GARDEN CITY, NY – Lightly-breaded grilled chicken with sautéed escarole topped with tomato and mozzarella is a dish that could make many mouths water. It is also a meal that meets specific dietary guidelines for people with diabetes. This was precisely the point that North Shore-LIJ Health System Director of Diabetes Education Dr. Marie Frazzitta, DNP, drove home during a recent menu tasting at La Nonna Bella restaurant in Garden City – that diabetes-conscious food can be savory and nutritious.
“We’re here to emphasize that eating healthy can taste delicious,” said Dr. Frazzitta. “There seems to be this myth that healthy food and diabetes-conscious meals must lack excitement and that’s just not true.”
There are approximately 26 million Americans who have diabetes and another 79 million are in the pre-diabetes phase. Managing diet is critical for people who have diabetes.
Two Long Island moms who have had Type I diabetes for decades learned from La Nonna Bella chef and restaurant co-owner Lino DeVivo how to create a diabetes-friendly penne pasta with shrimp dish. Chef DeVivo noted that only a few modifications needed to be made to some of his restaurant’s meals -- including bronzino fish, penne pasta, chicken and lentil soup – to make them diabetes-conscious, such as lowering the amount of salt and olive oil used. But the changes went undetected by the diners who have diabetes.
Chef DeVivo also emphasized that some of the dishes he serves, including the penne pasta, do not take long to make, which the mothers appreciated. Both noted that keeping their diabetes in check was like a full-time job in itself, let alone maintaining a family and job as well.
“One of the things that I took away from this cooking demonstration was the idea of going back to the basics,” said Daniela Barnett, a Levittown mother of a six-year-old son who has diabetes and participated in the tasting. “Once you pick out the right ingredients, you can have a fresh dish in minutes [that also meets my dietary guidelines].”
Erica DiCocco, a Long Beach mother of two who has diabetes and has been displaced by Hurricane Sandy, said she planned on serving her family Chef DeVivo’s recipe for lightly breaded grilled chicken.