I get loads of cookbooks sent to me to review. Luckily, I love to cook. But honestly, who the heck has time to make a fancy meal from scratch more than once or twice a week? I'm pretty good at the slap-dash — you know, throwing things together from Trader Joe's and elsewhere that make a decent meal.
For months, I've been guiltily surveying the piles of diabetic cookbooks in my office, however, feeling compelled to start sampling from them. Last night I thumbed through a bunch, including:
Every one of them is colorful and glossy and full of attractive meal ideas. Every one of them also features at least a large handful of high-carb dishes that I wouldn't expect experts to recommend to people with diabetes: pizza, nachos, penne pasta, macaroni, corn polenta, bagel breakfasts, and yam cornbread stuffing — all top of the charts on the Glycemic Index and therefore things that I pretty much consider off-limits. Odd...
I had a closer look at these books and realized that all five are published by the American Diabetes Association. Which begs the question, how do they define "diabetic cooking"? The emphasis in all these books seems to be "quick, healthy, and delicious." It's hard to argue with that. Considerable thought seems to have gone into reducing the fat content on most recipes, and of course, all "diabetic" cookbooks offer nutrition values for each printed recipe.
But even the "Diabetic Chef" Chris Smith offers choices like Sweet Potato Pancakes fried in oil (32g carb per pancake) and Crunchy Peach Smoothies (27g carb per 1/4 cup).
I'm having a really tough time believing that the word "diabetic" or "diabetes" in the cookbook title is anything other than a marketing ploy. Don't get me wrong: these are all very nice cookbooks. I just don't see how they really differ from the 25 other nice cookbooks I already have in my kitchen.
Interestingly, another ADA-published book I recently received a review copy of is "16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, 2nd Edition." Myth #16 is: "People with diabetes should only use diabetic cookbooks and recipes." The authors dispel this myth by offering suggestions for tweaking "non-diabetic" recipes to cut back on fats, table sugar, and salt.
My takeaway is that there really is no such thing as a "diabetic cookbook," unless of course one means a very low-carb cookbook. My all-time fave cookbook is a "regular" one called The Kosher Palette (ignore the ice cream on the cover). I simply look for dishes that fit with my diabetes needs, which the majority do, or I make those "tweaks" where necessary.
As you all know, I personally do not advocate cutting out carbs entirely. But I sure am careful with them. I pretty much follow a Mediterranean diet by default, choosing recipes that are very "carb-safe" without pushing this on my family too much. It's all part of the Great Balancing Act that diabetes is.
What about you? All manner of thoughts on "diabetic cooking" welcome...