Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cookbook Review: "The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy, Low-Fat Cooking"

I was recently given a chance to review "The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy, Low-Fat Cooking", written by Barbara Seelig-Brown and published by the American Diabetes Association. I eat some kind of fish at least once or twice a week and I love it for the health benefits and wonderful flavor. Since I do cook fish so often I am always looking for creative ideas and new recipes that are healthy and lower in fat but still taste amazing and I was happy to be able to "road test" this book by cooking several of the recipes.

There are over 150 different recipes packed into this cookbook for a differnt kinds of fish, seafood, sauces and dressing, and even some side dishes to round out the meal. All of the recipes meet the nutritional guidelines of the American Diabetes Association and the caloric exchanges and nutritional breakdowns are included. Author Barbara Seelig-Brown, host of the a TV cooking show Stress Free Cooking and author of its companion book, has had a long, successful career in the culinary arts and it shows in the creativity of the recipes, the easy instructions and helpful notes and cooking tips. (Although there are only about 8 pages of pictures in the center of the book, the recipes are simple and the writing descriptive enough to make it a non-issue). According to Seelig-Brown, the recipes in the book were "developed with the thought that you could interchange the cooking methods, sauces, marinades and side dishes" for greater variety so "seafood meals will never be boring." With recipes like Salmon with Black Bean Salsa, Mixed Bean Chili with Cod, Fillet with Prosecco and Mushrooms and Bloody Mary Shrimp, boring is the last thing you will find in this book.

I ended up making five recipes and even managed to work in a couple with local fish. Although most recipes are written for 4 servings, they are very easy to increase or cut down depending on the number you are serving.

I think most seafood restaurants (and good parties!) have some kind of hot, gooey Crab and Artichoke Dip so I had to try this surprisingly healthy and low-cal (1 tsp = 10 calories & 0 fat) version. Using nonfat yogurt, light mayo, and a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, it may not be quite as creamy as the original but it is tangy and delicious and will be perfect for a guilt-free pupu (appetizer) for holiday gatherings.

The Filet of Tuna with White Soy Bean Salad makes a very quick and simple lunch. Basically you just saute some sliced garlic in olive oil and mix it with lemon juice, thyme and canned white soy beans (or any white bean of your choice) and set aside for the flavors to blend. When ready to eat, simply open a pouch tuna fillet and serve with the flavored beans. Great flavor and good protein and fiber from the beans.

Unusual and spicy, the Cocoa Pepper Halibut combines cocoa powder and cayenne pepper with other spices to coat a hearty halibut steak, which is then cooked with a little stock or white wine. Simple, fun and a bit exotic, I served it with some steamed veggies and potatoes. The cocoa adds a complexity to the dish rather than a chocolate taste. Seelig-Brown describes it as "subtle but sublime", and I would agree.

The kind people at Jane Wesman Public Relations and the ADA offered to let me post a couple of the recipes I tried, so I picked my two favorites to share with you.

I am a huge fan of Halloumi cheese and I love the creativity of using it in place of olives in this Greek-Style Swordfish. The salty, chewy-crunch of the cheese works really well with the other ingredients and of course they had me at capers. I used some fresh local swordfish (shutome) and is was perfect. This recipe is quick, a cinch to make and it tastes incredible. Served on top of the brown rice, it was so good I am already craving it again.

Seelig-Brown says, "Halloumi is a cheese from Cypress that is brined and browns well when cooked. I used it in this Greek-Style Swordfish as it gives the flavor that you get from olives, but also the crunch from the browning."

Greek-Style Swordfish
"The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook", Barbara Seelig-Brown
(Serves 4 / Serving Size: 1/4 Recipe)

3 oz Halloumi light cheese, broken up into large "crumbles"
16 oz swordfish steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped sun-tried tomatoes (not in oil)
3 Tbsp capers
2 lemons, juiced
2 tsp Greek seasoning
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 2 cups)
1 1/3 cups cooked brown rice.

In a large non-stick skillet, saute the Halloumi for 8-10 minutes until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the swordfish and cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until fish begins to brown. Add sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon juice, Greek seasoning, and zucchini. Cook until zucchini is tender. Serve with 1/3 cup brown rice per serving.

Cook's Tip: If you can't find Greek seasoning, try mixing a little oregano with some parsley, onion powder, and garlic for a quick substitution.

