What I Learned In My Diabetes Nutrition Classes…

Vodka has zero (0) carbohydrates &聽Creme Br没l茅e is better for me than cake!

Darjeeling tea martini at "tea and tinis" end of 2013

Darjeeling tea martini — 0 carbs but still…one is probably enough 馃檪

While intending a bit of wit and tongue in cheek perspective on “what to eat” that’s still yummy and fitting within the parameters of one’s diabetic diet, these two facts were actually helpful for me to learn.

Ten years ago, I participated in an 8 week course for diabetics (I was pre-diabetic at the time). 聽When my numbers shot up last summer, I went back to see what knew news was available from the nutritionist’s world regarding this insidious disease. My dietician said, “really, nothing had changed in the last 10 years.” 聽I told her I was flying somewhere soon and usually needed a drink or two to relax during the flight, but didn’t want to hurt myself with too much alcohol (wine was my usual drink – 4 grams of carbs are in five ounces and anticipated needing 10 ounces for a good buzz…her comment…”vodka has no carbs”…hmmm… 聽 聽Vodka it was! (I decided I’d rather eat my carbs than drink them that day.)

What I realized at that nutritionist appointment, (an epiphany of sorts), was that I am now “on my own” in figuring out “what to eat.” I know all the general info. about what’s good and what’s not, what I want now is a personal, individualized, actual, customized action plan that let’s me still love my meals….and the only place to get that kind of detail, specifically designed for me, was from one source… me! 聽So I went to work on one.

Thanks to getting my own glucose monitoring device, I can check my blood sugars after eating and see what actually happens with certain foods – which ones spike my sugar levels and which don’t. 聽While I thought I’d drive my wonderful husband crazy with my diligent measuring, logging, testing, and cheering and/or bemoaning the results …he’s 聽been so supportive (no surprise really) and has gotten into complimenting my efforts. 聽There are other factors I am figuring out too, like the “dawn phenomena” of sugar spikes in the early a.m. hours and how to manage that. 聽It’s a work in progress – but I can assure you, I AM making good progress. 聽Each day, I am more comfortable with knowing “what to eat” and am expanding my testing to more exotic and once forbidden items with tweaks in the recipes. What’s working for me…using a little math (45 grams of carbs at a meal is my target) and ensuring balance between fats, carbs, and proteins. 聽Also, I eat real food, not artificial substitutes (more on that in upcoming posts).

Recently I’ve put puddings, br没l茅es, & custards back into my diet. 聽I just love them, savory and sweet, but have stayed away from the sweets completely for a couple years. 聽The reason a br没l茅e or pudding is better for me than cake is that there are normally more protein and fats in a pudding than those that exist in a cake. 聽Refined grains and sugars spike a diabetic’s sugar levels enormously. 聽Eggs and dairy (in puddings) are proteins and fats, which you actually need for balancing the sugars. 聽It’s all about balance…think balance and you can have a bit of everything. 聽Last month I enjoyed my niece’s pumpkin br没l茅e, and another day, a savory flan from Market Restaurant in San Diego. 聽Neither spiked my sugar levels…yay, I got to have my pudding, and eat it too 馃檪

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Br没l茅e...I had mine without the "carmelized sugar" and no sugar spike later ...hurray...

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Br没l茅e…I had mine without the “carmelized sugar” and no sugar spike later …hurray…

Parmesan savory pudding with corn bread from Market in San Diego

Parmesan savory pudding with corn bread from Market in San Diego

 

 

Along with a lovely cup of tea…usually an oolong in the evening.

 

Aging and Eating….Whatever Your Age May Be

For the past few years I’ve struggled with managing my diet in an effort to keep my borderline type 2 Diabetes “borderline”… and after ten years, “borderline” went to actual “diabetes”. 聽It is a progressive disease. 聽I now know what that means. 聽After slinking into myself for several weeks – contemplating how to deal with this diagnosis, along with newly prescribed medicines, I’ve come out with a wider perspective on what to do, how to do it, and still and alwayscompletely enjoy my meals, because as some of you know, every morning I wake up just thrilled and excited about the prospects of “what to eat” and pair that with my favorite teas.

At 30 years old I went through something similar to this drama about “what to eat” when I first remember “ever” putting on weight. At a checkup, I actually asked my doctor, “what is all this stuff around my middle area?” 聽I was serious, she laughed and said, “That’s fat! 聽Quit eating so much. 聽You’re 30 now, your body is changing. 聽You can’t eat the way you did in your teens and 20’s.”

