Monday, December 31, 2012

All Welfare is Corporate Welfare

Tomorrow I begin my journey trying to understand how very hard it is to live on a food stamp budget when you have health problems. I will be living on a food stamp budget as a diabetic. The 'average' recipient in New York gets 4.50, and that will be my daily budget.

All welfare is corporate welfare. The real benefit is to employers who pay a low wage. Programs like this provide just enough sustenance to keep the worker showing up and at a company like Walmart, spend their benefit in the store further enriching the Walton family.

The reason we have social welfare programs as they currently exist is to make sure that there is 'just enough' to keep employees from rebelling and unionizing. Unions are nothing more than workers 'capitalizing' on their labor. In a capitalist market they should be encouraged.

Food insecurity is to the benefit of corporations. Keeping people afraid they will 'lose everything' allows continual exploitation.

This two month pledge is not only to try to find ways to help diabetics but it is also, for me, a political statement.

I want society to look at the larger costs of food insecurity. I want there to be a wider understanding of how food and politics are related.

I also always have the goal of raising further support for the local food banks. If you have extra to share, help keep someone from going hungry tonight. Give to your local food bank.

Today I weigh 155 lbs. My arms are 14 inches at the bicep, my chest 44 inches my real waist 30. I am a fit muscular man, with little fat on my frame.  I have no cholesterol issues or high blood pressure. My energy is generally good. I had a nasty fall last month and sometimes my right foot swells up. I expect it is a soft tissue injury as the symptoms have lessened, and it hurts much less than it did. I have asthma but am otherwise pretty healthy. 

I do not believe that anyone in our society should be forced to choose between medication, clothing and food and for those experiencing food insecurity those choices are made every day.

I have been keeping receipts and paying close attention to what I spend on food. I love deals and have discovered several, but at the same time I tend towards organic, very high quality food. It is not uncommon to spend 10 per person on dinner at my house.

I use a lot of seasoning and though I am light on oil my replacement costs average about 7.50 a month. Therefore I will remove .25 for each day in order to replace seasonings used. Everything has a cost.

The last time I did this I relied heavily on rice, pasta, bread and other inexpensive carbohydrate choices.

I saw a nutritionist today and my goal per meal is 45 grams of carbohydrate with a max of 60. 15 grams in a snack (assuming I can afford one) should be the goal with a maximum of 20.

While a type II diabetic does not have to count carbs like an insulin dependent diabetic does it can be very helpful for them to do so. There are more complicated formulas making allowance for fiber content, but by setting an overall limit your life can be easier.

In addition I want to help both types of diabetics and both are often on food assistance.

I will not make anyone else in my household participate in this, it is a solo deal and I will be preparing meals for one.

I will not eat out, save an invite where someone takes me out. Anyone on food assistance would say yes to a free meal when offered.

My neighbors here in Harlem know of this project an I have received a lot of advice. Preparing for the end of the month is important because one mis-step and your money could run out. Tomorrow I will put some things in the freezer that can be helpful a few weeks from now.

Tonight I will have pasta and wine.

Friday, November 23, 2012

In Defense of Eating Light

Thanksgiving Dinner has become what it was never intended to be. A slick mass marketed holiday filled with frozen food shipped long distances.

We know that at that first dinner there was no Turkey as we know it now, nor were there a myriad of other dishes many of us think are 'traditional'.

The original celebration was a celebration of the harvest, of the local foods that were in enough abundance so everyone could survive the winter.

Butterball was not there.

From Smithsonian Magazine ...'Wildfowl (probably goose) corn and venison' those are the absolutes.

No Yams...if the birds were stuffed it was likely with onion and herbs, no green bean casserole and no pumpkin pie.

Turkey consumption began with Wild Turkey which were at one point abundant in the Northeast. People in that part of the country often ate that bird as a part of the celebrations because they could hunt it, or trap them and fatten them.

In different parts of the country people ate different foods, often ham in the South, beef in the middle and there are accounts of whole fish being served on the West Coast.

It was not until frozen food became common place that turkey was marketed to America as 'traditional'.

Madison Avenue created this tradition.

...and I did not feel the need to abide by it.

I cooked at a shelter in the morning and made turkey and stuffing and potatoes and gravy and Sweet Potatoes et all. I was happy to do it.

...and cooking for another much smaller group at home, none of who are traditionalists I decided to use my local harvest. Craig here at the hospital has a wonderful rooftop garden and he generously shared with me.Arugula and Fennegreek leaves which I combined with Kohlrabi and cucumber with a fresh pomegranate dressing. I made two tarts, one with roast eggplant and peppers and some local goat cheese and the other with masses of leeks from the farmer's market. 

This was followed by Potatoes Anna mad with potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes from Franca's farm along with beautiful Swiss Chard from Craig's garden.
This feast of our local harvest along with some beautiful wine left everyone satisfied and not suffering from indigestion.

Go to your local Farmer's markets and get the last of the Fall produce before the first freeze and celebrate Thanksgiving as it was meant to be....a day to be grateful that we have enough to eat, and toast your local small farmer's.

But if one were to create a historically accurate feast, consisting of only those foods that historians are certain were served at the so-called “first Thanksgiving,” there would be slimmer pickings. “Wildfowl was there. Corn, in grain form for bread or for porridge, was there. Venison was there,” says Kathleen Wall. “These are absolutes.”

Read more:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Living on A Food Stamp Budget as a Diabetic

January 1 2013 I will begin a two month commitment to living on a food stamp budget and trying to live as a Diabetic. I will be focusing on fiber, tracking my carbs and sugars and learning first hand what the challenges are.  The maximum a person can qualify averages to 6.66 per day or 2.22 per meal. The average a person receives is 4.93 per day or 1.64 per meal.

As many of your remember most people on food stamps are the working poor and $$ get deducted from the maximum for every dime you earn.

I am choosing to wait until January as I know that in December I will be attending parties and dinners and it would not be a realistic challenge.

The local fresh produce on which I rely will be way down in those months. I can be a long bleak winter for those on food assistance.

