Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cookbook Review--"The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook"--A Great Cookbook for Everyone (& a Chance To Win a Copy of Your Own!)

Stop right there! If you are about to bypass this post and this cookbook review because you think you aren't interested in a diabetes cookbook, you would be making a mistake. "The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook" by Amy Riolo is more than a book of recipes suitable for diabetics--it is actually a book that is full of easy, healthy and most importantly, extremely delicious recipes that are perfect for anyone.

Lauren at Jane Wesman Public Relations thought I might like to "road test" and review another cookbook from the American Diabetes Association (I have also reviewed "The Diabetes D-Tour Diet" and "The Diabetes Seafood Cookbook"), and so she sent me a free copy and also a copy to give away to one of my readers (more on that below). Although the cookbook was given to me, my opinion of it is my own and I have based my review on the recipes I cooked and sampled.

The book is written by Amy Riolo, food historian food writer, cooking instructor and consultant, cookbook author and blogger. (You can find her blog here). I like Riolo's approach which was to create full-flavored dishes that anyone would love, and "banish" boring, watered down recipes. Riolo's mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and she was frustrated with the tendency to focus on what not to eat rather than emphasizing things she enjoyed eating, so Amy wrote this cookbook with her mother in mind.

The Mediterranean style of cooking and eating emphasizes heart healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants--all heart healthy and of course beneficial to people with diabetes, as well as the rest of us. The cookbook emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and it is based on the traditional recipes of Italy, Greece, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt to name just a few of the many countries.

The cookbook contains over 200 recipes and it was not easy for me to choose what to make for this review--I had about 1/4 of the book tabbed and then had to narrow it down to the nine recipes you see below. The publishers are allowing me to share a couple of my favorite recipes with you too.

One of the first recipes I selected to make was the Shrimp, Cucumber and Boursin Tartines. These simple French-style open-faced sandwiches, using a whole wheat boule and shrimp sauteed with Herbes de Provence, were simple, delicious and made a perfect light lunch with a green salad.

There is a chapter on Flavor Enhancers--spice and seasoning mixes, at the back of the book, and since the shrimp for the tartines called for Herbes de Provence, I made the mix of ten different dried herbs and spices like lavender, fennel seeds, mint, rosemary, sage, marjoram and others. The mix was great on the shrimp and I have also used it on some sauteed vegetables and lamb chops.

From the Small Plates section I chose the Red Lentil Purée--a very simple mix of red lentils, tomato paste, garlic and dried coriander. The red lentils cook quickly, blend nicely, and the flavor was quite good. I did find the dip a bit dry and would probably add more olive oil or stock to make it creamier the next time I make it. I served it with my favorite sweet potato chips and also used it as a sandwich spread.

I love a good turkey burger and the Dill and Feta Turkey Burgers had a lot of delicious dill flavor. The slightly melted feta cheese on top was the perfect touch. Instead of the whole wheat bakery buns called for, I used sandwich thins (less bread and calories), and then loaded my turkey burgers with thin slices of cucumber and red lettuce. The turkey patties are browned in a pan, then finished in the oven and finally the feta is melted on top. These patties freeze well and are also great on top of a salad.

The unusual and visually stunning Cucumber Sorbet caught my eye and I knew I had to try it. Riolo says, "Cucumber is a wonderful vegetable. This classy Italian sorbet is like a frozen salad to be used as an opener for meals on a hot summer day. I like to serve it in a scoop in the middle of a salad plate surrounded by tomato slices and topped with a few shredded carrots. It has all the flavors of a normal salad, but in an unexpected, elegant way."

Cucumber Sorbet (Sorbetto di Cetrioli)
"The Mediterranean Diabetes Diet" by Amy Riolo
(Serves 4)

1 cucumber, seeded and cubed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
About 24 ice cubes

Place cucumber pieces and olive oil in the food processor. Pulse on and off to purée. Stop often, and scrape down the sides. Add ice cubes one at a time, and continue to pulse until mixture resembles a sorbet. Serve immediately, or freeze until ready to use. If frozen, break up crystals with a fork before serving.

"Healthy Living Tradition: One of the "tricks" of spa chefs is to serve healthful foods in unexpected ways to delight their guests' eyes and taste buds at the same time without adding unwanted calories and fat. Look at some of the healthiest dishes you like to prepare and think of new ways to prepare and present them."

