Welcome to Holiday Central! This month's reviews are comprised of specially selected volumes to assist you in planning your holiday meals, snacks, convenience recipes, healthy "fast foods," entertaining, eating out and more. I love this time of the year because this is the "fun" issue where I get to focus on what I love most: how to eat good food without deprivation. If you're ready, let's get busy!


Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Home Entertaining The Easy Way

She's back again! Holly Clegg returns this year with a beautiful new format in Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Home Entertaining The Easy Way.

Packaged in beautiful coffee-table style with fabulous color photography by David Humphreys on every page, Holly goes all out to bring the reader more than 120 trimmed-down, crowd-pleasing recipes (each with complete nutritional analysis and diabetic exchanges) and entertaining ideas which will make your parties unforgettable.

Chapters are divided into 13 different party themes and each section includes Menu Selections (recipes), Terrific Tips, Short Cuts, and Exciting Extras. One of my favorite themes is the "Glitz & Glitter Dessert Party," which Holly says she, "...loves to throw during the busy holiday season, when guests often need to come and go quickly or are just dropping by on their way to another soir�e." A partial list of other party themes include a Bountiful Brunch, Classic Cocktail Party, Terrific Tailgating, Holiday Dinner, Souper Bowl Party, Mardi Gras Madness and Comfort Sundays.

More than a cookbook, Holly's helpful entertaining hints show you how to make the most of your time with suggestions like picking up side salads or ordering trays from your local grocer, along with preparing some of your party dishes in advance. You'll also find creative decorative and serving ideas including using the seasonal hues of colored vegetables for table decorations, floating colorful fruits in the punch bowl for pizzazz, and strategic placement of snacks throughout various areas of the house to encourage movement and mingling. Her innovative ideas for making your guests feel special are priceless.

With Holly's easy instructions and quick tips for preparing healthy dishes and delightful gatherings, Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Home Entertaining The Easy Way, �2003 by Holly Clegg, is a must-have for hosting effortless parties!

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


The Diabetes Snack Munch Nibble Nosh Book

Looking for a book with 175 healthy treats to add zip to your diabetic menu plan? They're all right here in the 2003 release of Ruth Glick's The Diabetes Snack Munch Nibble Nosh Book, 2nd Edition. I loved this book the first time around and now the updated edition has 25 more flavorful new recipes!

This new edition is just in time for the holidays, with a variety of snack options in different categories including dips and spreads, sandwiches, baked dishes, crowd pleasers, microwave wonders, snacks for kids, desserts, and more. This is the season that begs for recipes for Marzipan Candy, Mulled Cider, Sweet Potato Pie, Artichoke and Shrimp Spread, Spiced Pecans, Holiday Wreaths (kids can make them) or Cranberry Orange Tart. The best news is you can make most of the recipes in the book in less than 30 minutes.

Snacking is a part of the American lifestyle, and with The Diabetes Snack Munch Nibble Nosh Book, you can make your snacks healthier. Thanks to new meal plans which allow for snacks to give people with diabetes better control of the disease, they are now able to partake in this "eating past time." Published by the American Diabetes Association, this all-new edition is not only a great publication for healthy and delicous snack recipes for people with diabetes, it's written for everyone!

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


Every Day's A Holiday Diabetic Cookbook, More Quick & Easy Recipes Everybody Will Love

If Mr. Food has anything to say about it, no more bland, tasteless meals will find their way to your holiday table this year! With requests for more tasty, time-saving diabetic recipes following the success of his first book for those with diabetes (Mr. Food's Quick & Easy Diabetic Cooking), Art Ginsburg (aka Mr. Food) and Nicole Johnson (Miss America 1999 & ADA Spokesperson), have teamed up again to publish their second cookbook, Every Day's A Holiday Diabetic Cookbook, More Quick & Easy Recipes Everybody Will Love.

Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Breads, Entr�es (both meated and meatless), Sides and Desserts are showcased in more than 145 recipes. All are new, easy, speedy, festive and fun ways that let you celebrate every day, whether it's a holiday or not. Each recipe is nutritionally analyzed with serving size and exchanges, and the introduction contains numerous serving tips, portion pointers, and specific information on making ingredient substitutions, using artifical sweetners and sodium guidelines.

If I have to find fault with this cookbook (which I just hate to do), it's that it could have been better organized. Specifically, it would have served the reader better if the chapters had been presented by specific holiday (i.e., Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, etc.). Instead, holiday recipe suggestions are scattered throughout the broader chapters in Appetizers, Entr�es, Sides and Desserts. Overall, the recipes in this American Diabetes Association publication are quick and easy-to-prepare, taste-worthy and designed to satisfy the cravings for foods long thought forbidden to those with diabetes.

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


Eat Out, Eat Right

What if you just don't have time to cook and have to eat out? If that's the case, then you'll need a reliable guide to healthier restaurant eating and here's the ticket: Eat Out, Eat Right! by Hope S. Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE.

More from our magazine:  Vanilla Cream Puffs

Having spent the last 20 years advising clients on navigating the pleasures and pitfalls of restaurant menus, Hope S. Warshaw is a nationally-recognized expert on diabetes and healthy eating out. In Eat Out, Eat Right!, published by Surrey Books, she has managed to condense her knowledge of what's good and what's not good for you into one compact resource.

Covering the 14 most popular kinds of restaurants (including Mexican, Italian, Chinese, American, Breakfast/Brunch, Fast Food and Seafood), Eat Out, Eat Right! provides basic strategies and specific food choices for controlling calories, carbs, fat, cholesterol and sodium when eating restaurant foods. Each chapter familiarizes the diner with the positive nutrition traits and pitfalls of a particular style of cooking. "Pre-planning is key," says Warshaw. "Do you go to your favorite Mexican restaurant and order chimichangas or enchilidas? Do you go to the ballpark ready for a jumbo hot dog, chips, and ice cream or will popcorn and a slice of pizza do?"

One of books best assets is the Menu Profile, which is a basic description of each cuisine, its healthy points and hazardous pitfalls, along with a run-through of what to order (and not to order), from soup to dessert. Following the detailed description of the cuisine's typical fare, author Warshaw gives the reader a "Nutrition Snapshot," which is a quick look at some of the nutrition numbers for a cuisine's typical dishes. You'll also find "Green flag" (good) words, such as "lightly saut�ed," and "Red flag" (bad) words, such as "fried," about each cuisine, along with special requests to make to the waiter which are designed to help you make the healthiest choices.

With Eat Out, Eat Right!, you can plan ahead by "studying-up" on a specific cuisine before you go to the restaurant, or slip this compact book into your purse or the glove box of your car for no-excuses dining out. P.S., it makes a perfect stocking-stuffer, too!

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


Quick & Easy Low-Carb Cooking For People With Diabetes

If you've finally graduated from diabetic exchanges to counting carbs, you'll love Quick & Easy Low-Carb Cooking For People With Diabetes, by Nancy S. Hughes. With hectic schedules and little time to cook (holidays or otherwise), it can be difficult to find the time and energy to do the food math required by low-carb "diets" (don't you just hate that 4-letter word?). Being a great fan of Nancy Hughes' recipes, I'm always thrilled to see a new cookbook by her make it's debut and, once again, she's come to the rescue with a new publication chock-full of tasty choices for low-carb eaters and people with diabetes. Says Hughes, "These recipes are geared for the real (that is busy) lives that we all lead. You can throw your calculator in a drawer because I've done the homework for you!" She continues, "I've kept the ingredient lists short and the prep time even shorter."

