Kitchen Must-Haves for People With Diabetesby Mary Shomon Patient Advocate
It's probably no surprise that cooking at home–versus takeout or eating out–can reduce your risk for obesity and lower your risk of diabetes. Research confirms it: In two large studies of health professionals, eating meals prepared at home was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, partly because of less weight gain compared with eating from restaurants.
Still need a little motivation to spend a little more quality time with your stove? Welp, there's nothing like a few new kitchen toys to tempt your inner chef. Here are some of the best tools to add to your diabetic kitchen.
Digital Food Scale
Smaller portions, spread out over the day, are a crucial component of a healthy diabetic diet and managing blood sugar levels. Eliminate the guesswork with a digital food scale. I like this one made by Greater Goods Nourish, because besides knowing exactly how much you're eating, the scale provides nutritional information on many foods, helping you track carb levels during meal prep.
A New Spice Rack
You've probably got one or two go-to spices in your cabinet, right? Step up your spice game with a dedicated space for a real flavor arsenal: Researchers believe some spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cumin, may have benefits for diabetics, lowering blood sugar and reducing inflammation. Simply Organic's Ultimate Organic Starter Spice Gift Set has all of these and more. If you need some inspiration on how to incorporate spices into your cooking, check out the book Spiced: Unlock the Power of Spices to Transform Your Cooking for ideas.
For maximum flavor with minimal fat, pick up an oil mister/sprayer like the EVO. Also rotate in a couple of the best oils for people with diabetes, like olive and avocado, which contains some of the most important fatty acids in our diets, like heart-healthy omega-3s, which may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Two to try: Zeytin Organic Olive Oil, and Chosen Foods Avocado Oil.
Crave pasta and noodles, but don't want the high carbohydrate count? Get a spiralizer! A spiralizer does exactly what its name implies: It easily turns vegetables like zucchini and squash into perfect pasta pretenders. They cook quickly, and when you add your favorite sauces, voila: a low-carb, diabetes-friendly pasta dish! Briefton's 10-blade Spiralizer can get you started. New to spiralizing? The Gathering Dreams site has 21 easy spiralizer recipes, plus tips for beginners.
One simple way to lower your fat intake, which helps prevent the high cholesterol that puts you at greater risk for heart disease: Use less oil and butter by cooking and baking with nonstick pans. Don't skimp when shopping: Go for good-quality cookware that's free of toxins. One set that has everything you need Gotham's Toxin-free Steel Ceramic Cookware/Bakeware set, with saucepans, larger pots, baking sheet, and muffin tins.
A Food and Vegetable Steamer
Another great way to cut fat from cooking: Add a food steamer to your diabetic kitchen toolkit. The Oster Double-Tiered steamer lets you separately steam two foods at a time. Add some fish or chicken and veggies, and you have a complete, super-healthy meal. Worried that steamed food is a little blah? It truly doesn't have to be! Check out the Steaming: Great Flavor Healthy Cooking cookbook for ideas.
Who wouldn't want to magically make excess fat from food disappear? You totally can: Skim and strain fat from soups and stocks. Chefs recommend lining a strainer with a thin clean kitchen towel or paper towel to strain out fat and grease (no having to chill soups and stocks first!). Fine Dining Lovers has the lowdown on how to do it, and Spring Chef offers a set of premium stainless-steel strainers in various sizes to round out your diabetic kitchen tools.
When you're serving up dinner, do you end up with a plate of meat and potatoes, and a tiny serving of veggies? (Oops.) Nothing really beats a visual aid, and Precise Portions Diabetic Portion Control Plates are specially designed with dividers, helping you serve up just the right balance of protein, vegetables and fruits, and other carbohydrates like whole grains.
An Instant Pot
Sure, cooking at home lets you make healthier, diabetes-friendly meals–if you're actually home. A great solution for busy lives: a programmable pressure cooker or slow cooker you can fill before leaving for work, set, and go. My favorite: The Instant Pot (I like the Ultra 3), which works as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/searing pan, steamer, and warming pot—all in one! Need ideas on what to cook? Check out these diabetes-friendly recipes for your Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
A Combo Blender/Food Processor
Healthy, homemade soups, fresh smoothies, and dips can all be part of a diabetes-friendly diet. But who wants to haul out a bulky blender to prepare some foods, then a food processor or chopper for others? The solution: A combination tool like the Cuisinart BFP-650GM Velocity Ultra Trio Blender/Food Processor. It comes with multiple blades, separate blender and food processor attachments, and travel cups that make it easy to take healthy smoothies on the go.