Archive for August, 2009

Exchange Plan books and cookbooks

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Nearly all exchange diet plans, are based on the Exchange Lists produced by The American Diabetes Association and The American Dietetic Association (first developed in the mid 50’s).   Although each exchange plan may recommend a different distribution of exchanges, the foods and quantities making up the specific exchanges are relatively consistent from plan to plan.   As a result, most exchange cookbooks are interchangeable.  When differences are found, they’re relatively easy to “translate” into the modern equivalents.    Occasionally one exchange plan may give the exchanges different names (but the foods within those exchanges are consistent), thus

starch exchange may = bread exchange = carbohydrate exchange

protein exchange = meat exchange

dairy exchange = milk exchange = calcium food exchange

Some older exchange systems differentiate between leafy veggies and starchy veggies (in modern exchanges a starchy vegetable would be a “bread” or “starch” exchange).  Also, in some older programs proteins are subdivided into very lean, medium lean, and fatty meats/protein servings (in modern exchanges a very lean protein = 1 protein serving.  A medium lean protein =  1 protein.  A fatty meat = 1 protein, 2 fat. 

To date, the DASH diet is the only exchange plan I have found that deviates significantly from other exchange plans, though translation is still fairly straightforward (you just have to use a tiny bit of math).

In the DASH diet, a meat/protein serving is equivalent to 3 protein exchanges in other programs .  So when “translating” DASH recipes into the more common exchange equivalents, 1 protein (DASH) = 3 proteins in other exchange systems.  The DASH diet also has a nut exchange, but 1 nut exchange is = to 2 fat exchanges.

 I’ve begun compiling a list of exchange plan program and recipe books that I want to read and review (and probably own).  As I am able to, I will include my reviews of the books I have read from this list.  Many of these books will be currently out-of-print, but may be available through interlibrary loan, used book stores, and online book sellers.  I can’t vouch for any of the books I’ve included that I haven’t yet read.  I can’t guarantee that the exchange information is accurate or universal in any of these books, but I’ve had good luck with the ones I’ve found so far (Bear with this list, it will be a work in progress for some time).  This will probably never be a complete list, as there are hundreds, if not thousands of books that include exchange information.

Exchanges for All Occasions by Marion J. Franz

The Diabetic’s Brand-name Food Exchange Handbook  by Clara G. Schneider

The Official Pocket Guide to Diabetic Exchanges by American Diabetes Association

Betty Crocker’s Diabetes Cookbook: Everyday Meals, Easy as 1-2-3 by Betty Crocker Editors (Hardcover – Feb 15, 2003)



The Best Life Diet Revised and Updated by Bob Greene and Oprah Winfrey (Paperback – Dec 30, 2008)

The Best Life Diet Cookbook: More than 175 Delicious, Convenient, Family-Friendly Recipes by Bob Greene (Hardcover – Dec 30, 2008)


Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking: A Full Year of Simple, Menus and Easy Recipes by Lara Rondinelli and Jennifer Bucko (Paperback – Dec 10, 2004)

The Diabetic Gourmet Cookbook: More Than 200 Healthy Recipes from Homestyle Favorites to Restaurant Classics by Editors of The Diabetic Gourmet magazine (Paperback – May 21, 2004)

You Don’t Have to be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook: 250 Amazing Dishes for People With Diabetes and Their Families and Friends by Andrew Friedman and Tom Valenti (Paperback – Jun 1, 2009)

Diabetes Cookbook For Dummies (For Dummies (Cooking)) by Alan L. Rubin MD, Chef Denise Sharf, and Alison G. Acerra RD (Paperback – Aug 8, 2005)

The Joslin Diabetes Quick and Easy Cookbook: 200 Recipes for 1 to 4 People by Bonnie Polin Frances Giedt (Paperback – Nov 17, 1998)
Complete Diabetic Cookbook: Healthy, Delicious Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy by Mary Jane Finsand, Karin Cadwell Ph.D. R.N., and Edith White (Hardcover – Jan 10, 2003)

Month of Meals: Ethnic Delights by American Diabetes Association


Month of Meals: Old-Time Favorites by American Diabetes Association

Month of Meals: Vegetarian Pleasures by American Diabetes Association

Month of Meals: All-American Fare by American Diabetes Association

Month of Meals: Soul Food by Roniece Weaver

Month of Meals, Quick & Easy Menus for People with Diabetes: Classic Cooking by American Diabetes Association

