oyster)!

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large organic oat flakes mixed with…

freshly-cracked walnuts (watch out for rogue pieces of shell that crack your teeth)

a dried, untreated apricot–chopped

a teaspoon of linseeds

a prune (cooked),

half a pot of plain organic yogurt

cinnamon–sprinkled on top (Some studies show cinnamon helps lower blood sugar levels.)

and moistened with unsweetened oat or almond milk

Two slices of 100% organic rye bread with a little butter and pear & apple fruit spread (no added sugar)

and a small black coffee

The same every morning?

Yes!

Dull?

Not for me. I look forward to it–once a day, at least!

Maybe we are at our most conservative, most in need of ritual, just after waking up. I find the assembling and eating of this bowl of goodies a daily delight.

Meredith’s version of breakfast heaven is cooked oats (she’s eating it as I write!) :

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Porridge: small oat flakes cooked in organic milk, organic plain yogurt, a cooked prune, perhaps some seasonal fruit, cinnamon sprinkled over.

Neither of us feel the need to snack before lunch–the oats keep us going.

Latest estimates* suggest that there are 382 million people living with diabetes worldwide.

What makes the pandemic particularly menacing is that throughout much of the world, it remains hidden.

In my case, there were NO symptoms. My Type 2 diabetes was picked up in a routine blood test.

Up to HALF of all people with diabetes worldwide remain UNDIAGNOSED!

A simple blood test is all that is needed for a diagnosis.

If you have a family history of diabetes, as I did, a routine test is a good idea!

Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table. 

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

* International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas

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The fight goes on to get kids eating more healthily, which is good for them, their future health and welfare and is ultimately a money saver on health costs.

This piece by Mark Bittman from The New York Times  addresses the fight over ensuring school children get healthy school lunches and speaks to the heart of the problem of child and adult obesity that besets populations worldwide.

British cooking guru and author Jamie Oliver comes up against the same difficulties–and fights on.

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…We are in a public health crisis largely brought about by the consumption of sugar and hyperprocessed carbs. It’s fine to scream “don’t eat as many of them,” but that message can’t possibly match the power of the billions of dollars spent annually by an industry ($400 million a year on marketing soda to teens alone) encouraging us to consume more. Government’s proper role is to protect us, and this would be a fine way to start.

…Healthy food initiatives threaten profits and are therefore fought or deflected or co-opted at all costs by the producers of hyperprocessed food. This is true even when those costs include producing an increasingly sick population — and a disproportionate number of defenseless children — and an ever-growing portion of our budget spent on paying for diet-related illness. Big Food will continue to pursue profit at the expense of health as long as we let them.

 

At Jean Jaures College in our local town, a glance at the lunch menu seems to confirm that an effort is being made–though the day we visited we were not invited to sample for ourselves!

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