I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the group of bloggers known as the DFT team via Twitter. DFT stands for Diabetes Friendly Thursdays. Each week, this amazing group of ladies posts diabetic-friendly recipes that are vegetarian with an Indian flair. I was curious to know how DFT got started and recently interviewed Sonal Gupta, publisher of simplyvegetarian777 and creative genius behind DFT. I hope you will check out some of this group’s mouth-watering recipes each and every Thursday.
What is DFT?
Sonal Gupta: DFT, Diabetes Friendly Thursdays, is a mission with a vision. It sounds like a cliché, but that’s the truth. You may ask, why Thursdays? There is no particular reason behind it. I had to set a timeline to post the diabetes friendly recipes, Thursday sounded good, and that’s that! As the tag line says, we are “Creating Recipes with a Cause.” It is a very well thought out mission with a lot of hard work from my team.
Why did you start DFT?
SG: It was started at the spur of the moment. When I crossed a milestone of 15,000 followers on my Facebook group, I felt obligated to give back something more meaningful to my audience. I polled them about what would they like to see more of on my blog and, to my surprise, many asked for “recipes for Diabetics.” I agreed and DFT was born. I am not a certified nutritionist but have studied nutrition. I also read a lot and love to explore research to support my recipes. DFT has definitely re-defined my blog and me as a blogger.
Do you or someone else in your family have diabetes?
SG: My grandfather was highly diabetic. I remember seeing him struggle with it. He was such a foodie and the one with a “sweet” and a “fried” tooth. He was a very undisciplined diabetic. I was very young at that time and couldn’t contribute to his better health. I wish I could have.
My father-in-law is also diabetic, but he is very disciplined. Although he has a weakness for fried food, he knows how to control his cravings. He walks daily, eats mindfully, and keeps track of his diabetes. Much applause for his approach goes to my mother-in-law.
What has your audience’s response been to DFT?
SG: Although DFT was started by audience request, it took its own time to pick up. I figured out that, with diabetes food, people have a mental block thinking it’s blah & boring food. I always made sure that my food pictures were aesthetically pleasing. Constantly mentioning “mindful eating yet delicious food”, worked and people have started responding in positive manner. Though “chocolate” and “fried” recipes both sell like hot cakes in the food blogging world, I can say that I have created an audience who is willing to cook healthier without compromising on taste. People come back with positive responses after trying the recipes. Even non-diabetics try my recipes and come back with good feedback.
Team DFT has been successful in creating an audience that awaits our recipes every Thursday.
Who are the regular DFT bloggers? Why was it important to them to participate in DFT?
SG: I have a great team of wonderful and creative bloggers! They add more power to the wings of DFT! We set a theme for every DFT and work around it.
A huge applause to my DFT Team – Shailja, Swati, Prachi, Chahat, Anupama, Apsara, Parvathy, Suchitra, SriVidhya, Sarika. A special mention to Shailja as she is my thinking pool and the biggest support behind DFT!
They all come from different blogging genres but are committed and understand the importance of DFT! DFT is not complete without them.
My blog & cooking is all about adventures with food in my kitchen as I believe that cooking should be fun and there should be flexibility with the recipes. I try to create DFT recipes with simple day to day ingredients from my pantry. DFT has taught me how to transform recipes to healthier, diabetic and family friendly.
Favorite DFT recipe: Indian Java Plum Mocktail
My blog is known for vegetarian fusion cooking with a healthy touch. I joined DFT to learn about diabetic lifestyle and contribute to the cause with healthy recipes. With my DFT recipes, I try to keep the food nutritious, fun and filling for all age groups.
Favorite DFT recipe: Grilled Tandoori Tikkas
My blog is is about healthy and wholesome recipes. As a mother, I feel content when my kids enjoy healthy homemade food cooked by me. While creating recipes for DFT, I always keep in mind that apart from being healthy, they should be delicious so that diabetic people can enjoy the food.
Favorite DFT recipe: Oats and Cinnamon Berry Baskets
My blog consists of a lot of regional Indian dishes especially my mother’s recipes. I have always been a health freak and an ardent fitness person. I joined DFT because my mom is diabetic and I wanted to share her good recipes which she can also enjoy back in India.
Favorite DFT recipe: Baked Ribbon Pakkavada
My vegetarian blog features healthy recipes using whole grains and as many whole foods as possible. I joined the DFT group to expand my knowledge on diabetes and create easy recipes that would be good for diabetics as well as other people.
Favorite DFT recipe: Minty Falafel Bites
I share creative, healthy, easy to cook recipes with an Indian touch yet with a global appeal. It’s with pride I would like to say I’m associated with DFT, a great initiative started by Sonal Gupta.
Favorite DFT recipe: Grilled Veg Stuffed Peppers
My blog promotes healthy eating and thereby healthy living. Cooking and eating home-cooked healthy meals is not difficult. I feature simple and easy recipes that are not time-consuming. A physical therapist by profession, I am very much aware of the importance of healthy diet and regular exercise for preventing/controlling diabetes.
Favorite DFT recipe: Avocado Cheese Burger & Wrap
Can anyone participate in DFT? If so, what guidelines/process should they follow?
SG: DFT is a closed group.
Diabetes-friendly recipes are not “run of the mill” recipes. More than the ingredients, portion control is the biggest challenge. It has taken me a great deal of time to get my team to think along “diabetic” lines when creating a recipe for DFT! When you come with no diabetes management experience, it is hard to comprehend the needs. When everybody is done posting, I go through all of the recipes, reading the ingredients to make sure they are diabetes-friendly and suggesting alternative ingredients, portion sizes etc. It is a lot of work on both sides. By keeping the group small, it’s easier to focus on quality.
Have you found anything to be difficult in creating recipes for DFT? If so, what? Has anything been easier than you expected?
SG: DFT had a bumpy ride in the beginning. DFT contributors are NRIs (Non Resident Indians), from UK, USA, and Canada. We all come from different genres of blogging. Some of us had diabetic experience with family members and some didn’t at all. The biggest difficulty was figuring out which ingredients were easily available to our audience, primarily Indians living in India. Since we live abroad, most of us had to re-train our minds to remember the local ingredients in India. Also, we try to consider budget and easily accessible kitchen & pantry items too. Our mantra is to create recipes for the masses.
Our primary focus is to create a balanced recipe, that doesn’t require too much trouble, as if we are cooking for one of our own family members. We want our audience to actually try our recipes and not just look at the pictures, read the ingredients, and then move on to the next.
If anything, what has made the whole journey easier, is the strength of my team. We always stand up for each other and offer wise suggestions, taking care of each other while maintaining and respecting each other’s space. There is a lot of discussion that goes on behind the drapes before putting our work out in public every other week.
What have been your most popular DFT recipes?
SG: Here are some links to my most popular recipes on DFT!
- Vegetable Pizza Sandwich
- Teriyaki Grilled Tofu Skewers
- Lauki Palak Pakodas (Squash & Spinach Fritters)
- Almonds & Figs Pudding
- Asian Mung Sprouts Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing
Is there anything else you’d like me to know about you, your blog, or DFT?
SG: I am a vegetarian food blogger, who believes in mindful eating. I’m always striving to create recipes that are a spin on traditional foods. I try to create awareness that a dish can be delicious and comforting without the addition of extra oil, frying, and excessive sweetness. I like to keep cooking simple and fun, right out of your refrigerator and kitchen pantry. Most of my recipes are suitable for diabetics in general.
DFT aims at creating more awareness and claiming more attention worldwide. We are soon going to introduce world cuisine and show you how to make any food diabetic-friendly.