With my crutches rice and pasta what this does to my health. This time I have Columbia students who will be documenting some of this on video to share during the process both on this site and on youtube and other social media sites.

I want to see, with all my advantages how challenging life is for Diabetics with limited income.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oyster Pasta


Since beginning at Harlem Hospital most of my diet has been dedicated to creating massive flavor within the dieticians guidelines for diabetic patients.

...and make no mistake. I have eaten very well. There are a lot of flavor packed and delicious foods that can be made within those restrictions. To read some of them visit .

Despite the impact of the storm a friend biked up before the wind hit hard and brought me oysters.  He found them when fishing, the previous day, they had washed up on the beach.

 The shells were chalky and they could not be easily shucked so they had to be steamed open.

Lightly cooked and succulent, I had about 20 oysters read to go. My first thought was what could I do with low fat, low sodium, and few carbohydrates. I did realize that the Stirring The Pot was the place for those recipes and since I was stuck in my apartment....and then the doorman called.

I'd been telling my neighbors that if they got stuck to feel free to come by. I had plenty of food on hand. One of my neighbors from the next building was at the door, the doorman wanted to know if it was okay to send him up. What could I do?

I broke out the wine and made a pasta. I admit the picture is not pretty, however this pasta was amazing.

Spaghetti with Oyster

Makes 2 servings but can be doubled

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped chives
A little fresh basil
Dash of Salt and Black pepper
4 ounces spaghetti or fettucine

Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet and saute the garlic til fragrant. Add in the cream, melt in the cream cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. When it cooks down to a thick consistency, stir in the oysters and cook your pasta.

The heat is off the sauce at this point and the oysters will make the sauce a little thinner, don't worry, they will gently warm without getting tough and the pasta will thicken up again at the end.

When your pasta is very al denta, drain and turn the sauce back up to medium high stirring in the pasta. Slowly add in the Parmesan cheese and toss, see it thicken and absorb some of the sauce.

When it is all fully incorporated turn off the heat and stir in the chives and basil.

Serve in warm bowls

Friday, September 28, 2012

For those of you who have not joined us on Facebook come on over and say hello.

This is where I will link all of the healthy recipes and food for diabetics, as this site goes back to it's regularly scheduled pasta.

To find us

I will get back to cooking for myself normally as soon as my apartment is ready at Lenox Terrace. I am still couch surfing and working in other's kitchens.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Destination

I must admit that I got a bit waylaid with my Fusion on the Road Series...long drives, no internet, and exhaustion caught up with me.

I can say that for the most part I did manage to keep my carbs and calories under control. Nutrition varied from excellent to 'you've' got to be kidding, but it is possible (not easy) to eat right when out of the house and on the road.

I did manage photos of some of the food I ate.

State Fair Lamb Gyros

Shrimp and Salad Bar

Of course the reason for all the travel was to get me back to Harlem. As of today we have a new website for the program which can be found at and a Facebook page, come on and like us at

The Diabetic specific recipes can now be found at the Stirring the Pot site and this website will go back to it's regularly irregular programing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fusion on the Road; Call me a snob

I apologize if some of the days are out of order. As I find the right photos and notes I will add the missing day.

Right now I speak of today.

I took a day of rest and laundry and stayed in one city. I needed it badly.

I got a few heated comments and even more angry e mail regarding my post on Golden Corral. If trying to meet my nutritional needs and keep the carbs under the 60 grams allowed per meal makes me a snob. Then please call me one. I will be a snob with pride if I can eat well prepared food that is nutritious and get in a few treats along the way.

Today was a decent balance.

No photos of breakfast as I devoured it. I went to a place called Chili Mac's Diner down the street and had two soft eggs with a biscuit and sausage gravy. Calories to the top of the chart, but what a soul satisfying breakfast. Great coffee, good service and low prices. I walked away happy and of course got to the gym around lunch time and worked out like a demon. Then I had an apple.

I dropped off the laundry, got the Kansas dust washed off the car and came back to the hotel, not wanting to drive. I walked over to a sandwich place for a late lunch. I got the Italian Sub at Jimmy John's. The menu said, ham, capicola, salame, with lettuce, tomato and and doused with Italian dressing. I got the bread scooped to halve the carbs and dove in.

I could have been eating tofu. The sandwich had no discernible flavor. No salty ham, no depth of flavor and spice from the salami, no hint of capicola, no herb from the Italian dressing. The most flavorful element was the lettuce. I can not imagine where Jimmy John's manages to find such bland and totally flavorless ingredients. I was hungry so I ate but was incredibly unsatisfied. 39 grams worth.

My dinner solved all.

I slept for several hours and woke up wanting to make up my nutritional deficit. I had been to a beautiful grocer in the day for fruit. I went to the incredible salad bar and made the most beautiful salad with spinach, mixed greens, kidney beans, kidney beans, sunflower seeds, carrots, broccoli, radish, egg, bacon bits, feta cheese and shrimp. I drizzled olive oil and vinegar.

This salad was a blissful, crisp delicious antidote to tan food with no fiber.

Then I had chicken wings. All the folks behind the Deli counter told me that they were known for their spicy fried chicken and that a salad was not a meal.

I got two wings.

I wish I had added a drumstick.

This chicken was what fried chicken was meant to be. It was spicy, moist, just a little greasy, and packed with flavor.

That was a happy treat. My dinner logged in at 27 grams of carb.

The apple was too high for a diabetic, a small one would have been fine but this was a large at close to 30 grams, too many for a snack.

My calories came in at 2,584. I am fine with that, it was an active day and they have been on the low side. It is okay to have a day of fine eating like that chicken. Just not every day.

Nutrition was great, which makes me very happy.

Fusion on the Fly Salt Lake Morning

Can I tell you how hard it is to track and eat only 60 grams of carb per meal while is very difficult.

The menus are a minefield of bad choices and many townships have only fat food restaurant.

I have not been reduced to eating at McDonald's. Nothing I have had has been that bad, but certain states need to eat more vegetables. 

Little America Coffee shop Salt Lake City.

