If you are interested in starting the Low G.I. (Glycemic Index) Diet, or are considering it, you've come to the right place. I'm no expert, but as someone who was told she had to lose weight to help normalize her hormones, I am full of what I hope is practical advice on this topic.
Five months ago my doctor, after diagnosing me with PCOS, told me very matter-of-factly to start the Low G.I. Diet upon leaving his office. Since I wanted to be pregnant more than anything in the world, I followed his advice and over the next 23 weeks lost 35 pounds. Thank God for my doctor.
Just like my doctor told me, the first thing I tell others to do is buy the book, The Low G.I. Diet, by Rick Gallop. I actually got the 'express' version, since it's cheaper and more to the point.
I am a real person who likes to eat real food, so I wasn't going to suddenly eat meals with strange ingredients and things I've never heard of. Instead, I took my favorite recipes and figured out to make them low G.I.
This isn't a diet, it's more of a lifestyle change. I will probably have to eat this way for the rest of my life, since PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Low G.I. isn't a fad, it's a common-sense healthy way of eating - low carb, low fat and low calorie.
Some things to keep in mind:
1) You may not lose any weight in the first two weeks - I barely did - so don't get discouraged. You may, though, so don't rule it out either!
2) Don't worry if you think you hate Splenda, fruit or vegetables. Your tastebuds and your brain will change in just a couple weeks. I didn't think it could happen to me, but it did.
3) This diet doesn't mean saying good-bye to your favorite comfort foods. I have found a way to make pasta, chocolate cake, pancakes, paninis, chocolate-covered strawberries, you name it. I've found places to eat out where I can have fried fish and chicken tenders (two of my favorites). And if you can't figure out how to change a recipe, just email me and I'll see if I can help!
4) White wheat flour will become one of your best friends. (Or wheat flour, but white wheat makes me think I'm still having regular flour)
Okay, here are all the recipes I have collected, changed from regular recipes, made up or got from my favorite chef, my mom. Keep in mind that when things call for eggs, you should use eggs with Omega-3. Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to share any of your ideas with me as well!
One box low-carb, high fiber pasta (I buy Ronzoni Smart Taste), any type of noodle
One small can petite diced tomatoes
Various vegetables of your choosing – mushrooms, onions, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, squash, zucchini, etc.
Salt, pepper, oregano and/or other spices to taste
Boil pasta and set aside. Heat oil in a large frying pan and add chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, squash. Cook until tender (although if you like vegetables al dente, they are healthier that way). Add broccoli and asparagus (I steam the broccoli and boil the asparagus ahead of time) and diced garlic (I use about four or five cloves). Heat vegetables on low, making sure garlic doesn’t get too done. Coat chicken with salt, pepper and any other spices (I’m anal and cook my chicken in a separate pan, buy I know some people just cook it in with the vegetables) and add to vegetables when done. Drain can of tomatoes and add just the tomatoes into the vegetables and chicken. Lastly, add pasta, more olive oil (not too much, but use your judgment), salt, pepper and any spices, and let simmer so the flavors all mix together.
*this recipe can also be done without tomatoes for a different feel. It can also be done with a white becamel sauce:
Becamel Sauce (white sauce, alfredo-type sauce)
Two tablespoons butter (it should probably be low-fat, but I use a little reg. butter too)
Two tablespoons flour (whole wheat or white-wheat flour)
Two cups skim milk (I use 1%)
Melt butter in a saucepan. Once melted, whisk in flour (if too thick and clumpy, you can add more butter). Let this mixture bubble for 30 sec. to a minute (making sure it doesn’t burn). Whisk in milk slowly. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and let boil for one minute (while still stirring). Turn heat to low and let simmer for a few minutes. Add cheese (I usually add ¼ cup), salt and pepper.
Chicken and Steak Stir-fry
Sirloin steak (or filet, which is really healthy, just expensive)
Assorted vegetables (I use broccoli, mushroom, onions, peppers, squash, zucchini)
Soy sauce or other stir-fry sauce
Cook chicken breast and steak and cut in pieces. Cook vegetables in olive oil (or pam spray) (if using broccoli I lightly steam it and add it later). Combine vegetables and meat and add soy sauce. Cook brown rice and put stir-fry over rice (brown rice is allowed [white rice is off limits] but they still say you shouldn’t have too much of it, so I go heavy on the veggies and light on the rice, maybe ½ cup to one cup)
You can also do a “fried” rice by putting cooked brown rice in a skillet, adding some soy sauce, a chopped-up scrambled egg, and if you really want it to feel like the real thing, some peas (not the best low g.i. vegetable, but a few aren’t gonna kill you). Let the rice get brown on the bottom and then mix. Repeat this until is appears like “fried rice.”
