This book is dedicated to those people with diabetes who cook for themselves and those who cook for diabetics. They may have a hundred things on their schedule but still want to prepare a healthy meal that not only looks and tastes interesting and delicious but also conforms to the needs of someone with diabetes for wholesome food prepared with a minimum of fat and controlled amounts of protein and sodium. As diabetics ourselves, we understand the dilemma since we do not always have time to spend in the kitchen; yet good, nutritious food is a priority in our lives. The recipes in this book reflect the way we cook and eat every day.
Some special thoughts: It has now been almost ten years since I was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. Looking back on that day and reflecting on the changes in my life, I see how food is integrally tied to our emotions, our lifestyles, and our family and cultural values. As the author of nine cookbooks, I have devoted my career to developing and testing recipes, and can see the direct effects of food on the management of my disease. I have learned firsthand that a high level of fat (particularly saturated fat) can cause long-term complications for the person with diabetes. Not only does fat contribute to weight gain, making control of blood sugar levels even more difficult -- causing small blood vessel diseases that affect the eyes, kidneys, and nervous system -- but at high levels certain fats can also lead to problems related to large blood vessel diseases, causing angina (chest pain), heart attack, stroke, and poor blood circulation.
When I've taught cooking classes for people with diabetes and lectured at hospitals and clinics, I've been amazed at the number of people with diabetes who don't recognize the seriousness of the disease until complications set in. And as I chat with other people with diabetes on the Internet, I realize that food is the center of their world. Everyone seems to be desperately searching for the "magic diet" that will help them control their blood sugars. To say that people with diabetes are "foodies" is no exaggeration. Many are well armed with nutritional information gleaned from the airwaves, bookstores, and newsstands. And while they sometimes know what they should be eating, they choose to eat improper food because their "diabetic" food was frequently lacking one critical ingredient -- taste. When fat, sugar, and salt (three important transmitters of flavor) are removed from food, the result is often bland and boring. If food doesn't taste wonderful, no one wants to eat it -- no matter how healthy it is or how well it controls blood sugar and blood fat levels.
This is why I am particularly pleased to be once again teamed with my coauthor, Bonnie Polin, and the registered dietitians, diabetes educators, and doctors at the world-renowned Joslin Diabetes Center to create another cookbook for people with diabetes. In our earlier collaboration (The Joslin Diabetes Gourmet Cookbook), we developed hundreds of delicious good-for-you recipes, but many of the dishes required one to spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen. As our lives get busier, we're faced with the dilemma: It's usually easy to prepare a delicious, healthy meal on a weekend, but during the rest of the week, who has time to cook?
Fret no longer. We've developed more than two hundred mouth-watering lowfat recipes that you can cook in under thirty minutes. These recipes are full of vibrant flavor, eye-catching color, pleasing texture, and, most important, a healthful balance of nutrients. Using this book will help you rethink the vast number of food choices now available to you -- without compromising your health for good taste.
Since many of us, Bonnie and myself included, are no longer cooking for a large family, we designed the majority of the recipes for two servings. Should you want or need to cook for more than two, the recipes can easily be doubled or tripled (we've noted any that might need modifications).
These are recipes for you to cook and enjoy forever. They're simple, delicious, and quick. More important, the recipes will help you make changes in your diet that will result in better control of your diabetes. So let's start cooking.
Frances Towner Giedt
When I think about living with diabetes, I recall an image of twenty years ago -- my friend's grandmother, a Southern lady of around seventy, floating down a spiral staircase in a ball gown, making a grand entrance. She is well into her nineties now and has had diabetes for many decades; she also remains the beloved matriarch of her family. She never stopped taking care of herself or others. Years later, when I developed type 1 diabetes, the memory of this elegant and emotionally strong woman gave me hope that I, too, could take care of myself and still live a full and rewarding life.
I have been instrumental in helping others and myself by developing and conducting a diabetes clinic for the working poor. In this clinic a very popular exercise has been to get a person to list everything in his or her refrigerator and freezer, and then come up with a series of quick and easy meals that are delicious and healthy at the same time. This exercise came about because patients complained that healthy cooking was too difficult. The results of the exercise were always a real surprise for the group because we improvised mouthwatering recipes like Three-Pepper Mexican Pizza and Breakfast Banana Splits. These people who had once been turned off to healthy eating were suddenly turned on. It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me because for the first time people expressed hope. They said they would try -- a major step, since many had been referred by their health team because of "noncompliance."
Many people feel trapped by their diabetes; they eat bland food while their family members continue to eat the way they always have. In our sessions they learned it was possible to prepare low-fat, low-protein meals to be enjoyed by the family and not just the person with diabetes. Variations on the recipes ranged from all-American to Asian foods as well, depending on the group, but they were always inspiring.
The idea for this book grew out of the desire by many diabetics for a compilation of quick and easy recipes that are familiar to all of us. The recipes therefore consist of what we have always liked to eat. The idea of comfort food is not new but is important to those who feel deprived by their disease. We are pleased to offer you delicious recipes that you and others will enjoy; you'd hardly suspect that they are also good for you.
Forget the old saying "Too many cooks spoil the broth." My coauthor, Frances Giedt, made this collaboration a pleasure. In addition, our colleagues at Joslin offered wonderful feedback and their expertise. The result, I hope, will assist you in taking hold of your life in a positive and healthy way -- similar to that Southern lady whose grace, fortitude, and lifestyle qualified her as a role model for us all. I wish you a long life filled with good health. Bon appétit.
Bonnie Sanders Polin, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1998 by Francis Towner Giedt, Bonnie Polin, Ph.D., and Joslin Diabetes Center