Approach Food the Mediterranean Way
Rich in flavor, heart-healthy fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, the Mediterranean style of cooking has proven to be beneficial for people with diabetes—and for good reason. This delicious diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole-grains can help lower blood pressure, glucose levels, and risk for heart disease without cutting out amazing taste. Based on traditional recipes from Italy, Greece, Egypt, Morocco, as well as Turkey, Algeria, and more, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook: A Flavorful, Low-Fat, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association/March 2010) by Amy Riolo is filled with over 200 healthful and delicious recipes.
Riolo, a food historian, food writer, cooking consultant and instructor, and internationally recognized cookbook author, wrote this book with love and first-hand knowledge about how a diabetes diagnosis drastically changes one’s life. When her mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Riolo noticed an emphasis on what to avoid eating. “She was handed a generic diet…No one ever took into consideration what she enjoyed eating…” Fueled with the desire to banish watered-down recipes, Riolo’s The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook is filled with dishes that everyone will love—diabetes or not.
The recipes in The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook are easy to prepare for a simple dinner at home or for entertaining friends and family. There is even a section devoted to sumptuous desserts like Pineapple Tiramisu and Baked Egyptian Pumpkin Pudding.
Each recipe includes time-saving tips, cultural and historical background of the recipe's origin, concise preparation instructions, and food-related information that promote a diabetes-friendly and healthy attitude towards food. At the end of each recipe, a section called the "Healthy Living Tradition" lists the caloric exchanges and breaks down the amounts of fats, carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins in the dish to encourage readers to make better, more meaningful choices in their diet and lifestyle.
An example of the delectable dishes included in The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook is:
Sicilian Swordfish and Eggplant Bundles (Involtini de Pesce Spade e Melanzane)
Swordfish and eggplant are culinary ingredients that Sicilians inherited when they were under Arab rule. Before the arrival of the Arabs, swordfish was not eaten because of its reputation as being extremely difficult to catch. Sicilian fishermen learned how to catch swordfish from the Arabs. Even today, Sicilian fisherman use Arabic words instead of Italian ones when fishing. Serve this delightful dish with Baby Artichokes with Herb Sauce.
1 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise into paper-thin slices
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped boxed tomatoes
1 cup strained boxed tomatoes
2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/8 tsp freshly grated pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
2 boneless swordfish fillets (3/4 lb total)
- Preheat broiler. Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet. Brush with 1 Tbsp olive oil, and bake for a few minutes until tender and cooked through. Remove from oven, and set aside.
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook until it releases its aroma. Do not let garlic turn brown. Stir in chopped and strained tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, 1/4 tsp sea salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a large piece of wax paper on a work surface. Place fish fillets on wax paper, and cover with another piece. Use a flat-edged meat hammer to pound fish until they are very thin, about 1/4 inch. Check under the wax paper from time to time to make sure that fish is not tearing. Cut each piece in half to make 4 pieces.
- Top each piece of fish with thin layers of the eggplant slices. (If you have extra eggplant slices, reserve them as a garnish). Starting at the wide end, roll up fish, completely encasing eggplant. Use toothpicks or skewers to secure the rolls. Slowly remove lid from tomato sauce, and add rolls to simmering sauce. Cover, and cook for 10–15 minutes, turning once, or until fish is cooked through.
- Transfer fish to a serving platter, remove skewers, and top with remaining sauce. Season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt, if desired. Serve remaining eggplant slices along the sides of the dish.
Healthy Living Tradition
A Turkish restaurateur told me that while he was working as a chef in Turkey, no one would hire him unless he knew at least 40 different eggplant dishes. Any less than 40 meant that you were a novice and didn’t possess enough experience to work in fine restaurants. Take the Turkish challenge: try to collect 40 healthy eggplant recipes. Your body and your taste buds will be grateful.
2 Lean Meat
Serving Size: 1 bundle
Calories from Fat 115
Total Fat 13.0g
Saturated Fat 2.1g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Total Carbohydrate 14g
Dietary Fiber 4g
With delicious recipes and pointers for staying diabetes-friendly, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook provides a time-tested tradition of healthy eating.
About the Author
Amy Riolo is an internationally recognized expert known for fusing the worlds of cuisine, culture, and history in her work. A 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. Amy is also the author of Arabian Delights and Nile Style.
The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook is available at shopdiabetes.org, bookstores nationwide, or by calling 1-800-ADA-6733 (1-800-232-6733).
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.