Month of Meals, Quick & Easy Menus for People with Diabetes: Classic Cooking by American Diabetes Association


Richard Simmons

The Richard Simmons Farewell to Fat Cookbook: Homemade in the U. S. A by Richard Simmons (Paperback – Sep 1999)

Richard Simmons Food Mover Cookbook by Lynn Hamlin (Spiral-bound – 1999)

Richard Simmons Deal-A-Meal Cookbook by Edouard Ouellette (Spiral-bound – 1989)
4 Used & new from $7.96

Exchange Cookbook for Diabetic and Weight Control Programs by Pamela G. Barbour and Norman G. Spivey


Fix-It and Enjoy-It! Diabetic Cookbook: Stove-Top and Oven Recipes-For Everyone! by Phyllis Pellman Good and American Diabetes Association



JoAnna Lund Healthy Exchanges Cookbooks (there are many more titles than those I’ve listed). 

     My mother and I have about half a dozen of JoAnna Lund’s books between us, and I’ve borrowed several from the library.  Her recipes are a bit old-fashioned (in my opinion) and rely heavily on  brand-name,  processed  foods and food products.   A lot of out-of-a can, bottle, or jar ingredients.    All in all, I’d give the author’s books as a group a grade of C, good but not extraordinary.  On their own (if you’re only going to buy one of the author’s books), I’d give a more positive endorsement.  However, I’ve often been disappointed in buying one of her books, for which she promises on the cover “all new recipes” only to find a large number of recipes that are nearly identical to recipes in previous (or sometimes even the same) book.

Changing an ingredient or two really isn’t a “new recipe,” in my book (but my book has never been published, either).  Definitely worth picking up in a thrift store, garage sale or on 

     Fast, Cheap, and Easy: 100 Original Recipes That Make the Cooking as Much Fun as the Eating by JoAnna M. Lund (Hardcover – Jan 2000)

     Cooking Healthy Across America by Joanna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert (Hardcover – Sep 2000)

     Pizza Anytime: A Healthy Exchanges Cookbook (Healthy Exchanges Cookbooks) by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert (Paperback – Feb 6, 2007)

     The Diabetic’s Healthy Exchanges Cookbook (Healthy Exchanges Cookbooks) by JoAnna M. Lund

    The Diabetic’s Healthy Exchanges Cookbook (Healthy Exchanges Cookbooks) by JoAnna M. Lund

     Cooking for Two (Healthy Exchanges Cookbook) by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert

     A Potful of Recipes by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert

     The Open Road Cookbook by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert

     30 Minutes to Mealtime: A Healthy Exchanges Cookbook (Healthy Exchanges Cookbooks) by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert

     Healthy Exchanges Sensational Smoothies by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert

     Cooking Healthy with Soy (Healthy Exchanges Cookbook) by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert

     The Healthy Exchanges Diabetic Desserts Cookbook by JoAnna M. Lund and Barbara Alpert


Weight Watcher’s cookbooks published prior to 1997 (there are dozens and dozens of these, there are many, many more than I have listed here)

     Weight Watchers Quick Start Plus Program Cookbook: Including Personal Choice Food Selections by Jean; Weight Watchers International Nidetch (Paperback – 1990)

     Weight Watchers Quick Success Program Cookbook (Plume) by Jean Nidetch (Paperback – Jul 1, 1990)

     Weight Watchers Quick Start Plus Program Cookbook (Including Personal Choice Food Selections) by Jean Nidetch and Weight Waters International

     Weight Watchers New 365 Day Menu Cookbook: Complete Meals for Every Day of the Year by Weight Watchers and Inc Staf Weight Watchers Internati (Hardcover – Jul 1, 1996)

     Weight Watchers Quick and Easy Menu Cookbook (Plume) by Weight Watchers International (Paperback – Mar 30, 1989)

     Weight Watchers’ Favorite Homestyle Recipes: 250 Prize-Winning Recipes from Weight Watchers Members and Staff by Weight Watchers International (Hardcover – Jan 1, 1993)

