In her upcoming cookbook, The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook: Quick and Easy High-Protein, Low-Sugar, Healthy-Fat Recipes for Lifelong Health, chef and registered dietitian Michelle Dudash offers delicious recipes to help you add healthy variety to your diet. Now, I’ll be honest, I’ve never loved the term “clean eating” (and it’s overused in some settings). However, Michelle’s definition is simple: Home-cooked, delicious, whole foods. Plus, she brings the science of nutrition to the book in a friendly, easy to understand way.
Disclosure: I received a digital review copy and having been raised in a Mediterranean-style kitchen as a child, I am by nature, biased toward these ingredients, flavor and cooking styles. The book is available June 15, 2021. But, if you preorder the book, you can receive a PDF of free bonus materials (grocery lists, and herb and spice guide, Mediterranean swaps, and five seafood recipes) by emailing your receipt or order number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Low Carb Definitions
If you’ve followed my blog, you know I am a carb lover. My body enjoys and utilizes carbohydrate well. When I’ve experimented with “low carb diets” (for n=1 purposes to help myself understand the diet behaviors) I truly can’t function.
Michelle defines three types of low carbohydrate diets in the book – Very low carb (keto-type, <10%), Low Carb (<26%) and Moderate Carb (26-45% of calories). These definitions are based on work from Richard D. Feinman, Ph.D., a professor of cell biology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.
The book is designed to encourage a “moderate carbohydrate” intake (and I’m down with this!). Carbs aren’t “bad”, but many people do over-consume them, especially simple carbohydrates like sugars and refined grains. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that my body’s ability to burn up carbohydrate has seemed to stall, so for metabolic reasons, I’ve cut back (hitting the 40-45% range).
Keep in mind, that everyone’s nutrition needs are very personal. A lower carbohydrate diet is not for everyone. For example, most younger people who are active and at healthy weights can easily consume a higher calorie diet with up to 55% carbohydrate. Pregnant and lactating women also have higher needs, and shouldn’t follow a low carbohydrate diet. She reminds readers that while a low carb diet may not be healthy for everyone, the meals and recipes in the book certainly can be.
All of my grandparents were from southern Italy. With that in mind, many of the flavors and ingredients of a Mediterranean diet are very familiar and appealing to me. Michelle mentions that this region of Italy often consumed a diet up to 58% carbohydrate (interesting that this was my preference most of my life!), while Greece and Spain consumed only 40%.
I enjoyed reading about Michelle’s personal story and her Lebanese culinary upbringing, sharing her connection to a Mediterranean diet. This offers the reader some insight to both her passion for food and the connection to the culture that it came from.
Combining Top Diets
The DASH and Mediterranean Diets have both been ranked by US News and World Report as one of the top two “Best Diets” (in the Overall, Heart-Healthy, and Healthy Eating categories) based on evidence and ease of use.
However, it’s clear that many consumers want to adopt a lower carb diet. If you enjoy Mediterranean-style ingredients and a higher protein, lower carbohydrate intake works for you, the book will give you lots of great ideas. The book includes everything from starters to mains, and even dessert (my kind of low carb eating)! It also includes a plant-based recipe chapter.
I love how Michelle introduces the topic in Chapter 1:
Enjoying low-carb recipes doesn’t have to be an all-the-time or all-or-nothing proposition.
~Michelle Dudash, RDN, Chef
Michelle’s dietary advice is sound and not unlike my own. She encourages you to find the eating style that you can easily adhere to and enjoy for the long term. She wants you to choose a meal plan that makes you feel good, both mentally and physically, while keeping chronic disease at bay.
Simple and Delicious
The recipes in the book are fantastic. I love Michelle’s philosophy to enjoy what you like, and skip what you don’t. Just as my books are not about a “diet”, neither is this one. It’s about learning how to preparing some new, delicious and healthy dishes for your family. Recipes like the Greek 7-Layer Hummus Dip are simple and delicious, yet also will impress your dinner guests. There are a lot of common ingredients, so once you set up your “Mediterranean pantry” you can easily create each recipe.
Little by little, you can make healthy swaps, with simple changes in your daily habits adding up to big results over time.
There’s plenty of special recipes as well, that you may want to dazzle your post-pandemic dinner party guests with, like the Sautéed Salmon and Figs (I have a personal love affair with figs). Desserts in the book focus on fruit, but with elegant flair.
If you are looking for a new low carb cookbook, I highly recommend checking this one out. Go to my Amazon page to find all of my recommended food and nutrition books and cookbooks.