Recipe Doctor: Elaine Magee MPH, RD

Changing the Way America Eats – One Recipe at a Time

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Diabetes: Surprising Foods That Can Help Lower Blood Sugar

June 17th, 2014 · No Comments

For the 26 million people in the U.S. with diabetes and the estimated 79 million American adults with pre-diabetes, there has never been a better time to start managing and improving your diabetes. Researchers know more today than they did just five years ago about diet, insulin, medications and complications.

Each person with type 2 diabetes needs to work out his/her particular eating, exercise or medical plan so it translates into normal blood sugars in his/her particular body. In general food and meal choices that work best for these people are lower sugar, lower sodium, higher fiber, lean meats and plant protein, fruits and vegetables and sources of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Beyond that there are some specific and even surprising foods that may help lower blood sugars in people with diabetes. Information and recipes for the following can be found in the new edition of my best-selling book, Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Diabetes.

Foods with little to no carbohydrate

The following foods, when eaten alone, even in large amounts, are not likely to cause a significant rise in blood sugar because they contain few carbohydrates:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Dark green veggies and salad vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms

Some Nuts (a 2-ounce serving of these nuts contain 5 grams or less net carbs: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts).

Foods with synergy

In my book, FOOD SYNERGY, I looked at research that suggested synergy within and between certain foods or food components—where components seemed to work together for maximum health benefit. Foods with synergy that seemed to keep insulin levels steady include:

  • Whole grains
  • Soluble fiber in oats
  • Soy protein
  • Ground flaxseed

Foods and food partnerships with synergy that might improve blood sugar control include:

  • Fiber
  • Whole grains
  • Soluble fiber in oats
  • Beans
  • Ground flaxseed

Green Tea

I’m a big green/white tea advocate because of all the antioxidant plant compounds (polyphenols) it provides, but there are possibly bigger benefits for people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. More investigation needs to be done, but a review of 17 randomized clinical trials suggests green tea consumption was associated with lower fasting blood sugar levels and lower fasting insulin levels.


There’s a lot more to beans than helping fill burritos! It’s the whole nutritional package (both types of fiber, carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals and assorted plant compounds) that may help improve blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes. The plant protein and fiber in beans slow digestion (releasing carbs into the bloodstream slowly), which can help lessen the rise in blood sugar. The protein may help stimulate the release of insulin after the meal, while the protein and fiber also enhance the feeling of fullness.


Buckwheat does appear to be a potentially “magical” intact whole grain for people with diabetes; new research suggests buckwheat extract lowered meal-related blood sugar levels by 12-19 percent when given to rats. Look for buckwheat soba noodles and start experimenting with buckwheat groats.

Whey protein

Whey protein hydrolysates may prove to be helpful anti-diabetic agents, according to new research with obese diabetic mice. The whey protein improved blood glucose clearance, reduced elevated insulin levels, and remarkably restored the ability of pancreas cells to release insulin in response to glucose. These amazing potential benefits aren’t totally out of the blue, past research has linked lowfat dairy with a reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes and specific amino acids in milk have been reported to stimulate insulin secretion.


Several studies suggest cinnamon has a possible blood sugar lowering effect. For example, one study suggested less than a half-teaspoon of cinnamon a day might reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Another study found 2 teaspoons helped lower blood sugar levels after meals. More research needs to be done but in the meantime, sprinkle some cinnamon in your morning cereal, yogurt, smoothies, or coffee/lattes.


Stay tuned as more research trial results become available, but put mushrooms on our list of potential foods with anti-diabetic properties. So far, preliminary data from human trials appear to mirror the encouraging results in diabetic animal research, which includes potential in helping to lower plasma glucose, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and serum triglycerides. Polysaccharides (possibly both alpha- and beta- glucans) are the plant compounds in mushrooms that are thought to be responsible for these desirable effects. The mechanism needs to be confirmed, but some researchers suspect they work directly with insulin receptors on target tissues.

