Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vegan cooking for diabetics - I need your help!

As some of you know, my brother has cancer and my Dad has diabetes. My brother has been on a predominantly vegan diet for the last year or so to try and beat his cancer. This has only reinforced my belief in the vegan diet and maybe even made me a bit vegangelical toward my parents because I really want Dad to get his diabetes under control.

Here was a skype conversation I had with my Mum a couple of weeks ago on a Friday afternoon before I went away to Bright for the weekend:

Niki: you know, even if you can tell the difference, it doesnt really matter. its not like you have to make stuff thats the same as meat/dairy. its just important that its nice, because really, if he can reverse diabetes in a month thats surely worth it.

Mum: sure is but dad's mind is fixed, working on it

Niki: fixed that meat/dairy is good for him?

Niki: right im off to Bright now. i really wish he could understand that he can actually be healthy, no meds, no diabetes and all that bullshit... is it really worth being sick for the taste of something??

And 3 days later my Dad had a stroke.

Obviously this freaked me out. 2 out of 3 diabetics die from strokes. These are extremely shit stats.

Luckily, Dad is ok. His left side is a bit weak and he has to rest a lot so his brain can recover and retrain. But I am worried about him. So I have (probably to the annoyance of many) become more adamant about them trying to go vegan to beat this.

And on Saturday I am flying to NZ to hang out with my parents for a week. It will be good medicine just to be there with them. But I will also be helping with lots of vegan cooking and getting them into it. And since I have been vegan I haven't really cooked for anyone but myself!

So what I really could do with from you guys is some absolutely tried and true recipes for dinner. My parents are only new to this and I know Dad doesn't feel like he's had a whole dinner if it's missing meat! I'm looking for recipes that are not too fiddly because I have to make sure they like cooking them AND eating them. I don't know about the availability of tempeh or seitan in NZ, or any other specialty ingredients so I really need it to be made of 'normal' stuff.

And, importantly, they will be for a type 2 diabetic, so gotta be careful of sugar and fat!

I will do my best to review each one I make and try and get photos too :)


  1. Where abouts in NZ? You can definitely get tempeh (some supermarkets and in most healthfood stores) here but seitan is rather more difficult to come by. Tofu however is pretty easy to source as most supermarkets should have at least one kind. My Dad loves these tofu meatballs. I'll dig around and see if I can get send you some more recipes that my parents like.

  2. Thanks Vaala! I think those tofu meatballs would go down a treat for sure, and they look easy too. :)

    I will be in Auckland (south in the country!)

  3. Thanks Claudia, I agree, I will be trying to get lots of raw stuff in there. I am also taking home the Simply Raw DVD for reversing diabetes.

  4. I don't have much to contribute, but just wanted to say that I hope your dad is ok.

    Roasted vege salads are always good, can be substantial with lots of sweet potato & not too foreign for dads.

  5. Have you ever read Dr. Joel Furhman's books. They are very good and well written. If your dad is a reader it's something you could suggest. There are menus at the back.

    Also, Dreena Burton's cookbooks are amazing. Very good food.

  6. Thanks Vicki, I hope he is ok too. Roasted vege salad sounds yum and not too freaky, you are right. Who doesn't love them!

    Stefania, I haven't read Dr Joel Furhman, I will have a look now. Dad is a reader and likes to know the ins and outs of why stuff is so that could be handy. Dreena Burton, here I come. Thanks heaps!

  7. I have 2 book recommendations. (Disclosure: I work for the publisher)

    1. Defeating Diabetes: A No-Nonsense Approach to Type 2 Diabetes and the Diabesity Epidemic, by Brenda Davis, RD and Tom Barnard, MD. The book contains excellent dietary advice and 50 recipes by Barb Bloomfield, my coworker and a wonderful vegan chef.

    2. The Cancer Survivor's Guide, Foods that Help You Fight Back, by Neal Barnard, MD and Jennifer K. Reilly, RD (Neal Barnard is founder of The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine and The Cancer Project.)

    We publish about 300 vegan, raw and natural health books and these are the best we have on these subjects.

    Please let me know if you have any difficulty finding them. I can refer you to our Australian distributor if you need me to.

    Best wishes,

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    Please let me know what you think.


    Cristal B. Maramag

  9. Sorry I haven't had a chance to sort out some more recipes for you. Mum has some great ones that I know my family love that are super easy but it's all a bit of a mess over here right now. Will send them to you when I get a chance. Hopefully this typical Auckland spring rain doesn't hang around for the rest of the week for you (are you out near Waiuku area?)!

  10. Aw thanks Vaala, so sweet of you to think of me!
    We are forcing the raw (maybe 40%) and vegan (99%) into Dad and hoping he will get the change in mindset that he needs - he's struggling to shift the focus away from what he feels he's missing to what's really important which is his health.

    Bit of a mess at yours? I hope it's all ok.

    And yes, I am out near Waiuku area! I'm in Karaka. MILES aways - spent $120 on a cab last night just to go out in the city! Where are you?

  11. gosh viki I'm behind on the blogs! wow I hope your dad pulls up ok!!! look for a book by erik marcus called "vegan" its free and online and its the book that made me go vegan... he had really full on heart health problems and talks about how he was rehabilitated through the vegan diet...

    thinking of you and your family xo

  12. How's your Dad finding the food? It's a pretty big adjustment but so worth it.

    Ooo,! But yes, quite a distance from town although Auckland is pretty spread out like that. I'm in Greenlane which is fairly central (round the road from One Tree Hill).

  13. Hi Niki,
    I'm really sorry to hear about your dad but glad he's doing ok. My dad's also diabetic and had a serious health scare a couple of years ago that made the whole thing a lot worse.

    I can't really suggest any recipes, but one thing that I'm glad I've been able to help dad with was getting him into some exercise, which we started doing together. He started slow but got his first ever pair of trainers and a heart rate monitor to help him guage how hard he was working, and once he started to see some improvements, he was stuck! Perhaps when your dad is a bit more recovered, some slow and gentle movement could help him with both his diabetes and (hopefully) more healthy diet?

    Also, Menulog: really insensitive timing.

    xMiss T

  14. Thanks Carla, I might grab that book and read it myself then pass it on - you got it in your Amazon shop? :)

    Vaala, Dad hates it. Even normal things he would normally eat, he hates. I think the idea that he's now eating vegan is making him hate it more than his tastebuds do.

    In good news, Mum is really onboard which is great. And even better, his blood sugar is already improving! :)

    Miss T, yes Dad will be starting some exercise at the recommendation of the doctor. Definitely will help I'm sure! I'm glad your Dad is doing well! :)