When I was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago, I went through a period where I didn’t know what to eat. I had always cooked healthy meals, but suddenly I felt lost. What was this “diabetes diet” everyone kept talking about? Did I really have to live in a world of artificial sweeteners?
Thankfully, I soon realized that a diabetes diet is really just a healthy diet, with an emphasis on carbohydrates. I found my way back to the kitchen and discovered how much control I could have over my blood glucose when I prepared food for myself.
Since then I’ve been on an endless search to find healthy, low-glycemic recipes made from natural foods. When I heard about Sam Talbot’s new cookbook, The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries, last fall, I knew I had to have it. Talbot, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12 is serious about cooking. A semi-finalist on the second season of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” he currently is the Executive Chef at Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York.
After receiving The Sweet Life as a gift for Christmas, I couldn’t put it down. I love Talbot’s approach to cooking and eating with diabetes. As he says in his book, people with diabetes “can still eat wonderfully well.” The trick is knowing how to use fresh, delicious ingredients, which Talbot emphasizes in all of his recipes.
When I learned earlier this month that Talbot is holding a contest for bloggers, I decided to try a couple of the recipes and share my experience making (and eating!) them. The grand prize winner of the contest will receive a cooking demo from Talbot. (Yes, please!)
Because I grew up on a turkey farm and have a love for the underappreciated
protein, I decided to make Talbot’s Lentil Broth with Turkey Sausage and Mustard Greens. The one pot dish is right up my alley – full of tasty vegetables and flavorful ingredients, including fresh ginger, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, and smoked paprika.
It was simple to prepare and smelled delicious as it simmered on the stove. I’m happy to report it tasted delicious, too. The lentil dish was the perfect lunch for a cold, gloomy day in Boston. I gladly ate leftovers the next couple of days.
The second recipe I tried from Talbot’s book was from the (surprise!) dessert section. Spiced Roasted Apples with Almonds sounded good, but I wondered if it would really taste like dessert. The recipe calls for just six ingredients – apples, almonds, agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Greek yogurt – and, like the lentils, is simple to prepare.
As I cooked the apples in a bubbling agave mixture, I had a feeling I was about to taste something delicious. Topped with Greek yogurt and toasted almonds, the dessert was amazing. I’m not kidding. It was amazing. My sister, who eagerly ate the dish with me, can confirm this. The best thing about the dessert (well, maybe the second best thing after the taste), was that it didn’t spike my blood sugar. At all.
And that is why I love The Sweet Life. Eating with diabetes can be hard. Constantly thinking about what is in a dish, reading nutrition labels and making guesses about how something will affect blood glucose can quickly take the fun out of eating. But I refuse to let diabetes ruin my love for good food – and Talbot clearly feels the same way. He showcases beautiful, flavorful dishes that people with or without diabetes can enjoy unapologetically. I can’t wait to enjoy more.