Blaine chefs’ business offers special menus for diabetics
by Tara Nelson
For many years, Gail Walker led a delicious life.
As the founding owner of Emerald Bay, an upscale catering business in Bellingham, and as a member of a family that liked to celebrate with meals together, good food was a central part of her life.
But after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003, Walker had to find a new way to meld her special dietary needs with her lifestyle.
And after three years of battling the idea, she came to terms with changing her life for the better.
“I was totally in denial. I thought I was going to be the exception to the rule. Every check up I got, however, I was gaining weight,” she said. “I thought I was healthy but I was wrong. I had a long, hard talk with myself and decided I was going to change my life and that January, my resolution was to get this under control.”
Walker, however, not only achieved her initial goal, she said she was able to reverse her condition, although she admitted it could come back at any time if she went back to old eating habits.
She began by implementing a simple exercise regimen and completely cut out empty carbohydrates from her diet.
Within four months, she had lost 10 pounds and her blood sugar was back to normal. Several months later, she had lost another 25 pounds and her doctor was calling her the poster child of the clinic.
“I had totally eliminated my diabetes and was in better shape than when I was 30,” she said. “But the point of it is, I decided it had to be a way of life, it couldn’t be a temporary fix because the minute I stopped, the diabetes would come back. It’s now been a year and a half and I haven’t gained any of the weight back.”
Walker sold Emerald Bay Events in 2005, but started her own in-home personal chef business Every Day Gourmet last year.
And in a time where diabetes has become a nation-wide epidemic, she was able to transform her experience to earn a living while helping others through the “Healthy Portion” part of her business, which implements delicious, low-fat recipes that meet dietary guidelines for individuals with diabetes.
Walker said that roughly translates into avoiding “all things white” – including white sugar, white flour and white rice – eating whole grains and at least 36 grams of fiber a day and increasing fruits, vegetables and nuts, in addition to a practical meal plan.
She added that people often fear that healthy food will lack flavor or be unsatisfying but that the difference in taste is often marginal. Even pork chops, she said, can be steamed or grilled rather than fried in oil.
“When people think about dieting, they think about yogurt and rice cakes and that’s not a practical diet,” she said. “Practicality is eating foods that are delicious and still good for you. I try very hard to make meals under 400 calories that are low in fat, high in dietary fiber and absolutely delicious. The best plan is one where you can eat anything in moderation or cook anything with healthy modifications.”
Some examples might include ordering whole rather than refried beans and corn rather than flour tortillas at a Mexican restaurant or asking for fajitas grilled without oil. A healthy snack to satisfy a sweet tooth might be a dried date filled with a little cream cheese or blue cheese and stuffed with an almond.
And just a few weeks ago, Walker said she hosted a dinner party that included eggplant parmesan using eggplant slices drenched in egg substitute and baked instead of fried; steamed asparagus; and sweet potato gnocchi made with whole wheat pastry flour and topped with low-fat ricotta cheese, gorgonzola and chopped hazelnuts that she dubbed “absolutely delicious.”
“We’re food freaks but we believe you can eat really well, lose weight and maintain health by increasing fruits, vegetables and nuts and eliminating the white,” she said. “People have got to get over thinking things are going to be gross because there’s a lot of wonderful food out there.”
The Everyday Gourmet caters private parties, brunches or special dinners for guests ranging from two to 100. Meals are prepared in the client’s home. Clean-up is included. For more information, call 360/392-8527.
Recipes to live for!
By Gail Walker
The Everyday Gourmet is based on the premise that if you cook, you too can make quality gourmet food with what you have on hand. Gourmet cooking is basic cooking with imagination thrown in.
Don’t be afraid to substitute, just enjoy!
A number of years ago I was living in Prince Rupert, B.C. and made soup for a fishing boat, The Ocean Selector for their trips. In return I received a fish or two or whatever they caught that week. One week I got bags and bags of scallops! Big, juicy, plump, scallops! Here are some of my favorite recipes:
Lucky Enough To Have Scallops
½ red pepper sliced julienne
3-4 shallots chopped or ½ white
½ stick butter or more
1 lb scallops, patted dry
½ c dry white wine
A sprinkle of fresh thyme and oregano.
Sauté shallots and red pepper a few minutes in butter, add the thyme, oregano and white wine.
Add scallops and cook gently till no longer opaque
This could take as long as 10-15 minutes depending on the size
You don’t want to boil these, as they will get tough if cooked to fast or long.
Sprinkle with more fresh thyme and a little salt.
Serve with brown rice.
4 bone-in chicken breast halves,
½ c white flour and ½ tsp salt,
1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot sliced thin
1 green pepper chopped
3 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
½ lb potatoes, peeled, cut into
1 small can low fat coconut milk
1 c fat free chicken broth
Heat olive oil, dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess, brown in olive oil.
Remove chicken, add garlic and chopped vegetables.
Cook 5 minutes and curry powder, and chicken broth, put chicken halves back into vegetable mix and cook at a simmer about 20 minutes.
Add the coconut milk during the last 5 minutes and top with cilantro to serve.
Serve with brown rice
Everyone’s Favorite Snack
1 lb Chicken tenders
1/2 cup non-fat or low-fat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Cayenne pepper and garlic
powder to taste
Put spices in buttermilk.
Add chicken and let sit for 15 minutes.
Take chicken out and roll in bread crumbs.
Arrange on cookie sheet and spray with cooking oil spray, preferably olive oil spray.
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.
Serve with carrots, celery and a fat-free ranch dressing.