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Homemade foods can offer solution to struggle with dietary needs


September 25, 2019

Eating per doctor's instructions is not easy when you are a diabetic heart patient. In helping a family member shop for groceries, I realized we were spending a lot of time reading labels in an effort to find products that fit within the prescribed diet. It was taking too long. We got a lot of strange looks from other shoppers and store clerks.

Most grocery items had too much sodium and/or added sugar. The amount of each you can have per day depends on the diet your doctor prescribes. I was shopping for someone who can only have 2000 mg of salt daily. This amount has to be split between 3 meals and 2 snacks and meant that I had to find items with 400 mg or less per serving. I also had to make sure there was little to no added sugar. I never realized how many products use corn syrup! It seemed nearly an impossible task.

I finally decided that it would be easier to make as much as I could at home and can food. This way, I knew exactly what the ingredients were. There is also the added benefit that you can make the food taste the way you like it using more herbs and spices instead of salt. If a recipe calls for sugar, I use a sugar substitute such as sucralose, which is much sweeter than sugar so you don't need as much.

There have been concerns about artificial sweeteners floating around on the internet but the Mayo Clinic does say in an online article that "Artificial sweeteners aren't carbohydrates. So unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners generally don't raise blood sugar levels. Ask your doctor or dietitian before using any sugar substitutes if you have diabetes." (

That being said, some people may still have a sensitivity to artificial sweeteners, use the right one for you. Remember that any recipe can be tweaked to make it better for you. Don't be afraid to experiment.

I am going to occasionally share a recipe that has received good reviews from my family and that has been modified to eliminate as much salt and sugar as possible. The first one I am going to share here is a roasted tomato basil soup. It also tastes great when used as a sauce with spaghetti squash, or as I call it, diet angel hair pasta.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup


3 lbs - Ripe Plum Tomatoes (Roma tomatoes also work well.)

1/4 C + 2 TBS - Olive Oil

1 1/2 tsp - Fresh Ground Black Pepper

2 C - Yellow Onion, chopped

6 cloves - Garlic (1 clove of garlic is approximately 1 tsp.)*

1/4 tsp - Crushed Red Pepper Flake **

1 (28 oz) Can - Plum Tomatoes with no added salt

2 TBS - Dry Basil***

1 tsp - Thyme

1 QT - Chicken Stock with no added salt****

*I like lots of garlic so I use 12+ cloves.

** If you don't like spicy food, eliminate this ingredient.

***Fresh Basil does taste better. If you use fresh remember that approximately 2 TBS of fresh equals 1 TBS dry.

****If you don't want to purchase chicken stock, it can be made by boiling chicken thighs in just enough water to cover the meat ,. Then add rosemary, thyme and simmer for 40-50 minutes. Place the pot in the refrigerator to cool. The fat will float to the top and it can be easily removed.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Slice tomatoes in half and spread in a single layer on a backing sheet.

3. Toss in 1/4 cup of olive oil and sprinkle pepper to taste.

4. Roast in the oven 35-40 minutes.

5. In an 8 quart stock pot, over medium heat. combine the onion, garlic, 2 TBS of olive oil and red pepper flake.

6. Sauté for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions appear transparent.

7. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, chicken stock and oven roasted tomatoes.

8. Simmer all ingredients for 40 minutes.

9. Finally, pass all ingredients through a food mill with course blade. A blender can also be used but I recommend cooling the soup first.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.


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