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David's Book Rack

Current books on diabetes reviewed by David Mendosa

Last Update: January 16, 2001

In 1989 when government researchers asked a sample of people with type 2 diabetes if they were on a diet, 64 percent of them said they were. That was in the National Health Interview Survey, the most recent data we have. Too bad that the researchers didn't follow up with a question about which diet they were following.

Many would have replied that they were following the Food Guide Pyramid, the Exchange Lists for Meal Planning, or Carbohydrate Counting. These diets are all 50 to 60 percent carbohydrate.

A decade later more people undoubtedly would have said they were on a low-carbohydrate diet. Low carb books like H. Leighton Steward's Sugar Busters!TM and Robert C. Atkins' New Diet Revolution have topped the bestseller lists for years.

Whatever diet you follow there's one thing all diets have in common: Restriction.

As my friend Carl Lau keeps reminding me, the best way to deal with the limitations on what foods you can eat is to find the best ingredients you can. Then prepare them in the tastiest way possible.

That's precisely what Deborah Friedson Chud does in her book, which is one of about a dozen low-carb cookbooks that have hit the market in the recent years.

It is already clear that in many respects the best of these is Chud's. She is an M.D. specializing in internal medicine who was trained at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital. She subsequently joined the faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she remains on extended leave.

Now Chud has become a writer and nutritionist. Her book is bold and imaginative with an emphasis on getting the most flavor out of the ingredients.

Chud stresses that her book is for everyone interested in eating more healthfully without getting bored. It's when people get bored with their meals that they tend to stray from their diets, she says.

The First Gourmet Low-Carb Book
The book is the first full-fledged gourmet low-carb cookbook. The recipes, based on cuisines from around the world, owe much to Chud's upbringing in Miami surrounded by the exotic flavors and aromas of Cuba and the Caribbean.

Chud divides her book into three sections reflecting her emphasis on flavor and low-carb cooking. First comes "Condiments and Flavor Enhancers," low-glycemic flavor boosters that can transform a meal to the gourmet level. This section leans strongly on smoking foods. It's like having another cabinet full of spices, Chud says. 

The other two sections divide protein and carbohydrate dishes. The recipes in the carbohydrate section are low glycemic, designed to keep blood sugar from spiking.

The Gourmet Prescription also has a nutritional analysis that tells the amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat in every recipe. These nutritional analyses, which an independent consultant prepared, are the only part of the book that did not delight me. I checked recipes against standard sources like Jean Pennington's Bowes & Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used and The USDA Nutrient Database. They did not add up.

While I checked only a few recipes, the delicious "Broccoflower Salad with Cashew Butter Dressing" seriously understated the carbohydrates and overstated the amount of fiber. Two wonderful chana dal recipes also got the numbers wrong.

Overall, The Gourmet Prescription contains dozens of truly flavorful and healthy recipes for diabetes control. Befitting its content, this is a stunningly beautiful book with more than 40 color food photos. Just be careful not to splatter any food onto it as you cook. 


This article appeared originally on the DiabetesWebSite.com, which is no longer on-line.


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