As I was scanning my morning Email, I came across a quote by Sara Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance. It was especially meaningful to me during this relatively uncertain holiday season:

You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.

This has been an extraordinary, difficult and different year. As we continue to struggle with the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, observers have noted that now -- more than ever -- our focus is centered on home, family nurturing and matters of the heart. Unfortuntate as those circumstances were and as they continue to unfold, they have given us an opportunity to stop and assess what's really important in our lives. As you "cocoon" with your loved ones this winter, I invite you to make time to consider your own priorities for 2002.

You've seen her recipes often in The Diabetic Gourmet Magazine and The Diabetic Newsletter, and now I'd like to give her the applause she deserves for the wonderful cookbooks she's written for diabetics. Who is she? Patti Lynch, author of Sweet Inspirations: A Sugar-Free Dessert Cookbook, Gourmet Inspirations: The Art of Healthy Cooking, and Kids Stuffin's: Good And Healthy Snacks For Kids To Make And Eat.

Patti Lynch's husband, Ron, was diagnosed with diabetes approximately 13 years ago. It was a devastating day for both of them and they believed that life as they knew it had ceased to exist. So many changes to be made immediately . . . no more desserts. . . no more pizza . . . and "no" became the operative word with everything that they considered normal. They were left with feelings of total dismay (haven't we ALL gone through this experience at the time of our diagnosis?)

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Patti set out with the intention of being able to find all kinds of cookbooks telling her how to create healthy versions of her favorite foods. She soon found that the recipes in the (1980s) cookbooks she purchased were bland, boring, difficult and the desserts all tasted like cardboard. By profession Patti is an art broker. She sells art work to architects and interior designers for use in commercial spaces. Coming from a family where her father loved to do gourmet cooking, and her mother's parents, brother and sisters were all chefs and bakers, Patti put her abundant energy into creating her own healthy versions of all her husband's favorite foods. She approached cooking from a creative, artistic point of view. How could she make something taste as good as those decadent desserts her husband could no longer have, and still be sure it was healthy? Desserts would be her first challenge.

One of Patti's artist friends who could not eat refined sugar told her about some fruit-sweetened products that had recently come into retail markets. She soon discovered that fruit-sweetened desserts were delicious! Her son actually loved the brownies she created. She also discovered that nonfat yogurt is a good substitute for most of the fat in any dessert recipe, other than pie or cookie crusts.

When Patti felt her recipes were as good as they could get, she took them to her local chapter of the American Diabetes Association, hoping to find someone who would verify that her ingredients were acceptable for diabetic eatng plans. She was sent to meet with Margaret O'Leary, R.D., C.D.E., of the Benaroya Diabetes Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, WA. Patti describes Margaret and her team of health care professionals as truly caring about giving life back to people with diabetes.

Described by Patti as concerned, caring, and encouraging, Margaret O'Leary has subsequently analyzed all of the recipes in all three of Patti's cookbooks, Sweet Inspirations, Gourmet Inspirations and Kids Stuffin's. Dr Nancy Bohannon, a Diabetologist and Endocrinologist from San Francisco, CA, gave her whole-hearted endorsement to Patti's cookbooks, as well. From desserts to main meals, appetizers to cream soups, and breads,chili, stews, pizza and lasagna, and a whole book of fun recipes for children - Patti makes them ALL deliciously exciting! She reminds us to eat color --- especially all of those healthy items (which) are the most colorful and textural foods you can find!

I've known Patti for several years and her recipes are as wonderful as she is, there aren't enough superlatives to describe her dedication to her craft and to raising awareness of juvenile diabetes! Be sure to look for recipe samples from her books books @

I often get requests for recipes created and calculated for one (or two) person servings and one of the best books available which neatly fills the bill is Quick & Easy Diabetic Recipes For One, by Kathleen Stanley, CDE, RD, MSED, and Connie C. Crawley, MS, RD, LD.

A healthy, flexible meal plan is paramount in controlling your diabetes but if you're on your own, you may feel too busy, rushed, scattered or lonely to eat well. It takes a lot of effort to cook something just for you and this book shows you how to prepare quick, nutritious meals for one. What, when and how much you eat has a huge impact on your blood glucose level which, in turn, affects everything about how well you feel -- and how much or little diabetes will impact your life.