Quick & Easy Low-Carb Cooking is divided into five sections (breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and snacks), and is based on the "carb choice" exchange system. All recipes have the carbs calculated per serving and in addition to a complete nutritional analysis, the diabetic exchanges are also available to those who have not yet "crossed over" to carb-counting. As a time-pressured cook myself, I appreciate the "try it with" section which suggests possible sides with each meal. My salivary juices started flowing with recipe titles like Rustic Cajun Chicken and Sausage Rice, Creamy Baked Chicken with Crunchy Corn Bread Topping, Sticky Maple Pecan Pull-Aparts, Weekend Morning Bacon-Potato Casserole Cheddary Vegetables au Gratin, and Lemon Zest Pound Cake with Apricot Topping. Where's my apron?

Published by the American Diabetes Association, Quick & Easy Low-Carb Cooking For People With Diabetes by Nancy Hughes is another sure keeper.

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


No-Fuss Diabetes Recipes For 1 or 2

There aren't huge numbers of cookbooks for singles or two person families on the market (hint, hint to cookbook authors and publishers). This is a complete mystery to me since so many empty-nesters and mid-lifers are among those receiving a first time diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Not to worry, though, as I've recently discovered No-Fuss Diabetes Recipes For 1 or 2, �1999 by Jackie Boucher, MS, RD, CDE, Marcia Hayes, MPH, RD, and Jane Stephenson, RD, CDE, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

No-Fuss Diabetes Recipes For 1 or 2 is perfect for those who are short on time and energy, tired of using family-sized recipes, wasting ingredients and eating leftovers day after day. I love recipes with good taste as well as good health benefits and this book has them (no more cardboard meals!). Ingredients are easy to find, rich in flavor, freshness, color and texture. More importantly, portion sizes are designed for "real people" and are not about deprivation or denial (hooray!). In addition, there's plenty of good information on the basics of diabetes nutrition, low-fat, high-flavor cooking, menu-planning, shopping, and a seven-day menu plan.

Each of the 125 recipes in No-Fuss Diabetes Recipes For 1 or 2 provides basic nutritional information, including carbohydrate choices (for those who count carbs for control) and diabetic exchanges. You'll also love the fact that the recipes are presented in large print, use ten ingredients or less and are simple to prepare. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners and dessert recipes are presented with anecdotal descriptions to tempt your palate. This is a very complete cookbook for those looking for recipes with great taste designed to serve two or less. Highly recommended!

More from our magazine:  A World of Brown Rice

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


Better Homes and Gardens Carb Counters Diabetic Cookbook

Speaking of Carb-counting, the new Better Homes and Gardens Carb Counters Diabetic Cookbook is another winner. With an introduction by Hope S. Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, co-author of the "American Diabetes Association's Complete Guide to Carb Counting" and "The Diabetes Food & Nutrition Bible," carb-counting is made easy.

The Carb Counters Diabetic Cookbook begins with Warshaw's introduction to the basics of counting carbohydrates. Written in a question-answer format, Warshaw's expertise in the area of carb-counting is thorough and easy to understand. Carbohydrates are found in all foods (starches, fruits, vegetables, and milk) except meats. You'll find a handy chart on the number of carbohydrates your body needs on a daily basis according to your caloric intake. This chart is a great visual aid in helping to break down the learning curve to understanding how the carb-counting system works. Sample menus for a full week of breakfast, lunch, and dinners, based on 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day, are suggested at the end of the section. For more information, you'll find several internet and other resources, as well.

In addition to the complete carb count of each recipe, all are accompanied by a complete nutritional analysis with diabetic exchanges. There is a definite drawback in the difficulty in reading the nutritional information, however, which is printed in a lime-green color and very small print. It's a definite disadvantage for those who are visually-impaired.

If you can live with carb counts at a glance for each analysis, the recipes are worth it! And, if you've visited the Cinnamon Hearts website in recent months, you'll see how much we like this cookbook -- more than a few of these delicious recipes have starred in several of our recent food features. Better Homes and Gardens Carb Counters Diabetic Cookbook, �2003, is published by the Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, IA.

See sample chapters and recipes and/or order it online.


Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2003

Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2003, edited by Kathy Everleth, �2003 by Rodale Inc. is a real treasure. I've gone back to it again and again for the best kind of recipes you can ever find: 150 homestyle dishes, featuring recipes from real-life weight-loss winners!

