Holiday Makeover Recipes

Chef, nutritionist and cookbook author, Chef LaLa, is encouraging people with type 2 diabetes to recognize that small changes, including food choices, can have a positive effect on managing diabetes.

Chef LaLa is passionate about healthy cooking, and a family history of type 2 diabetes motivated her to become involved in the Journey for Control campaign, supported by Merck & Co., Inc., to help people with diabetes to better manage their condition.

Living with diabetes can be a challenge. A healthy diet is a key component of diabetes management. The Journey for Control campaign encourages people with type 2 diabetes to recognize that small changes can add up to a big difference. Visit for nutritional advice, exercise tips and flavorful recipes, like the spiced tropical fruit salad recipe provided below.

About the Journey for Control campaign:

The Journey for Control campaign, sponsored by Merck & Co., Inc. in collaboration with the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, features Chef LaLa's Healthy Menu Makeovers, as well as a comprehensive online educational resource,, for people with diabetes and their loved ones. The Web site features tools for daily diabetes management, healthy recipes, expert tips on nutrition and exercise and information about treatment options.

Chef LaLa's nutritional tips for people living with type 2 diabetes:

  • Increasing physical activity, even in small amounts, like walking instead of driving and taking the stairs instead of the elevator, when possible
  • Talking to your endocrinologist or primary care provider about treatment options
  • Speaking with a nutritionist or a diabetes educator for advice on creating diabetes-friendly meals
  • Visiting for flavorful recipes, nutritional advice and exercise tips
  • Limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet by choosing lean protein, like white meat chicken and fish, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  • Choose whole grain cereals, pastas or bread, as well as brown or wild rice for added fiber. Beans, such as kidney beans and chick peas, are also high in fiber and nutrients.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables.
  • Limit the amount of sodium in your meals by using flavor enhancers, like lemon, chilies, vinegars, and herbs and spices instead of salt.
  • Avoid sugar and use artificial sweeteners as needed.
  • Portion control is important and all meals should be well-balanced. Your plate should be half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter whole grains.
  • Grill, broil, bake, braise, boil or steam your food instead of frying.
  • Use a good non-stick pan to reduce the amount of oil needed when cooking.
  • Reduce or avoid alcohol. Alcohol packs seven calories per gram, falling just short of the nine calories found in a gram of fat and nearly twice that in a gram of protein or carbohydrate. Add fat-filled or sugary mixers, and the calories can reach 500 per drink.
  • Reduce saturated fat in creamy salad dressings by mixing in some nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt.
  • Read the label and understand the ingredients. Low-fat doesn't necessarily mean healthy. Often, low-fat foods are high in sugar to add taste.
  • Continue to work out during the holidays. First thing in the morning is best so that you don't get sidetracked.
  • Always remember that you have to burn the calories you consume or they will become stored fat.
  • Don't leave your resolution to the New Year. "I will start next year" is a great way to sabotage your success. Why mess up your health with the intention of making it better later on?
  • Avoid skipping meals before a big holiday meal. You don't want to arrive starving and then overdo it with sweets and other unhealthy choices.
  • Eat something healthy and full of fiber, like vegetables, before going to dinner to make you feel satisfied. Keep in mind that it takes 20 minutes after you consume food for your body to realize you have eaten. So, if you feel satisfied instead of hungry when it is time to enjoy your meal, chances are you will eat less.
  • Don't load up at the buffet table. Keep track of your portion sizes by putting your snacks on a small plate instead of a large one and limiting your trips to the buffet. Wait 20 minutes before getting another plate of food.
  • No seconds on dessert, often the main ingredients in desserts are sugar and butter.
  • Appearance at Rush University Medical Center

    Expert Care for Chronic Conditions community wellness event about diabetes and obesity, hosted by Rush University Medical Center on November 11th, 2008 from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Searle Conference Center, 542 Brainard, 1725 W. Harrison, Chicago

    To register, you can call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) or visit

    About Chef LaLa

    Growing up in Los Angeles, Chef LaLa helped in her family's Mexican restaurants where she inherited her father's love for cooking.

    She studied at Le Cordon Bleu, an internationally renowned culinary school, and was struck by the need for a link between her cherished Latino cooking and her knowledge of health and nutrition. Today – as both a chef and a certified nutritionist with a specialty in weight management – LaLa is that link. Her meals are diabetes-friendly and can also be enjoyed by the entire family.

    Having seen three of her grandparents and her father struggle with type 2 diabetes, LaLa is personally dedicated to sharing her recipes and cooking tips with U.S. Hispanics, almost one in ten of whom suffer from diabetes.

    LaLa is pursuing her goal to create a healthier nation on many fronts. She owns SAVOR! Catering in Los Angeles and is the author of two cookbooks, Latin Lover Lite and Chef LaLa Presents: Best Loved Mexican, all of which promote the message that you can enjoy healthy cuisine without losing traditional family flavor.

    LaLa consults for restaurants and companies that want to add healthy Latino flavor to their menus, and educates people about healthy cooking through active community service.

    LaLa lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son

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