Healthful Italian for All Tastes

Contrary to popular belief, Italian food is the perfect cuisine for those looking for heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly dishes. Real Italian food, that is, which is healthful, delicious, and the most popular cuisine in the world. At its core, classic Italian cuisine is all about preparing fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, dairy, seafood, and poultry in time-honored techniques that preserve both tradition and flavor.

In the “Italian Diabetes Cookbook,” award-winning author Amy Riolo looks to honor this tradition with 150 easy-to-prepare, satisfying, and robust Italian dishes that can be enjoyed by the whole family—while helping fine food lovers everywhere achieve their health goals.

Inspiration for this book came to Amy when she visited her ancestral hometown of Crotone, Italy, for the first time. Each recipe includes notes on the history and cultural importance of each dish, and most contain wine pairings—an essential part of any authentic Italian meal! Highlights include Ricotta, Grilled Eggplant, and Fresh Mint Bruschetta; Whole-Wheat Ziti with Goat Ragu; Swordfish with Olives, Capers, Herbs, and Tomatoes; Red Pepper, Yellow Tomato, and Artichoke Salad; Espresso Panna Cotta; and many more!”

As an award-winning author, chef, television personality, cuisine and culture expert, and educator, Amy Riolo is known for sharing history, culture, and nutrition through global cuisine. Learn more at

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Basil

(“Pasta” di Zucca con Gamberi, Pomodori, e Basilico)

While spaghetti squash is hardly a grain, its tender strands do resemble golden noodles. Doling it out like pasta allows its naturally sweet taste to shine through. An added bonus: It’s gluten-free! Serve with Müller-Thurgau wine.

1 (approximately 3 1/2-pound) spaghetti squash, halved and seeded

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound shrimp, any size, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a 15 × 10 × 1/2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Brush the cut surface of squash with 1 tablespoon oil; place squash flesh-side down on the foil-lined pan. Roast on bottom rack 40 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash shell. Remove from oven and cool (do not turn off oven). When cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape strands of spaghetti squash into a large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, uncovered, without turning, until the tails begin to turn coral, approximately 1–2 minutes. Turn shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 1 minute. Squeeze lemon juice over shrimp and set aside.

Place tomatoes, garlic, and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 13 × 9-inch baking dish. Roast on top rack for 30 minutes, or until tender.

Toss shrimp with roasted tomatoes and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in basil. Spoon over spaghetti squash. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Use this simple method of sautéing shrimp whenever you need a quick dinner. They can be served over beans, polenta, pasta, salad, or soup for a meal in minutes.

Serves 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Espresso Panna Cotta

(Panna Cotta al Caffè)

Panna cotta, Italian for “cooked cream,” is a specialty of northern Italy’s Piedmont region—an area known for its superior dairy products. Panna cotta, or some version of it, has long been popular throughout most of Europe and in other countries along the Mediterranean.

This creamy, espresso-laced panna cotta is light enough to eat every day but impressive enough to serve to guests. I use yogurt instead of the traditional cream to make the dish lighter.

Note: You will need four (1/2-cup) ramekins to complete this dish.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly made espresso coffee, divided

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup natural sugar

1 1/2 cups low-fat, low-sugar French vanilla yogurt, drained in a fine-mesh strainer

1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder

Pour 2 tablespoons espresso into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Whisk to combine, and let stand until thickened.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup hot espresso into a small saucepan and whisk in the sugar until it has dissolved.

Stir in the yogurt and salt, and put the saucepan over medium heat.

When the mixture begins to bubble a little around the edges, take the pan off the heat.

With a fork, whisk the gelatin/espresso mixture and add it into the saucepan. Whisk until well combined, keeping the pan off heat. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Carefully divide the mixture into 4 ramekins and allow to come to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

To unmold easily, dip the bottom of each ramekin, one at a time, into some just-boiled water and hold there for about 8 seconds. Let each stand out of the water for another few seconds before wiping off the water and putting a small salad plate or saucer on top; then overturn the ramekin and let the panna cotta drop onto the plate. Sprinkle each with cocoa powder, and serve.

Panna cotta dates back to the 10th century, when it’s believed that a woman of Hungarian origin first prepared it in Piedmont’s Langhe area (also noted for its wine and white truffles). Original versions of panna cotta use heavy cream instead of yogurt. You can change the flavor of this recipe by replacing the espresso used in the gelatin mixture with 2 teaspoons of almond or vanilla extract, or by using a flavored yogurt.

Serves 4 | Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus at least 4 hours refrigeration) | Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Editor’s note: For more edible delights by Sheilah Kaufman, go to www.