Not only will you get deliciously healthy recipes in Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2003, you'll find motivating stories and practical tips from real people who have lost weight; profiles of three "hot" and "effective" weight loss plans; strategies that may work best for you; how to turn on weight-loss with your hormones; and festive menus to help you entertain and still stay on track with your weight loss/maintenance program.

The recipes are divided into four broad sections: Hearty Meals (Oven Dinners, Stove-Top Suppers, Side Dishes), Lighter Fare (Soups and Salads, Meatless Meals, Breakfasts and Breads), Easy Entertaining (Shakes and Smoothies, Dips, Pizzas, and Tortillas, Grills, Casseroles, and Chilis) and Desserts (Cookies, Bars, and Tarts, Cakes, Pies and Fruit Bakes, Puddings, Parfaits, and Frozen Treats). Full of cooking tips, shopping savvy and weight loss strategies, each recipe has a complete nutritional analysis with exchanges.

Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2003 is filled with color photos of many of the recipes, along with personal anecdotes about each recipe from a weight-loss winner. The "Eat Up Slim Down" program can be found at www.eatupslimdown.com. This is one of my great (non-diabetes) eBay finds this year and I heartily recommend it as worthy of your time and attention.

Find out more and/or order it online.


Saving the best for last, here's my 2003 Top Ten List of Favorites For Holiday Gift-Giving, presented in random order:

COOKING UP FUN FOR KIDS WITH DIABETES COOKING UP FUN FOR KIDS WITH DIABETES
By Patti Geil and Tami Ross
ONE POT MEALS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES ONE POT MEALS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
By Ruth Glick and Nancy Baggett
THE HOLLY CLEGG TRIM & TERRIFIC COOKBOOK: MORE THAN 500 FAST, EASY, AND HEALTHY RECIPES THE HOLLY CLEGG TRIM & TERRIFIC COOKBOOK: MORE THAN 500 FAST, EASY, AND HEALTHY RECIPES
By Holly Clegg
MEALLEANIYUMM! 800 FAST, FABULOUS & HEALTHY RECIPES MEALLEANIYUMM! 800 FAST, FABULOUS & HEALTHY RECIPES
By Norene Gilletz
FOOD FAQS - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: SUBSTITUTIONS, YIELDS & EQUIVALENTS FOOD FAQS (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS): SUBSTITUTIONS, YIELDS & EQUIVALENTS
By Linda Resnik and Dee Brock
THE DIABETES SNACK MUNCH NIBBLE NOSH BOOK - 2ND EDITION THE DIABETES SNACK MUNCH NIBBLE NOSH BOOK, 2ND EDITION
By Ruth Glick
LAST MINUTE MEALS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES LAST MINUTE MEALS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
By Nancy S. Hughes
QUICK & EASY LOW-CARB COOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES QUICK & EASY LOW-CARB COOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
By Nancy S. Hughes
THE DIABETES HOLIDAY COOKBOOK, YEAR-ROUND COOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES THE DIABETES HOLIDAY COOKBOOK, YEAR-ROUND COOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
By Carolyn Leontos, MS, RD, CDE, Debra Mitchell, CEPC, and Kenneth Weicker, CEC.
1,001 DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES 1,001 DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
By Linda Eugene RD, CDE, Sue Spitler, and Linda R. Yoakam, RD, MS
1,001 DELICIOUS DESSERTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES

Tied for the 10th spot with:

1,001 DELICIOUS DESSERTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
By Sue Spitler, with Linda Eugene, RD, CDE, and Linda R. Yoakam, RD, MS

That's a wrap, folks. Join me again in January when we'll get down to the nuts and bolts of inspiration, motivation, weight loss, the Big-E (as in Exercise and that's not Easy), and a renewed dedication to living a healthier lifestyle!

In the meantime, I wish you all the ingredients for making beautiful memories this Holiday season.

Marilyn Helton