As we wrap up National Diabetes Month, we’d like to acknowledge a local chef who has worked personally and professionally to introduce healthy and delicious recipes for those living with the chronic disease. Alarmingly, rates of diabetes among Latinos are almost double those of non-Latino whites.
Certified nutritionist and author of two cookbooks, Latin Lover Light and Best Loved Mexican, Chef Lala is also a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. Chef Lala remains dedicated to educating communities and combating obesity and the complications associated with disease.
Beyond her work with the ADA, Chef Lala has allowed her entrepreneurial spirit to soar with a new line of products called “Chef Lala Homemade,” a line of all natural, easy-to-use sauces and marinades.
Visit her new site for great ideas on quick, easy recipes and tips. We’ll be featuring a special giveaway of her new products in the weeks to come. Chef Lala tells us with her new line of sauces and marinades anybody can prepare a truly homemade gourmet meal in just minutes.
A classically trained chef, Chef Lala runs her own high-end catering business, SAVOR!, in Los Angeles, where she regularly doles out her savvy solutions for better living at conferences worldwide and on international and national television.
As part of our ongoing series of Chef Q&A’s, we had a chance to hear first-hand from the exciting, always innovative Chef Lala.
What inspired you to go into culinary arts? I grew up in the kitchen. My parents had restaurants and my siblings and I were always part of the business. I always say my parents taught me how to cook, school taught me technique.
Tell us about your work with the American Diabetes Association and why it is so important for you to educate people about good nutrition? In the past, a diabetes diagnosis was often a cause for hopelessness. Thank goodness that has changed! We’ve come a long way in our understanding of how a variety of foods-not just sugar-are converted to glucose in the body. And now we know that exercise is critical to diabetes prevention and management. Living with diabetes today is, in fact, no problema. However, despite what we know about the disease, how to ward it off, and how to prevent complications, the number of new cases is rising along with the death rate. Latinos are at special risk. The important thing is to take hold of your condition. You need to ask yourself, “do I have diabetes or does diabetes have me?” If you learn to manage your diabetes, you can have diabetes and still have it all!
How would you describe your food to our readers? In my work as a chef and certified nutritionist, I hear all the time from people belonging to a variety of ethnic groups that they want to eat healthier without giving up the comfort and flavor of their traditional cuisine. Latinos will say, “‘Well, my grandmother always made that with lard. That’s how it has been done for generations.” While it’s true that our parents and grandparents cooked for us with the intention of giving us the best, do you think they would have used certain ingredients, like lard, if they had known the long-term consequences of doing so?
It’s okay to tweak traditional recipes. It’s okay to make healthier choices without sacrificing the rich culture that we hold dear. After all, we are the next generation of abuelos and abuelitas. We have the power to create new traditions from old, so we can stop being a statistic. Our abuelos came to this country because they wanted for us to have a better life. A better life for me, frankly, is having my dad around for a good long time. And I personally want to be around a good long time for my son and his children.
Who was, or is today, your greatest cooking influence? My cravings, my health, my culture, my curiosity, my travels, my location, MY INTENSE PASSION for food. Me.
What is your favorite comfort food? Ice Cream Paletas
What’s your favorite food indulgence? Truffles
What would be your last meal? A sliced Hot Birote stuffed with smashed frijoles, queso fresco, and aguacate (avocado) drizzled with warm Chef Lala Homemade Tomato Serrano Sauce served with a glass of really good red wine. More importantly, whom I share it with.