Each year, more than 1.5 million Americans find out they have diabetes. One of them is chef Tom Valenti, who thought the diagnosis some fourteen years ago meant he was doomed to a future of salt-free tasteless eating. He turned his diagnosis into a challenge and created diabetes-friendly recipes for everything from lobster salad to bananas foster.


  • Tom Valenti Chef & Owner, Ouest and The West Branch (both in NYC); and author "You Don't Have to be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook" (Workman)

Sample Recipes

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Basil, Goat Cheese, and Sun-Dried Tomato

Serves 4

This is a fun, flavorful meal to have on tap: You pound out a chicken breast, fill it with goat cheese, basil, and sun-dried tomatoes, then roll it up and wrap it in plastic. The prepared chicken can be refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to gently poach it in boiling water, slice it, and serve. It’s as right for an everyday meal as it is for a dinner party, and its convenience is compounded by the fact that after the chicken has been cooked and sliced, you can enjoy any leftovers cold the next day.
This recipe calls for cooking plastic-wrapped chicken in simmering water. Be assured that the wet heat of the poaching liquid will not melt the plastic or cause it to taint the chicken.

4 ounces goat cheese,
at room temperature
3 dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 ounce), finely chopped
8 large fresh basil leaves,
coarsely chopped
Pinch of coarse salt
Pinch of freshly ground black
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)

  1. Put the goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil in a bowl, season with the salt and pepper, and stir together with a rubber spatula just until well combined.

  2. Sandwich 1 chicken breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pot or pan to gently pound it to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat until all of the chicken breast halves have been pounded, then discard the used plastic wrap.

  3. Place a clean 12×18 inch piece of plastic wrap in the center of a work surface. Arrange 1 pounded chicken breast half in the center. Spoon one quarter of the goat cheese filling in the center of the chicken and roll the meat up around it. Wrap the plastic tightly around the chicken and wind the ends of the plastic wrap over and over, as though wringing out a towel, until the chicken breast forms a cylinder and the ends of the plastic wrap don’t come undone when you release them. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken and filling. (The filled chicken can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen for up to 3 days. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Let come to room temperature before proceeding, but do not let uncooked chicken rest at room temperature for an extended period of time.)

  4. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, fill a large pot three quarters full with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Poach the wrapped breasts in the water until the chicken turns opaque and is firm to the touch and any juices in the packet are clear, about 15 minutes. (To ensure done-ness, check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.) Remove the breasts from the water with tongs or a slotted spoon and let rest for 5 minutes before unwrapping.

  5. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to remove the plastic from the stuffed chicken, taking care not to cut into the meat. Slice each chicken breast diagonally into half-inch-thick slices, arrange the slices of each breast on its own plate, and serve.

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories 294
Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Total Carbohydrates 2 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Total Sugars 1 g
Protein 46 g
Cholesterol 121 mg
Sodium 318 mg

Fat 0.5
Lean Meat 4
High Fat Meat 1

Fresh Fettuccine with Asparagus, Parmesan, and Black Pepper

Serves 6

When you finish making this dish, you might think that something was wrong with the recipe: Surely a diabetic can’t eat this much pasta? You’d be wrong and right. A diabetic can’t eat as much pasta as this seems to produce, but it’s not as much pasta as it appears; in fact, there’s less pasta here than in any other recipe in this chapter. The balance is made up by thinly shaved asparagus that’s tossed with the fettuccine, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. The result is a relatively light, healthful pasta dish and one of the ultimate character witnesses for the power of suggestion: Serve this to friends and family and they’ll be as satisfied as if there actually were that much pasta.

12 spears jumbo asparagus
(about 1 pound) ends trimmed
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
6 ounces fresh fettuccine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed
lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon freshly grated
Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon finely grated lemon
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

  1. Trim the tips off the asparagus spears and set them aside for another use. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave the asparagus lengthwise into wide ribbons. Set the asparagus aside.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt, then the fettuccine, and let boil until done but still a little toothsome, about 3 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 of water in a wide, deep, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Swirl in the butter, to melt it, then add the lemon juice and garlic.

  4. Drain the fettuccine and add it to the pan along with the asparagus, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and lemon zest. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chives and stir again. Divide the fettuccine and asparagus among 6 dinner plates or wide, shallow bowls and serve.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories 137
Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Total Carbohydrates 18 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Total Sugars 1 g
Protein 5 g
Cholesterol 29 mg
Sodium 126 mg

Fat 1
Starch 1
Vegetables 0.5

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