Preventing diabetes through the kitchen


| |

Hungry for something tasty?

That was the question at the “Health and Flavor in the Latino Kitchen” workshop held in Corona – a workshop designed to inform Latino families how to lower the risk of getting diabetes, while still enjoying a tasty meal at home.

Sponsored by the American Diabetes Association and the non-profit organization Latin Woman in Action, the recent workshop aimed to inform the Latino community on how small changes in their diet, like switching to low fat mayonnaise, using olive oil instead of brands like Mazola and brown rice instead of white rice could help prevent diabetes, while still allowing them to enjoy their traditional Latino dishes.

Chef Antonio Robles, a resident of Astoria and graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, demonstrated how to prepare a healthy and delicious potato salad using ingredients such as carrots, low fat mayonnaise, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

“People are impressed by how good the food can taste and how just using a low fat mayo can make a difference,” said Robles, who also prepared a blend of tasty papaya shake using papaya, 1 percent milk, a little bit of vanilla extract and ice.

“It is really good, delicious,” said Begonia Elorza, resident of Jackson Heights whose mother and aunts have been diagnosed with diabetes. “I learned today that the impression that diabetics can not eat this or that is false. Basically, you can eat whatever you want, but you have to limit the portions.”

Portions should be limited to one fistful or one cup per serving. Latino families should also consider using ingredients such as beans, to help with weight loss, chilies for lowering cholesterol, and tomatoes, which may help fight certain cancers. One traditional Latino meal that can be made using tomato sauce are tomato covered pork chops.

To prepare, buy four ounce pork chops and season them using ingredients such as tomato sauce, laurel leaves, sofrito (salsa) and canola oil. Each pork chop should be served with a handful of brown rice or salad. Additional instructions on this or other recipes can be found in the book Diabetic Cooking For Latinos by Olga Fuste.

“I haven’t paid much mind to it, but it’s like ‘wow I can get diabetes’ and after today I am going to be more conscious about portions and what I eat,” added Elorza.

Helene Velazquez, who leads the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Latino initiative, ‘Por tu Familia’ (For Your Family), said there is a high percentage of Latinos unaware that they are living with diabetes.

“What we want is to educate parents and their families,” she said. “We want to emphasize nutrition and portions.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos are almost twice as likely than other populations to be affected by diabetes, due in great part to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Obesity, a big source of Type 2 diabetes, has affected a high percentage of Latinos, including 73 percent of Mexican-American woman.

“We can’t stop eating, that’s why!,” said Haydee Zambrana, chief executive officer of Latina Woman in Action, an organization started in 1990 to help in cases such as immigration, domestic violence and empowerment. “Our food is so good, we can’t get enough.”

Zambrana said she also wanted to help spread the word on the prevention of diabetes since it has a great effect on Latino woman.

After learning that she was pre-diabetic due to family history – her mother and sisters were diagnosed with diabetes and her aunt passed away due to complications from diabetes, Zambrana said, “It’s a lack of awareness. We hope that even if it is little by little, we can reach out to the Hispanic community and educate them.”

Isabel Olivos, who works closely with the ADA and has been diabetic for four years, said she traveled from New Jersey to take advantage of the free workshop.

“In New Jersey, you have to pay to see the doctor, and then pay another monthly fee to see a nutritionist. It’s too much money,” said Olivos. “But now, thanks to this [the workshop] we are learning to manage the diabetes we have. I know now that I have to eat more vegetables, fish, chicken and peel the skin off. We all learned a lot.”

DELICIOUS RECIPE

Pork chops covered in tomato sauce

To prepare, buy 4 oz. porkchops and season them using ingredients such as canola oil, tomato sauce, laurel leaves, and sofrito (salsa). Each pork chop should be served with a handful of brown rice or salad.

Additional instructions on this or other recipes can be found in the book, Cocinando para Latinos con Diabetes, or Diabetic Cooking for Latinos, by Olga Fuste.

Latinos can also include in their their meals 140 beans, to help with weight loss, chilies for lowering cholesterol, and tomatoes, which may help fight certain cancers. All portions should be a 1 fistful or 1 cup.

For more information on Latinos and diabetes and diabetes prevention visit the ADA site, portufamilia.org or call 1-888-DIABETES.