ADW Diabetes recently had the chance to speak with bestselling author, television personality, and diabetes expert Marlene Koch about her New York Times bestseller: EAT MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE: Over 200 Brand-New Recipes Low in Sugar Fat and Calories and how to healthfully enjoy all the foods you love. Marlene also shared Four Tips for A Healthy, Tasty, Fourth of July, along with a couple of her amazing recipes.
Here is our conversation:
Congratulations on your newest cookbook. How proud you must be to have it appear on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller lists!
After ten years of writing healthy cookbooks, it’s incredible of course to have such recognition. What’s more important, however, is that people are aware that this cookbook exists. With so many Americans struggling with weight concerns and diabetes, I’m thrilled to offer them, and their families, an easy-to-use tasty tool that can help them achieve better health.
Your background includes a degree in nutrition as well as experience as a professional cooking instructor, how did you get into writing cookbooks?
Quite by accident! While working as a culinary instructor I was asked to create a cooking class featuring low-sugar desserts. Given that my step-daughter, a bona-fide dessert lover, had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I took up the difficult challenge of creating low-sugar baked goods that would look and taste just as good as the “real thing.” Later, when I shared my ideas and recipes with a book editor she suggested I write a cookbook. The rest, as they say, is history. The chocolate cake recipe from my first book has now graced hundreds of thousands of tables and I love that everyone can enjoy it!
While most healthy cookbooks just focus on fat and calories you take it one step further and also slash the sugar. Why do you feel it’s so important?
While small amounts of added sugar are acceptable in any diet, including those for diabetes, excessive amounts are simply not healthy for anyone. As a matter of fact, reducing added sugars is the only healthy-eating guideline that every health professional I know of supports. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, men not more than nine teaspoons, and children even fewer. With adolescents consuming an average of 32 teaspoons of added sugar per day, it’s no coincidence that diabetes in this age group has soared.
The great news is that with a little kitchen magic, everyone can enjoy the sweet foods they love without the negative health consequences. It’s a message I know my readers find extra sweet!
There are a lot of health professionals who tell us to simply avoid eating unhealthy fare. Instead, you spend your time working your magic on these same dishes re-creating them in a healthier way. Why this method?
Like most Americans, I don’t want to give up the foods I love, and I don’t feel anyone else should have too either. It’s difficult enough to be concerned with health issues like being overweight or having diabetes, which is why I work hard to make it easy (even fun) for people to reach their goals. On a professional note, studies show that deprivation diets simply don’t work. Just the thought of not being allowed to eat a certain food can actually make you crave it.
For an overwhelming majority of people, when their “diet” is over they revert back to eating the foods they love, many gaining back even more weight than they lost. Remember, the word “die” is in diet. With my recipes, readers tell me they always feel satisfied, so it’s much easier to stay on the path to better health (and the whole family benefits).
With the fourth of July holiday right around the corner, can you share some ideas of how to lighten up a picnic or backyard barbecue?
I would love to. With just a few simple swaps it’s easy trim the sugar, fat and calories from the no-so-healthy festive fare we all love. Here are four tips for a healthier Fourth of July:
- For the biggest bang for your health buck, ditch the sugary drinks. For a festive and refreshing drink, combine ¼ cup 100% cherry juice with ice, sparkling water, and a lemon wedge or make homemade lemon or limeade with your choice of sugar substitute. If it’s soda pop you crave, switch to diet and in the process save an entire days’ worth of added sugar with just one can.
- Swap out some of the chips for crunchy veggies with served with a flavorful dip. A recent study demonstrated that kids ate 80% more broccoli when it was served with a low-fat ranch-style dip. To make your own: In a small bowl mix ½ cup buttermilk with ¼ cup each light mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Whisk in ½ teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. (Optional: add ¾ teaspoon dried dill). Chill and serve with assorted raw or blanched veggies.
- Grill it lean. Replace fattening hot dogs with flavorful turkey or chicken sausages, ribs with tender pork tenderloin, and fatty rib-eye or porterhouse steaks with marinated top-sirloin. For burgers opt for either lean ground beef or turkey (93% lean is my choice). Here’s an additional tip; to create a great-tasting turkey burger, add moisture and flavor to the meat.
- Enjoy seasonal fresh fruit for dessert. There’s no better time than summer for juicy watermelon, fresh peaches, apricots, and plums, along with naturally sweet cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries – are all in season! Or, for an extra special dessert, beat the heat with my festive No-Bake Red, White and Blue Cheesecake Cups (P.S. There’s no need to tell anyone they’re healthy!)