     Weight Watchers Dessert Classics: 150 Indulgent Ways to End a Meal by Weight Watchers (Paperback – 1995)

     Weight Watchers Magazine: Low-Calorie Desserts by Linda (editor) Konner (Paperback – 1985)

     Weight Watchers Slim Ways Mexican by Weight Watchers (Hardcover – 1963)

     Weight Watchers Cooking For One Classics: Over 150 Single Serve Recipes (Paperback – 1995)

     Weight Watchers Healthy Life-Style Cookbook (Plume) by Weight Watchers International (Paperback – Feb 1, 1992)

     The 500 All-new Irresistible Recipes Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook & Program Basics – Year-round Recipe Bonus by Weight Watchers (Hardcover – 1994)

     Fast & Fabulous Cookbook (Weight Watchers) by Smithmark Publishing and Inc Staf Weight Watchers Internati (Hardcover – May 1996)

     Weight Watchers Simply Light Cooking: 250 Recipes from the Kitchens of Weight Watchers by Weight Watchers International (Paperback – Sep 1, 1993)

     Weight Watchers Meals in Minutes Cookbook by Inc. Staff Weight Watchers International (Hardcover – May 1, 1996)

     Weight Watchers Favorite Recipes: Over 280 Winning Dishes from Weight Watchers Members and Staff by Guy Powers (Hardcover – May 1996)

     WEIGHT WATCHERS SMART CHOICE RECIPE COLLECTION by Weight Watchers (Hardcover – 1992)

     Weight Watchers Fast and Fabulous Cookbook, Based on the 1984 Full Exchange Plan, Hundred of Delicious Recipes That Can be Prepared in an Hour or Less by Weight Watchers (Hardcover – Jan 1, 1983)

     Weight Watcher’s Magazine Budget Classics by Editors of Weight Watchers Magazine (Paperback – 1995)

The Best of Weight Watchers Magazine 1980 paperback by Unknown (Paperback – 1980)

Richard Simmons Never-Say-Diet Cookbook by Richard Simmons (Paperback – May 1, 1983)

Snails: Food Adventuring “gone wrong”

Monday, August 10th, 2009
Today, I tried to cook snails at home.  As I mentioned in my Food Adventuring post, about a month ago, I  bought a pound of boiled apple snails (imported from Thailand).  I’d only eaten snails a couple times and liked them, but I don’t know why I thought cooking them myself was a great idea, but in the spirit of Food Adventuring,  I gave it a shot, and failed miserably.
I thawed the package of snails overnight in the refrigerator.  Then, I rinsed the thawed snails in water. They were obviously thoroughly cooked, and cleaned, but very rubbery. The odor was very similar to clams, but a little bit stronger. Not objectionable, so I went on to simmer them in a garlic-wine broth (water, wine, butter, minced garlic, chives, parsley, salt and pepper).


Flavor: Overall, mildly disappointing, with a pleasant-enough flavor (mostly from the sauce, however). The snail meat had a stronger aroma than flavor, and the combination aroma/flavor was not as mild as clams, but not as strong as cooked mussels or oysters (I don’t eat raw shellfish). Expected a lot more flavor than the snail delivered, it was more bland than anything else.

Good news: No grit, so the snails were obviously prepared and cleaned well.

Bad news: Rubbery as pencil erasers. The texture ruined it completey for me. There were a few pieces that were tender enough to eat and enjoy, but the larger pieces were very tough and rubbery.

I attempted to simmer longer to see if it helped – and while it did (I found a few more morsels tender enough to eat), the texture still wasn’t enjoyable, and the flavor was so bland, it felt more like I was cooking bits of slightly mussel-scented, but completey tasteless rubber (in a yummy garlic sauce) – not “food-like” enough to warrant continued interest.

Conclusion: I would eat these again only if I was starving or if someone who knew how to make them tender and delicious cooked them (and it’s definitely, not me). I will not be rebuying snailmeat.

In hindsight, I probably should have known better. My only previous experience with mollusc-cooking was also a disaster:

I love calimari, so decided to try to make my own. I followed the fishcounterman’s suggestion to clean (yuck, broke the inksack, double yuck), slice, and then soak the squid in lemon-lime soda (supposedly tenderizes meat), and to dip in egg and panko and fry for only 20 to 30 seconds, until panko browned.