Diet Soda

Diet soda can be a great alternative for soda lovers because they don’t contribute carbohydrates or calories. Recent intervention studies point toward a beneficial effect of low or no calorie sweeteners on fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels as well as insulin levels, energy or calorie intake and body weight—all things that people with diabetes care about. Certainly it is important to drink water most of the time, but there is definitely room within a healthy diabetic lifestyle to enjoy a diet soda when a flavored beverage is preferred.

Originally published at Fact Based Health

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Happy Father’s Day: How to Keep Your Favorite Men Healthy

June 13th, 2014 · No Comments

If you are a man, pay attention. If you are a woman who loves a man, pay attention. In honor of father’s day, I wanted to present some key nutrition tips–with men’s health issues in mind.

Men are a little special when it comes to health because of a few things:

They go to the doctor less than women and are more likely to have a serious condition when they finally go.
They are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables compared to women and more likely to eat red meats and other sources of saturated fat like fast food.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer of men ate 45 to 54! And men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke compared to women.
One out of three men have high blood pressure and a third of them don’t even know it. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, ED and kidney disease.

Besides going to the doctor for check ups, exercising regularly, and not smoking, here are some nutrition tips that can help men with the above health concerns.


#1 A Handful of Nuts A Day Or A Nut-Filled (low sugar) Bar

Nuts are rich in antioxidants along with monounsaturated fat and most contribute phytosterols, which help lower blood cholesterol, enhance the immune system and decrease the risk of cancers. Along with reducing the risk of heart disease, nuts may also reduce the risk of diabetes. Nuts are considered a smart snack for people with diabetes because when eaten alone, they tend not to raise blood glucose levels.

One convenient way to “get nutty” every day is to snack on a nut-filled bar made from ingredients you can see and pronounce like STRONG & KIND which contain 10 grams of natural protein per bar in bold flavors including Honey Smoked BBQ, Honey Mustard and Roasted Jalapeno.

#2 Fatty Fish

Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring) are the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which I would categorize as “smart fats” because they appear to benefit the heart, circulation, and immune system. Omega-3s are potent anti-inflammatory substances that help lower serum triglyceride levels, reduce aches and pains in athletes and possibly people with certain kinds of arthritis. Try to eat fish twice a week if possible.

#3 Plant Omega-3s

Plant sources of omega-3s are also important to get on a daily basis. To boost the plant omega-3s in your diet, add a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed every day, switch to canola oil as your cooking oil (along with extra virgin olive oil), enjoy walnuts often in recipes, and buy higher omega-3 eggs if available.

#4 Eat Your Vegetables! Particularly dark leafy greens and the cabbage family veggies

There are three groups of plant compounds that are particularly helpful and protective against cardiovascular disease (polyphenols, plant sterols/stanols and lignans). You can find them in the red/purple fruits, beans and nuts & seeds, and assorted vegetables especially the dark leafy greens and cabbage family veggies.

#5 Embrace the Brown (Whole Grains & Beans)

These are your “smart carbs” that give you fiber, all sorts of important antioxidants and phytochemicals, and even some protein along with the carbohydrates. Switch to whole grain breads whenever possible–about 40% of the carbohydrates in the typical American diet come from the bread group so switching to whole grain breads could have a big impact on health. Try to include beans several times a week either as an entrée or side dish or added to soups or salads.

Originally published on Yahoo Voices

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Recipe of the Month — April

April 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments

To celebrate Spring and all the succulent strawberries starting to hit the produce stands, here’s a lighter version of my mom’s amazing strawberry cheesecake.

Grandma’s Strawberry Cheesecake
Makes 12-14 servings

strawberry cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (12 whole crackers)
6 tablespoons melted whipped butter or less fat margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Filling:
2 packages, 8 ounces each, light cream cheese or Neufchatel (let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so it blends better)
2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, higher omega-3 if available
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Sour cream topping:
1 cup of light sour cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate with canola cooking spray.
2. Add graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish; set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, egg substitute, and almond extract until well blended and fluffy. Pour into graham cracker crust.
4. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes. Top evenly with 2 cups sliced strawberries.
5. In medium bowl, combine 1 cup of light sour cream, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and vanilla extract with whisk. Spread over strawberry topped cheesecake and bake in oven 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per slice: 235 calories, 6.5 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 6 g fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 61 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 245 mg sodium. Omega-3 fatty acids = .2 grams, Omega-6 fatty acids = .7

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Recipe of the Month — February

February 16th, 2014 · 1 Comment

The new Anniversary edition of my best-selling book, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE DIABETES, is now available!