Nutritional Info (per 1/2 cup serving): Exchanges/Choices: 1 Vegetable, 1/2 Fat; Calories: 40, Calories from Fat: 30; Total Fat: 3.5g, Sat Fat: 0.5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium 0mg; Total Carbohydrate: 3g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugars 1g; Protein 0g

Notes/Results: I love the uniqueness of this dish and how simple it was to prepare. I served mine on a thick slice of tomato, surrounded by cucumber slices and halved grape tomatoes, and topped it with shredded carrot and a chiffonade of mint leaves. I also gave it just a touch of sea salt too. The sorbet would be a perfect dinner party starter on a warm night, or a palate cleanser in the middle of a meal. I will make this again.

An easy one-dish meal is always a find, especially when it is as delicious as the Greek-Style Baked Fish or Psari Plaki. In this recipe halibut or other firm fish is baked with very thin slices of Yukon Gold potato, spinach, chopped tomatoes, peppers, garlic, parsley and oregano and topped with a simple paprika sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked and extremely moist and delicious. This one needs to be served with good bread to soak up the wonderful sauce. Yum!

I will admit to a weakness for mashed potatoes--the ultimate in comfort food, but usually don't feel I need all the butter and cream in them so these Herb and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes were a "must-try" recipe for me. Riolo says, "Years ago, the idea of eating mashed potatoes without butter and cream would have made me cringe. Once I tasted this delicious Tunisian recipe, however, I discovered a tastier, healthier way of enjoying potatoes. The combination of buttery golden baby potatoes, citrusy lemon, flowery cilantro, and zippy dill provides intense flavor."

Herb and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
"The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook" by Amy Riolo
(Serves 6)

10 baby golden potatoes (about 1 lb each), scrubbed and quartered
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup dill, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Add lemon juice and olive oil, and begin mashing by hand or with an electric mixer. When mixture is smooth and creamy, stir in lemon zest, cilantro, dill, salt, and pepper. Serve warm.

"Healthy Living Traditions: if you're not serving mashed potatoes immediately, you can keep them warm by placing them in a metal bowl and covering them with aluminum foil. Place the bowl inside a saucepan with 1/4 inch boiling water at the bottom (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the bottom of the saucepan)."

Nutritional Info (per 1/2 cup serving): Exchanges/Choices: 1 Starch, 1 Fat; Calories: 120, Calories from Fat: 40; Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat Fat: 0.6g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium 205mg; Total Carbohydrate: 18g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugars 1g; Protein 2g

Notes/Results: Oh man did these make me a happy camper! Creamy, delicious and full of lemony-herb flavor, they are a keeper recipe for sure. I ate them with fish, with lamb, in a bowl by themselves... I ate them all! ;-) I was surprised at just how creamy they were and the fact that they are dairy-free means I will be making them again and again. If you are not a dill or cilantro fan, I imagine they would be delicious with other herbs too.

Just look at the color on this refreshing, wonderful Moroccan Tangerine Sorbet! Gorgeous! And so easy to make--just fresh-squeezed tangerine juice (I used my juicer), orange blossom water, and agave and then about 25 minutes or so in the ice cream machine (although you can make this by freezing the juice into ice cube trays and crushing it with a food processor or blender). The taste is tangy and slightly sweet with a little floral touch from the orange blossom water. A beautiful and elegant dessert that tastes like sunshine.

Since I am always looking for ways to use up my big bottle of orange blossom water and had some oranges and mint on hand, I wanted to make the Orange Blossom and Mint Infused Orange Juice. The orange juice takes on an exotic and sophisticated edge when paired with the cool mint and floral notes of the orange blossom water. It is the perfect drink to refresh on a warm day and it would be fun to serve for brunch.

There you have it nine recipes--unique, delicious and not a clunker in the bunch, with many more recipes tagged to make. Everything I selected was easy to make, and most ingredients are readily available in a standard grocery store. The book is about 300 pages with a center insert of 8 color photos of some of the dishes. There is an explanation of Mediterranean cuisine, some information on meal planning--including some seasonal menus, and how-tos on starting and stocking a Mediterranean pantry. In addition to being a great resource for someone looking to cook delicious meals that fit into a diabetic lifestyle, it is a great book for anyone who loves Mediterranean food or healthy eating, and it would make a great gift. This one gets two thumbs up from me and I heartily recommend it.

Now...wouldn't you like to win a copy of your very own?!


One lucky person will win a copy of this wonderful book to add to your collection. You don't have to have a blog to win, (just be sure to leave a way I can get in touch with you if you do win). Since the publisher provided the book, I am providing the shipping, so if you win I will send it to you--even if you are outside of the USA. So enter away--there are three ways to enter so if you really want it, you have three chances to win.