The result was pretty much similar to the snails today (except there’s not much aroma to squid, just a mild salt-water smell). The batter was tasty, but the squid meat was flavorless and inedibly rubbery. Not just chewy like fried clam, but no give at all, like rubber bands (actually, rubberbands probably would have more flavor – they couldn’t have less).

I guess I’ll leave the mollusk-cooking to the experts (flavored rubber, just not “Good Eats”).

Food Adventuring

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

I’ve always been a food adventurer.  More a foodie than a gourmet (funnel cake appeals to me as much as tiramisu), and yet for some reason, I rarely carried over that adventuring into dieting.  Whenever I restricted calories, I stuck to mostly traditional “diet foods.”   I don’t know why I wasn’t able to think outside the box, but dieting meant “diet foods,” and also usually meant boredom and frustration and going off the diet (at least periodically).

This time, I decided to incorporate food adventuring into my weight loss plan, and see what happens.  Some of my successes and failures during this journey (in no particular order):

Dragonfruit (pitaya)

  Beautiful, bright red and golden green on the outside.  Moist, white flesh speckled with tiny black seeds, a texture a bit like kiwi.  The texture was pleasant and juicy, but the taste was a disappointment.  It didn’t taste bad, it just lacked oomph.  Imagine sugar water.  Sweet, but nothing else.  I would eat it again if it was given to me, but I would never again pay $7 for one fruit.  Still, it was fun to try.


  Mmmm, I didn’t think I’d find a fruit that could replace Ranier cherries as my favorite fruit, but fresh (not canned!) lychees are as wonderful as their reputation.

Ugli fruit, Uniq fruit, pluots, white peaches/nectarines, and fancy varieties of apples

  These aren’t exactly “new” for me, but while I have always loved the fancy hybrid and varieties of fruits, I am less reluctant to buy them because of the somewhat higher price.  I have to be budget conscious, but I don’t buy the cheapest varieties just because they’re the cheapest.   Flavor matters too.

Wheat and rye berries.

   I discovered wheat berries in the 80’s in Yoplait’s “breakfast yogurt,” but until a couple years ago, had never cooked them myself.  Now they’re a staple.  I like them added to yogurt, oatmeal or dry cereal (or used by themselves as a hot or cold cereal).  I also use them as a base or add-in to salads.

  I tried rye berries for the first time when I made a sloppy joe-like bean and rye berrie dish (see recipe in recipe section of blog).  So absolutely yummy.

Bitter melon –

  Not so yummy.  It’s supposed to be very good for weight loss and diabetes (if eaten or juiced/drunk on an almost daily basis), but it lives up to it’s name and is very bitter.  I probably won’t be eating much of this, though I may try it again.

Asian eggplant

   I HATE european eggplant.  I’ve never been able to de-bitter one successfully (yes, I’ve tried salt and milk and multiple rinses).  However, I love thin asian eggplants, and even the tiny egg-sized and shaped ones (though not quite as much as there are more seeds than I care for in the tiny ones).  No de-bittering required, and the skin is even edible.  I like them roasted best (cut in large chunks, tossed in a bit of oil and seasonings – a bit of ranch dressing mix powder is my favorite fast mix, baked at 425 until carmelized).

Brussels sprouts

  I’ve hated Brussels sprouts most of my life, but discovered that I love them roasted (just like the eggplant, though I halve the sprouts before tossing with the oil and seasoning).

Ground cherries (physalis)

  They look like tiny little tomatillos, and taste a bit like them, but sweet.  Sort of like gooseberries.  I’m not sure whether these were a success or a failure.  I mostly liked them, but can’t say that I’ve had a “taste” for them since trying them.  Hubby didn’t like them, he didn’t like the texture or “green tomato,” flavor (I’m not sure that I would have compared the flavor to tomato, or even completely tomatillo, but I agree that it did have more of a “sweet vegetable” flavor to me than a sweet fruit.  More astringent than tart.)

