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Your Health

Health library cookbooks highlight healthful recipes


Eating special food during the holidays is something to look forward to all year long.

Office parties, family gatherings and celebrating with friends center around the table. If you or someone you love has a restricted diet due to a health condition, you may feel that you can’t indulge in seasonal fare. Whether a diet is limited by diabetes, cancer, heart disease, celiac disease, lactose intolerance or something else, there are healthful ways to celebrate with food.

Stanford Health Library may not be the first place you think of when you consider cookbooks, but the library has more than 125, full of recipes aimed at special dietary needs. It is possible to maintain a diet that is healthful and fun.

Because nearly one in 10 Americans suffers from diabetes, cooking to prevent and control it makes sense, especially when faced with the season’s sweet and fat-laden delights.

The American Diabetes Association publishes a number of excellent cookbooks, including “Special Celebrations and Parties Cookbook” (1989) and Ruth Glick’s “The Diabetes Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book” (2006).

“The Diabetes Cookbook: What to Eat and What to Cook to Treat Type 2 Diabetes” (2010) is a new book from British publisher DK. Like all DK books, the book is beautifully laid out with stunning photos guaranteed to make you hungry. In addition to recipes, meal plans are included.

For those with a sweet tooth, “1,001 Delicious Desserts for People with Diabetes” (Surrey Books, 2002), will fit the bill.

Diets that support cardiovascular health are also important, with a focus on low-fat and low-salt foods. “The New American Heart Association Cookbook” (American Heart Association, 2007) is a comprehensive guide, worthy of a place in every kitchen.

Several low-salt cookbooks come from author Donald Gazzaniga, including “The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook” (Dunne Books, 2001) and, perfect for holiday bakers, “The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Baking Book” (St. Martin’s Press, 2003).

Cancer patients are often concerned about how and what to eat. “The American Cancer Society’s Healthy Eating Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Friendship, and Healthy Living” (2005) is a great place to start. It is full of beautiful photographs that prove that healthful eating can also be appetizing.

Another beautiful cookbook is “One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for People with Cancer, Survivors, and Their Caregivers” (Celestial Arts, 2008) by Rebecca Katz.

“Eat Well – Stay Nourished: A Recipe and Resource Guide for Coping with Eating Challenges” (Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer, 2005) is intended for those with head and neck cancer but valuable to many with other physical causes of eating difficulty, such as swallowing problems.

Food allergies present another type of challenge. Those with celiac disease have intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat-based foods. The dishes in “Wheat-Free Recipes and Menus: Delicious, Healthful Eating for People with Food Sensitivities” (Avery 2004) by Carol Fenster are both gluten- and dairy-free, as often problems with digesting wheat and dairy go hand in hand.

Feeding children with celiac disease can be especially difficult. Solutions are provided by “Incredible, Edible Gluten-Free Food for Kids: 150 Family-Tested Recipes” (Woodbine House, 2004).

Another book, “Let’s Eat Out with Celiac/Celiac and Food Allergies” (R & R Publishing, 2010), lives up to its subtitle: “A Timeless Reference for Special Diets.”

This book suggests ways to eat out safely for many different cuisines, another invaluable tool during the holiday season.

For those intolerant to dairy products, the “Dairy-Free Cookbook” (Three Rivers Press, 1998) by Jane Zukin offers more than 250 recipes. Many seem impossible to make without milk, including Holiday Trifle, Chocolate Mousse Crepes and Spinach Lasagna.

These books, along with other pertinent books and videos, are on the shelves of Stanford Health Library. Research assistance and customized information packets on all medical conditions and treatments are available free of charge. If you need a recipe based on a special dietary requirement, contact the library and we will do our best to find something delicious for you. We can fax or e-mail the information, or you can pick it up at the library.

For those who want to do their own research, Stanford Health Library’s Web site accesses more than 10,000 links to trustworthy, evidence-based information, including more than 1,000 electronic books.

Stanford Health Library is free and open to the public. The library is open in five locations: Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford Hospital, Stanford’s Cancer Center, the Taube Koret Center for Jewish Life and the Ravenswood Family Health Center.

For more information, call 725-8400, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit healthlibrary.stanford.edu.

Nancy Dickenson is head librarian at Stanford Health Library.

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