Sharing more healthy recipes
When I first took a bite of this diced vegetable salad, my first thought was how delicious the salad and dressing tasted. I knew it was a healthy dish, but flavour was my main focus.
After doing a little research on each of the ingredients, I found out that this one dish contains vitamin B, C, E, K, calcium, minerals, folate, potassium, fibre and antioxidants. Now that’s icing on the cake… but a whole lot healthier than icing and cake 😂.
We’ve decided to add a new focus area on our food blog. We’ll continue to offer traditional Portuguese recipes, as well as general easy-to-make recipes for home cooks. However, from this point on, we’ll also start making a more conscious effort to develop and share healthy meal options.
Why the sudden shift to healthy recipes, you ask?
Finding out I have diabetes
About two and a half months ago, I visited my family physician for my yearly physical. When I returned to get my results after completing a series of tests, my doctor looked at my file and said, “I don’t have great news for you… you have type 2 diabetes”.
The news took a couple of minutes to sink in. Although a bit shocked, I can’t say it surprised me that much. I’ve spent the better part of the past 48 years eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I never worked too hard at taking care of myself. My body was bound to turn on me at some point.
When I told my parents, my mom reminded me, almost apologetically, that we have diabetes in the family. I told her that given my track record with food, I can’t put all the blame on my genes. No… I own this.
My decision while still sitting at the doctor’s office…
Everything I’d done over the years with food, portion sizes, and lack of exercise–these things were a choice I had. Suddenly, I realized that was no longer the case. I had one more decision to make, though, so then and there I decided to make a 180º lifestyle change.
What diet am I following? What’s my approach?
I’ve decided not to follow one specific diet. I’m a firm believer that people should do what works best for them and that there isn’t a one size fits all path to good health.
I’ve decided to take a common sense approach, using the resources and knowledge I’ve acquired in the kitchen over the years. This will, of course, be done with consultation from my family physician and a great team at our local diabetes clinic.
Here’s what I’ve done so far…
- I don’t let myself feel hungry
- I’m drinking 2 to 3 litres of water daily
- I’ve removed almost all processed sugars from my meals and beverages (and that’s a big one… it’s in so many things)
- I’m avoiding most boxed/packaged foods
- I’ve increased leafy greens and other vegetables, exponentially (grilled, roasted, steamed and boiled).
- I’ve reduced red meats and increased fish meals
- I’ve had a few vegetable-only meals
- I’m eating more beans, lentils and chickpeas
- Snacks are now nuts and veggies
- Breakfasts include eggs, plain oats, ground flax seed, unsweetened plain yogurt, blueberries, blackberries and sometimes half a banana
- I’ve had almost zero breads, pasta, white rice and other high carb starchy foods
- I haven’t replaced sugars with high fat, salty or chemically-produced products
- I’m starting to test dessert recipes with natural products that won’t spike my glycemic index
- I’ve started walking more, everyday–I’ll purposely walk further or climb an extra set of stairs to get in that little extra activity
- I’ve started visiting our community centre pool
- I’ve gone on a couple of bike rides
- As soon as the weather improves, my plan is to do a lot more cycling–it’s by far my favourite form of physical activity
I’m really not qualified to give advice. I’ve been doing this wrong for 48 years. Personally, I feel like the right thing for me was doing my annual physical, getting guidance from professionals, eating healthy, drinking lots of water and getting rid of processed foods and sugars.
I think my approach is working so far. My doctor logged my weight at 300 lbs at the beginning of February. As of this morning, I weigh 263 lbs. Even though I’m still very over weight, I already feel better. I have more energy during the day and I’m sleeping better at night.
I’m excited to meet with the diabetes clinic team this coming week. They’re going to teach me how to use a glucometer. As much as I’m not loving the idea of pricking my finger to take readings, I’m anxious to know what foods affect my glycemic index, what I should avoid, and what I can have safely.
I’ve been tracking my weight, blood pressure, heart rate and physical activity on the Apple Health app. Seeing all the details in one place helps keep me on track and encourages me to keep going. Since the glucometer has bluetooth connectivity, I’ll be able to track my blood sugar readings on there as well.
One last recommendation, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, don’t ask “Dr. Google” for advice. Make sure you’re speaking to healthcare professionals or reading from reliable medical sources.
Our friends at Breville are helping me with my new journey
I need all the resources and tools I can find, to help me keep enjoying food. I approached my good friends at Breville Canada and asked if they’d like to partner with us again for my diabetes-reveal post. I specifically asked them for the Breville Sous Chef® 16 Peel & Dice.