(these are awesome, by the way!)
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (sometimes I just buy a cooked roaster chicken and pull the chicken off in small pieces)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 cup bottled picante sauce (look for one that has the lowest sugar)
3 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cumin or chili powder (or you can use a tsp. of a package of taco seasoning)
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas, low-carb/wholewheat (look for lowest carbs because they can vary greatly from brand to brand)
1 1/2 cups bottled green taco sauce (again, lowest sugar. If the amounts look high, you can just use your low-sugar picante/salsa)
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until hot. Add onion, and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, picante sauce, cream cheese, and cumin. Cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Place about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla and roll up*. Place in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish which has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the taco sauce evenly over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Cover and bake at 350*F for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.
Roasted turkey breast with red potatoes
(I got a pre-seasoned turkey tenderloin thing from the store, but you can also get an actual little turkey and roast it. Just make sure to not have too much of the dark meat)
Small red potatoes (the diet allows “new” potatoes, and from what I’ve been able to figure out, that means they are baby potatoes, I think)
This is pretty self-explanatory (I say that because if I was roasting a turkey, I’d still have to call my mom and ask her for directions!) and if you get the pre-seasoned turkey tenderloin thing, you can just follow directions on the package. For the potatoes, though, cut them in thirds and place in a pan. Mix in chopped garlic, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for an hour or more (I just keep testing them until they are done, sometimes they take much longer). Do not mash the potatoes, because that’s not as good on the diet (apparently, your body doesn’t have to work as much to digest them when mashed).
Chicken Cordon Bleu
chicken breasts, pounded out and filleted
deli ham (make sure it is just ham and no sugary flavoring)
reduced-fat swiss cheese
white wine (I use sherry)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. On each uncooked chicken breast, place a slice of cheese and some ham. Roll it up and keep in place with a toothpick. Salt and pepper the chicken and place in skillet/frying pan that’s been coated with olive oil or pam . Brown the chicken on all sides (doesn’t have to be cooked thoroughly) and remove it. Chop onion into long slices and place in skillet. Cook for a few minutes, then add wine (I just pour some in, but you can do however much you think. It cooks off, so if you want a sauce for the chicken, use a cup or more). Bring the wine to a boil while stirring. Turn to low to simmer and place chicken back in with wine and onions. Place skillet (if oven-safe) into oven and cook for 5-10 minutes (the time really depends on the thickness of the chicken, just check to see when it is cooked thoroughly). If you do not have an oven-safe skillet or pan, just continue to cook the chicken in the onion/wine mixture until done.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce/Chili (in crockpot)
One package of ground lean turkey (you can also use lean ground beef)
Two large cans of petite diced tomatoes
Tablespoon tomato paste
One onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, diced
low-carb/high fiber spaghetti
Fully cook the ground turkey on the stove, using olive oil. Drain the turkey and add to crock pot. Put the tomato paste in the same pan the turkey was in and brown it. I then mix in a little water in to it (not sure if that matters, but that way it is easier to mix into all the meat) and pour into crock pot. Add diced tomatoes (undrained), chopped onion and garlic into crockpot. Add any other spices you wish (oregano, basil, etc. I use fresh basil as well). Set the crock pot to low. I usually cook it for around seven hours, it doesn’t seem to get that good, blended taste until then.
This recipe can also be used for chili. Just add “Chili-“o mix (or any chili mix) and one can of deep red kidney beans (I guess the darker they are, the healthier they are).
You can also still do this if you don’t have a crock-pot. Just put it in a big pot on the stove; start cooking on medium heat and then when it appears hot all the way through, reduce to low heat for several hours. Just test it to see when it is done (I look for the onions to appear kind of red like the sauce).
