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Apr 24, 2012 05:04 PM

Diabetic cookbooks?

There are a bazillion on the market but I don't want to waste the money unless I know it's got recipes in it that DH might want to eat. I've got plenty of 'diet' cookbooks on the shelf (mostly unused because I only read them to get ideas) but nothing for diabetics.

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  1. part of the problem is that the recipes in diabetic cookbooks just aren't very good. and the ones that are endorsed by the ADA or that adhere strictly to ADA guidelines often provide recipes that are still too high in carbs or sugar for many patients. you're honestly better off checking out low-carb and paleo books and websites. some good online resources to check out...



    as far as cookbooks go, i can't vouch for it personally but i know a lot of people like "The Low-Carb Gourmet," by Karen Barnaby:

    hope that helps!

    4 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      The 'diabetic' cookbooks in the library are PATHETIC! Except for a fairly new diet one that seems interesting and focuses on 'superfoods', most of which fit my idea of a suitably healthy diet. The best ones I've seen so far are the South Beach Diet cookbooks. They use lots of vegetables in interesting ways, and a suitably low amount of carbs in the stage 2/3 recipes.

      But I need some cookbooks so we don't fall into the rut of eggs and bacon for breakfast, a salad for lunch etc. every single day...

      1. re: Kajikit

        I think you are better off with low carb cookbooks for what you are looking for. Two good ones are The Low Carb Cookbook by Fran McCullough and the Low Carb Gourmet by Karen Barnaby. My husband is diabetic - his blood sugar is kept in check when he eats low carb and these cookbooks have some good, creative options.

        1. re: Kajikit

          FYI Kajikit! I found the rec interesting and just googled Amazon for The Low-Carb Gourmet..
          The book is quite pricey but has very positive reviews. I'll check my library, hoping I can peruse their copy.

          The Low-Carb Gourmet: 250 Delicious and Satisfying Recipes [Hardcover]
          Karen Barnaby
          Karen Barnaby (Author)
          › Visit Amazon's Karen Barnaby Page
          Find all the books, read about the author, and more.
          See search results for this author
          Are you an author? Learn about Author Central
          (Author), Maren Caruso (Photographer)
          4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

          Available from these sellers.
          5 new from $149.99 14 used from $94.45

          1. re: Sherri

            I posted this site on another thread but here is Karen Barnaby's board.

      2. No one in our home is diabetic but we had a blood glucose alert (pre-diabetes) for my husband several months ago. We've changed our diet, not without some hits & misses. I agree with you that the plethora of "Diabetic Cookbooks" is deplorable. Many would be lousy cookbooks without the special emphasis. Substituting Splenda for sugar and proceeding normally does not make it for me nor does the simplistic advice we received "cut down on carbs". All carbs? Are all carbs equal? What about combining fat & protein with carbs, is there any effect? ETC. Lordy, I had questions.
        Full disclosure - I am a retired teaching chef so have more than a passing knowledge of cooking. A "Cookbook" is not exactly what I am seeking; I want the scientific/medical reasons for the dietary recommendations distilled for a layperson and I do want specific food recommemdations with reasons for their inclusion.

        The book that has made the most sense is: "A RECIPE FOR LIFE, by the Doctor's Dietician" written by Susan Dopart. She's a Registered Dietician who actually seems to like food! Her explanation of how the body works, what causes diabetes, etc made good sense and good reading. Instead of my taking responsibility for all the necessary changes and telling my husband that this is what is good for him, I suggested that he also read the book. He did and now has a better understanding of what is involved with meal-planning. This also facilitates his learning to make good choices when away from home. I refuse to become the food police.

        I have not used many of the recipes since I can work it out for myself. The information was key and I found this book to be a good balance between "Diabetes for Dummies" (apologies if there is such an actual title) and a medical text.

        Hope this helps.
        PS - I am not the author's mother, friend or other interested party. Her work is simply the best that I've run across, so far. Good luck on your hunt.

        I should also note that by making the necessary dietary changes, his most recent test is within the 'normal' range. We'll stick with our new way of eating. The alternative is unacceptable.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Sherri

          "Substituting Splenda for sugar and proceeding normally does not make it for me nor does the simplistic advice we received "cut down on carbs". All carbs? Are all carbs equal? What about combining fat & protein with carbs, is there any effect?"

          I think the eating plan for diabetes is highly individualized so there is not one answer. People need to be educated in finding out what they can and cannot tolerate. Each person has to check their own blood sugar and find out how they react to different types of carbs. For many people, their blood sugar will go up as much with a slice of whole wheat bread as much as with a Coke. How well they tolerate a given food may also vary with time of day, activity, what is eaten with it, how it is cooked and their weight.

          The Blood Sugar 101 blog posted above is excellent in understanding blood sugar issues.

          1. re: wekick

            Looks like I may have had a post deleted? Anyway, the Blood Sugar 101 site is and the thing to look for in terms of testing your own best control with food is the downloadable "test, test, test" flyer pdf.

          2. re: Sherri

            The problems I see with her book is the conventional emphasis on carbs for the brain (the brain heals and works best on ketones, a byproduct of fat burning in the absence of carbs), fruits, grains and fat restriction. While her plan may be better than what a lot of folks were eating before, that information is incorrect and fat doesn't stimulate glucagon or insulin, so it's a diabetic's best friend. Glad you've seen improvements, if you ever need to modify, consider start lowering the grains and fruits to improve control.

            1. re: mcf

              mcf, I know that you've done a ton of careful tracking of your body's reaction to various foods, but do you have a fave cookbook? I do like the phlaunt site, but I love (it's a nerd thing) to hold and pore over a cookbook (usually before bed, bizarrely).

              I ask b/c your comments have been nearly spot-on with my adventures with DH's newly diagnosed diabetes, and our new lifestyle/diet changes. Thanks!

