We have found that the right seasonings, tools and small appliances make it much easier to manage our diabetic and heart-healthy dietary needs! We even found two diabetic and heart-healthy cookbooks we can recommend.
We invite you to try out these products! This page lists only products that have supported or enhanced our new, healthier eating lifestyle.
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We include only those products that we use ourselves and enjoy! We’ve divided them into the following categories:
- Small tools and vegetable storage
- Seasonings and ingredients
- Cookbooks for Diabetic Heart Patients
- Appliances for special cooking methods
Small tools and vegetable storage
This Victorinox Paring Knife will be a huge help when you start trimming and chopping vegetables on a daily basis. It really makes a difference when you have outstanding knife, and experienced cooks often say that the most dangerous knife is a dull one. Chef knives can get very expensive, but this one is a dream to use and very inexpensive. We think it will immediately become your favorite knife. Be careful, it’s sharp!
This Victorinox Peeler, like the knife above, is a dream to use. We learned about it from a book by the late Anthony Bourdain, and love using it to peel carrots, potatoes, and almost anything else. You have to be careful with this one too, as it’s very sharp, but we think it is safer than a traditional peeler. It’s a different motion, because it is not held like a knife, but we find it easier to use and sharper than any other peeling tool we have found.
This Nonstick whisking fork and omelette turner are our absolute favorite for eggs. The omelette turner is ultra thin, making over easy eggs … well, easy! And if you like to use nonstick pans, but you don’t want to destroy them with a metal fork, the fork is an essential tool. Whether you’re making eggs, gravy, or one of our special sauces, it’s perfect for mixing your ingredients in nonstick skillets.
A Food Scale is essential when you are monitoring your intake of specific ingredients, and it’s also helpful to be certain how much you are using in your recipe. This scale makes it easy and allows you to follow your recipes more precisely.
BluApple Freshness Balls are a product you put in your vegetable drawer that absorbs the ethylene gas that is put off by vegetables as they ripen. (We realize some people’s vegetable drawers are full of cheese. Ours might have been too, at one time.) Anyway, this gas from aging produce accumulates in your refrigerator drawer, so having the gas absorbed means the produce matures more slowly and does not deteriorate as quickly. The packet inside the BluApple has to be changed about every 2 months. You can sign up to have the company send you a reminder every couple of months via email, so you’ll want to have refills on hand.
Debbie Meyer Green Bags are said to contain zeolite that also absorbs ethylene gas, potentially prolonging the life of produce in the same manner as BluApple. Bear in mind that not all spoilage is from ethylene gas, so storage is important as well. Most vegetables will last longer refrigerated, but some need to stay at room temperature, such as tomatoes. We can’t always fit all our fresh produce in the vegetable drawers, so these are helpful for the overflow.
Seasonings for diabetic and heart healthy eating
Benson’s Table Tasty blend is one of our absolute favorite salt-free blends for almost any food. We suggest adding it just before you eat, rather than during the cooking process. We started with a small container and loved it so much that when it got low, we bought it in a 1-pound bag to refill it over and over.
Magic Seasoning Salt Free Cajun Seasoning is a great blend that allows you to enjoy Cajun spices without the salt. If you like your Cajun cooking very spicy, you might want to add some red pepper, but it’s a great blend for fish or chicken Cajun-style.
We use Dak Seasonings in several of our recipes and love the zesty, sodium-free flavors! They tend to be a little spicier than Mrs. Dash, and we love the choices and variety.
Bragg Organic Sprinkle Herb and Spice Seasoning is featured in our Chicken Fried “Rice” recipe, where we add it to the cauliflower “rice” when searing it. It is one of several seasonings we’ve come to enjoy that are sodium free and yet full of flavor.
UPDATE on Chinatown Soy Sauce: We used to recommend this brand as an ultra-low sodium soy sauce. We have removed the link, because it is has now been reformulated to have a higher sodium level, at 470 mg. per tablespoon. Normal soy sauce can be 900-1,000 mg of sodium per tablespoon, and this product is now just like all the other reduced-sodium types, which range from 400-600. As an alternative, look into Coconut Aminos, which tastes similar to soy sauce but has no soy and only about 270 mg. of sodium per tablespoon.
La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil has a rich nutty taste that we love, and is rich in polyunsaturated fats, which are considered very heart-healthy.