I wanted to get on the road early so I called the front desk to ask about breakfast options.

'We have the restaurant, or the coffee shop.'

"What's the difference?"

'They both have eggs and things like that but the restaurant is more expensive for the menu stuff.'

I chose the Coffee Shop...bad choice.

I asked the waitress if I could have fruit instead of the potatoes offered. No substitutions....

I like breakfast a certain way....I asked for the eggs poached soft and the potatoes brown and crisp.

The potatoes came white and soft. I asked again, brown and crisp and she told me to keep the eggs and biscuit or they would get cold.

The eggs were already cold, but not as cold as the butter. Butter like solid ice is bad service.

I ate my cold eggs and warm biscuit with what was actually good coffee and sat for a good long time.

I got to hear some very loud waitress and kitchen talk. I know everyone's schedule, I heard a lot of stories about difficult customers and how stupid they were. It seems they SHOULD know that the coffee shop does not serve cappuccino. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Truth is I have in my past worked both as a waiter and a breakfast cook. You NEVER talk where the customers can hear you. Of course you bitch and complain but not when your kitchen is open to the dining room.

When I got to the front desk I told them I was not happy....THEN I was finally told about the buffet that had smoked salmon and fruit and all the things I would have wanted for breakfast for scant more than I had paid for a very bad experience.

Little America in Salt Lake City really needs to get it's act together. I did manage to keep breakfast in at 30 grams of carb.

And the day goes on.

There really are towns where there are no choices beyond bad food and fast food.

This brings us to The Golden Corral. This offensive location was in Rocky Springs Wyoming.

What was good?

The salad bar, the salad bar had some nice greens and spinach, decent mushrooms etc. That was pretty much it for the good food.

I made a very large salad with 3 tablespoons of blue cheese dressing drizzled atop.

I got a hot plate with mashed potato (1/2 cup) and chicken gravy, turnip greens (needed seasoning)cabbage and 1 piece of fried chicken.

The potatoes were okay, the greens and cabbage okay but could have used some seasoning, the fried chicken...inedible...really one gummy chewy bite and I had to spit it into a napkin.


A man was cooking burgers, live for all to see. I asked if I could get one medium rare (he was cooking them into hard dry lumps and covering them with orange fake cheese and serving on soggy buns.)


I asked the manager.


Why not (silly me) because that's not how we serve them at lunch. If you want it medium you have to come after 4:00.

I saw no reason why he could not just cook one burger less so I tried this. "Can I get one without the 'cheese' and bun?


Again it would be against the rules to give it to me before 4:00 p.m.

I looked at the rest of the protein sources....all pretty scary and gross.

I finished my meal with watermelon. 52 grams of carb.

It was close to 10 at night before I picked up my sister and got my first really good meal of the day.

She recommended a Greek owned place near her house and I took no pictures because I was so busy devouring.

I had an absolutely delicious prime rib sandwich. I made it open face and had half the bread. It was served with a sauce and it was a melting, tender slab of beef. Thanks to Citron Bistro in Denver for letting us close the place and making me very happy.

This was followed by a beautifully composed Greek salad. Olives, a ripe sliced tomato, a cucumber and a delicious dressing with a bit of feta cheese.

All day long I had iced tea. In this part of the country most places tend to serve iced tea and you can get unsweet. Make sure to ask, otherwise the stuff tastes like syrup and will cause havoc to your blood sugar.

My dinner came to 21 grams of carb. I had 1,550 calories which is probably right for my activity level...driving does not use that many calories. Opening the sun roof might burn a few however.

Not bad nutrition for road food.

Fusion on the Road: Keep on Trucking

Carrows, Reno Nevada

I had a very traditional breakfast in Reno. Bacon, eggs, biscuit, and undercooked potatoes that I did not eat. Why can't any breakfast place serve crisp potatoes?
 15 grams of carb.

I was determined NOT to eat at McDonald's. When I drove off the road and into Elko Nevada I got lost and turning back I saw a Mexican Restaurant. I went in, and despite counter service it was a real place with actual people cooking real food in the kitchen. Lunch was decided.

I got a sublime chicken enchilada with jalapeno in white sauce and skipped the rice for beans only, and I ate only half of the beans. Half of the beans was a good cup measure.

54 grams of carb...I did alright.
I forgot the name of the town where I spent the night but I did have a nice meal at a spot called Cedars of Lebanon. They were getting near close but they sat me and I had a chicken pastika with a very large serving of vegetables.

My telephone uploaded some photos as posts and some seem to have disappeared entirely...I will come back and add the photo of this lovely meal should it pop from one app to the other at any point.

It was good. 22 carbohydrates. My total for the day was 92 carbs with 1,191 calories.

Way fewer calories than normal but my exercise has been pumping gas so I am not worried about eating enough, just eating as decently as possible.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fusion On the Road Diabetic Challenge

...and so it begins.

I had breakfast in San Francisco. 1 egg omelet with zucchini and cheese. This along with 10 blackberries and one slice of buttered whole grain toast. Of course coffee with milk. 25 grams of carb.

Lunch was a drive through Chinese. I ate on a picnic table out of a plastic carton. Chicken and broccoli steam fried (no oil) that was really delicious. The container was loaded with rice, I ate none of it. I have a healthy fear of rice.

I came in at 15 grams of carb...I could have had a little rice.

In the car I ate 3 pieces of beef jerky, 4 grams of has some sugar in the cure. 

Dinner was a revelation. In Reno I stopped at La Famiglia and sat at the bar and had a plate of pasta. The 'right' amount of pasta. It was actually more clams that pasta and wonderful.
I left behind the bread...see all those clams. 56 glorious carbs at dinner.

My day total was 100 grams of carb and while low, I spent the day driving so my calorie and carb needs were not normal...calories 1,521.


The Diabetic Challenge The Lost Days

Thursday I got up early and with the cats was driven to the airport to fly to NY. All day we flew, via Seattle.

I remember having a Cesar Salad in Seattle and the rest of the time is a bit of a blur.

I looked at apartments, went to Harlem Hospital to fill out paperwork and get a medical clearance, got on the subway and flew back to San Francisco.