              1. re: pinehurst

                I'm so glad the information has helped... so many of us learn to be healthier than we've ever been upon realizing how to control DM with diet... instead of progressing the way others do, with much suffering. If you have to get something, it's better to get something you can fix yourself, think.

                I don't use cookbooks much, and I don't follow a particular diet plan, like Atkins, frex, but I do love to curl up with cookbooks, too. I just ordered that one that's hard to come by in hard cover but the reviews and recipes sound fabulous, The Low Carb Gourmet by Karen Barnaby. The hard cover price is astonishing! I found a used copy sold "like new" for $48, so worth a shot.

                I own and have used The Low Carb Cookbook by Fran McCullough (an Atkins dieter), a food writer and cook book reviewer, I just don't add quite as much fat as she sometimes does to things, since my diet is about 50% fat calories. Mostly, I use google or, or just adapt recipes I come across if they sound good enough and if I won't have to use garbage ingredients that compromise quality too much.

                If there are particular types of foods that you're needing inspiration or ideas for, start a thread in special diets and I'm sure you'll get lots of ideas.

                Here's a recipe I've experimented with a lot (ok, it's so good, I did it obsessively til summer) and found that rutabaga or white turnip is best for bg levels post meal, though white turnip, even little ones, have more bitter flavor. I don't mind bitter, but I love rutabaga. This is also an example of how you can find carby recipes and make them lower carb while still luxurious eating: I cut this recipe by half for two of us and have enough for two dinners as a side dish.

                I don't love Low Carb Comfort Food by the Eades, I think it is, but I own it. Check out your library system for what's available or ask them to order some low carb cookbooks and maybe test drive before buying?

                I'll let you know if you should consider picking up a copy of The LC Gourmet as soon as I receive it and take a look. Also, take a look at this thread, some interesting info.

                1. re: mcf

                  I got my copy of Karen Barnaby's book. I got a used hard cover for just over $40 in like new condition... Even as a very long time low carb cook, there are some ideas and types of salads especially, and recipe techniques I haven't used. Clearly, a low carber with a sophisticated palate and experience with food. I am really excited to have this book to widen our choices...

                  I've bought chayote (not in her book but recommended by low carbers somewhere) and will try daikon radish at home. She reminded me that my best potato substitute that I tried for the gratin may have been celery root, my last experiment. And I'm going to give kohlrabi another shot, too.

                  If you really care about cuisine and low carb, definitely a strong recommendation, just from a read through of numerous sections. She gives carb counts, etc and good information about how to use and prepare what may be unfamiliar ingredients. The desserts look very good, too. I use different sweeteners than she does, but that's a very easy modficiation. I don't use artificial granulated sweeteners due to the high glycemic junk used to bulk them up and it's added carbs. I tend to use a combination of 50% liquid sweetzfree and 50% granular xylitol, which really tastes and moisturizes the way sugar does, but is not low carb enough on its own for me.

                  King Arther Flour and Bob's Red Mill are good sources for nut flours and meals you can keep in the freezer for eons.

                  Some of her recipes that caught my eye:


                  1. re: mcf

                    Wow, super. You (and all the advice here) have made this journey easier.
                    So great! Thank you!

                    1. re: pinehurst

                      Sure, and if you want to stray from the CH topic to discuss DM management with diet experiences and other stuff, you can email me at

            2. re: Sherri

              I will be on the outlook for this book.

            3. Yeah, I haven't had any luck finding a single "diabetic" cookbook that I'd recommend anyone else buy. That being said, there are some additional resources to the ones already shared that I like.


              Hope this helps!

              1 Reply
              1. re: whatwouldruthdo

                I'd add those titles to the list of books for diabetics to avoid, after perusing the pictures and recipes.

              2. My Dad became a Renal diabetic last year. The recipe books for diabetics are not great. I invested much time in learning the diet itself and then used websites for diabetic foods to get recipes.

                1. Folks I am a Ph.D. trained pharmacologist and teach diabetes to pharmacy students at a major public university. I am also a type II diabetic that lives in the normal HbA1C range at 5% and have for over a decade. Maybe my case is mild but after going on a nutritionally dense low carb good fat lifestyle I lost about 45 pounds and my disease. And am medication free. I don't buy "diabetic" cookbooks because 99% are trash. I like Dana Carpender's low carb recipes. I also teach students that the low glycemic index foods are many of the most nutritious.

                  Remember, there is no money to be made in having a diabetic eat properly and therefore that's not what's really pushed by the major players ADA, AMA, and big Pharma in our management. Eating strawberries / peaches / melons in moderation instead of cake or pie, mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, and low carb high fiber bread instead of wonder white are perfectly good examples of easy, inexpensive, and positive nutritional changes to anyone's diet that will improve glycemic control in everyone, regardless of diabetes type and disease severity. All dietary modifications in the low glycemic direction in those on medicines need to be matched by medical monitoring and communication with the doc.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: slowcoooked

                    "Remember, there is no money to be made in having a diabetic eat properly and therefore that's not what's really pushed by the major players ADA, AMA, and big Pharma in our management."

                    Thank you for a common-sense response. Making moderate changes - ex: mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes - has made a significant difference for my husband. Granted, he was/is not diabetic, just received a 'wake-up' call after some blood work. We're doing a better job of eating and have found great new ways with fruits, vegetables, whole grains & legumes. I understand that our way will not work for everyone, that some must be more restrictive. In my bones, I knew there was more to the equation than "cut out sugar, lower carbs and if that doesn't work, there is always medicine".

                    Your pharmacology students are lucky to have you teaching. Wish there were more of you out there.

                    1. re: Sherri

                      I am sure eating properly can make the difference. Some of us like myself have to make the effort and the committment to do so.