Lourdes Castro certainly comes with a long list of impressive credentials. She is a professor at New York University, a registered dietitian, a renowned chef, a cookbook author, a contributing writer to several publications, and has a master’s degree in nutritional sciences from Columbia University. Needless to say, she has a handle on how to eat right.
Not only does she create healthy recipes, but ones that are jam-packed with Latin flavor derived from her Cuban roots. Born to Cubans parents and growing up in the Cuban-American culture of Miami, Lourdes knows a thing or two about mixing savory spices into healthy cuisine.
We recently met up with Lourdes to talk about her partnership with Novo Nordisk to bring diabetic-friendly, Latin-inspired recipes to the diabetic community. And she gave us some delicious recipes perfect for Thanksgiving to share with you (scroll to the bottom of this page for the links and to download her cookbook).
Personal ties to diabetes
“Thirteen percent of the Latin population [in America] is diabetic,” Lourdes said when we asked her why she is passionate about helping diabetics lead healthy lives. As a chef who has authored three cookbooks on Hispanic cuisine, she feels a personal responsibility and desire to help her community fight diabetes with healthy recipes. And these diagnosed diabetics are getting younger and younger, Lourdes reminds us.
Lourdes has good friends who have both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and an aunt who was recently diagnosed with prediabetes. These friends and many other diabetics feel restricted when they are diagnosed with the chronic disease. But she says that healthy living and delicious food can “live together harmoniously” and she loves “being able to show how you can continue eating foods you love, particularly for the Latin market” while managing diabetes.
“I’ve always loved the combination of food and nutrition,” Lourdes told us, with her spunky Spanish accent. She has successfully married vibrant Latin flavors with nutrient-rich ingredients for a diabetic audience.
Preparing for Thanksgiving with diabetes
Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, we asked Lourdes if she had any tips on tackling the holiday feast while controlling blood sugar levels. Lourdes said that many diabetics are under the illusion that they can’t join in on special meals during the holidays. This simply isn’t true; diabetics can still enjoy the food.
Diabetics may have more health-conscious family members that cook healthier Thanksgiving recipes. “It’s become trendy that people are paying more attention to their food, which is great for the diabetic community.”
Of course, there are still a few things to keep in mind so your blood glucose doesn’t spike. “At the end of the day, the portion size is always going to be important,” Lourdes commented.
Thanksgiving centers on the turkey, which is good for diabetics since it’s a lean protein and doesn’t affect blood sugar. Lourdes helped us visualize the healthy Thanksgiving dinner plate by explaining that the plate should be 1/2 vegetables and leafy greens (roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans, or another Thanksgiving staple), 1/4 turkey, and 1/4 starch-based item (sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or other).
But what about dessert?
Lourdes gives a great tip:
“You can always bring a dessert [to the party] or maybe offer a variety for your guests” so at least one of the desserts falls within diabetes nutritional guidelines. And you don’t have to tell your family it’s healthy. She mentioned her dark chocolate espresso tart recipe as a healthy Thanksgiving treat, which is a great example of all her recipes as they “happen to be healthy, happen to be delicious, and happen to be diabetes-friendly.”
Desserts are also all about portion size. Lourdes advises that the crust of a slice of pie be no more than 2-inches long, or the length of a woman’s thumb.
With portion control and incorporating important nutrients, Lourdes assures us that “you can keep eating the food you love and still stay inline with your diabetes regimen.”