...and thus the days were lost to carb counts. I barely remember what I ate.

On the road I resolve to be careful and log everything. Can I stick to 60 grams of carb at each meal while traveling?

Stay Tuned.

Fusion on the Road. 

How difficult is it to travel with diabetes?

You grab what you can and try to be safe.

That is what I did.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Diabetic challenge falling off the wagon

Despite my best intentions today was slightly out of control.

I thought I did okay at breakfast until I did the math.

I had my coffee with goat milk and the last of the watermelon. I pulled the last whole wheat pita from the freezer, topped it with sausage, collard and the last beautiful sliced tomato, popped it in the oven and was good.

However, it was 72 grams of carb...and I thought I was doing well.

Lunch was out...a slice of San Francisco Sourdough and a cup of clam chowder. That was in line at 53 grams of carb.

Dinner was out again at the most delicious French last official night in SF and I was being taken out to dine. So dine I did. I began with salad, bread and sweetbreads.

Then onto a fish soup with mussels, clams, monkfish, salmon and a savory garlic broth. Delicious.

What ruined my carb count...something I rarely have. A delicious chocolate dessert with raspberries baked inside and the tiniest scoop of ice cream on the side, just a heaping tablespoon. We came in at 65 grams. Two meals today were out of control.

Now that I am almost done eating at home I am really going to have to check myself. Eating out (and sometimes breakfast) can be a minefield.

Despite all the carbs I only had 1,500 calories and it was not the most nutritionally or fiber dense day I have had either.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Diabetic challenge: Becoming habit.

Today I graze.

I don't have proper meals in the house so I am eating what I have as tomorrow is the first day of the monumental move. In doing so I did alright.

I had coffee and milk (I had run out of coffee and I ran out for some, that counts as exercise)along with my two cups of watermelon and some chicken soup.

49 grams of carb.

For lunch leftovers from the fajitas. Today I had the beef and pork in tortillas with cheese and sauerkraut. Again 49 grams of carb.

Dinner was odd, 6 fried oysters from a takeout place along with some congee (thin rice soup)the last small square of lasagna and a glass of wine. Right around 60 grams of carb.

Calories 1,686

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, Monday:The Diabetic Challenge

I began the day with two cups of watermelon.

I've not many food choices in the house so I pulled a small mystery package from the freezer. 59 grams of carb, I was done.

Sylvia took me out to lunch today and the menu was a minefield. I finally settled on the open faced roast beef sandwich, with gravy, potatoes and vegetables. I eschewed the bread, eating only the meat and gravy. 60 grams of carb on the nose...I am grateful I did not go for that bread.

Somehow I lucked out at dinner. I got a fajita platter With skirt steak, roast pork, and shrimp, all reasonable amounts.

With it of course salsa, chips and warm flour tortillas were served.

I had two cups of chips, not sure of the carb count. I stopped at one tortilla and knew better than to eat the rice and beans. I ate all the shrimp and took the meat home as leftovers.

How did I do?

Amazingly I came in at 59 grams.

By not eating the obvious pitfalls and moderately of the things about which I was unsure I kept my carbs under control.

Calories 1,737.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A wonderful if Repetitive Sunday as the Diabetic project continues

I've not a lot of food choices in the house as I am trying to use everything in order to pack up to go back to Harlem.

I got up and had a bit of watermelon and then I got an invite upstairs to breakfast. I accepted.

I shared a nectarine, had one egg atop one slice of buttered toast. It was a simple and lovely breakfast. At home I had my coffee with goat milk.46 grams of carb for breakfast.

My lunch was equally simple.

I'd been told that one can make a decent hashed brown potato by cutting the pieces small and using a dot of oil in a nonstick. I was told correctly, but you have to keep the heat low and it takes a long time for them to brown without the extra oil, the benefit is no greasy taste and they are much more healthy for you.

I cut two tiny potatoes and took about 40 minutes of stirring and puttering about 'til they were done and I topped them with a poached egg. This was clearly to be my egg day. I never peel a potato, I just wash carfully, that skin contains valuable fiber.

Potatoes are seriously high in carbs, those two small ones set me back 54 grams.

I went over at dinner.

73 grams of carb.

Out with friends we had Indian food and I thought that I had eaten modestly. One Naan, some Kidney bean stew, Paneer and veggie dumpling with the smallest bit of rice.

Eating out will be a challenge.

I suppose this is a good opportunity to mention what is upcoming.

As I make my trek to Harlem I will be driving and eating at diners, truck stops, restaurants and possibly even fast food.

I will be trying to eat with full consciousness, but it won't be 'til evening when I can sit down with my computer and determine fully how many carbs I have eaten. Fusion on the Road will begin on Saturday. As I wander cross if any of you want to send me restaurant suggestions on the way I am open to it.

My first stop will be Salt Lake City, then Denver.

Back to my imperfect day...195 carbs for the day with only 1,230 calories.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Diabetic Challenge living for the weekend

How many of you do for the weekend when you let go of all the rules.

Today I refuse.

Breakfast was a cup of chicken soup and the leftover spring roll.

After that I did what no diabetic should ever do. I skipped lunch and both snacks. The day was frantic and the time got away from me.

By the time dinner rolled around I had moved from hungry into sour stomach from no food and I felt an imminent crash.

I chose to eat lightly.

I began with a sliced zucchini and two tablespoons of hummus.

I followed this with some collards.
A simple seasoned saute. Totally delicious.

After my meal I sipped a glass of wine and ate a tiny piece of dark chocolate.

My calories and nutrition were both completely inadequate. 71 grams of carb for the day. 672 calories.


The Diabetic Challenge Unconscious eating

I began making the arrangements for my move to Harlem and I was on and off the phone, back and forth with e mail and not paying attention to my consumption.

In writing it all down I realized that subconsciously I had made decent but not perfect choices.

I began with a cup of soup at breakfast time. Asthma again.

I then took some of the rice from the previous night and more of the beef and greens and made a fried rice (without the frying, nonstick skillet no added oil)

Fortunately I came in at 54 grams of carb.