Nutritional Info: Exchanges/Choices: 1 Starch, 1 Vegetable, 4 Lean Meat, 1/2 Fat. Calories 295, Calories from Fat 80, Total Fat 9g, Sat. Fat 3.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Total Carbs 25g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 5g,Protein 32g

I love the texture and feeling of a creamy sauce but I am not a fan of the fat and calories that they usually contain so I was excited to try this Grilled Tuna with Basil Cream. The vibrant, flavorful sauce was a perfect paring with the tuna. I seared my local ahi steak on each side but left it slightly raw in the middle as I can't eat a fully cooked (to me overcooked) ahi tuna steak, but of course you can cook it to your liking. I ate the leftover sauce on steamed red potatoes the next day and it was yummy as a veggie topping. I think I'll be making another batch to try on some pasta too.

Seelig-Brown says, "The basil cream in this Grilled Tuna with Basil Cream dish also makes a flavorful and healthy low-fat dip or spread for veggies or low-fat chips. Your guests will not believe it is so good for them!"

Grilled Tuna with Basil Cream
"The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook", Barbara Seelig-Brown
(Serves 4 / Serving Size: 1/4 Recipe)

1 cup fresh baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, quartered
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 cup nonfat cottage cheese
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
16 oz fresh tuna steak, cut into 4 portions
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

Place spinach, garlic, shallot, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and basil in a food processor. Process until finely minced. With the motor running, add cottage cheese. Process until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat grill pan. Rub tuna with oil, salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook first side 4-5 minutes. Turn and cook other side to desired doneness. Serve with basil cream mixture.

Cook's Tip: Basil cream can be made a day or two ahead of time. Leftover basil cream can be used as a dip, spread, or tossed with pasta.

Nutritional Info: Exchanges/Choices: 4 Lean Meat. Calories 190, Calories from Fat 70, Total Fat 8g, Sat. Fat 1.8g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 45mg, Sodium 240mg, Total Carbs 1g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 0g,Protein 27g

I really enjoyed "The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook"--with easy and delicious recipes it earns its place on my cookbook shelves (make that cookbook shelves, floor piles, counters, bookcases, etc.). It is much more than a cookbook for people living with diabetes or cooking for someone who is. Because fish and sea food are such a great way to get healthy protein and essential omega oils, it is a perfect cookbook for anyone who wants to lighten up their diet without compromising flavor. Best of all, proceeds from the book go to support the fight against diabetes and since my dad and brother both had the disease and left this world too soon, I like the fact that buying this book helps improve the lives of people affected by diabetes. This one is a definite keeper.

So what is your favorite way to cook fish?


  1. Well heck, I should probably put this book on my Amazon Christmas Wish list. I eat fish once a week and really should increase that to two. I don't have very many good seafood recipes. Thanks for the post.

  2. The dishes look so tasty, we really should be eating more fish.
    Most of what is available here is frozen.
    I am looking forward to trying Halloumi too - it sounds excellent.
    I like the mix and match element of the book too, allowing people of different regions to work with what they can get their hands on.
    Thanks for the great review!

  3. I'm sorry to hear that both your dad and brother had diabetes. I definitely think that diabetes needs more awareness. This was another great book review. The crab dip sounds delicious and healthy too! It all looks good.

  4. A very nice review of a book many of us might have, otherwise, overlooked. That tuna with beans dish would be perfect for a weekend lunch.

  5. Thanks for sharing this great review, Deb - I was looking for something to get my (diabetic) mom for the holidays, and I think this would be a great find!

  6. Wow! These photos truly inspire me to cook with fish more often! The cocoa pepper fish looks fascinating. I'll have to make the basil cream someday soon.

  7. Great review and I will try that crab artichoke dip. Low points and yummy looking.

  8. Thanks for the review and for sharing these two recipes! Fish is generally my "meat" of choice and I'm always looking for new and healthy recipes. I, like you, am a sucker for capers. And cream sauces that don't make you feel like you are going to go into cardiac arrest at any second. Both of these dishes look delicious!

  9. Thanks for share good post. Useful information, keep it up. I like your post.

  10. Keep on posting such articles. I like to read articles like this. BTW add more pics :)

  11. Deb,

    I was delighted to learn of this review. Thank you for all the time you spent reviewing my book and preparing the recipes. Your review is very thorough and thoughtful and your time in doing this is much appreciated.

    Barbara Seelig-Brown
    Stress Free Cooking


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