More from our magazine:  Avocados Recommended in Latest Diabetes Guidelines

In addition to 100 taste-tempting recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the authors have included super tips on shopping and preparation, cutting back on how much you eat, spoilage and storage charts. You'll learn to cook for one without wasting food, tossing out leftovers, or cutting recipes in half and in half again! Here's a quickie breakfast which can be prepared in 4 minutes:

Luscious Cheese Toast

  • 3 Tbsp 1% low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract (I prefer vanilla)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp low-sugar or sugar-free apricot jam (or flavor of your choice)
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread

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Using a food processor blender, combine the cottage cheese, almond extract, sugar, and jam. Lightly toast the bread and spread it with the cottage cheese mixture. Place the toast on a baking tray and broil until the cheese begins to brown lightly. Enjoy. Makes 1 Serving.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
153 Cal; 2 g Total Fat (1 g Sat Fat); 28 g Carb; 4 mg
Cholesterol; 287 mg Sodium; 8 g Protein; 2 g Dietary Fiber; 13 g Sugars.
Exchanges: 2 Starch; 1 Very Lean Meat. (2 Carb Choices).

If you have a single friend or relative who would like to find a book like this under the tree, I highly recommend Quick & Easy Diabetic Recipes for One, published by the American Diabetes Association, Inc., �1997.

Available for only $10.36 at

Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., is back again with More Healthy Homestyle Cooking, and I'm happy about it! Readers of this column know how much I admire her philosophy about healthy living (one of her great reads on the "diet mentality" is Intuitive Eating), cooking tips and techniques for designing great-tasting recipes.

In "More Healthy Homestyle Cooking," Tribole invites us to enjoy the full flavor of *Real Food* again. According to Tribole, "Who cares how 'good for you' a meal is if it doesn't taste good?" An award-winning dietitian, Tribole reviews the basics of nutrition and clears up confusing press surrounding carbohydrates, sodium, fatty acids, and phytochemicals in More Healthy Homestyle Cooking. The reader learns insider secrets to recipe makeovers (worth the cost of the book, in my opinion), and here's a hint in that area: Straight substitutions don't always work!

The best thing about this book, though, are the recipes. You'll absolutely forget that they're healthy once you sink your teeth into them. How about a sweet slice of Peanut Butter Pie or Apple Carrot Cake with Light Cream Cheese Frosting? Chocolate Tiramisu sounds pretty good to me. Carry on with Sausage and Hash Brown Casserole, Tex-Mex Skillet, Potato-Bacon Clam Chowder or Easy Cheesy No-Knead Batter Bread. Would you believe there's even a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pecan Loaf with REAL butter and chocolate? They're all here in More Healthy Homestyle Meals, many beautifully reproduced in living color.

In each recipe, Tribole explains exactly how she reduced the fat, calories, cholesterol, and sodium or increased the fiber. Plus, she provides a complete nutritional analysis and a Nutrition Scorecard that takes a before-and-after look at calories and fat. The only thing missing are the dietary exchanges, but if you can read a nutritional label and apply it to your individual diabetes meal plan, you can use this cookbook! More Healthy Homestyle Cooking, by Evelyn Tribole, �2000, published by Rodale, $29.95 (U.S.) Highly recommended.

Available for only $20.96 at

When you were diagnosed with diabetes, did you get advice to avoid sugar and lose weight with no further guidance? Were you ever given a preprinted meal plan prescribing a certain number of calories a day, but you didn't know what to do next? Then listen up: Hope S. Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, and Robyn Webb, MS, will help you fill in the blanks by supplying you with important information about eating healthier and controlling your diabetes in The Diabetes Food & Nutrition Bible: A Complete Guide to Planning, Shopping, Cooking and Eating.

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Hope S. Warshaw, a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian, and Robyn Webb, an expert in all things culinary and healthy, bring you up to date on meal planning, carb counting, vitamins, minerals, and the best ways to prepare healthy, delicious meals in The Diabetes Food & Nutrition Bible. According to one Midwest reviewer, "Hope Warshaw and Robyn Webb effectively collaborate to draw upon their more than twenty years experience with the challenges of a diabetic lifestyle. They provide the reader with a wealth of information on how to turn out more than one hundred healthful and tasty dishes for the diabetic -- meal time dishes that will be enthusiastically received by their non-diabetic friends and family members as well."

This all-in-one cookbook includes guides to Planning, Shopping, Cooking, and Eating, and each recipe in The Diabetes Food & Nutrition Bible comes with complete nutritional information including ADA exchanges, Carb counts and portion sizes to aid in blood sugar control and weight loss (one of my pet peeves is the lack of portion size with the nutritional analysis). The Diabetes Food & Nutrition Bible carefully applies sound nutritional theory as well as great taste to each recipe. Strongly recommended, especially for the newly-diagnosed.