Lunch was another bit of soup, this time tomato with collards, sausage and white beans. 29 grams of carb.

Dinner was out...having dinner out is hard. I tend to eat more and without thought. Finally I paid attention and showed some care. I TRIED to moderate my rice but did eat more than my intended 1/2 cup.

I had 1/2 of the rice served which came to one cup, I also had one spring roll with shrimp (I packed one to take home)and an entire half duck.

If you have ever need more calories duck will give them to you. I was stuffed. 64 grams of carb, when I came home and added it up. I had gone over. The awful thing is that I easily could have consumed the rest of the rice.

My instincts are better than they were as I came in okay in the department of nutrition. However fiber was on the low side. 2,317 calories.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Diabetic Challenge; getting used to it

This morning for breakfast I took the path of least resistance and had the rest of the noodles with tuna and peanuts from last night. I had them cold with my coffee and it was a delicious if non traditional breakfast. I woke up hungry and since I already knew that the carbs would fit my plan I went for it.

My 39 gram lunch consisted of two nice cups of home made vegetable soup along with two plump plums.

I have gotten in slightly over 1,000 calories which is appropriate. I am also feeling stuffed. Soup really satiates and I am not sure if I can do a snack today. We will see what the day brings.

...and the day brought a lot of activity. As I prepare for Harlem I ran around a lot and did my gym time. I did have my snack, a short cup of chicken noodle soup. I like eating foods I know will fit in my carb count. It is easy when hungry to rely on foods I know rather than calculate the carbs to determine if a snack is viable.

I have to say my dinner was slamming. I went for the wok and a scant 3 ounces of thinly slice beef along with 2 cups of poke greens, 1 tomato, garlic, basil, peanuts and hot peppers. Wow it was great.

The hardest part was my measure of 1/2 cup of rice to accompany. I cooked a bit more to have rice for breakfast but left to my own devices I could easily have a rice plate with a couple of hundred carbs.

I had room for a glass of wine, so I enjoyed that with the meal.

So how did I do?

59 grams of carb for dinner. Enough without going over.

I felt stuffed all day. No hunger, it is actually taking effort to eat enough. When you limit carbs you need more bulk to make up the calories and if you want nutrition and fiber that bulk needs to come from vegetables. Fiber nothing else.

When I was eating 'normally' my portions were small and calorie dense thanks to fat and carbs. Limiting those gives me so much more food to eat.

My calories 1,866.

Wow...those veggies really bump up the nutrition and fiber. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Diabetic Challenge balancing calories and nutrition

As I have progressed I am meeting my fiber and nutrition needs more, but my caloric needs are suffering.

I must begin eating more food.

Today I made a good stab at it with a great breakfast.

Coffee and milk with a pear and some cheese, followed by more of the Tuna dish and 5 Ak Mak crackers. I got my 60 grams of carb and about 600 calories which is good for breakfast.

Lunch was light but delicious. I had a small apple with peanut butter and a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup 42 grams of carb.

I did have my snack as I am supposed to. A nice cup of tomato soup with sausage. A small cup of tomato soup with sausage (I made it to use up the sausage from my Sunday Breakfast crackers)Just under 15 grams of carb.

57 grams of carb at dinner. And what a meal it was. I took the tuna and finely chopped it. I tossed it in the wok with some soba noodles, poke greens, added some peanuts and basil and had a feast.

(A note about Soba; read the labels, many mix the buckwheat with other flours and the carb and calories can vary wildly from brand to brand. )

I gave my noodle bowl a nice drizzle of olive oil to bump up the calores and had it with wine and later a small bite of dark chocolate.

Plus 3 grams worth of dark chocolate later in the evening. Today I ate well, in that I got great nutrition, fiber and a good balance of calories.
As you can see it was a good day. My calories 1,944 and my carbs for the day 169 grams. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Diabetic Challenge: The challenge never ends

I had a delicious, nutritious, filling and nont traditional breakfast.
Collards...sliced and ready

...and I went over my carb allotment. I added leftover vegetables from last night to the leftover mac and cheese with tuna, thinking that I was doing the right thing. However along with the watermelon I had those vegies caused me to have 66 grams of carb. My max is 60.

...and then I essentially skipped lunch. I had a lot of business to handle and I wanted to get to the gym, so I did not eat until 4:00. At which time I had two crackers with peanut butter. At 13 grams of carb it made a solid snack.

However it was not enough. I was off to a friend's house for dinner and I had to go into Walgreens to get cash for the Sausalito Ferry, and my blood sugar began to crash.  Standing in the store I needed food, I grabbed the closest thing. Potato chips.

BAD choice.

After having 10 (yes I was counting) I read the label and realized I could only have another 6. I barely made it to dinner. Beef Jerky, even pork rinds would have been a better choice, planning ahead and having some almonds and a small apple in my bag would have been better.

I was crashing again by dinner time, but the food was awesome.

I pureed some of the cabbage from the night before with a little fresh garlic to make a dip for some homemade crackers. I gave it to my hostess and we had a small pre dinner nosh.

She served cheese, and I kept my portion very small whilst we had a touch of wine and the most wonderful Arugula, fennel, avacado and orange salad. I also ate 5 olives.

Then Poke'. It is a Hawaiian dish that defies description. A new taste for me and one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.

That was followed by a very small portion of seared tuna with lemon and caper sauce. 

For dessert a few strawberries.

It was one of the most perfect meals I can recall having. 1,680 calories (I need to find a way to eat more)156 grams of carb with only breakfast being a problem.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Diabetic Challenge getting my vitamins

Diabetics have many challenges, getting enough calories without getting too many. Eating the right amount of fiber, meeting vitamin and mineral needs without too much fruit.

It is not an easy task. Even as a chef who has spent months studying and learning I find challenges in my own life trying to live this way.

This morning I woke up and asthma was having it's way. Soup helps, I thinned a bit of the split pea with water to make it sippable and it soothed my throat and reduced my wheeze. I followed it with some coffee and a small pear. 59.9 grams of carbohydrate. To my mind I've not even had breakfast, but as far as carbs I am done for a few hours.

