by Kate Heyhoe
The inspiration for two recently published books grew from the authors' true life experiences, after discovering that some of their nearest and dearest relatives and friends were diagnosed with diabetes.
Three years ago, culinary pro Linda "Dinner in Minutes" Gassenheimer discovered her sister had type 2 diabetes, forcing a drastic change in her diet. Linda began advising her on how to make the allowable foods balanced and tasty, without spending hours in the kitchen. No stranger to healthy eating, Linda is (among her other credits) author of Low-Carb Meals in Minutes and More Low-Carb Meals in Minutes. When cardiologists told her heart-endangered husband to go low-carb immediately, Linda took up the cause of designing healthful lifestyles with all the commitment of Galahad riding into battle.
A half decade earlier, restaurant chef Michel Nischan—raised on smothered pork chops and collard greens before professionally embracing buttery French sauces and goose fat confit—learned his five-year-old son had type 1 diabetes. The news "rocked our world and changed our family life forever," he notes. "The relationship between Chris's diet and his overall health was crucial for both his daily well-being and for his life expectancy." Nischan soon discovered that many of his regular customers, the "boring" ones who ordered the same safe chicken and fish dishes every visit, also suffered from diabetes, heart disease, liver or blood disorders. Nischan underwent a sea change in his attitudes toward cooking and eating. He became the natural choice for Drew Nieporent and Michael Bonadies to open their groundbreaking restaurant in New York, Heartbeat, and craft superb dishes using animals, fish, vegetables, and grains but completely avoiding butter, cream and saturated fat.
Even if you don't have diabetes yourself, chances are someone close to you does. Or, perhaps it's not diabetes that's the evil-doer, but some other condition that requires a restrictive diet. These flashing signals are warnings that too many people are feeding themselves all the wrong things, or at least in the wrong proportions.
I don't consider the following books to be health food books or diet books, though they do support sound dietary practices. Rather, they represent two approaches to healthful and enjoyable eating, full of flavor. Gassnheimer's book is a common-sense, no nonsense guide to everyday eating for diabetics or anyone wishing to put their bodies in balance. The second one reflects a high-end chef's commitment to feeding his customers and his family, with recipes that range from unique techniques for high-flavor impact, to simple dishes that focus solely on their natural, pure flavors.
As ex-Monty Python member Michael Palin has said, "All I ask of food is that it doesn't hurt me." If you're in the mood for tasty meals that won't hurt, read on.
* * *
Taste Pure and Simple
Irresistible Recipes for Good Food and Good Health
By Michel Nischan with Mary Goodbody
(Chronicle, 2003; $35.00)
Buy the Book!
Good ingredients, as every chef knows, are critical to good cooking. Here, the former chef of New York's acclaimed Heartbeat Restaurant (where no butter, cream, or saturated fat is allowed), proves that all you really need to make meals healthful and irresistible are ingredients that shine in freshness and flavor, and that doesn't mean overloading on dairy products or butter. In so doing, he also opens the door to innovative techniques that elevate healthy cooking to ultra-creative cooking, with results too good to pass up.
For instance, he transforms low-fat buttermilk into a type of sour cream, spoons it on baked Yukon Gold potatoes, and serves it with beef tenderloin, poached until just rare and tender instead of fried or grilled. Michel admits that to make the book's vegetable-based sauces as competitively flavorful as a butter or cream sauce, the cook needs a juicer, a certain degree of patience, and a willingness to experiment. But they're worth the effort. His Creamy Corn Sauce, made solely from corn kernels, lemon juice, salt and pepper, is thick and rich enough to replace mayonnaise or bind crab cakes.
Mary Goodbody's part in this book is more subtle than Michel's, but her regular readers will appreciate the clean, well-written recipes and text that bears her special touch here (she was the original editor-in-chief of Cooks magazine and has worked on moe than 45 books). Instructions are just explicit enough for readers to feel comfortable in what they're doing, but not so detailed to be cumbersome. And the clean design of the pages and lovely photographs further make this an inviting cookbook to explore.
* * *
Mix 'n Match Meals in Minutes
For People with Diabetes
By Linda Gassenheimer
American Diabetes Association (2003; $16.95)
Buy the Book!
Leave it to Linda to come to the aid of a special group of busy people: those with diabetes. More than 1 million people are diagnosed with this disease each year, suddenly facing major lifestyle and dietary changes. Too often, the dietary restrictions seem insurmountable or at least unpleasantly boring. "Diabetes doesn't mean broiled chicken every night," writes Linda, an award-winning cookbook author, syndicated columnist (Dinner in Minutes), and radio host. Her recipes prove that even quick meals can be full of flavor-and still fall within the recommended guidelines. In her trademark style, Linda provides shopping lists, helpful hints, and a countdown section for each of the recipes, many with spicy ethnic tones. Some of Linda's own family members have been diagnosed with diabetes, and as I know Linda, she'd never dream of feeding them anything she wouldn't love to eat herself. The result is her personal blueprint of flexible menus, including such recipes as Norwegian Bagel, Chinese Pepper Steak, and Garlic-Whipped Potatoes.
From Taste Pure and Simple:
Miso Salmon with English Pea Sauce
From Mix 'n Match Meals in Minutes:
Southwestern Chicken with Tortilla Salad and Spiced Berries
Kate's Global Kitchen for September 2003:
9/05/03 Looks Can Be Deceiving: Specialty Fruit and Produce
9/12/03 Squash Blossom Fever
9/19/03 Eating Well: It's All in Who You Know
9/26/03 Lemons in Hiding
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created September 2003
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