At the most recent American Diabetes Association Expo in Minneapolis, Chef Tiffany Derry put on an exciting cooking demonstration featuring diabetic-friendly—and delicious—recipes. Chef Tiffany is a graduate of the prestigious Art Institute of Houston, Texas, and she was voted as a fan favorite when she competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

We were able to catch up with Tiffany and talk with her about her connection to diabetes and her thoughts on how to make healthy eating delicious, easy, and fun.

A personal connection to diabetes

Tiffany grew up in a family where diabetes touched many of the people she loved, including her grandfather and several uncles. More recently, her father-in-law who also has diabetes has moved into her home. She’s been able to observe first-hand how diabetes can affect you.

One of the great challenges when it comes to diabetes and food is that “people feel they have to change all the way, that there are so many restrictions,” Chef Tiffany observed. She hopes that with a little more information and help, people will realize that eating healthy isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. People can start with learning a few basics and build from there.

Breaking down barriers

“It’s more of a mindset,” Chef Tiffany said. Breaking down barriers to healthy eating—which may be particularly challenging for people from the South—begins with the realization that you don’t have to suffer the monotony of eating the same things week after week. For example, in only a few minutes, she can teach the basics of making your own vinaigrette salad dressing. And once you know the basics, there are literally hundreds of variations—each one with a totally different taste—that anyone can make. So instead of buying one expensive bottle of raspberry vinaigrette (for example) and then being sick of eating salad that tastes the same long before the bottle is empty, you can buy basic ingredients and enjoy variety every day.

Another trick she loves to teach is particularly helpful for people who have diabetes and high blood pressure. For these patients, watching their sodium intake is critical. Chef Tiffany explains, “In a restaurant, we always season with salt, pepper, and an acid (such as vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice).” If you need to cut back on salt, she teaches, you can add a little extra acid to give it a kick of flavor. Your taste buds won’t even miss the salt.

In fact, to prove her point, she makes a Smoked Turkey Chili that doesn’t call for any added salt at all.

“I’m gonna cook this tonight!”

“My favorite thing,” Chef Tiffany says with a big Texas smile, “is to hear people say, ‘I’m gonna go home and cook this tonight!’” That kind of empowerment and excitement is exactly at the heart of what she hopes to see. Small changes begin by simply starting somewhere.

Chef Tiffany’s appearance at the Expo is part of Novo Nordisk’s Diabetes Academy program. Additional resources can be found at the Cornerstones for Care website. Several of Chef Tiffany’s diabetic-friendly recipes have been posted here on Diabetic Connect.

Smoked Turkey Chili
Chicken Avocado & Yogurt Appetizer
Chicken Kebabs
Salmon with Orange Sauce