Pasta with fresh tomatoes and garlic
One box pasta (I use spaghetti or vermicelli for this)
Roma tomatoes (I would use eight to ten)
Chopped garlic (however many you’d like, I use about five)
Salt, pepper, oregano, basil (I often use fresh basil in this)
Boil pasta and set aside. Chop Roma tomatoes and garlic and sauté in olive oil in pan until warm, making sure not to cook the garlic too much (you can also add an onion as well). Add garlic and tomatoes to the pasta. Add olive oil (I just do however much I feel like, without going overboard) and salt, pepper and any other spices such as oregano and/or basil.
Chicken breast and steak (sirloin or whatever is leanest) (I also sometimes use the Tyson chicken and steak for fajitas. They are pre-seasoned and I think they’re pre-cooked, all you have to do is add them to your vegetables to cook for a few minutes)
One package taco or fajita seasoning
Low-carb/wholewheat tortilla wraps
Low-fat sour cream
Low-fat cheddar cheese
Cook chicken and steak with fajita seasoning (unless using the Tyson pre-seasoned meat). Cook onion and peppers. Make fajitas using the tortillas and add l.f. sour cream and cheese to them. You can also add low-sugar salsa. (As with the enchiladas, I try to stuff each one fuller and that way I use less tortillas. I try not to eat more than two)
Top-round london broil (lean roast beef) from the deli (shaved)
Low-fat cheddar cheese
One chopped onion (and pepper if you like)
Low-carb/whole wheat tortilla wraps
Heat olive oil or pam in a skillet and cook onion. When tender, add roast beef and cook on high temperature until meat is cooked. Put a small amount of cheese in each wrap, add meat and then wrap it up.
Parmesan Chicken Tenders
2 egg whites
Whole wheat or white wheat flour
Whole wheat bread crumbs (I recently found these in the store, but if you can't find them, I also make my own by putting a couple pieces of wheat bread in the food processor)
Mix parmesan cheese with whole wheat bread crumbs (I always eye-ball the amounts because it depends on how much chicken you are making). Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pound each tenderloin flat, then coat each (or you can do chicken nuggets, just cut chicken breasts into small pieces) in wheat flour, then egg white, then parmesan cheese/bread crumb mixture. You can sprinkle each with salt and pepper if you like. Fry in just enough olive oil so that they don’t stick until brown on each side (you might need to add more olive oil if it requires making a couple batches). If it’s an oven-safe pan, place it into the oven with all the chicken tenders in it, for about ten minutes at 350 degrees. If you don’t want to brown them in oil first, you can just spray a baking sheet with Pam and bake on high - 450 degrees for 10 minutes. You can also dip these in low-carb/low-fat salad dressings, or eat them on salads.
(These are AMAZING! I took a “regular” recipe and altered it to make it G.I. friendly. We add fresh blueberries and diced walnuts to the pancakes as well, which not only make them delicious, but fruit and nuts are always good on this diet. You could add any kind of fruit and/or nuts.)
1 egg, 2 egg whites
1 cup milk
3 tbsp. light butter (I add a tsp. real butter just for fun)
2 ½ cups buttermilk
2 ½ cups white wheat flour or whole wheat flour
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 ½ tsp. baking sodapinch salt
2 ½ tbsp. Splenda
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, light butter and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar; stir into the wet ingredients just until blended. Adjust the thickness of the batter to your liking by adding more flour or buttermilk if necessary. Add blueberries and walnuts at this point (or if you don’t want to add them to the entire batter, sprinkle them over individual pancakes immediately after pouring the batter in the skillet).
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side. Continue with remaining batter.
(I suggest not baking these until your tastebuds have completely changed over to liking Splenda, and when you're at the point where you'll kill for chocolate. Then these will be delicious. Feed them to a non-dieter, though, and they might think you're crazy!)
8 oz light butter
2 cups Splenda
4 eggs (you can do two with yolk and two without)
1 1/3 cups flour (I use white wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 Tablespoon mini choc chips
Blend butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, beat well. Mix in vanilla. Combine flour, salt and cocoa, gradually add to egg mixture and mix just until blended. Stir in chips and nuts. Spread in greased 11 x 7 pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes (depending on your oven, it could go much longer. Test with a toothpick). You could use 1 3/4 cup Splenda and 1/4 cup regular sugar if you want.
Crust:1/2 cup white wheat flour
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup light butter
1/4 cup splenda
Mix these all together and press into 8 in pan.
