The Mediterranean Pantry

The Mediterranean Pantry

You’ve likely already heard about the Mediterranean Diet, considered by many physicians and nutritionists as the healthiest diet in the world. Not surprisingly it’s quite similar to a diabetic diet-featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, breads, fish, and small amount of very lean meats. Recently New York Times columnist Jane Brody wrote about the Mediterranean Diet once again gaining momentum among cardiologists, and cited studies in its favor from Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins. This is the way that we both cook having done so since the early 1990s when Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote her best selling cook, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Recently she also wrote The Essential Mediterranean. Both books are on sale in our bookstore and deserve more than a quick look. Unfortunately the second book does not have nutritional information, but the first one does and you can easily figure out the exchanges or just count the carbohydrates. If you need help in figuring the exchanges, look at the Exchanges Made Easy article in our July 2003 “cooking tips.”

Here’s what you’ll find in a Mediterranean Diet pantry:

Vinegar: balsamic, fruit-infused, herb-infused, red wine, white wine, sherry, malt, rice wine, cider

Cooking Sprays: butter-flavored, olive oil, vegetable Oils canola, olive, safflower, sesame.

Not necessary, but nice to have for added flavor: almond, avocado, grapeseed, hazelnut, and walnut

Grains: stone-ground yellow and white cornmeal, couscous, kasha, millet, rolled oats, instant polenta, quinoa, rice-white, basmati, brown, quick-cooking and wild

Beans and Legumes: dried beans-black, cannellini, chickpeas, navy, pinto and white, lentils-brown and red

Pasta: angel hair, bow ties (farfalle), lasagna, linguine, penne, rotelle, spaghetti, ziti

Baking Needs: unbleached all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tarter, cocoa powder, salt and kosher salt, vanilla extract, sugar, brown sugar, honey, baker’s spray (combined with flour).

Also suggest: spoon-for-spoon sugar substitutes.

Canned and Packaged Goods: no-salt-added tomato paste, no-salt-added canned tomatoes, canned pumpkin, unsweetened fruit juices, fat-free no-salt-added chicken and vegetable broth, cannelloni, garbanzo (chickpeas), navy, pinto, white and black beans, no-sugar-added fruit spread, no-sugar added dried fruits, evaporated skim milk, powdered buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauces, regular and coarse ground Dijon mustard, dry red and white wine for cooking, cognac for cooking, dry sherry for cooking, rum for cooking, sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), capers, dried chiles, dried mushrooms

aDried Herbs and Spices: ground allspice, basil, bay leaves, dill, caraway seed, celery seed, chili powder, ground cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ground cumin, curry powder, fennel seed, fines herbes, ground ginger, marjoram, dry mustard, paprika, peppercorns, poppy seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, rosemary, sage, saffron, savory, sesame seeds, thyme

In the Freezer: frozen no-sugar-added fruits and berries, filo dough, bread dough, unsalted butter, nuts, vegetables in bags, multi-grain breads and rolls, pita

In the Refrigerator: part-skim Parmesan cheese, fat-free mozzarella cheese, fat-free ricotta cheese, fat-free cream cheese, reduced-fat tub margarine, fat-free sour cream, fresh ginger, lemons, limes, oranges, other fresh fruit in season, scallions, fresh herbs and parsley, salad ingredients, fresh vegetables in season, tomato paste in a tube, anchovy paste in a tube, egg substitute, eggs, skim milk

Miscellaneous: Garlic; shallots; onions-white, yellow, sweet and red, potatoes-red, Russet, and Yukon Gold, sweet potatoes


Diet Pineapple Muffins

Many dieters have banished muffins from their breakfast table. At close to 500 calories each, the gargantuan sugar-laden muffins found in most coffeehouses and bakeries today are no better for you than a huge slice of birthday cake.

But when you make your own, using the recipes here at this web-site, you can turn out true nutritional dynamos. Loaded with protein and calcium (from dairy foods like nonfat milk and lowfat yogurt), anti-oxidants and fiber (from fruits and vegetables) and complex carbohydrates (from whole-wheat flour, rolled oats and cornmeal), these wholesome minibreads are low in fat and low-calorie to boot.

You may think whipping up a batch of healthful muffins is a time-consuming endeavor. But in fact, it’s quite easy: First, combine the flour and other dry ingredients in a large bowl; next, using your hand, make a well, or indentation, in the center. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Then pour the liquid mixture into the well and stir several times with a wooden spoon to incorporate everything. That’s it! Hint: The batter should look lumpy–any more mixing will activate the gluten in the flour and leave you with leaden results.

The secret to super quick recipes is using mini-muffin tins (24 to a pan). Because the muffins are smaller, cooking time is cut to just 12 minutes. (Alternatively, you can bake the recipes in regular-sized tins, 12 to a pan, for 18 minutes.)


SERVES 12 , 12 muffins


  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup powdered artificial sweetener or 4 (1 g) packages
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted margarine
  • 19 ounces crushed pineapple
  • 1 beaten egg


  1. Combine flour,baking powder, sweetner and salt.
  2. Add melted butter.
  3. Add beaten egg and 19 oz tin of crushed pineapple.
  4. Ingredients will be very thick in texture.
  5. Line your muffin pan cups with cupcake papers.
  6. Bake 18 minutes at 400° F / 200° C.


