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Thriving with Type 2 Diabetes: Chef Tom Valenti

When Chef Tom Valenti learned he had type 2 diabetes, he saw his life flash before his eyes -- his culinary eyes, that is. How could he continue to spend so much time in the kitchen with temptations at every turn? Find Chef Valenti's answers to the challenges of eating with diabetes in his easy, restaurant-quality recipes, plus tips on how to thrive with diabetes.

Meet Chef Tom Valenti

Chef Tom Valenti was diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago. The what-to-eat dilemmas seemed daunting at first, but he soon decided to turn his diabetes into a creative challenge rather than a test of his morale. We recently caught up with Chef Valenti at Ouest, one of his two New York City restaurants, to get a taste of the light one-pan recipes in his new diabetes-friendly cookbook, You Don't Have to Be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook (Workman Publishing Co., 2009), as well as some great tips for thriving in the kitchen -- and in life.

Hearty Beef and Vegetable Stew

"I bring two of my favorite tricks of the trade to this otherwise straightforward beef stew: the addition of turkey bacon for a bit of smoke and some distilled white vinegar to add an acidic tang. Let the stew simmer as gently as possible to keep the meat from toughening up."

Per serving: 258 calories, 9 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 38 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 16 g carb, 4 g fiber, 21 g protein.

Exchanges: 1.5 vegetable, 0.5 carb, 2.5 lean meat, 1.5 fat. Carb choices: 1.

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Dining Out with Diabetes

"Never be shy to ask about the ingredients in a dish, especially when fine dining. Most chefs are very willing to accommodate you. Ask if part of a dish can be grilled or lightly sauteed, and ask for the side dishes served on separate plates so you can better judge portion sizes. If you have concerns, call ahead so the chef can consider making something special for you."

Fish-and-Chips-Style Cod

"Here's a recipe I whipped up to satisfy a craving. You can enjoy all the flavor and crisp crust of this British pub staple by using a light, tempura-style batter and shallow-frying the fish in a small amount of oil. And you can by all means include the telltale finishing touch of any fish-and-chips feast: Sprinkle malt vinegar over the cod just before digging in."

Per serving: 177 calories, 8 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 55 mg cholesterol, 118 mg sodium, 4 g carb, 0 g fiber, 21 g protein.

Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 fat. Carb choices: 0.

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Chicken Cacciatore

"Pop quiz: What is chicken cacciatore? It's a bit of a trick question, actually, because while we all feel we know this dish, most of us (me included) really don't. Cacciatore means hunter, but every hunter makes his own version. So here is this hunter's version of stew, made with lots of garlic and tomato, with fresh thyme giving it an evocative, woodsy quality."

Per serving: 407 calories, 13 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 109 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 30 g carb, 6 g fiber, 32 g protein.

Exchanges: 2.5 vegetable, 1 carb, 4 lean meat, 2 fat. Carb choices: 2.

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One-Dish Wonders

"The real advantage of one-dish meals is the integration of all the flavors. Plus, it's often an economical choice -- you can reduce the protein portion while increasing the vegetable or grains portion and still have a very pleasing, filling dish."

Garlic-Roasted Pork Loin

"This Latin-inspired dish features slow-roasted pork that's been dotted with garlic. As the meat cooks, the garlic melts and transmits its flavor throughout the loin. The result is a succulent, aromatic meat achieved with very little work."

Per serving: 235 calories, 13 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 71 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 2 g carb, 0 g fiber, 26 g protein.

Exchanges: 3.5 vegetable, 1.5 fat. Carb choices: 0.

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Stuffed Red Peppers

"The bright flavors of Mediterranean cooking are on full display in this dish. It features ground beef or lamb, feta cheese, orzo, and thyme packed into a red pepper that infuses those ingredients with flavor and moisture as they cook."

Per serving: 271 calories, 12 g total fat (5 g saturated fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 457 mg sodium, 16 g carb, 3 g fiber, 24 g protein.

Exchanges: 1.5 vegetable, 0.5 starch, 2.5 medium-fat meat. Carb choices: 1.

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Flavor Boosters

"I have a fondness for using a lot of acidity in my cooking, mostly lemon juice and vinegar. It's a fat-free, and virtually carb-free and calorie-free, way of upping the flavor. Fresh herbs or a bit of heat from chopped peppers are also some of my favorite low-calorie flavor boosters. And a bit of contrast, whether it's in temperature or texture, is an easy way to perk up your palate."

Snapper Piccata

"Here, the perfect combination of snapper and white wine is achieved by slicing and quickly cooking the fish, then topping it with a simple pan sauce. Because the pieces of snapper are so thin, the flavors penetrate effortlessly."

Per serving: 228 calories, 8 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 59 mg cholesterol, 313 mg sodium, 2 g carb, 0 g fiber, 30 g protein.

Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1 fat. Carb choices: 0.

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Healthy Eating for the Whole Family

"It's easy to get into trouble when prepackaged, unhealthy meals are cheap, quick options for dinner. But their perceived value can cost you your health in the end. Find a way to manage your time so you can embrace the fun side of cooking your own meals -- and get the whole family involved so they become interested in preparing their own meals. Show them how fresh foods are magically, naturally delicious. Lead by example."

Chicken Curry with Onions

"This chicken curry with onions is a wonderfully complex one-pan affair that builds layer after layer of texture and flavors in a series of easy, logical steps. You slowly sweat down onions until they are meltingly tender. Then you add thinly sliced chicken and cook it in a matter of seconds. Curry flavors the other ingredients, and a few spoonfuls of water create an instant sauce."

Per serving: 311 calories, 9 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 24 g carb, 3 g fiber, 30 g protein.

Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 starch, 3.5 lean meat, 1 fat. Carb choices: 1.5.

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You Don't Have to Be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook

More than 250 enticing, varied, and imaginative recipes fill Chef Tom Valenti's latest cookbook, You Don't Have to Be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook. You'll find other restaurant-quality favorites in his book, such as Caramelized Onion Dip, Baked Spicy Sweet Potato Fries, Vegetable Lasagna, Creamy Spinach Risotto, Mint Chocolate Pots de Creme, and Apple Turnovers with Walnuts.

Workman Publishing Co., 2009

$19.95

workman.com

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