And, I ask you, “Is this happening in your house?” Christmas dinner was at our home. The menu needed to have the following options: gluten free, soy free, low sodium, low carb, vegetarian and carnivore dishes while being delicious, traditional, and cohesive…whew!!! 聽With a little thought, we did it.

I have concluded the once “niche” diet is actually the “mainstream” diet today.

Thank goodness for tea! 聽Always a great fit with an enormous variety of options for varied tastes… and here’s the deal with tea… it’s gluten free, vegetarian (vegan), no carb, no sodium, soy free, and can be paired with any type of food you desire…I say… awwwwwwesome 馃檪

Eat . Be . Tea is taking a little different road going forward…focused onto 聽“a new way to eat”… Answering the question “What to eat?” and still feel good after consuming – with the caveat that we continue to just LOVE our meals and not just “settle” for some calories that are supposedly “good for us!” 聽It will be interesting, enlightening, and fun…and pertinent to each of us at any stage in our lives…if I had known all this at 30, I might not have two to three sizes of clothes in my closet today 馃檪

You will see my favorite finds over the next several weeks … (I would have started sooner, but have had a multi-week glitch with my technology…now corrected we think,,yay)… I’m back! 聽And with a vengeance towards eating deliciously and well…my numbers are totally under control after 26 weeks of figuring out what works for me (and I now have to buy new clothes…a lower size)…all the way…there was always always tea.!!!!

See you soon…with foods and recipes to meet your needs today.

 

 

Just My Cup of Tea

The idiomatic expression “my cup of tea” is used to describe something you like or enjoy. 聽This morning, as I left my exercise class, I decided that I would enjoy聽exhorting聽a cup of tea from my sister as I knew she still had this awesome chai oolong on hand that was “calling my name”. 聽聽She happily let me in, made us breakfast, had me steep the tea and said, “get whatever cups out you like”…I spied her gorgeous Italian tea cups and pulled them out. 聽The tea tasted so refined out of these cups. 聽 It reminded me just how special a beautiful, porcelain or unique serving vehicle can make one’s tea experience. 聽I’ve been rushing around lately, consumed with the “stuff” of life…but this little experience brought me back to appreciating the calm and joy of a simple ritual…made more special by using the “good cups”…

What I just love about tea....every day, if I am lucky, I get to take comfort in the ritual of steeping a pot

Every day, if I am lucky, I get to take comfort in the ritual of steeping a pot

I came home thinking about how much I enjoy tea tastings and that tasting cups are intriguing to me…the anticipation of trying new varietals is exhilarating and is one of my favorite things to do. 聽In flipping through photos, I came across these favorite tasting experiences of recent months…

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My niece and friends tea tasting at Seventh Tea Bar in Costa Mesa Ca...

Tea tasting at Seventh Tea Bar in Costa Mesa Ca…beautiful stainless tea pots with temperature gauge, timers, gongfu lidded cups for steeping….quite the fun ritual of which I was saddened to find out when meeting friends for lunch this month that Seventh is gone, now a French bistro 馃檨

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samovar in San Francisco, as one might expect, offered the most contemporary, and yet traditional individual tea services. 聽D. ordered the Matcha, served in a personal beaker, I had the Russian menu, with a smoky Russian black tea and milk to temper and fine the tannins…just a delightful experience – I also love their press tea pot. 聽Each tea comes out with it’s unique steeping accessories.

Our tea service at Samovar...individual Matcha for D and Russian Caravan with milk for me

Our tea service at Samovar… Russian Caravan with milk for me

Another sleek individual tea service, using a press from Samovar

Another sleek individual tea service, using a press from Samovar

Matcha tea service for one at Samovar (SFO)... what a cool beaker

Matcha tea service for one at Samovar (SFO)… what a cool beaker

While I haven’t actually experienced the Italian tea shop, La Vie Del Te. 聽I am enjoying their Special Oolong (a gift from my good friend A…) and imagine drinking it from the beautiful white and fleur designed individual service here, photos from their website… with a French Macaron? (what?, notice the pastry stand) (I’d actually rather go for a little biscotti) 馃檪 聽What a gorgeous, stylish personal tea pot and cup.

La Vie del Te...in Italy I want this set!

La Vie del Te…in Italy
I want this set

Lastly, two of my favorites – Tea with my darling husband in Carmel this winter…enjoyed while playing dominoes

Tea Time in Carmel with a game of dominoes with D.

Tea Time in Carmel with a game of dominoes with D.

