Delicious Dishes for Diabetics: A Mediterranean Way of Eating
In keeping with last week’s posts on Lautrec, France, we are featuring actor, writer, cook and author Robin Ellis this week. Robin’s love of cooking and entertaining, in addition to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has lead him to publish his new cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics: A Mediterranean Way of Eating (published in the UK by Constable & Robinson & in the US by Skyhorse). It is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Robin keeps his cooking simple. With great ingredients, you don’t have to do too much! This is an excellent cookbook for anyone (not solely diabetics) who enjoys preparing fresh, wholesome recipes.
Q&A WITH ROBIN ELLIS:
Have you always had a passion for cooking or is this something you discovered while living in France?
Caught it off my Mother–a good cook. I licked out the cake-making bowls for her! (see the introduction in my cookbook for more details).
What gave you inspiration to start your blog and write your cookbook?
The blog was set up by my publisher to promote the book–and I took to it. I’ve collected recipes for years and the cookbook evolved very slowly.
When did you start your blog?
We love your new cookbook – Delicious Dishes for Diabetics. The recipes are wonderful, tasty and healthy options for everyone. We’ve made several of the dishes at home and we’ve had no protests from our 2 and 7 year old. They can be a tough sell, so well done! Was it hard to narrow down which recipes to include in your book?
Thanks — I’m thrilled the kids like a Mediterranean way of eating. You’ll have no qualms bringing them on trips to Europe! I have plenty of leftover material for the next book!
Have you found that changing your diet has helped you with your Type 2 diabetes?
Yes. By changing my diet I managed to bring my diabetes under control for 6 years without medication (this also involved exercising a bit more–walking and gentle yoga). Now, I do take a pill each day–but I’m grateful I avoided medication for 6 years.
The possibility of controlling Type 2 diabetes by diet and exercise is why it is so important to get diagnosed early. All it takes is a simple blood test. Often, there are no symptoms of Type 2–I had none. Mine was picked up through a blood test I was having done to test for prostate cancer. I was clear of cancer, but the test showed elevated glucose levels in my blood.
The dietary changes have not been drastic either. I cut out refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and white rice. I avoid vegetables with a high glycemic value–such as potatoes, parsnips and beets. I’ve never had a sweet tooth, so I don’t mind skipping desserts–but I do enjoy a square of very dark chocolate (90% cacao) with some dried apricots or a fig along with a cup of coffee after a meal.
I no longer drink spirits, but I do drink wine (in moderation).
Tell me a little about your career in acting. Did you study theatre in school?
No. I went to Cambridge University and majored in History! But as an undergraduate, I acted in 21 plays. My classmates included Ian McKellen, John Cleese and Miriam Margolyes. Then I went straight into the provincial repertory system that still existed in the UK in the sixties.
How many years did you play Captain Ross Poldark on the BBC series Poldark?
For two seasons–16 eps and 13 eps–1975 and 1977. I spent the year in between–1976–at Stratford playing Shakespeare in the Royal Shakespeare Company.
What lead you and Meredith to move to Lautrec, France?
We visited the region so Meredith could introduce me to one of her colleagues from ABC News who had retired to the Tarn–the correspondent, Hughes Rudd. I thought the area was beautiful–it reminded me of Tuscany. We asked if they knew of any houses for sale and by chance, some friends of Hughes knew of this house. We looked at it and fell in love.
At first it was a vacation retreat–for nine years. As we came to know the region–the Tarn–we found it harder and harder to return to London. Finally, as our “millenial gesture”, we moved here permanently in 1999.
Knowing your love of entertaining and cooking what are some of your favorite traditions?
Each occasion is unique and we try to rock and roll with each. Generally speaking, I prefer sit-down meals rather than buffets. For the book launch party last summer for my cookbook, we had over 25 people for a sit-down lunch in the garden. Meredith enjoys doing the table settings, the flowers and dessert. I concentrate on the food. Sometimes, in between courses we have the men move down two seats to keep the group mixing.
What are some of your “must have” ingredients in your kitchen?
Garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, anchovies, chilies, pasta (whole wheat now) and quinoa–I could go on and on!
Can you share one of your favorite dishes with our readers?
The “no potato” fishcakes from my cookbook.