Chef Tom Valenti says being a diabetic should not be a barrier to eating delicious, flavorful food, and he is speaking from experience.
Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 14 years ago, the 50-year-old New York-based chef serves up recipes and tips about how to deal with the disorder in his new cookbook “You Don’t Have to be Diabetic to Love this Cookbook,” which he wrote with Andrew Friedman.
He spoke to Reuters about living with the illness, in which the body does not properly process sugar, how it influences his cooking and the growing obesity epidemic among children.
What is different about your cookbook than others aimed at diabetics?
Maybe it’s because it’s coming from a professional cook. It gives an insider look on how to make how things taste good. A lot on the diabetic condition viewed in the past was that you can’t eat anything and that’s simply not true. There is a certain level of complexity that a professional cook will strive for.
Is there such a thing as a diabetic diet?
This is no diabetic diet. Each individual diagnosis has it own areas of restriction. It’s best to consult with your doctor and/or your dietitian about where you can go. You can eat a variety of things but it has to done with moderation. For some people, they can’t have refined sugar of any kind. Some people can.
How has being a diabetic changed the way you cook?
For example, salt is a key tool to the professional chef and the home chef as well. I think the recommended allowance for table salt is one tablespoon. I tried to explore using other ingredients like citrus juices, vinegars or certain herbs so I do not rely so much on the salt shaker.
Is there anything you don’t eat?
I don’t reach for anything packaged or processed. I avoid fast food. In the last 25 years, obesity in kids ballooned and that has to do a lot with our busy lifestyle. I think it’s showing up in our kids. The diet and health issues we have handed to our kids are criminal … A lot of those preservatives, simple carbohydrates and corn syrups are pushing that along.
Do you still have desserts?
I’ll sneak an ice-cream once in awhile. Absolutely.