And tea with my sister…using her Italian tea cups…and some scrambled eggs with salami…a spontaneous awesome sister experience!

This morning's tea and eggs...V's Italian tea cup brought out the best in the tea

This morning’s tea and eggs…V’s Italian tea cup brought out the best in the tea

Remember…get out the good cups!!!!

Tea Shirt ... at Samovar, San Francisco... I love the tasting cups depicted on our server's shirt...and DRINK TEA...It's Good for you!

Tea Shirt … at Samovar, San Francisco…
I love the tasting cups depicted on our server’s shirt…and DRINK TEA…It’s Good for you!

 

The Modern Tea Bar… My Visit to Samovar SFO

So, I got a little side-tracked over the last two months…but, I am back 馃檪 聽and have so much to share with you about recent tea and food experiences that “wowed” me. 聽In late January I shared my excitement about getting to San Francisco to explore the Samovar Tea Bars. 聽The post is here, titled聽Samovar Tea Bar here I come... 聽This photo is a shot from our car window as we crossed the Bay Bridge from Berkeley going into San Francisco on a stunning, crisp, February afternoon. 聽The bridge is enormous and such an engineering feat…notice the pyramid shaped TransAmerica building in the right background…a famous landmark site as one enters this unique cosmopolitan city.

View from our car window as we crossed the Bay Bridge going from Berkeley to San Francisco...a crisp, beautiful winter afternoon

View from our car window as we crossed the Bay Bridge going from Berkeley to San Francisco…a crisp, beautiful winter afternoon

It was the January issue of Food and Wine magazine that turned me on to this hot tea spot. 聽Then last week, our dear friends J. & J. saw Bon Appetit’s 聽four page spread in their current May issue called “Join the Tea Party” where they noted Samovar as a hot spot for tea calling it “the newest outpost … offers organic and single-origin teas steeped in futuristic French presses.” After reading all about Samovar, we got to experience it live and in person. This is a seriously awesome tea bar. 聽We went to the Yerba Buena location situated at the Moscone Center. 聽It is a bustling area…we went at a quiet time (10:30 a.m.) and enjoyed excellent service and fabulous tea and beautiful foods – and I loved our server’s t-shirt..and his incredible attitude.

My mantra and sign off for most posts is... "Drink Tea...it's good for you".. so we loved our server's t-shirt...too bad, they don't sell them.  He was very funny too.  What a fabulous atmosphere

My mantra and sign off for most posts is… “Drink Tea…it’s good for you”.. so we loved our server’s t-shirt…too bad, they don’t sell them. He was very funny too. What a fabulous atmosphere and he was happy to pose for a photo.

Our view walking up to the entrance to Samovar, Yerba Buena…

Walking up to Samovar Tea Bar ... signage on walkway...view from the front is expansive of San Francisco

Walking up to Samovar Tea Bar … signage on walkway…view from the front is gorgeous scene of San Francisco buildings with a large seating outside seating area not yet set up for the day…we went inside…it was cool out

IMG_5034Entrance…note my guy sitting inside…you can barely see him

just outside door to samovar...if you look closely, my main guy is sitting at our table...

just outside door to samovar…if you look closely, my main guy is sitting at our table…white collar, glasses, menu in hand…tolerating me photographing

It is just a cool place…a wall of tea canisters and clean, chic, white Samovar bags of tea are hanging off a large wall, easy to shop…

Wall of Tea...at Samovar Yerba Buena SFO

Wall of Tea…at Samovar Yerba Buena SFO

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The demographic of clientele is broad and global in nature, also, as many men as women taking tea. 聽Their menu offerings reflect a global perspective, their teas are clearly of superior quality and the tea service is masterful. 聽They are tea masters. We so enjoyed the easy attitude, and unpretentious yet perfectly styled table ware for each global menu. 聽Being there brought back the inspiration which drove me to write Tea With Betty as a menu planner for teas from 17 different cultures and perspectives. 聽I opted for the Russian tea menu. 聽(well, of course, 聽the place is called “Samovar”…the Russian hot water / tea service centerpiece that fascinated me with tea and society during my Russian Literature reading days).

Below is my Russian Caravan tea service, lightly smoky with milk …and a lunch plate featuring Russian tastes, salmon, beets, eggs with caviar and a perfect Russian tea biscuit. 聽But first, David went more Asian with a delicious Matcha tea …we went home with some incredible teas too.

