Two years ago, my wife, Grace, and I moved from Brooklyn to a tiny town in upstate New York. In trading the city for the country, one of the biggest changes is that we now cook 99 percent of everything we eat. There aren’t many restaurants in our quiet part of Ulster County, and takeout is no longer in our vocabulary. Luckily, we both love to cook; in fact, shortly after we moved in, I hunkered down to finish my cookbook, Small Victories, which is all about getting people excited to prepare meals and to help them feel calm and comfortable in their kitchens—just like Grace and I feel in our own.
But sometimes life throws you a curveball. Last year, just as we had settled into our new home, Grace was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 35, and this introduced a lot of changes into our lives. Nowhere were they more dramatically felt than in the kitchen, the place I had spent so much time perfecting the foods we both loved: chocolate cake, raspberry jam buns, lasagna, chicken skillet pie. Suddenly, these recipes could no longer be part of our routine. In order for Grace to feel her best—and, honestly, for me to feel mine—we had to say good-bye to anything that would spike her blood sugar and require extra shots of insulin.
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As the resident worrier of our family, I figured it was easier to eliminate temptations rather than attempt to resist them. I did a sweep of our cabinets, refrigerator and freezer and brought bags of food to our local food pantry. Out went the pasta, white rice, jam, maple syrup, barbecue sauce, crackers, ice cream (in multiple flavors), organic chicken fingers, and any of the other refined carbohydrates and sugar we were used to having around.