They say the Mediterranean diet is the closest thing to the perfect eating plan in existence. I find that to be true, especially from a diabetes perspective. That's why I want to talk about my favorite go-to diabetes cookbook today, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook by Amy Riolo.
This is not a new book; it's been out since 2010. But really, no one should review a cookbook until they've had it on their kitchen shelf for a few years. How often do you reach for it? A foodie friend of mine says you can judge the value of cookbook by how dog-eared it is and how many stains are on the pages ;)
Also, among cookbooks that tout "DIABETES" in the title, this one stands out because Mediterranean cuisine is, by definition, diabetes-friendly. So it's kind of a freebie for the author (and for the publishers, the American Diabetes Association) because it automatically includes lots of low-carb, vegetable and protein-rich simple dishes that taste amazing. Sign me up! Oh right, I'm already president of this fan club.
Oh, and recent headlines tell us that following a Mediterranean diet can even help some people avoid getting type 2 diabetes. Nice bonus.
What I like about this cookbook is its big, clean layout, and inclusion of "Healthy Living Tips" after every recipe. These include preparation tips, suggested side dishes, suggestions for freezing, substitution ideas, how to choose the ripest vegetables, etc. And the recipes! I happen to love this kind of food, so I quickly found favorites including Fish with Tahini Sauce, Tuscan Lentil Soup, and the Bean, Lentil and Spinach Skillet.
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The chapters include: Small Plates; Favorite First Courses; Magical Mediterranean Mains; Simple, Sensational Sides; Sunny Salads; Fantastic Finales; Dramatic Drinks; Bountiful Breads and Savory Baked Goods; and Flavor Enhancers. And don't skip the informative "What Is Mediterranean Cuisine?" and seasonal meal planning sections in the beginning of the book.
There's also a one-page section on "The Spirit in Which Food Is Offered" that has some great sentiments about making time to enjoy food with family and friends even in today's busy modern life. The author says it's one thing to just cook these Mediterranean recipes, but quite another to "adopt the belief that giving, receiving and enjoying food with others is a necessity, not a luxury" -- meaning we shouldn't feel guilty or "too rushed" to sit down and savor. This reminds me of the Family Dinner Project, which I think is one of the best programs out there to help American families develop better relationships with food -- and each other. (Side note: my three daughters are involved in soccer, water polo, school leadership, evening tutoring, etc., etc., but everyone who's home sits down to dinner each night and talks with us! No cell phones, at least for that 20 minutes.)
Anyhow, the salad chapter in this cookbook is fantastic, including about 25 flavorful recipes -- with only a few of them containing lettuce. Who needs it? Did you know you can make an amazing salad dish in minutes using just chickpeas, tomatoes and mozzarella? Or stringbeans, cucumbers and Kalamata olives? Or radicchio, pears and pistachios? Try it, you'll like it! I even got my kids to eat eggplant by trying different dishes in this book.
So just who is the author, Amy Riolo? Turns out she's a very pretty Cornell-educated lady who's a "cultural food specialist," of sorts: "an internationally recognized expert known for fusing the worlds of cuisine, culture, and history in her work... an award-winning author, popular lecturer, food historian, food writer, culinary consultant, and cooking instructor, she was dubbed the 'Cook to the Kings' by a Cairo newspaper in 2008." Wow. She lives in the Washington, DC, area and has been featured nationally on Fox TV, CBS, The Travel Channel, Martha Stewart Living Radio and more.
Makes me kind of interested in checking out her other two cookbooks, "Nile Style" and "Arabian Delights." They don't have "diabetes" in the title, but again, this is the kind of stuff we should all be eating anyway, so who needs a special "diabetes-friendly" marketing label?
And now, thanks to the nice folks at Diabetes Mall, we have our chance to share the love...
A DMBooks Giveaway
Diabetes Mall is a great site providing information and products focused exclusively on diabetes, run by Diabetes Clinical Specialist and author Jon Walsh and his medical-writer partner Ruth Roberts. They've generously offered up TWO FREE COPIES of "The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook" by Amy Riolo.
Entering this giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the the text to let us know that you'd like to be entered in the giveaway.
2. You have until Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
Good luck and bon appÃ©tit to all!
This contest is now closed. Congrats to our two winners, Trish Copley and Evan Shea, who Random.org chose as the winners -- hope this will be a great places to either start or continue your cookbook collections!