How to Enter:
(You can enter up to three times but you MUST leave a separate comment for each entry so I can tally them without taxing my brain too much):

Entry #1: Leave a comment on this post telling me why you would like to win this book.

Entry #2: For a second entry, mention the review and the giveaway and link back to this post on your blog, and/or your Facebook page and/or if you twitter, tweet about it. Then leave a second comment on this post letting me know that you linked, Face-booked and/or tweeted it.

Entry #3: For a third entry, become a follower of Kahakai Kitchen by clicking on the "Followers" box on the side bar of my blog and leave me yet another comment letting me know that you are now following me. If you are already a loyal follower just leave a comment letting me know that you are following for your additional entry.

All entry comments must be in by midnight, (HST) this Monday, April 12th. The winner will be selected in a random drawing or by a random number generated from of all of the entry comments received, and will be announced on Tuesday April 19th.

Many thanks to the publishers and Lauren at JWPR for giving me this book to review and offering a second copy to give away.

Have a great rest of your week.


  1. Oh wow, what a great reveiw!! I soooo want this book.

  2. Tweeted for my second entry. I soooo want this book.

  3. Third entry - I follow you of course. Did I happen to mention that I want this book?

  4. I'd love to win. The book looks like it has great recipes.

  5. This book looks amazing, I can't wait to try the recipes, especially the lentil puree and mashed potatoes, and your post is wonderful with such detail. I would love to win this book!! Thanks for having such a great giveaway!

  6. I am now a drooling follower as well!!

  7. I would love this book because both parents have signs of what could turn into diabetes - my Nana does have diabetes and I know I'm at risk too. These recipes look and sound delicious!

  8. I am a follower too

  9. And I posted

  10. Great review! I love Mediterranean cooking! And that is why I would love to win this book!

  11. I tweeted the giveaway

  12. I am your newest follower. I hope you follow me back!

  13. Wow! I would love to give this cookbook a go! Fabulous flavors and healthy to boot...what's not to love? Both of those sorbets are absolutely gorgeous! :)

  14. thanks for holding this wonderful giveaway! i would love to win this cookbook because as a grad student I've started to cook for myself more and think this cookbook is a great way to learn some delicious recipes!

  15. i'm a follower! love your blog especially your weekly "favorite things"!

  16. I tweeted about the giveaway. Like a little birdie.

  17. The mashed potatoes sound really delicious! As does everything. Love the shrimp tartines too. I would love to win the book because the recipe are healthy and delicious!

  18. I love all things Mediterranean - this cookbook sounds right up my alley!
    PS. My friend recently made a shrimp dish with herbs de provence- I loved it! Such great flavors!

  19. Wow, I think you went over and beyond their expectations in your review, what a fantastic collection of recipes. Bravo! I would certainly LOVE me some Mediterranean food.
    Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  20. What a beautiful and tasty review Deb! Everything looks delicious and I especially love the sorbets. I would love to win the book. It looks like there are so many wonderful and unique recipes.

  21. All these recipes sound and look amazing! I would love to win this book because one can never have to many health-conscious cookbooks! Also I love the mediteranean cuisine, so this cookbook is totally up my alley

  22. I don't want the book (I have a ban on acquiring new cookbooks until the ones I have justify their existence), but the mashed potatoes look divine and the tangerine sorbet looks absolutely magnificent!

  23. This looks like a great book not just for diabetics but for anyone watching their diet!

  24. That book will be a keeper - the Mediterranean diet (mainly, vegetables, and seafood) is the secret to longevity! Hope I get lucky!

  25. I forgot to add that I am joining Souper Sunday for the first time, coming Sunday. My email just went out to you :)

  26. I tweeted: :)

  27. I would love to win this book because the recipes are so colorful, healthy and delicious. You sold me with that shrimp dish and the rest was just the kicker! :)

  28. Thank you for all those good recipes Ever good to find new way to cook!
    And If it's possible to receive this book, I'll really enjoy (sorry for my bad english)

  29. So true, there is a tendency to focus on what NOT to eat. My mother is diabetic and this is a much better approach. Looks like a lovely cookbook and your recipes are beautiful, as usual. Crossing my fingers! ~LeslieMichele

  30. My husband and I have both been diagnosed with borderline diabetes, so this cookbook would be a Godsend! Thanks

  31. I have just signed on to follow your blog. I am following you on Twitter also. Thanks.


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