Matcha tea served from a clear beaker, my Russian Caravan service with milk ... a black smoky tea...my Tolstoy menu...beets, salmon, caviar on eggs and peppery Russian tea biscuit..delicious

Matcha tea served from a clear beaker, my Russian Caravan service with milk … a black smoky tea…my Tolstoy menu…beets, salmon, caviar on eggs and peppery Russian tea biscuit..delicious

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Our tea and food...Matcha from a clear beaker for David...Russian Caravan, smoky black tea w/ milk and and delightful Tolsoy menu w/ salmon, caviar on eggs, beets, peppered Russian tea biscuit...the perfect slightly sweet bite to finish this lunch plate

My peppered Russian tea biscuit…the perfect slightly sweet bite to finish this lunch plate

 

We look forward to returning and trying other teas and menus. 聽The British tea looked so appealing, the scone rustic and full of oats…this one photo is from Samovar’s site, as the one I snapped didn’t come out well.

English menu...rustic scone, fritatta, fruits and black tea...lovely and not too sweet

English menu…rustic scone, fritatta, fruits and black tea…lovely and not too sweet

It was a treat. 聽Wish they were near me. It would certainly be a weekly venture, but at least I have enjoyed steeping the teas I brought home.

Drink tea…it’s good for you 馃檪

Enjoy

Freshly Made Herbal Infusions…at The Kitchen in Sacramento, California

Well, that terrible cough / cold and flu virus finally made it around to our house. 聽I was not immune…was down and out for over 10 days…but my bright spot is that it hit me on the drive home from our relaxing, beautiful 10 day vacation. 聽One in which there were several delightful tea moments.

The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento is a spectacular dining event – dinner is held in an open, appealing environment with a demonstration kitchen in the center of the room. 聽We experienced this destination point dinner last year and were wildly impressed and throughly enjoyed the entire scene. I will post about their seriously gorgeous foods later.聽The fresh, fragrant, flavorful, ingeniously combined, unique ingredients and preparations we were exposed to were stunning. 聽However, I missed ordering their fresh herbal infusion (as I am not usually an herbal tisane fan, I opted for their loose leaf teas). 聽Well, my darling husband decided I should try their freshly cut and prepared herbal tisanes…so he took me back there this year for our anniversary as a nice surprise. 聽Interestingly, the dining experience was as exciting as last year, the food even more inventive and delicious with their fine new chef, David Chavez and I left thinking we will surely get back to The Kitchen every year! 聽It is awesome! And they accommodate any dietary restriction, happily, and with creative, flavorful adjustments. 聽 Below are photos of our 聽fresh herbal tisanes, infused table side…they were delicious and made me rethink what an herbal infusion can be. 聽I ordered the “soothing” with rosemary, mint, ginger, and orange zest…it was just as named…soothing. And it was an excellent way to end this incredible meal. 聽I plan to make my own fresh infusions as my herbs perk up a bit in my garden this spring.

Baskets of fresh herbs, cut to order, infused in iron tetsubin pots...just delicious

Baskets of fresh herbs, cut to order, infused in iron tetsubin pots…just delicious

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Drink Tea…and Tisanes (herbals) 聽It’s good for you!

Samovar Tea Lounge…San Francisco Here I Come

The February issue of Food And Wine Magazine had a beautiful article about the modern teahouse. 聽Titled, Time For Tea, by Megan Krigbaum,聽she writes; “Spectacular new imports have helped create a tea obsession on par with the cult of coffee. 聽Here’s the latest news on the antioxidant rich drink.” 聽We are introduced to several beautiful tea shops, tea ware, and recipes. 聽In a few days, I am heading up to San Francisco…and am definitely going to spend time at Samovar Tea Lounges聽she writes about.聽 They look to be my idea of THE modern tea lounge…ones that I wish existed near our home. 聽Below are photos from their website…I will be taking my own and sharing with you soon, along with a bit of feedback as to which teas hit the mark for me and which pairings with foods were memorable. 聽In looking at their International tea time menus…they are reminiscent of how I laid out Tea With Betty (my tea manual)…seems what inspired me to write the book has, at last, come into existence in Northern California…

 

Samovar Tea Lounge...there are three locations...I plan to hit all of them when in San Francisco...

Samovar Tea Lounge…there are three locations…I plan to hit all of them when in San Francisco…

 

Various photos from Samovar Tea Lounge locations in the Bay area...can't wait to visit them all

Various photos from Samovar Tea Lounge locations in the Bay area…can’t wait to visit them all

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Reviewing these tea houses ought to be great fun…and they look to be so healthy too…