By Alison Brinker, RD, LD, CDE
Research shows that counting carbohydrates is important for good glucose control. However, it can get a little tricky at times………pizza, salads, casseroles. All those combination foods can be difficult. Following are some tips that may help make counting your carbs a bit easier.
Hot dishes made with pasta or grains such as tuna noodle casserole or lasagna have about 30 grams of carbohydrate per cup. Using a measuring cup is most accurate, but if you can’t measure a cup is about the size of a woman’s fist. Stews or Asian-style meals that are a mix of meat and vegetables in a savory sauce are about 15 grams of carb per cup. Keep in mind that measuring foods at home will help you better estimate portion sizes when eating out.
Broth-based soups and cream soups made with water are about 15 grams of carb per cup. If it is a hearty soup you could eat with a fork or if it is loaded with noodles or beans estimate about 30 grams of carb for one cup.
If you are at a potluck think about the size of the serving spoon. Four level tablespoons is about ¼ cup. This amount of baked beans, for example is about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Baked beans are a starchy vegetable and most likely have molasses or brown sugar as an ingredient. A larger serving spoon is about ¼ cup per scoop. Two of these larger spoonfuls of corn or another starchy vegetable will be about a ½ cup or 15 grams of carb.
Not all salads are created equal when it comes to carbs. One cup of a leafy green salad has only 2-5 grams of carb compared to creamy coleslaw that has 15 grams carb for a ½ cup portion. Potato salads and pasta salads often have sugar in the dressing so count those as 30 grams of carb for a ½ cup portion.
Think of pizza in terms of the crust. Thin crust is going to have much lower carb content than hand tossed or pan pizza. 1/8 of a 12 inch thin crust pizza has about 15 grams of carb. You should add about 5-10 grams of carb per slice if you have a hand tossed crust or pan pizza.
Be careful with the items offered free to the table at some restaurants. Most rolls, bread slices and bread sticks are 15 grams of carb per serving. Twelve tortilla chips are also about 15 grams of carb. Even though the salsa is a free item and is very low in carbs, the chips can add up quickly.
Fruit smoothies, although they sound healthy, can have just as much carbohydrate as a can of regular soda. Some smoothies average 45 grams of carb in a 12 oz. portion which is just as much as a regular soda. If you choose a smoothie as a quick breakfast option measure your ingredients separately as you add to the blender to ensure your carb count is accurate.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Below is a chicken chili recipe for the crockpot. It is easy to prepare, great for a cold winter night and about 30 grams of carb for a 1 cup portion. Carbohydrate is found in the white beans which are also a wonderful source of fiber. Top your chili with diced avocado to add some healthy monounsaturated fat. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker White Chili with Chicken
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound dried Great Northern Beans
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles, undrained
Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, chopped tomato (optional for serving)
The evening before you plan to make the chili soak beans in a large container covered with water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Place beans along with chicken, onion, broth, chopped chiles and seasonings into the crockpot. Stir to mix the ingredients. Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low 8-10 hours. Remove chicken from the crockpot and using 2 forks shred the chicken, return chicken to the crockpot and mix well. Serve chili topped with cilantro, avocado and tomato if desired.
30 grams carbohydrate per 1 cup portion
Source: Diabeticlivingonline.com. The recipe was modified using the White Chicken Chili on the Everyday Essential Great Northern Bean package and Slow Cooker White Chili with Chicken on allrecipes.com