Cooking For Kids With Diabetes

If you or a loved one has a medical condition that requires dietary adjustments, you may understand the frustration and fear that cookbook author Moira McCarthy felt after her daughter, Lauren, was diagnosed with Type 1 (juveniles) diabetes.

Parents know that children can be finicky eaters, perhaps resisting fruits and vegetables or refusing to eat anything other than a few favorite foods. Imagine how the parents’ task becomes more difficult when a child is diagnosed with a medical condition whose management necessitates dietary restrictions.

That experience led McCarthy, assisted by pediatrician Dr. Leslie Young, to compile a new cookbook, “The Everything Guide to Cooking for Children with Diabetes.” The spiral-bound, soft-cover cookbook is published by Adams Media of Avon, Mass., as part of its “Everything” series.

After sobbing in the supermarket upon her daughter’s diagnosis, McCarthy set out to learn new ways to cook with her child’s needs in mind. She writes, “The good news was I learned that in today’s world, food is no longer the enemy, and with good planning, some smart cooking and the support of a good medical team, my daughter’s life didn’t have to be drastically changed. In fact, I realized, diabetes might help bring my entire family to a better place.”

The first three chapters of the book are devoted to sharing information about the dietary aspects of managing diabetes. The first chapter addresses “Life, the Diabetes Diet and the Pursuit of Normalcy.” The second chapter is titled “Getting Started,” while the third chapter explores the topic, “To Meal Plan or Not.”

A hallmark of the “Everything” series is that the text is interspersed with short paragraphs marked “Alerts,” “Essentials,” “Facts” or “Questions,” and printed on a green background to highlight these useful nuggets of information.

Recipes fill the remaining 12 chapters of the book. Some of the recipes are accompanied by a cooking tip or brief explanatory note from the authors. The chapter headings are as follows: “Super Day Starters (Breakfasts That Set the Stage for the Entire Day)”; “School Lunch, Home Lunch and Lunch on the Run”; “Delightful Dinners for Everyone”; “Holidays That Rock”; “Birthday Parties and Sleepovers”; “Picnics and Cookouts”; “Super Snacks”; “Sick-Day Recipes”; “International Flavor, D-Kid’s Style”; “Decadent Diabetes Desserts”; “Takeout Made In” and “Free Foods Worth a Million.”

The volume concludes with appendixes on top diabetes centers in major cities and a glossary of basic cooking terms. Author McCarthy is the national chairman of outreach and a national spokesman for the Juveniles Diabetes Research Foundation.

For experimentation, I decided to prepare the cookbook’s recipe for pork roast. One might wonder what role pork roast could play in a diabetic child’s diet, but the authors’ note offers a clue: “While you want to teach your child about portion control, you also want them to feel some sense of freedom. With a main dish having a carb count as low as this one, allow your child to choose their portion size, small or large. Explain it’s a healthy choice, green-light food.”

This recipe for pork roast was not unlike my usual, make-it-up-myself formula for preparing a pork roast. The ingredients were essentially the same, except for the addition of a bay leaf (which I omitted because I forgot to buy a bay leaf). I figured that the omission of a bay leaf wouldn’r make a great difference in the overall taste of the roast. I always roast a pork loin in a mixture of white wine and water, accenting the roast with olive oil, garlic cloves and fresh rosemary.

The only difference in preparation was that the recipe calls for the pork loin to be marinated (in a plastic sealable bag) in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, white wine, salt and pepper. The pork is to be marinated “for several hours” in the refrigerator. Because of time constraints, I allowed the pork to marinate only for a couple of hours; however, the shortened marinating time didn’t seem to make a difference in the outcome.

One important difference I did notice was that it took longer for the pork loin to cook than the recipe suggests. In retrospect, I think the recommended temperature for the second phase of roasting is too low and/or the roasting time is too short. If I had to do it over again, I would have lowered the temperature to 350 or 325 degrees, not 300, and would have roasted the pork for a longer period.

Other than the unexpected extra cooking time, the pork roast turned out well – tender and flavorful. I chose to prepare it for my favorite dinner companion who happens to have Type II diabetes. I didn’t reveal, though, that the recipe came from a cookbook for DIABETICS, since that seemed like a possible dinner “downer.” And, that’s part of the beauty of this cookbook: one wouldn’t necessarily notice that the recipes are designed for people who have diabetes.

While the cookbook was written for children specifically, the recipes are sophisticated enough to appeal to adult palates. I suspect that children craving chicken nuggets and fries will appreciate especially the recipes in the “Takeout Made In” section.

From a practical standpoint, the cookbook’s size (six by eight inches) is easy to handle. The spiral-bound format allows the book to lie flat, or, if the cook prefers, the handy size makes it possible for the book to stand up on a kitchen counter without toppling over.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

Pork Roast

4-pound loin of pork, bone in

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 cup dry white wine

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place the pork roast in a large plastic bag that can be sealed. Mix the oil, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, wine and salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined; add to the pork. Seal the bag; massage to ensure the pork is evenly coated with the marinade. Marinate for several hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the loin in a roasting pan set on a rack. Season with more salt and pepper and baste the loin with the marinade. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until browned. Turn the heat down to 300 degrees and roast for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Baste with the marinade while roasting.

Allow the pork to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve slices on warm plates.

Serves 6.

Calories: 680; carbohydrates: 1 g; fat: 29 g; sodium: 180 mg; fiber: 0 g.