Paula Deen

5 diabetes-friendly swaps Paula Deen should try

Jan. 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM ET

Prevention

As you have certainly heard by now, Paula Deen, 64, that Southern belle from whom we've all been taking cooking cues from for years, has revealed she has type-2 diabetes. We understand how upsetting any diagnosis can be, but health events can also serve as a signpost for making important lifestyle changes — for the better.

Deen says she has always encouraged her viewers to indulge in moderation, but you would be forgiven for missing that part of her message: Her recipes are so mouth-wateringly tempting that portion-control is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re digging into her Southern Fried Chicken or Macaroni and Cheese with Potato Chip Crust. Unfortunately, research shows that a healthy diet is one of the most important aspects of preventing and managing type-2 diabetes.

But while diabetics in the past may have thought they were doomed to a life of deprivation, we now know that’s just not the case—you just have to be smart about it. That’s why we took 5 classic comfort-food favorites and came up with healthier versions that would be right at home in Deen’s kitchen, but sans the high-glycemic carbohydrates and saturated fat that can wreak havoc on your blood sugar—and your heart. Here, 5 ways Deen—and the rest of us—can indulge with diabetes-friendly decadence.

1. Chicken and Dumplings

http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/chicken_dumplings/

Classic dumpling recipes often call for heavy cream or a high-fat cream-based soup as a broth, not to mention immoderate amounts of butter and all-purpose white flour. In other words, they’re anything but appropriate for a diabetic trying to keep their blood sugar in check.

 Instead try… Our Chicken and “Dumplings”

Making our sauce with reduced-fat sour cream instead of heavy cream slashes the saturated fat in this all-in-one main dish, and we recommend using the leanest (and skinless) meat from the chicken. Add the gnocchi-like dumplings—think small and pillowy—to the simmering broth at the last minute to preserve their light, tender texture. 

2. Mac and Cheese With Potato Chip Crust

http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/macaroni_and_cheese_with_potato_chip_crust/

It’s not news to anyone how rich—read: fatty—macaroni and cheese can be, and with this particular recipe, the name says it all. It packs calorie- and cholesterol-rich full-fat cheese, milk, butter, white pasta, bacon, and potato chips—which alone can wreak havoc on blood sugar.

 Instead try… Low-Fat Spicy Mac & Cheese 

Follow this maxim and you’ll never be left wanting: When you’re cutting fat, add flavor. Here, we’ve tossed in some chipotle chile pepper, which lends an unexpected but enticing kick to this classic comfort food made heart-healthier with a combination of reduced-fat dairy products. Swap in whole wheat pasta for an even healthier version.

 3. Oven Fried Chicken

http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/oven_fried_chicken/

This sounds deceptively healthy, but soaking chicken in high-fat buttermilk and yogurt for 8 hours before cooking it packs in an unbelievable amount of fat—and that’s before you’ve even breaded the bird in white flour.  

 Instead try… Our Oven-Fried Deviled Chicken

Remember that anything you would fry can also be baked for a more moist—and far healthier—dish. When you’re breading, use Dijon instead of whole eggs, and opt for heart-healthy whole-wheat crumbs instead of the traditional white. Cook it in the oven and serve it with a vinegar—not mayonnaise—slaw.

 4. Avocado Chicken Salad

http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/avocado_chicken_salad/

The real reason most of us love this sandwich staple is the generous serving of mayonnaise that goes in it—sometimes up to a quarter of a cup per serving! And while a little mayo in moderation can be just fine, it still packs a hefty dose of saturated fat. This salad also calls for sour cream, avocado and more mayo in the dressing! Spoon it onto a high-glycemic white bread and you’re looking at a diabetic’s nightmare.

Instead try… Our Crispy Chicken Salad

This salad, unlike the one above, is, is actually a salad…with vegetables. Each serving packs a whole cup of fiber-filled greens and a smattering of grape tomatoes. The breading—which adds a satisfying crunch to the chicken—is kept to a minimum, and mixed with just one egg white for four servings, it’s low-cholesterol, too.

5. Chocolate Bread Pudding With Rum Toffee Sauce

http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/recipe_view/chocolate_bread_pudding_with_rum_toffee_sauce/

Any desert that isn’t automatically portion-controlled can spell trouble for a diabetic—or anyone watching their fat and sugar intake. This recipe is especially decadent, calling for heavy whipping cream, whole milk, two and a half sticks of butter, white bread, white and brown sugar—you get the picture.

Instead try… Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes With Vanilla Bean Frosting

Join the cupcake craze! These are a cute, no-deprivation way to keep portions in check and sugar intake under control. Plus, using dark cocoa instead of chocolate slashes fat for just 9 g of fat per serving. Some bread puddings, meanwhile, can pack up to 30 g per serving.

More from Prevention:

Fitness Tips for Diabetics

How Sleep Lowers Your Blood Sugar

Pains You Should Never, Ever Ignore

6 Healthy Foods You Turn Into Diet Disasters

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