La Tourangelle Avocado Oil is great to cook with, and like the roasted walnut oil described above, this product from La Tourangelle will not disappoint you. All La Tourangelle oils come in a well sealed can, which protects them from light and seals easily. The avocado oil has a natural, rich green color and a high smoke point, so it’s great for searing. And avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are considered healthy.
La Tourangelle Grapeseed Oil is another great artisanal oil that is healthier than chemically processed oils, because it is pressed from the seeds of grapes. It contains vitamin E and omega 6 fatty acids. It’s perfect for indoor grilling, because it has a much higher smoke point (421 degrees) than most oils. This allows you to get a good sear on your foods without excessive smoke.
Cookbooks for diabetic heart patients
The fact that there are only two books listed here is one of the main reasons we started this website. Both are a joint project of the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. Aside from these, we have found the range of resources for patients with both diabetes and heart disease extremely limited.
The Diabetes and Heart Healthy Cookbook is a rare exception to the general rule that most resources are directed at patients with either heart disease or diabetes, but not both. Had there been a dozen or so more resources like this, we might not have felt the need to start this website. We have found some great recipes in this book, including the idea for Fish Tacos.
Diabetic and Heart Healthy Meals for Two has been another great find for us. We have gotten several great ideas for varied and interesting recipes. We nearly always develop our own take on the recipes we find in these and other books, but this is a great source for getting started. And don’t let the fact that it says “for two” discourage you if you’re cooking for a family. The recipes can easily be scaled to serve more, if need be.
Appliances for special cooking methods
Our Instant Pot has become a treasured appliance. If you’ve read our recipe and posts on the value of making homemade broth, you know we rely on it for this task. It shortens what would otherwise be an all-day job of simmering and checking your broth to a short couple of hours. In addition, we think pressure cooking is a necessity for delicious kale, collard greens, green beans and all the other types of dry beans. (Remember that many canned beans will be off limits, due to the high sodium content, so being able to make your own in just a few hours is helpful.) This Instant Pot also has a slow cooker function, so if you want to use it for both, it can do double duty.
We use our Slow Cooker often, and had it long before we acquired our Instant Pot, so we still keep it out and use it regularly. It seems to cook at a slightly lower temperature than the slow cooking feature on the Instant Pot. Some foods, like turkey, or very lean beef that has no marbling, can dry easily if roasted, so they benefit greatly from the long, gentle heat of a slow cooker. As a convenience for busy homemakers who need dinner to be ready when they get home from work, it is a lifesaver.
If you haven’t tried an Indoor Grill, we encourage you to try this product! It’s perfect for getting a great sear on fish, meats and vegetables. It’s also a great alternative to an outdoor grill if you don’t have one, or when the weather does not permit grilling outside. The ridges in the cooking plates will actually create grill marks and a nice crusty exterior on your foods. It’s also easy to clean. You might want to use it somewhere near a vent or fan if you like your food very well done. And see the oils listed above for healthy options with a high smoke point; they are perfect for using with an indoor grill.
We love our Bella Dual Basket Steamer and use it daily. We have used steamers for years, having been taught decades ago that steamed food retains more of its nutrients than food cooked in water. After our old steamer bit the dust (it was about 20 years old), we acquired this one. We also love that it allows us to cook 2 layers of food when necessary.
The Cuisinart Digital Glass Steamer works differently than other steamers: the steam comes down from above instead of up from below. It also has a rack for the food to rest on. It is large enough for asparagus spears or other long foods to lay flat, and it might be appealing to those who worry about steaming in a plastic basket.
A Sous Vide (pronounced “soo VEED”) device is definitely not a necessity for diabetic or heart healthy cooking, but for avid cooks who already have the other tools they need and are looking for new ways to make their food more perfect, it offers a great new technique.
Sous vide cooking (French for “under vacuum”) involves putting food in a sealed plastic or freezer bag with flavored oil and seasonings, then immersing it in water that is heated to a precise temperature and is kept moving at that temperature. The sous vide tool causes the water to cook the food to the exact temperature you select and holds it there. This can be a solution for cooking chicken breast to exactly 165 degrees and not a degree higher, or getting beef or other foods to the exact degree of doneness you want. It’s also convenient, from the standpoint that it operates over several hours. We do not leave the house with it running, but you can let it work in the background while you do other things.