I can't say whether this was a snack or a lunch but I just had a small mass of oysters. They were small but amazing and fresh, I dipped them in flower and crisped in some olive oil.

27 grams of carb and close to 500 delicious crisp nutrient dense calories. It is a good thing I take a supplement and extra vitamin C. When I am high in one nutrient I seem to be low in another. Oysters are great if you need more D and B12.

I did have my two mini meal/snacks today. 2 Ak Mak With peanut butter for one and one cup of chicken soup for the other.  The first 10 grams of carb, the second 16.

I went to Africa for my dinner.

I have been talking to Dr. Rhonda Trousdale about the importance of native and historical foods. In Italy the don't eat massive bowls of spaghetti and meatballs and in China they don't eat General Chow's chicken. Americans created those dishes.

By going back to our roots we can often find healthier foods that still pack a punch with flavor.

I purchased some Injera, an Ethiopian bread made from Teff flour. Low in carb and very healthy stuff.

I stewed 4 chicken wing mid joints with some beans, onion and tomato, sort of a Loubia. I made collard greens with only garlic and a touch of salt rather than my usual smoked turkey broth. I sauteed cabbage with cumin, cinnamon and preserved lemon to make a delectable treat and roasted a red pepper.

This massive meal (I had seconds on some things) gave me 59 grams of carb, loads of fiber and nutrition.

My calories for the day were 1,731. I still need to bump that up somehow, but check out the nutrition bar.

African food rocks.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Diabetic Challenge Sunday Brunch

How many of you love breakfast sausage, those moist, seasoned fatty links and patties. I grew up on sausage gravy over buttered biscuits, among other preparations.

It is a high sodium flavor and fat sensation that is not the best thing to eat.

But that stops few, even diabetics. Sunday brunch is a day when sausage can be justified, after all you walked to church didn't you?

What if I can give you all the flavor but teach you way to use less?

Sausage crackers.

I large lavash
4 ounces of pork sausage

With your hands spread the sausage thinly on the lavash, like butter on bread. Bake at 400 for maybe 8 minutes until brown and crisp. Break or cut into pieces.

The entire piece is barely over 300 calories and 25 grams of carb. If you split it with another person and add in a poached or scrambled egg and some yogurt it becomes a protein packed and powerful breakfast. I had mine with a large nectarine and my coffee with goat milk, making my breakfast 42 grams of carb.

I repeated the sausage crackers for lunch, tasty but neither nutrition dense nor fiber packed.

I spent some of my afternoon in the grocery reading labels.

Among the e mail I get are the "I have not got the time to cook when I get home". There are a lot of working women who are single and have a child or children. Children who are hungry when mom gets home and to pull out the vegetables and start chopping is not something that can be done every day.

I get it.

My favorite "Mommy dinner" when my mother had little time was Macaroni and Cheese with tuna, and often frozen peas.

For a diabetic mom with a hungry child would this be something I could recommend? Turns out the answer is yes IF.

Forget the Kraft, Neon orange powder is not in the cards anymore if you want to be healthy. Head to Trader Joe's and get the white shells with cheddar. Half a box is just over 50 carbs and if you add a can of tuna and some frozen vegetables it becomes a 10 minute one pot decent meal.

I tossed the frozen beans in the water just as the shells were done and they finished cooking as I put together the cheese sauce with butter and milk. I stirred in the can of tuna and I must say, it tasted damn good.

Under 600 calories for HALF the box and the tuna added 18 grams of protein. All in all busy moms, you could do worse. Just stay away from Kraft and most of the generics,they are just loaded with crap. 

I went to a concert last night. Helen Reddy among some other entertainers. She was great and I got home at 10:30 starving.

Were I wise I would have gone for steamed broccoli, however I was impulsive and chose popcorn. Because it is a carb I used a little butter and had it with some cheese (2 ounces).

I feel like it was a crappy eating day for me. Not enough green healthy stuff and a lot of convenience eating. We all have days like that, however I kept my carb count below 180 and was somewhat in balance. The nutrition is not as bad as I expected. 1760 calories.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Living as a Diabetic the Carb Challenge

I love, bread, rice and pasta in all forms. When I do the diabetic challenge I realize how much I rely on those carbs to supply my calories. Without them my diet is really trimmed down.

I woke up this morning ravenous but committed to more vegetables; so I ate the last of the rice as fried rice, with some Chinese broccoli for breakfast. I followed it with my coffee and some watermelon.

All done...59.9 grams of carb. A perfect meal in one sense, however I should have stirred an egg into my rice to up the protein.

I will try to make that up with my snack.

And snack I did. I had two Ak Mak crackers with some hummus and more of the chicken spread. 15 grams of carb and a little more protein.

After the gym I went right for the soup. (Can you tell I am alone right now and trying to use everything up). A little lunch that netted me 54 grams of carb and a ____load of fiber.

For dinner I had yet more of the chicken salad (I am starting to tire of it)so I stirred in a little hummus to kick the flavor up. I made crackers with super thin lavash bread rubbed with oil and baked. Very low carb and a great spread delivery. I topped it with a chopped tomato, two small artichoke and 1/2 an avocado. With a glass of wine it all came in at 50 grams of carb.

I made up for some of that missing fiber and really enjoyed my meal.

Thanks to the two snacks my fiber was up, my calories were up and I had a great day. I am cleaning and getting rid of things so I needed that energy. My total carbs were 180 and my total calories 1,959.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Living as a Diabetic Day 5

Bread is a devil. Without even thinking this morning I made toast, consuming another 1/3 of the loaf from last night, warmed a very small portion of split pea with some water added to soothe my throat, and downed a nectarine. 62 grams of carb, I have maxed out my breakfast.

They key point is that I did it without thinking. Diabetics can never eat without thinking. Though just slightly, I went over my max and am not yet satisfied, nor have I even had coffee. Being as my goat milk contains some carbohydrate I am going to have to make coffee wait and have it with a mid morning snack.

