Giving up the high carb junk food is one thing but giving up rice is quite another. Before I was diagnosed as a diabetic, I used rice in many meals, especially since I do a lot of stir frying. Brown rice does have fewer net carbs than white rice but not by much so I started searching for a better substitute. Wow, did I find a winner.
I have gleefully discovered quinoa. It is "grain" that looks like a grain, tastes like a grain, and cooks like a grain, but it isn't really a grain at all. Quinoa is actually a seed from a plant that is related to spinach plants. It was a food staple for the Inca Indians that lived in the Andes. However, when the Spaniards came in they burned the quinoa fields and forced the Incas not to grow it anymore. It barely survived total extinction because it was grown by peasant farmers in the country.
It turns out that this "grain" has more protein than any other grain AND the protein is a complete protein, having all 9 essential amino acids. Not only that, it has all 9 amino acids in high quantities. It is considered such a perfect high quality food that NASA is seriously considering using it for long-flight space travel. Don't be surprised if Quinoa is cultivated on Mars in our lifetime.
In addition to being high in protein, Quinoa is much lower carb than every other grain known. For comparison, a cup of dry white rice has about 150 grams of carb (short grain has a little more than long grain) and brown rice abut 138 grams of carb. By contract, dry quinoa has only 97 grams of net carbs per cup. That's about a third less carb.
You cook quinoa just like rice. You put one part quinoa in 2 parts water with a little salt, bring to a boil, and then let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. To me, texture wise, it seems most like medium ground bulgar wheat which I also love. In fact, I made a tabouli salad with some left-over quinoa today and added a few shrimp. It was delicious. Yesterday, I used quinoa like you would a bed of rice or couscous with white fish I had poached in coconut milk and other goodies on topI'll post these recipes later on my Diabetic Recipes 123 blog. . I am really excited about all the possibilities with quinoa.
Quinoa has the lowest glycemic index of any grain coming in at 35. For comparison, the glycemic index for white rice is 58 and for bulgar wheat it is 48.
Quinoa still has a high enough carb content that you can't eat mountains of it if you are sticking to a really low carb diet. However, I think it is about to become one of my favorite foods as a lower carb and highly nutritious substitute for one of the high carb foods I miss the most. I encourage all diabetics to give it a try. I got it from one of the bulk bins at my local supermarket so it's not just in health food stores and is beginning to hit the mainstream food market.
Update: Reading back over this article made me remember how hard it was in the beginning to not just change my eating habits but more importantly even know what I needed to eat. You don't have to go through that because I have pointed out one incredible and comprehensive reference which will give you all the information you need to know what to eat to reverse diabetes.