Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The 4-Ingredient Diabetes Cookbook

I don't usually review a lot of diet-related books, but the diabetic ones fit pretty well with the way I eat, as long as they don't use artificial sweeteners. But those aren't used in savory foods, so it's all good.

Not only is The 4-Ingredient Diabetes Cookbook by Nancy S. Hughes a book for special diets, but it's also one for people who don't fuss with their cooking.

There's a cookbook for everyone and I picture this one as targeting someone who just found out they're diabetic and need to change their eating habits, but they're used to the convenience of restaurants, take-out, and frozen entrees and box mixes.

The recipes aren't complicated - I mean, how can they be with only four ingredients?

Well, there's a little bit of a trick - for the orzo salad I made, it called for feta cheese with sundried tomatoes and basil. Um ... I don't think I've ever seen such a thing. So I used regular feta cheese, then added some roasted red peppers. It also called for a bottled salad dressing mix. I normally would have substituted a home made dressing, but I just happened to have a bottle of dressing that I got as a sample, so I used that.

Then it called for a Greek seasoning mix. That's something I've never seen at the grocery store, but I do buy it from Penzey's. So I was good to go with that.

But ... if it weren't for the use of combo products, there would have been a lot more ingredients besides orzo, feta, salad dressing, and seasoning mix. Parsley was optional, but I didn't have any on hand.

It was pretty good. I was tempted to add more ingredients - olives, artichokes, capers, cucumber, zucchini, fresh green bell pepper ... but I held back. I figured the roasted red peppers were enough of an addition to the recipe.

Oh, and I also used a flavored orzo mix instead of the whole wheat orzo called for in the recipe. I didn't happen to have the whole wheat version, and I did have orzo with lemon and parsley - so there was some parsley flavor, even if the fresh herb wasn't there.

It was good. I'd make it again. Actually, I've made salads like this before. But if I did make it again, I definitely would add things. Maybe just cucumbers, to add just that little bit of crunch.

Next up, I tried something called Black Bean and Corn Bowl. It was pretty simple. A can of tomatoes with peppers, canned black beans, frozen corn (I used canned), and some sour cream for a garnish.

Again, I'd made something very similar befire, but the one I made had been an uncooked mix that was a salad or could be used as a salsa. I was curious what it would be like after cooking, aside from getting rid of some of the liquid from the tomatoes.

I didn't happen to have tomatoes with peppers called for in the recipe, so I used regular diced tomatoes plus a can of Hatch diced chilies.

The book made sort of a big deal about using the 10.5-ounce can of tomatoes instead of the 14.5-ounce can. I'm guessing they were referring to a particular brand in the smaller can, because can size shouldn't affect flavor. But ... they didn't mention the brand and I had the diced tomatoes and peppers on hand. So that's what I used. Next time I'm at the grocery store, I'll take a look at what kind of tomatoes come in small cans.

I combined the ingredients and cooked according to the directions, and I have to say that while it was okay, it wasn't fantastic. The beans, since they were already cooked in the can, seemed sort of overcooked and the flavor was a little muddy.

But it wasn't bad.

Hot, it was sort of like a vegetarian chili, but if I was making a vegetarian chili, I would have added more ingredients. Then I tried it chilled, but I thought it needed more flavor, so I added more salsa and used it on top of chips. While I liked the combination of ingredients, I think next time around, I won't bother cooking, particularly if I use canned corn. If I have fresh or frozen corn, I'll cook that separately, but leave the beans as-is.

So ... while this probably isn't the book for me because I wanted to keep adding more and more ingredients, it would be an awesome book for someone who wants to cook diabetic-friendly foods without a lot of fuss.

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