Homemade Mushroom Soup

For anyone who’s only tasted canned mushroom soup before, this recipe for homemade mushroom soup will be a revelation.

Homemade, home delicious

Cooking time: 90 minutes,
Time to table: Preferably 24 hours

Makes 4 cups:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Grated nutmeg
  1. Bring broth to a boil in the microwave.
  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter on medium.
  3. Add the onion and sweat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms as they’re prepped, cook till just beginning to soften.
  5. Stir in flour, then slowly add hot broth, stirring the whole time.
  6. Bring to a boil, adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer.
  7. Let cook for about an hour, till mushrooms are soft.
  8. Stir in milk, cream and sherry; heat through but do not boil.
  9. Season to taste.
  10. Cool and refrigerate for 24 hours for flavor to develop.
  11. Before serving, gently rewarm but don’t let boil.
  12. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with nutmeg.
  13. Savor every spoonful.


Per Cup:

  • 220 Cal;
  • 19g Tot Fat;
  • 12g Sat Fat;
  • 7g Carb;
  • 1g Fiber;
  • 327mg Sodium;
  • 60mg Cholesterol;
  • Weight Watchers 5 points


Microwave: Easy Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Here is a easy, quick, and simpleGarlic Roasted Potatoes Recipe.

Good for a snack or a tasty side dish; garlic roasted potatoes is always a favorite.


  1. 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  4. 4 medium potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick (Hint: The real key to getting potato slices to cook evenly is to get the potato sliced with an even thickness. It is very hard to do it with a knife, but easy to do it with a slicer.)
  5. 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  6. 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Place into a bowl the oil, garlic, and rosemary.
  2. Place the sliced potatoes on a non-stick cookie sheet
  3. Brush the potatoes with the garlic-oil mixture
  4. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the potatoes
  5. Place in ( 400F / 200 C ) oven for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and brown

Microwave: Potato Gratin

Usually I cook often in the microwave oven, so I discovered that it works really well to prepare potato gratin.

This gratin is simple to prepare, there is no need to carefully stack the potato slices and in my microwave oven it takes only 20-25 minutes to cook.

Here the recipe:


  • ca. 2 lbs / 1 kg firm-cooking potatoes, peeled
  • ½ cup / 125ml milk
  • ¼ cup / 60ml heavy cream
  • ¼ cup / 60ml sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of dried savory (optional)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp finely cubed bacon (optional)


  1. Cut potatoes into thin slices.
  2. Grease a microwave-safe bowl with butter.
  3. Put the potato slices in the bowl – there is no need to nicely stack them.
  4. Combine milk, heavy cream, sour cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and savory. Mix well.
  5. Pour the mixture over the potatoes.
  6. Cut remaining butter in small pieces. Place on top of the potatoes.
  7. Sprinkle bacon cubes over the potatoes (optional).
  8. Put bowl in microwave oven. Do not cover.
  9. Cook with full power until most of the liquid is gone and the top starts to brown lightly. In my microwave oven this takes about 20-25 minutes.
  10. Serve.

Preparation time: 35-40 minutes

Yields 4-6 servings


Dinner: Asian: Vietnamese Beef Soup

More Asian recipes at Homestay Hong Saeng

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


  1. 3/4 pound boneless beef top sirloin or top round steak
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  4. 1 can (10-1/2 ounces) condensed consommé, undiluted
  5. 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  6. 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  7. 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long)
  8. 4 ounces rice noodles (rice sticks), about 1/8 inch wide
  9. 1/2 cup thinly sliced or julienned carrots
  10. 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  11. 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  12. 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  13. 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  14. 2 jalapeño peppers,* minced or 1 to 3 teaspoons Chinese chili sauce or paste


  1. Place beef in freezer 45 minutes or until firm.
  2. Meanwhile, combine water, beef broth, consommé, soy sauce, ginger and cinnamon stick in large saucepan;
  3. bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick; discard.
  6. Meanwhile, place rice noodles in large bowl and cover with warm water; let stand until softened, about 20 minutes.
  7. Slice beef lengthwise in half, then crosswise into very thin strips.
  8. Drain noodles.
  9. Place noodles and carrots in simmering broth; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until noodles are tender.
  10. Add beef and bean sprouts; cook 1 minute or until beef is no longer pink.
  11. Remove from heat; stir in red onion, cilantro, basil and jalapeño peppers.
  12. To serve, lift noodles from soup with fork and place in bowls.
  13. Ladle remaining ingredients and broth over noodles.


Serving Size: 1 bowl soup (1/6 of total recipe) | Sodium 800 mg | Protein 16 g | Fiber 1 g | Carbohydrate 23 g | Cholesterol 32 mg | Saturated Fat 1 g | Total Fat 3 g | Calories from Fat 15 % | Calories 180


Meat 1-1/2 | Vegetable 1 | Starch 1


Dinner: Vegetable-Chicken Noodle Soup

Visit Homestay Hong Saeng for more recipes

Vegetable-Chicken Noodle Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

If chicken soup is famous for making you feel better, then this soup should keep you feeling great! Loaded with vegetables, this noodle soup is a wonderful start to any meal.


