Tag Archives: Diabetes

Cook’s Corner: Hamburger and Rice Skillet

As I have a pretty well stocked freezer (as in I have enough entrees to last me at least two months, if not three or four), I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from the heavy duty cooking.  However, I also decided that I wanted to do something special for lunch, so I decided to make the Mexican hamburger rice skillet that I found on Dick Logue’s Low Sodium Cooking a few months ago.

A skillet of yummy goodness!
A skillet of yummy goodness!

I haven’t made the recipe since sometime in November, and I decided to make a few changes it to it this time around:

  1. I decided to add chopped green peppers in addition to the chopped onion, as I’m finding that just about everything tastes even better when I add peppers to it.
  2. I decided to throw the onions and pepper into the skillet with the ground beef while I browned it.  Again, I’m finding this enhances the flavor.
  3. I decided to replace the orzo with another cup of rice.  Since I use brown rice, it breaks down into glucose more slowly than orzo (which I have not found in a whole wheat form).  This makes it a bit better for diabetes control.

The whole thing turned out wonderful, as you can see from the picture I’ve included.  I’m quite pleased, especially with the fact that I finally found the right amount of water (3 cups) to add to the mix.  I don’t know what rice Logue is using, but the 1-1/2 cups of water he recommends isn’t nearly enough for the stuff I’ve been getting.

Of course, I’m also trying to figure out how he came up with the nutritional information he lists on his site.  Again, based on the rice I’m using, the original cup of rice alone divided into four servings makes the carbohydrate count 32 grams per serving.  In fact, I was quite distressed when I realized (only after the fact, naturally) that adding an apple and a yogurt to my lunch put the whole meal two starches over my allowance for this meal.  So when my BG is a bit high when I check it in a few minutes, I’ll know why.  Oh well, I’ve been doing well on that count, so one hiccup shouldn’t be a problem.

I love how it turned out, but I’m still thinking of ways I might play with the recipe.

  1. Add another can of tomatoes.
  2. Cut back to a single cup of rice with no other starch.  (If I do this, I won’t increase the tomato, more than likely.)
  3. Add a splash of red wine for flavor.
  4. Spice it up a notch with a little cayenne pepper or maybe some chopped jalapeno.

Yes, I’m getting obsessed with cooking.  Now if I could just find someone to do the dishes for me.


Personal Update: Warmer weather brings thoughts of walks

It’s already 34*F (11*C) this morning. I think it was a couple degrees earlier when I started my car to come into the office. As I’ve been doing, I started before I fixed breakfast. Back when we were in the single-digit temperatures (and even lower wind chills), that gave my car’ s heater just enough time to get the passenger cabin slightly about freezing. Today, I hopped in a toasty car instead. It made the five minute drive to the office even more pleasant.

What was more pleasant than that, though, was the fact that walking through the parking lot to the back door of the building didn’t involve walking against near-arctic blasts of wind. As I covered the hundred yards on foot, it occurred to me that I almost felt like going for a three mile walk in this weather. That says something about how the polar vortex has changed my perceptions regarding temperatures this winter. It does suggest, though, that I need to get walking again.

Health-wise, it’s time to get walking anyway. I haven’t been going for my near-daily treks since just before Thanksgiving, mainly because it’s been too cold (and despite my rest expectations of what’s “cold” and “not so cold,” it’s still too cold) to do any serious walking outside and the Christmas shoppers made walking at the mall nearly impossible. It’s been okay though, because I’ve been able to meet my health improvement goals without long walks. (Climbing five flights of stairs three or four times a day has certainly helped.)

I think that’s about to change, though. Everything has been completely steady for a week or two now. The weight, I don’t care so much about. While it’d be nice to lose another twenty to thirty pounds, it’s just not something I’m going to pressure myself to do. (My doctors can deal with that.) But my morning BG readings are leveling out in the 80’s. Granted, those are fantastic levels. But since one of my major goals right now is to get off the five units of insulin I’m taking daily, I need them to drop a little bit again (that way they raise back up to the 80’s or 90’s when I go off the insulin). And the return to regular walks should certainly help with that.

To support walking, though, I think I need to adjust my evening schedule. Between taking blood pressure, taking my evening pills, taking my insulin (another reason to get off it), and testing my BG, my evenings are pretty well divided up. It makes going anywhere to walk (or do anything else to exercise) for thirty five minutes rather difficult. I was doing it the week or so before Thanksgiving, but it made my evenings feel full and rushed at times.

The big culprit is taking my blood pressure at 8pm. That’s something I really need to be home to do. Plus it requires me to sit still in the seat where I’m going to check my blood pressure and give my heart time to fully get to a nice resting state. So I’m thinking about moving that to just before dinner. Or maybe late at night before I go to bed.

Taking the medication — which I also do at 8pm — at night isn’t as big a deal. It’s only one pill and I can do that anywhere. Heck, I could slip that bottle into my coat pocket and take it with me on the walk. Same thing with testing my BG. The insulin is more of a challenge, but I don’t do that until 9pm, and could move that even later. That would free up a couple hours in the evening where I could go out. Come to think of that, it would also help me be free to do other things with my evening if I wanted to.


