>> Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail asking me if I would be interested in taking a look at a cookbook aimed toward diabetics and reviewing it here. We don't have anyone with diabetes in our household (thank goodness), but since I know that recipes for diabetics often are good and healthy to boot (and I'll admit that the deciding factor was that the cookbook was free), I jumped on the offer. I did not realize at the time that the cookbook is actually a vegan cookbook for diabetics - an interesting little twist! So, my family has been boldly trying recipes from The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle Cookbook for the past week and a half.
First, a little background on the book. This cookbook is put out by The Lifestyle Center of America. Here's what they say about this book in their introduction: this book "destroys the myth that a high-carb, plant-based diet is bad for people with diabetes, and it reminds you that a diet primarily based on animal products is bad for people with diabetes." Their diet is based on 3 things: 1) it avoids all animal products (meat, milk, eggs, cheese, etc.), 2) it "focuses on the right kind of carbs," and 3) it considers the glycemic index of foods. The book offers general nutritional information as well as nutritional information specific to each recipe. Menus for a month of meals is also included. You can take a look at their website for more information on how they feel their diet will help those with diabetes.
I know nothing about this center and very little about diabetes, so I cannot talk to the efficacy of this diet as it applies to diabetes. But, I can tell you what we thought of the cookbook in general and the recipes that we've tried thus far. As a vegan cookbook (though I don't think that I ever saw the word vegan used in the cookbook), a lot of the recipes are soy (especially tofu) and bean based. This made me a little nervous as I am not a big bean fan. It made my husband very happy, though, since he adores anything and everything with beans. We've tried about ten of the recipes so far, and amazingly, we've liked pretty much all of them! One was not a hit here (Lemon-Basil Kabobs), but of the rest, there are a few that are sure to become regular dishes around here - like Tasty Black-Eyed Peas, Golden Soy Oat Waffles, Southwest Soup, Pico Fresca, and Classic Lemon Pie. The Golden Soy Oat Waffles was a particular favorite. This recipe is for a flourless waffle - it uses soybeans (dry, soaked overnight) and oats as the main ingredients. I made it partly because it was one of the stranger recipes in the book, but it couldn't be easier, and it was so tasty that my almost 5 yr old asked for seconds. The Tasty Black-Eyed Peas recipe made even me like black-eyed peas, and that's saying a lot!
There is a lot to like about this cookbook. The recipes are simple - no fancy techniques that will leave you scratching your head - and the flavors are fresh. We've tried enough recipes for me to feel comfortable recommending this cookbook, and there are still so many good looking recipes that I have marked to try. (We have three boxes of luscious Colorado peaches heading our way today - YAY! - so it might be a little while before we eat any meals without peaches.) There are also quite a few recipes that I have absolutely no interest in trying, but that's the way it is with every cookbook. Useful descriptions - often with cooking tips - are above each recipe, and quite a few recipes have a nutritional factoid below. I actually originally discovered that raw flaxseeds should be consumed in moderation because of cyanidic compounds through this book.
There are some strange (at least to me) ingredients used in some of the recipes. I've been introduced to Bragg's Liquid Amino (see this blog for a little more info on this product. It's actually pretty good and tastes quite like soy sauce.) and nutritional yeast (which is different from brewer's yeast). I had to special order the nutritional yeast to try it. It's odd, but not unpleasant, and as it is quite nutritious, I may end up finding more places to use it. There are also quite a few vegan substitutes (like Nayonnaise for egg-laden mayonnaise). Those are great if you want to keep the recipes completely plant based, but one could easily substitute non-vegan ingredients if desired.
I'm really glad that we were offered this cookbook. I was more than a little worried that we would not like the recipes in this cookbook when I agreed to review it, and I'm happy to have been wrong! It's definitely not one I would have picked up at a bookstore, but it's one that I think will be used often in this household.
Oh - I should add that fructose (but NOT HFCS) is used as an ingredient in some of the dessert recipes. We've decided not to use crystalline fructose anymore, but I think that honey could be substituted in those recipes.