Canned fish

  I’ve always eaten canned tuna and sardines, whether dieting or not, but in standard grocery stores and in ethnic groceries, the variety is endless.   I do have to be careful here, because some products are canned in oil or high calorie sauces, but whether it’s big-brand flavored varieties of tuna, or sardines in curry sauce or clams in chili sauce from the oriental grocery, canned fish and seafood packs a lot of flavor punch for the calorie (which some would see as a downfall – hubby hates the smell of canned fish products other than tuna so much that we have a deal that I only eat them when he is not in the house – or at least give him warning so he can decide whether to leave for a while).  I never want for a dinner companion though, as our cat becomes very friendly when she smells that I’ve opened a can.  Her favorite is sardines in green curry.  It’s pretty spicy, but she will beg for it like a lapdog – even will “sit pretty” on her hind legs.


  These are my next culinary adventure.  I bought a pound of frozen boiled apple snails in a thai grocery.   They’ve been in there about a month or two, because I haven’t the foggiest idea how to cook or serve them, but Google of course, came to the rescue – and now I can’t decide which of the yummy-sounding recipes I’m going to try.  I have about 24 hours to decide, because they’re in the refrigerator thawing.




Crockpot Sloppy John – black beans and rye berries

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Since  Hoppin’ John is rice and beans, I named this dish Sloppy John.  It resembles a cross between rice and beans, barbecue baked beans, and sloppy joe’s.   So yummy (and cheap). 

1 cup rye berries

2 cups dried beans (I used small black beans, also called turtle beans)

4 cups water

2 bouillon cubes.  (I used one cube of Knorr brand tomato bouillon with chicken flavor {Caldo de Tomate Con Sabor de Pollo}, and one cube of Knorr brand Chipotle mini cubes).

1 cup finely diced onion

1/4 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper (I used a scant quarter cup of dehydrated bell pepper, which hubby tolerates better than fresh.  It’s also an economical choice, especially in the winter)

1 tsp minced garlic (I used dehydrated minced garlic)

1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce (my favorite bottled sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy, but I used a dollar store brand for this recipe that tasted a lot like Kraft original barbecue sauce), a squirt of mustard, a tsp of vinegar and Splenda to taste

1 cup tvp mixture (optional see recipe)

You probably could add all ingredients into crockpot and cook on low until tender (which I’m guessing would be about 6-8 hours.  If I knew I was going to make baked beans, I probably would have started them before bed to cook while we sleep).  I’ll try that next time, but I’ll describe exactly what I did, and the order I did it in.  I invented the dish as it cooked, so it was inspiration, not planning that directed the order of ingredients.

In crockpot, combine water, bouillon cubes, rye berries, and dried beans.  Simmer until beans and berries are tender (I started them on high and after about an hour turned it down to low.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender.  I actually didn’t add the tvp/meat mixture until after this step, and it was really just as good without the tvp/meat mixture, which is why I listed it as optional.

I ate this right from the crock, served in a bowl, but it was thick enough to serve on buns, or to top baked potato, or even to use as a taco/burrito filling or as a pasta topping – or maybe a taco salad topping. 


Pea tendrils and other mystery greens

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Last summer I discovered pea tendrils, the young shoots and leaves of edible pea plants (snap peas, snow peas, garden peas).  Raw or sauteed they are more sweet and tender than the pods and peas.

This discovery has opened my eyes and my mind to all of the “mystery greens” I’ve seen, but largely ignored at the farmers’ markets.  I tend to lump them all into the category of “greens,” and think of them only as lettuce or spinach substitutes, but I’ve come to see them as unique and wonderous vegetables, worthy of more respect.

(Un)fortunately, I am not alone in this discovery.   Last year, the pea tendrils were dirt cheap.  Largely ignored by most market-goers, I was able to buy large bundles for $1.00.  This year, the price is higher, the bundles smaller, and the vendors are sold-out earlier.  As with most culinary “secrets,” a good one can’t be kept for very long.

Luckily, there are always new adventures and new discoveries to be found.  Writing this, I find myself with an intense craving for greens, a craving for the taste and texture of the greens undisguised or overpowered with heavy fat and seasoning such as the bacon and onions my grandmother added to any greens (whether served as a “salad” or as a vegetable).

I’ve always loved food, not only highly caloric foods, but real, healthy good food too.  Still, it seems odd to praise pea leaves in the same way I once did cheesecake.  Not that I’ve come to disdain cheesecake, but there are so many amazing low-calorie food adventures that await, that I don’t have to seek out the high-calorie ones.  It’s something to remember when I encounter cheesecake.