  1. 1 cup chopped celery
  2. 1/2 cup thinly sliced leek (white part only)
  3. 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  4. 1/2 cup chopped turnip
  5. 6 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  6. 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  8. 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  9. 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  10. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  11. 2 ounces uncooked yolk-free wide noodles
  12. 1 cup diced cooked boneless skinless chicken breast


  1. Combine celery, leek, carrot, turnip and 1/3 cup chicken broth in large saucepan.
  2. Cover; cook over medium heat 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in remaining 5-2/3 cups broth, parsley, thyme, rosemary, vinegar and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil; add noodles.
  5. Cook until noodles are tender; stir in chicken.
  6. Reduce heat to medium.
  7. Simmer until heated through.


Serving Size: about 1 cup soup | Sodium 73 mg | Protein 10 g | Fiber 1 g | Carbohydrate 12 g | Cholesterol 18 mg | Saturated Fat <1 g | Total Fat 2 g | Calories from Fat 14 %


Meat 1 | Vegetable 1/2 | Starch 1/2


Brunch: Vegetable Beef Noodle Soup

Visit Homestay Hong Saeng for more recipes.

Vegetable Beef Noodle Soup

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

Clean up is a snap with this hearty one-pot soup. Similar to the familiar favorite stew, everything is cooked together for a mouthwatering blend of flavors.


  1. Nonstick cooking spray
  2. 8 ounces beef for stew, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  3. 3/4 cup unpeeled cubed potato (1 medium)
  4. 1/2 cup sliced carrot
  5. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  6. 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  7. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 2-1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium beef broth
  9. 1 cup water
  10. 1/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup
  11. 2 ounces uncooked thin egg noodles
  12. 3/4 cup jarred or canned pearl onions, rinsed and drained
  13. 1/4 cup frozen peas


  1. Lightly spray large saucepan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat until hot.
  3. Add beef; cook 3 minutes or until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from pan.
  5. Cook potato, carrot, vinegar, thyme and pepper 3 minutes in same saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Add beef broth, water and chili sauce.
  7. Bring to a boil over mediumhigh; add beef.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered, 30 minutes or until meat is almost fork-tender.
  9. Bring beef mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  10. Add pasta; cook, covered, 7 to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender,


Serving Size: 1-1/2 cups soup | Sodium 258 mg | Protein 15 g | Fiber 1 g | Carbohydrate 24 g | Cholesterol 28 mg | Saturated Fat 1 g | Total Fat 3 g | Calories 182 | Calories from Fat 14 %


Meat 1-1/2 | Vegetable 1 | Starch 1


General info: About the Recipes

The recipes on this site were specially collected for people – like me – with diabetes. All recipes are based on the principles of sound nutrition as outlined by the dietary guidelines developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, making them perfect for the entire family.

Although the recipes are not intended as a medically therapeutic program, nor as a substitute for medically approved meal plans for individuals with diabetes, they contain various amounts of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrate that will fit easily into an individualized meal plan designed by your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian, and you.

Each person’s dietary needs are different. It is impossible to create a single food plan that works for everybody. That’s why there is included a complete nutritional analysis with each recipe. Then, no matter what your dietary goals are, you have the information you need to choose the recipes that are right for you.

A Word About Sugar

In 1994, the American Diabetes Association lifted the absolute ban on sugar from the recommended dietary guidelines. Under the updated guidelines, you can, for example, exchange 1 tablespoon sugar for a slice of bread because each is considered a starch exchange. The new guidelines for sugar intake are based on scientific studies that show that carbohydrate in the form of sugars do not raise blood sugar levels more rapidly than other types of carbohydrate-containing food. What is important is the total amount of carbohydrate eaten, not the source.

However, sweets and other foods high in sugar are usually high in fat and low in nutrients, so the choice between an apple and a doughnut is still an easy one to make. Nobody, diabetic or not, should be eating foods filled with lots of sugar. But, when calculated into the nutritional analysis a small amount of sugar can enhance a recipe and will not be harmful.

If you have any questions or concerns about the use of sugar in your diet, consult your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian for more information.

Nutritional Analysis

The nutritional analysis that appears with each recipe was submitted, in part, by the participating companies and associations. Every effort has been made by the editors to check the accuracy of these numbers. However, because numerous variables account for a wide range of values for certain foods, nutritive analyses listed here should be considered approximate.

The analysis of each recipe includes all ingredients listed for a recipe except ingredients labeled as “optional” or “for garnish.” When a range is offered, the first amount listed is used in the calculation. If an ingredient is listed with an option, the first item is used in the calculation. Foods shown in photographs on the same plate and foods listed as “serve with” suggestions at the end of a recipe, are not included in the recipe analysis unless they are listed in the ingredient list. In recipes calling for rice or noodles, the analysis was based on rice or noodles prepared without added fat or salt unless otherwise mentioned in the recipe.