Available for only $18.95 at

OK, it's late when you come home from work and there's nothing in your kitchen to put together a decent meal. Guess what?? With a little help from the salad bar, deli department, frozen food aisle and other quick items from your supermarket, dinner can be minutes away. The only missing ingredient is Robyn Webb's Express Lane Diabetic Cooking. Many of the recipes in Express Lane Cooking have no more than 5 ingredients and take less than 20 minutes to prepare. The secret is pairing ready-made ingredients with fresh foods, all of which you can find at your grocery store.

The recipe chapters are designed from the four basic sections of the market: Salad Bar, Deli, Frozen Foods, and aisles stocking Shelf-Stable Foods like beans, pasta, and rice. Then you add in supporting fresh foods from the produce, dairy or seafood departments and, when put together, each dish tastes like it was made from scratch! Some of my personal favorites are Creamy Fettuccine with Artichokes and Olives, Italian Rice Pilaf with Saut�ed Chicken, Crispy Rice Crust Quiche, Refried Bean Pizzas, Shrimp, Corn, and Pepper Saut�, Pierogie, Kielbasa and Cabbage Casserole, Ham and Vegetable Dinner Wraps, Roasted Potatoes, Chicken, and Cheese and/or Apricot-Orange Chicken with Glazed Onions. All this and I didn't even get into the Salad Bar section! Yumm, yumm - No wonder I'm a diabetic!

So when you're too busy or too tired to cook, take the Express Lane Diabetic Cooking route to healthy, delicious meals that taste home-made. You'll cut prep time in half, save time searching for special ingredients, get rid of waste and leftovers, and still serve up deliciously healthy fare. A great way for the guys and singles to cook creatively, too! Recommended.

Available for only $13.56 at

JoAnna Lund, DeWitt Iowa's most famous and prolific cookbook author, has just produced the first Healthy Exchanges crockpot cookbook A Potful Of Recipes, co-authored with Barbara Alpert. This type of cookbook is way overdue!

The first part of the book is devoted to the basics of the Healthy Exchanges Lifestyle, helpful hints for shopping, selecting ingredients, stocking the pantry, and generally, how to duplicate the best possible results with the recipes. JoAnna takes the time to share her favorite brands and ingredients and explains her cooking style in the Ten Commandments of Successful Cooking. She also describes her slow cooker methods in Secrets for Slow Cooker Success. I must confess though, my favorite part of the introduction was Living in the Fast Lane -- and Deciding to Slow Down, JoAnna's philosophy on how to De-Stress, Slow Down, and Simplify (your life). Maybe this California gal's lifestyle needs a bit of Iowa tweaking!

The recipes in this delightful cookbook are divided into sections on Sensational Soups, Savory Side Dishes, Must-Have Main Dishes, and the Best Beverages, Sauces, Dips and Desserts. All ingredients can be found in your grocery store, except for local brands indigenous to the Midwest (i.e., DeWitt, Iowa). I was pleased to find such good-sounding dessert recipes as Peanut Butter Apple Crumble, Raspberry Dessert Strata, Pot of Peaches Kugel Dessert and Apple Pie Bread Pudding. You can certainly see that JoAnna has a soft spot for puddings in this section! If that's your weakness as well, you'll be pleased with these desserts.

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A Potful of Recipes is layered with many healthy, filling, easy-to-prepare recipes in the other categories, as well. I can't wait to try Sunrise Casserole, Beef Pot Hash, Ham & Potatoes au Gratin, Chicken & Stuffing Bake, and Bean Pot Soup. All recipes have the serving size (hooray!), nutritional analyses including carbohydrates for the Carb-Counting diabetics, diabetic exchanges and Healthy Exchanges counts. If your tastebuds are set for Heartland-style, comfort-food eating without the fat and calories, this is the book for you. Or, if you want all that plus good-tasting, healthy eating with no fuss and little cleanup, and recipes which will slide right into your diabetic meal plan, try A Potful of Recipes - You'll be glad you did! Recommended.

Available for only $12.76 at

For those of you who would like my personal holiday gift-giving recommendations, here are my top ten favorites, in random order. Keep in mind that cooking is my first passion so you may see more cookbooks than *how-to* books on this list:

You are cordially invited to visit the Cinnamon Hearts website for some sample recipes from current and past reviews. When you arrive, just click on "Sample Recipes" in the sidebar - and set your tastebuds for some serious sampling!

I guess that's what they call a *wrap* for this time - In the meantime, I wish you all a joyful, peaceful and blessed holiday. Be sure to live in the present, because each moment is a gift!

Marilyn Helton

Marilyn Helton