9 cooking essentials for a diabetes friendly kitchen

Success at beating diabetes starts with a ready kitchen. Here are nine essential tips for setting up your cooking space to conveniently whip up healthy meals and diabetes friendly snacks.

9 cooking essentials for a diabetes friendly kitchen

1. Reach for the spice rack

Spices flavour meals without adding fat or calories.

  • Keep dry rubs for meats, Italian seasoning, lemon-herb seasoning and other favourites in a spice rack on your kitchen counter or tucked in your pantry door.

Some spices — including ginger, cayenne, turmeric, fresh garlic, minced onion, curry, basil, oregano and rosemary — have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers, both of which help with diabetes.

2. Keep olive oil on the counter

  • Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which won't increase your insulin resistance and protects you from heart disease.

Because heat and light can turn olive oil rancid over time, keep a larger bottle in the fridge to refill your countertop bottle. Olive oil becomes cloudy in fridges, but bringing it to room temperature restores its clarity.

But make sure it's extra-virgin olive oil — this is the healthiest type as it comes from the first pressing of olives and contains no refined oils.

3. Use trans fat-free margarine

Trans fats are considered deadly by many experts because they significantly increase the risk of heart disease.

  • If you have high cholesterol, opt instead for a spread fortified with plant sterols or stanols. They actually block the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the small intestines.

4. Toss out your corn oil

Corn oil is thought by many health experts to promote inflammation.

  • When olive oil won't do in a recipe, use canola oil. It has a milder taste than olive oil but also contains an impressive amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

5. Keep a variety of vinegars on hand

Cider, white, rice, balsamic, and red and white wine vinegars will do. They come in handy for making quick salad dressings and marinades for meat or vegetables.

6. Plant healthy snacks within sight

Banish cookies to the back of a high shelf or even the freezer.

  • Give counter space to unsalted nuts and fresh fruit.
  • Stock the front of the fridge with raw veggies and hummus, and low-fat yogurt and cheese sticks.

7. Buy some meal replacement drinks

"Real" food is preferable to meal replacement drinks, but for those mornings when you really don't have time even for a bowl of cereal, keep some canned drinks or shakes ready to grab and go.

  • Some beverages are designed for people with diabetes. They contain slow-digesting carbs, and often some fibre, so they don't cause blood sugar to rise quite as high or as fast as other similar drinks.

8. Keep emergency rations prepared

  • Forgot to buy chicken for Tuesday night's chicken marsala? No sweat. Individual servings of vegetable lasagna await in the freezer. Just heat and serve.

When you run out of back-ups, make a double batch of your next meal and freeze the extra. Casseroles, soups and cooked meat can be frozen for up to three months. Use plastic bags and wrap made specifically for the freezer or store in airtight freezer containers.

9. Buy a vegetable steamer

Steaming is the healthiest way to cook vegetables because nutrients aren't lost in the water. Choose a metal steamer basket for the stovetop or a microwave steamer.

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