According to the American Diabetes Association, in January 2011 8.3% of the United States population--or approximately 25.8 million children and adults--was diabetic.That is a pretty scary statistic.
One of the most discouraging things for many newly diagnosed diabetics is the feeling that they won't be able to enjoy food as they once did. I know about this firsthand, as my father and both maternal grandparents suffer from the disease. In recent years I have made it my personal mission to see to it that these family members still enjoy flavorful and satisfying meals without compromising their health.There have been a number of cookbooks written for diabetes sufferers, offering insight on eating choices along with a few lackluster recipes, but nothing that catered to the more sophisticated palate. Until now.
Back in the summer of 2010 I had the great fortune of meeting and interviewing Top Chef finalist and restaurateur Chef Sam Talbot. Not only is Chef Talbot incredibly handsome and clearly a star in his chosen profession, but he is also a type I diabetic who was diagnosed at the age of 12. One question I asked him was whether he planned to write a cookbook, to which he responded, "Of course!" Today we have that book, "The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries." It must be said that when it comes to cookbooks I can be a little jaded; it takes something really special to catch my eye. The Sweet Life has that something special, and is one of my favorite titles from 2011.
The Sweet Life begins with a seal of approval by famed New York City Chef Eric Ripert, then immediately opens up with Chef Talbot describing his very personal journey with diabetes. He writes candidly about the parameters involved with the disease, while also encouraging readers not to be afraid to try new things and "play with your food." Next, he dives in and gets to the recipes, covering all the bases from snacks to dessert. The snack chapter, in particular, delves deeper into the area of diabetes education, discussing glucose levels and the glycemic index. Chef Talbot has a very friendly and easy way of delivering the information; nothing so technical as to confuse or go over your head.
The recipes' style is heavily influenced by Chef Talbot's restaurant, Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, which makes many dishes reminiscent of something you might make at a beach house. Chef Talbot advocates eating seasonally and using local ingredients and sustainable seafood, so many of the recipes focus on fresh produce, and can be adapted to ingredients found in other seasons throughout the year. His "Simple Black Bass with Kale and Kalamata Olives" is a delicious example of pairing winter ingredients with sustainable seafood. My personal favorite is "Marinated Seared Scallops with Pecans and Okra Gumbo," and my dad can't get enough of the "Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies" made with Truvia-brand sweetener (stevia extract) instead of sugar.
One perfect weeknight crowd-pleaser is the Shirataki Noodles with Cashews and Chiles (see recipe below.) Shirataki noodles, a low-carb alternative to traditional udon noodles, are made from tofu and yam flour. Simply toss the rinsed noodles with some zesty Asian ingredients, and in 10 minutes or less you've got yourself a seriously good diabetic-friendly meal.
What I loved most about the recipes in the Sweet Life is that they will appeal to everyone in the family, not just those with diabetes. And for diabetics, The Sweet Life will change the way they look at diabetic-friendly eating and cooking.
Shirataki Noodles with Cashews and ChilesReprinted from "The Sweet Life" by Sam Talbot. Copyright (c) 2011 by Sam Talbot. By permission of Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.
I have an appreciation of udon noodles that borders on obsession, but when I want to go lighter on the carbs, shirataki noodles are a nice, low-carb alternative. Because they are made from tofu and yam f lour, they have minimal carbs. You can make this dish on the fly too, when you're in a rush. It's clean, light, and well balanced. I stock up on shirataki in Japanese markets around New York, and they are widely available in health food stores and some large supermarkets.
- 2 packages (16 ounces total) tofu shirataki noodles
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup chopped cashews
- 1/3 cup hand-torn fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Rinse the noodles under cold running water and drain well, then transfer them to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil to keep them from sticking together.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, agave nectar, and chili paste, stirring well to combine. Mix in the broth, cashews, cilantro, and soy sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to marry the flavors.
Pour the sauce over the noodles. Let the noodles rest in the sauce for a couple of minutes before serving.
PER SERVING: 227 calories, 4 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 16 g total fat (2 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 448 mg sodium
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.