Our kitchen isn’t very large, but this new brilliant and innovative food processor has gained a permanent spot on our countertop. I see myself using it very often for chopping, dicing, making dressings, peeling and more. Since we received it, I’ve used it every day!
Breville described a few tasks that this unit could do, that I’d never before seen a food processor do. The one I was most excited about was the dicing feature. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it didn’t surprise me at all when I saw perfectly diced veggies falling into the food processor bowl.
We have quite a few Breville products, and not one has ever disappointed us. They’re built sturdy and smart, and with a lot of attention to detail. Breville products feel like they’re restaurant-grade. They’re fantastic.
So, will my meals be boring from now on?
Absolutely not! With all the access to information we have today, there are literally thousands of delicious healthy recipes at our fingertips. There’s no reason to get into a rut with our meals.
This is why I feel like I need to commit…
Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in Canada and 7th in the world. Death feels a little too permanent for my liking. Eating well and exercising was a choice I could have made before. It’s not really a choice anymore.
I want to stick around to watch my kids grow up and start their own families, and I want to make sure I’m around to keep Liz company… I can be annoying sometimes, but I think she’d rather have me around. I am the cook after all 😂.
Saying I’m grateful probably sounds like an odd thing to say, but of all the diseases my doctor could have surprised me with, this one’s actually quite manageable. I feel like if I behave and stay on course with this new lifestyle, I can actually do quite well… and who knows, maybe even improve other aspects of my health along the way. Maybe it’s the push I needed.
The most important lesson I learned
I’m so happy I did my physical! I wasn’t in pain and I didn’t have any obvious symptoms. Had I not done my physical, I might have continued to eat poorly and eventually run into some very serious problems.
I encourage you to visit your doctor occasionally just to make sure things are in check.
I also recommend that you try our diced vegetable salad recipe. It’s a perfect side to your favourite protein, and even delicious on its own. Stay healthy, and eat well, friends!
Fresh diced vegetable salad recipe and sharing my diabetes diagnosis story.
- 2 small zucchini, diced
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 hot house tomato, diced
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed
- 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (use less if using fine salt)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- In a large bowl, gently mix all the ingredients up the the cheese (including the cheese).
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients to make your dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and mix gently to incorporate.
- Enjoy this salad with a favourite protein or on it’s own. Enjoy!
- We diced all the vegetables using our new the Breville Sous Chef® 16 Peel & Dice from our friends at Breville Canada. It took around 1 (yes one) minute to dice it all!
- For the dressing, I through in all the ingredients into the food processor’s smaller bowl and ran the processor for about 20 seconds.
- Feel free to add other favourite veggies or maybe even switch the parsley to cilantro. This is a versatile recipe.
Alina | Cooking Journey Blog says
It is so sad that you have diabetes, but on the other hand you’ve started eating healthier food, which is awesome! This salad looks good and tasty.
I think you can include sugar-free fruit crisps in your breakfast?
Sending best wishes 🙂
Nelson Cardoso says
Thank you so much for the kind words and recommendation. I really appreciate it. Although not thrilled to have diabetes, it’s forced me to rethink my menus and eat a lot healthier. I’m doing pretty well with the changes. Take care and thanks again.
Sorry to hear about that the diabetes Nelson, but your story and attitude about tackling it is inspiring. Sounds like you’re well on your way to a healthy lifestyle. All the best. Cheryl
Nelson Cardoso says
Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by and for the words of encouragement. It’ been quite the change, but I think I’m getting the hang of this new lifestyle. I’m also enjoying the challenge of making things taste good without the added processed stuff. I hope you’re doing well. Take care.
Nelson, I love your blog and have been able to do many portuguese recipes I remember my mom making when I was a kid, Keep up the great work. I just want to throw in my 2c… Last fall I also got that diagnosis and have worked hard to reverse it. I’m a registered pharmacist by trade and didn’t want to end up on medication as I know what happens to people that start. You are doing a lot of the right things! Keep going! remember all starches covert to glucose which leads to insulin resistance ( precursor to T2D) Cutting out starches also helps, but definitely the processes foods, flours and sugar etc. I’ve come across an amazing doctor from Toronto that you should look up. Dr. Jason Fung. He’s unconventional but his method works! I’m using it and several of my patients are too. It’s not progressive, don’t let anyone tell you that. Cure yourself.
Nelson Cardoso says
Jose, thank you so much for the words of encouragement and recommendations. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. I visited the diabetes clinic yesterday and had my intro to the glucose monitor. I did my first before and after meal readings todays around breakfast. The numbers looked quite good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my lifestyle changes will allow me to use little or no meds. Time will tell. I wish you lots of success with your diabetes as well. Hopefully your changes will work. All the best.