I skipped the snack and went right to lunch. An early lunch. The devil bread was calling my name.

I had pulled a package out of the freezer the other day, one of those little foil surprises I make when I have too much of something. Turned out to be a perfect thin slice of beef liver. I sauteed it in butter and put it on the last piece of bread, toasted and finally got my coffee. I needed that coffee. 36 grams of carb and some much needed protein. Due to the liver my B vitamins are off the chart today and now I can proceed with some of the multitude of preparations I need to make for Harlem Hospital. 

And I did crave an afternoon snack....I had my 16 grams of carb chicken soup.

Dinner was LATE so I had another cold supper. I had to use up the chicken so instead of making a chicken salad, chunky with lots of mayo, I put the chicken in the food processor with 1/2 an onion and some yogurt and made a spread.

With a few added capers it was delicious.
I used a small zucchini sliced to reduce my cracker intake and added a few tablespoons of hummus. I should point out that my stuffed to overflowing plate is a 5 inch plate, not a traditional dinner plate. I also had the rest of last night's tomato salad and a glass of wine.55 grams of carb for dinner.

While I feel as if I was eating all day my caloric intake was pretty low at 1,587.
Nutrition very good, fiber, decent.

More calories and more vegetables will be my goal tomorrow. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Living as a Diabetic Day 4

Purple Food.

If you live in Harlem and do not have purple food at the local C-Town, print this in, take it to the manager and let him or her know that you want more selections in Harlem.

Watch the raisin consumption, they are high in sugar. But you can eat Kohlrabi greens with impunity. Dr. Culpepper at Harlem Hospital tells all of her patients to put a lot of color on their plate, and what color is more fun that purple?

Before I get to today's breakfast let me share a recipe for Split Pea Soup. This soup warms the body and soul. This version has no fat, less sodium and all of the tasty goodness of the more traditions.

Pass by the Ham hocks, they taste great but are high in fat. Choose either smoked turkey wings or Smoked Neck bones.  Toss in some garlic and simmer for hours in about 16 cups of water with a few garlic cloves thrown in.

Split Pea Soup
12 cups of stock made from smoked turkey or neck bones, chilled with the fat removed.

6 stalks of celery chopped fine.

1 lb of split peas.

Add the peas and the celery to the stock and simmer. Add water as needed to maintain 12 cups. Simmer for about 3 hours. This will give you about 9 nice bowls of soup at slightly over one cup each.

Per bowl you will be getting 30 grams of carbohydrate (pair with protein for a meal) and 12 grams of fiber or 48% of what you need daily.

Bonus...this is seriously delicious and all that fiber makes you feel full.

And onto with goat milk is a given and that was followed by 2 cups of cubed watermelon and a small portion of chicken hash.

I used the one small potato I roasted with the chicken and 1/4 cup fennel along with 1/2 cup chicken. I cooked in a nonstick with the tiniest drop of oil and the hash was delicious.

66 grams of carb but fewer than 400 calories. I should be eating more calories in the morning but it is hard for me to make the non carby choices. When not following this a common breakfast was toasted baguette, butter, fruit and a little cheese. AKA fat and carbs. When I eat otherwise, I reach satiation very quickly.

51 grams of carb at lunch. I had a portion of the split pea soup and a tiny tortilla with 1 ounce of cheese and one ounce of meat done as a quessadilla in a non stick skillet with no fat added. I am under where I should be with calories but I feel satisfied and tend to have more calories at dinner after a heavy bout at the gym. At my age and condition the bouts are less heavy but the work twice as hard so off I go.

Bread; I have several favorite foods, bread, pasta, and rice are at the top of the list.

On the way home I decided that I would have a cold supper, I have a lot going on and was running late and cold roast chicken is a lovely meal, but I stopped at the store for my goat milk and it is opposite the bread. A little bread with my meal would be a good thing I rationalized and before I knew what day it was I had purchased a mini ciabbata.

I repeated the tomato salad with the yogurt ranch dressing (alright you convinced me this herby mixture is very good)sliced the rest of the fennel, chopped up a cup of cabbage and 1/2 cup roast chicken.

I was careful about the bread, 1/3 of the loaf (more of a roll by my standards) had 26 grams of carb, so I cut it, wrapped it and put it away.

When I say that fiber makes you feel full, I am not kidding. I ate the cabbage and fennel first dipping it in the dressing and could only manage 1/2 the tomato, though I did eat all the bread with some butter.

I did have a glass of wine, something that works for some diabetics but always watch your sugar.

Dinner came to 41 grams of carb, all very good. My day was more balanced that previously and my nutrition and fiber were higher, however I only managed 1,492 calories. Not enough for me. If you are trying to lose weight learn from my day...the more fiber you eat the more satisfied you feel and less chance of colon cancer.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Living as a Diabetic Day 3

Many of you remember the event back in May and since that day I have had e mail and remarks on the site about the program. If you want to get the start up date write to and ask them for the official start date for 'Stirring the Pot'. 

For those who want to see photos of the event you can visit 

Take note not only of the beautiful crowd and our friends at the Central Harlem Senior Center but check out all the folks to my side, in the kitchen, and running back and forth. The propped me up and did everything I could not. All I had to do was season and stir and talk a little bit. It was our extraordinary volunteers who did all the heavy lifting and I could not have even approached this without their help. If you are one of their patients send out a little love to Dr. Rhonda Trousdale for creating the program, Dr. Joan Culpepper-Morgan for pushing it along, and Bariatric surgeon Dr. Leaque Ahmed for taking it to the next level. 

Those classes everyone keeps asking me about are coming.

I am sitting here with a big smile on my face. I love the people of Harlem and seeing those photos again puts me in a good mood.

I finally had a breakfast in balance. I finished off the ham, had the 3/4 cup of cherries and a medium 100% whole wheat pita, along with my coffee and goat milk. 41 grams of carbohydrate. Honestly it is now noon and I still feel stuffed.

However I understand the importance of not skipping meals so I will have something before proceeding out to exercise.