A Personal Update, Health Edition

I haven’t blogged much in a while.  Part of the reason for that is that I haven’t been sure what to blog about.  The other part of that reason is that I haven’t been doing well health-wise since at least August.  This blog post is going to be about my health, the (ongoing) road to recovery, and my thoughts along the way.

A collection of five pills.
All but my metformin.

Back in August (maybe July), I started noticing I was getting winded pretty easily.  Climbing stairs took extra effort and occasionally a break about halfway up.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  I just figured I had been to sedentary, since I hadn’t gone for my walks this past summer like I do most summers.  Things got progressively worse until they got really bad in September.  By the last two weeks of September, it took multiple pauses to make it up a single flight of stairs.  September is when I also started noticing the swelling in my feet and legs.  A lot of swelling.  (We’ll get to the details in a bit.)

At first, I was my stubborn self and insisted things would straighten themselves out, right up until September 17.  At that point, I decided it was time to run to one of the urgent care facilities.  At this point, I was thinking maybe an infection of some sort (I know some infections can cause edema).  The doctor there checked me out and had me get a chest x-ray.  Then she gave me the bad news:  I was experiencing congestive heart failure.  So much for getting some antibiotics and heading home.

Instead, the doctor ran an EKG on me, looked at it and gave me a choice:  I could solemnly swear that I would drive myself to the hospital that day or she could call an ambulance.  I asked her if I could drive myself home first to pick up my cell phone first, which she said was fine.  So I went home, grabbed my cell phone, threw together my laptop case, and called my parents to come get the cat, since I knew I’d be in the hospital for at least a couple days.  I also decided to call a friend and have her drive me to the hospital.

I got to the Emergency Department at around 4:30 and they had me in a bed by 5:00pm. They also began the Lasix almost immediately to start getting the edema off.  They kept me in emergency until 3:30am and then moved me into a room in 4-34.  (That also happens to be the floor where they tend to keep transplant patients, which freaked out at least one friend who came to visit me at first.)  My first thirty six hours in the hospital consisted of little more than eating, sleeping, and peeing as much as humanly possible, thanks to the Lasix they were pumping into me.  (The switched me over to an oral diuretic my second morning there.)

Glucometer with reading.
Great reading!

The first morning, they also took me for an echocardiogram, where they discovered all the gory details about my heart (the left side is enlarged and it’s pumping at around half the strength it should be).  They also started putting me on medications to lower my blood pressure, slow my heart rate, and lower my cholesterol (which actually isn’t that bad anyway, thankfully).  They also put me on insulin for my diabetes which was not as under control as I had imagined.

In all, I ended up being in the hospital for eight days.  That’s mainly because it took my body until Sunday to be able to do much of anything without being on oxygen and they didn’t want to send me home on it.  Then they kept me until Monday so they could do an angiogram (no arterial blockages or damage, thankfully).  The cath lab didn’t get me in for the procedure until almost four, so they kept me one more night.  By the time I got out of there on the 24th, I was ready to get home.

The good news is that things are greatly improved.  I’m feeling a lot better — which isn’t surprising considering that the doctor estimated I went in carrying around about fifty pounds of extra water.  Right now, my doctors are in the process of tweaking my medications to get the best results and making sure my body  can tolerated the medications.

On the bright side, this finally forced me to find a doctor (and a cardiologist now) so I can get back to monitoring my health more closely.  It’s unfortunate that it took such a serious health crisis to force me to do so, but there you have it.  It also forced me to get things straightened out (with countless thanks to my father for helping with this) at home so I can start cooking again.  The low sodium lifestyle just isn’t compatible with eating nothing but delivery and takeout.

Hopefully, in time, I will even find the time and energy (the only problem I’m having right now is I still tend to tire quickly) to return to blogging. Then I just have to work out what to blog about.  😉

Check Out “The Blood Sugar Dance”

October 14 2007 day 2 - Insulin syringes

Image by DeathByBokeh via Flickr

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be diabetic?  Have you ever wondered what exactly the deal is with the constant testing of blood glucose levels?  Then check out my latest post over at Musings of a JDRF Supporter, in which I talk about why monitoring blood sugar levels is so important and why living with type one diabetes is more complicated than just injecting insulin at regular intervals.  To give you a small teaser:

Even the process of giving a regularly scheduled injection is not
entirely straightforward.  When determining how much insulin to
administer, a diabetic must take into account their current blood
glucose level, the amount of carbohydrates, and their anticipated level
of physical activity (which also affects blood glucose levels) over the
next several hours.  Based on this information, a diabetic can make an
estimate of how much insulin they need and inject themselves.  Such
calculations are not precise however, and a diabetic needs to check
their actual blood glucose level periodically after administering

In a future post, I want to talk about insulin pumps and how the issues I bring up here impact the way they work.