4 peaches, chopped
½ cup blueberries (don't cut)
Splenda to taste (if fruit is sweet you can skip splenda)
Topping:1 cup old fashioned oats (not the instant ones)
3/4 cup Splenda
2 Tb brown sugar splenda blend
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 cup light butter (till mixture is crumbly and forms together)
Put fruit on top of crust, sprinkle on topping. Bake at 350 degrees until brown. (You can also skip the bottom crust, and you can use other fruits as well, like apples)
Baking chocolate/chocolate bar that is 70% cocoa or higher
I usually eye-ball the amounts for this and it never comes out wrong, so I don’t think the amounts matter that much. I usually use half a bar of chocolate and melt it in a saucepan with two tablespoons butter (sometimes I use real butter for half of it). Once melted (making sure not to burn), stir in ¼ cup Splenda (again, I sometimes use a tbsp. of real sugar with the Splenda). Stir in ¼ to ½ milk (not sure how much I use, but it shouldn’t get too thin). Keep stirring this on medium high for two minutes, then reduce heat. Add ½ tsp. vanilla and a pinch of salt.
*This isn’t the healthiest thing and I wouldn’t have it every night, but it definitely satisfies cravings once in a while!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Yield: One (10-cup) Bundt cake or 9x13 inch cake, 16 servings
2 ½ cups traditional whole wheat flour (or white wheat flour)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) [*I used dark choc. Cocoa, which is part Dutch process and it worked fine]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup packed brown sugar Splenda blend
½ cup vegetable oil (or ½ light butter – if you use the light butter, omit the ½ tsp. salt)
½ cup reduced-fat buttermilk
3 large eggs (can omit one or two of the yolks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded or chopped zucchini (2 small zucchinis)
¾ chocolate chips
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together the Splenda, brown sugar Splenda blend and light butter (or oil) in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add half the dry ingredients, stirring until evenly moistened. Stir in the zucchini, then the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 deg. until the top springs back when lightly touched, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. If you have used a Bundt pan, lightly loosen the cake around the edges and center by pulling it gently away from the pan with your fingers or running a thin, flexible spatula down the sides, then put the rack on top of the pan and flip everything over. Remove the pan and cool the cake completely. If you’ve used a 9x13-inch pan, you can either serve it from the pan or invert the cake onto a serving platter and drizzle with chocolate glaze, if desired.
You could make a low-fat, low G.I. hot fudge (perhaps using more milk than usual to make it thinner) for the glaze, or just eat it plain.
For a glaze:
Melt half of a 70% cocoa chocolate bar with 2 tsbp. light butter. Once melted, add ½ cup Splenda, and 1 cup milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down heat to low and stir in a pinch of salt and a ½ tsp. of vanilla. Drizzle over the cake.
(You can play with the amounts in this glaze recipe to reach your desired consistency and taste – more or less Splenda, or milk)
Other ideas for lunch/snacks:
- deli turkey, roast beef (as long as it is top-round) or ham (as long as it isn’t baked with sugar) sandwiches on 100% stoneground whole wheat bread with low-fat mayo and/or low-fat salad dressing.
- slow-cook oats (NOT instant) mixed with splenda and cinnamon (i'm serious, it's really good! we also add blueberries sometimes and I add milk)
- pizza (can also be for dinner) – We use low-carb flat bread (the brand “Flat Out” has really good oregano ones) or low-carb/wholewheat wraps. Add a couple spoonfuls of any low-fat canned spaghetti sauce and sprinkle on some low-fat cheese. We also add some turkey pepperoni. Bake under broiler for a few minutes.
- low-fat no-sugar-added Breyer's ice cream (I get vanilla, which is AMAZING, but there are also other kinds that are probably really good)
- broccoli casserole – This is a good side dish. Steam or boil a couple heads of broccoli until tender and cut up into small pieces. Add two tablespoons of low-fat mayo, two tablespoons of low-fat sour cream and a ¼ cup low-fat cheddar cheese (you can play with these amounts based on how much broccoli you have). Add some salt and pepper. Mix and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 until bubbly (or you can just cook it on the stove in a pan until it is all mixed in and melted).
- Omelets – the diet allows egg beaters or eggs with omega-3, so I make omelets with either using low-fat cheddar cheese
- almonds or other nuts - they advise not having too many, but a few are actually really good for you, and supposedly they're good to eat before meals, so I will eat just a few now and then throughout the day.