I finally ate and lunch provided a very decent 41 grams of carb. I used the last bit of rice and pork with a little added cabbage and soy sauce. (If you need to watch sodium use soy sauce sparingly)

Without question some more vegetables are needed but thus far I've done pretty nicely.

I did get a question in my e mail box about diabetes and bariatric surgery. It is true that if a diabetic has this surgery they often can stop insulin. However this is an option only to be considered by the seriously overweight diabetics and you must keep in mind that you need to be scrupulous about your diet post surgery.Speaking of which, Stirring the Pot will have classes specifically for pre-and post surgery bariatric patients. They are a center of excellence in Bariatric Surgery so if you are considering it, talk to them.

For a snack I had a cup of chicken soup, not because I was hungry but my asthma today has been horrible.Soup helps.

Because I had made it a while back and froze it, I actually took the noodles out of the
broth with a slotted spoon to measure them. My snacks are supposed to max out at 15 grams of carb and this came in at 20 but I ate it anyway. As a result I am breathing better, so to me, the 5 grams were worth it.

I had one ounce of cheddar as a second snack. After the gym and time at my local farmer's market I was hungry and needed a bite to tide me over while I made dinner.

Many chefs talk about farm to table, and some do butcher whole animals and buy directly from farmers, while others just mean fresh food. I take it literally.
This was my salad. I've had more than one request to check out Ranch dressing and let people know which was the healthiest. I must confess that prior to being asked about it, I had never tasted Ranch. When I looked at the ingredients I discovered that the flavoring was just onion and herb but the dressing tended towards having a lot of sugar, especially the non-fat. For the most part a lot of garbage ingredients. I finally found a dry version that only contained the seasoning. To me the fat free version is obvious, I mixed a little of the seasoning with fat free Greek yogurt. Voila fat free Ranch.

I dolloped it atop a sliced tomato with shaved fennel and had a beautiful, fresh from the farm summer salad.

I roasted some potatoes and a zucchini along with a baby artichoke at the base of the chicken. Notice the eye at the right, my chicken was directly farm to table.

I prefer the male chicken, (you didn't think I would call it a cock and have you laughing at every taste reference did you?) It has a deeper richer flavor. In most groceries even the organic chicken tends to be a hen, if you want a more flavorful chicken you can ask your farmer for a male and specify age, old birds make great soup.

I had the wings, the zucchini, the artichoke and yes rice. I love rice and measured the portion carefully, to have my one cup. I maxed out my carbs at dinner but what a dinner it was. I have a lot of tasty leftovers to enjoy and soup on the stove.

My total carbs were 169 for the day. Under my 180 limit. My calories were 1,628 and my balance was good. I still need more fiber and few more more nutrient dense foods, but overall it was a good day. Most important, everything was delicious and I felt satisfied.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Living as a Diabetic Day 2

I ate too little at breakfast. I have no appetite and had two plums, a little ham and my coffee. 18 grams of carb; with a target of 45 to 60 I did not make the best choices.

I got a flat tire on my motorbike and pushed it 14 blocks to the repair station and was ravenous by lunchtime. I repaired to the St. Francis Diner on 24th to eat. They make great burgers, really great burgers, with carmelized onion and mayonnaise. It is possible to have a great burger without fries.

I could have asked for a green salad, or some fruit. I knew that a hamburger bun of this size was about 20 grams of carb, and that the onion would add some, as would the tomato so I went for the fries and ate half. Can I tell you how hard it was to stop eating. Ultimately I ate one cup of fries, about 75% of the bun (I trimmed off the outside edges)and all of everything else.

Be aware that if you use ketchup on the fries or the burger on average it will contain 15 grams of carbohydrate. Ketchup is largely sugar. Ketchup = Fewer fries. 

When I got home I anxiously counted it all up. 45 grams of carb. I did it. had I eaten the entire order of fries and all of the bun it would have been a very bad meal.

You can have a burger and fries (just not at McDonald's.) if you use extraordinary willpower and not finish the plate.

Dinner was again pork belly...(what I made a lot) but I had less rice and added in one cup of broccoli to up my nutrition and fiber content.

Dinner...51 grams of carb, well within my zone.

While not a day in perfect balance I did better and kept my calories within range.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Diabetes Project Part 2 Day One

Today I begin a month long Diabetes project.

I contacted the Dietician who advised me on the first one and because my weight is much lower than when I began the first my carb count has been set higher to keep up with my energy expenditure.

I have a maximum of 60 carbs per meal, 15 per snack not to exceed 200 per day. I will be purposefully having more sodium and more fat than most diabetics, so unless I post a recipe don't follow everything I eat.

Rhonda Trousdale the brilliant endocrinologist at Harlem Hospital got me started on this one as I prepare to do more work with diabetics and bariatric patients.

Prior to Rhonda's e mail I had already consumed one large sourdough pretzel and some coffee with goat milk. Carefully I had some sliced ham and 3/4 cup of fresh delicious cherries and I was at 40 grams of carbohydrate for breakfast. The bulk of those carbs came from my Trader Joe's sourdough pretzel.

I like challenges and will plan for what the day may bring.

I planned and in a sense I failed. I took the last two pretzels with me and some cheese in case I needed a snack, but because I was out all day and it was not a good day they were lunch.

For dinner I had to use what was thawed (shopping got moved to today)so I made a braised pork belly with cabbage and rice.

Calories 2,115 total carbs 139 grams. Well under my 180 max even with my one full cup of rice.

However...I was out of balance with too few carbs (yes you can have two few, even a diabetic) and 60% of my daily calories from fat. A little more protein would have been nice.

I came in way low on fiber and vitamin content. While I will be having the rest of the belly tomorrow I will have to plan the rest of my day to be more balanced.

Carbs...unlike calories cannot be carried over into another day. What you don't eat in balance at any particular meal is gone forever. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A perfect salad...beyond lettuce

I am often asked via e mail 'What do you eat?';This is it. For me a very typical salad or breakfast is cucumber, tomato, yogurt and maybe a flat bread.

I will be having a small filet of fish next with some chard from the garden. This for me is a typical meal, especially in summer.