PUBLISHED: 2:11 PM on Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Diabetic diet has benefits for all of us
What can't I eat?

That has to be the thought racing through a patient's mind upon first learning he's been diagnosed with diabetes. The second thought might be about needles - I'm not a big fan.

Seriously, this nation's growing problem with obesity is joined by increasing numbers of new diabetics. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 20.8 million Americans (about 7 percent of the population) have diabetes. Of that number, 6.2 million are undiagnosed.

A basic definition of diabetes is that it's a condition in which glucose levels in the blood are too high. Glucose comes from foods like bread, potatoes, rice, yams, sugar and sweet foods. You know, the sort of food that usually finds its way on to our plates every meal.

While diabetes is a serious condition, it's manageable. And according to Art Ginsburg , aka Mr. Food, the diabetic can enjoy a wide array of food. He proves this with his latest book, Diabetic Dinners in a Dash: More Than 150 Fast & Fabulous Guilt-Free Recipes (American Diabetes Association, $16.95). This is the third book dedicated to diabetes that he has written in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association. All of them can be purchased at or by calling (888) 467-3663 .

Because 10 percent of children with diabetes and 5 percent of all those with Type 1 diabetes will also contract celiac disease, Ginsburg also explains how these people can make the recipes work with their diet, which restricts wheat and many grains.

If you're thinking that the food has to be bland, forget about it.

Appetizers include Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Dip, Mini Margherita Pizza, Tropical Shrimp and Buffalo Catfish Strips. Among the entrees offered are: Lemon Roasted Chicken, Barbecued Turkey Rolls, Asian Chicken Wraps, Key West Chicken, Fiesta Meat Loaf, Italian Pork Roast and Mojo Pork Grillers. As for desserts, how about Chocolate Biscotti, Orange Walnut Mini Muffins, Crustless Lemon Cream Pie, No-Bake Key Lime Pie, Nutty Baked Apples and Orange Cream Pie?

"You don't have to eat things that are not tasty," Ginsburg said during a telephone interview. "You don't have to avoid any particular food. You can have your sugars and your salt. You can have everything. It is more portion control and moderation." Before the book gets to the first recipe, Ginsburg explains proper portions. He tells readers to stop serving family-style meals with large platters and bowls on the table. Instead place food on a plate, and that is it.

"You don't need a slide rule or yardstick [to figure out the portions]," he said.

Ginsburg also advises removing the salt shaker from the table.

Diabetics need to reduce salt and replace it with other flavors.

"The most important tool in your kitchen is your spice rack," he said.

Because some diabetics can avoid the injections and control the disease with diet alone, this book includes an easy-to-read approach to the nutrition information they need.

The array of foods also solves a problem for the cook in the family.

This food tastes so good that there's no need to cook a special meal for the diabetic and one for the rest of the family.

"If everybody ate a diabetic diet, we'd be the healthiest nation in the world," Ginsburg promised.