Long known for their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, a recent study has also found that a diet rich in flavonoids is linked to lower weight gain. The headlines focused on fruits as a source, notably berries and apples, but obviously a diabetic needs to limit their fruit intake because of the high sugar content. That said, an apple a day keeps the doctor away and is easy to cart around with you as an instant snack and considerably cheaper than most berries. However, given that my husband seems to have an aversion to apples, I wanted to see what vegetables packed a good flavinoid punch and found my old favourite onions near the top of the list, along with chickpeas and spinach.
Upon seeing the foods listed, I suddenly remembered a recipe from the very first vegetarian recipe book that I bought when many of our friends seemed to be on a meat free crusade, back in the 1990s. This Cranks recipe for Chickpea and Spinach Casserole is absolutely loaded with onions, chickpeas and spinach and tastes fantastic. It is also a really nice one-bowl meal, perfect for curling up with on a winter’s evening in front of a roaring fire and a good movie.
Flavinoids aside, there is much about the ingredients in this recipe that is well suited to my diabetic husband and vegetarian adolescents. Spinach has an extremely high Vitamin C and K content, and is a reasonable source of iron, although the iron content is not as high as reputation would have it. Apparently, when food components were first being seriously analysed and published, someone put the decimal point in the wrong place. Chickpeas are, however, a fantastic source of iron and are high in both protein and fibre with a low GI. They are also packed with potassium which has a positive impact on vasodilation and lowers blood pressure.
I had to tweak the recipe to fit my low fat brief by dramatically reducing the olive oil included from 100ml to just 15 ml, which cut the calorie count by over 700 calories (almost 175 per portion). I also upped the spice levels a little and used new potatoes with the skin on to keep the GI low and boost the fibre content. It was still delicious.