I’m really excited about this edition–It has a bunch of new sections, including Mediterranean-izing American cuisine, mindful eating is the solution (mindLESS eating is the problem), foods that help prevent high blood sugar, 10 tips to reduce emotional eating, and much more!

So to celebrate the new edition…Here is a recipe from the book!

Simple Salmon Pasta Salad

This is one of my favorite salads! When I grill salmon, I make extra on purpose so I can make this salad the next day with the leftovers.


Makes 2 entrée servings

2 cups cooked whole wheat bow tie or rotelle pasta, cooked al dente
1 cup salmon flakes (freshly cooked or grilled salmon fillet or steaks, broken into flakes with fork with no bones or skin)
1 cup crisp-tender asparagus pieces, steamed or microwaved
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoons light mayonnaise (or similar)
2 tablespoons fat free or light sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon or prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
Black pepper to taste

1. Place pasta, salmon, asparagus and green onions in a serving bowl.
2. Add dressing ingredients to small bowl and blend until smooth. Add to pasta salad ingredients and stir to mix.

Per serving: 345 calories, 26 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 218 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids = 1.3 gram.

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Recipe of the Month – January

January 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

Dutch Apple Fritters

Growing up, my Dutch mom used to make these fried beer battered apple slices on New Years Eve. Man they were good! I remember the essence of beer laced with the tart of apples topped with the sweetness of powdered sugar. This is my pretty awesome attempt at re-creating them (I think she used a mix) and making a healthier version.


Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon can be substituted)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons beer (amber type works well)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large granny smith apples (or other tart apple), sliced into ¼-inch thick rings and cut out the inside core part (discard the top and bottom slice of the apple)
Garnish: 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (more if needed)

1. Place flours, apple pie spice, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl; beat with electric mixer on low speed to blend well. Add the beer and beat on low until a smooth batter forms.
2. Place a medium, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil; tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly with the oil.
3. When the oil is hot, quickly dip half of the apple rings (about 6), one at a time, into the batter and immediately transfer to the skillet. Let brown on the bottom for about 2-3 minutes. Coat the tops with some canola oil cooking spray then flip the apple slices over with a fork to lightly brown the other side (about 2-3 minutes more). When the fritters are done, use the fork to remove them to a serving plate.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with remaining canola oil, apple slices and batter.
5. Dust the tops of the apple slices with powdered sugar and serve hot!

Per serving: 217 calories, 3 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 7.5 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 4.5 g monounsaturated fat, 2.2 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 230 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 31 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids = .7 gram, Omega-6 fatty acids = 1.5 grams.

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Recipe of the Month — December

December 3rd, 2013 · No Comments

I was asked to lighten this up for a good friend, so I thought I would share it with all of you too. They are so easy to make for holiday cookie trays, cookie exchanges or parties.

Better Buckeyes (Better for You)

These are better for you because we are using natural peanut butter (just peanuts with a touch of salt), a lower calorie, no-trans and low saturated fat margarine, plus high anti-oxidant dark chocolate! This recipe also makes slightly smaller balls than the original recipe advises, so people can enjoy the flavor with a smaller sized ball!
Makes about 32 balls

? 1 cup refrigerated creamy natural-style peanut butter (chunky can be used if desired)
? 1/4 cup refrigerated less fat margarine (with 8 grams fat per tablespoon such as Land O Lakes Buttery Spread)
? 1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
? 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
? 1 cup bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream peanut butter and margarine in mixer on low speed.
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until blended.
3. Form mixture into 3/4-inch balls. Refrigerate balls if it’s going to be a while until you dip them in chocolate.
4. Place chocolate chips in glass microwave-safe small bowl and cook on lowest setting of microwave until melted, watching carefully.
5. Dip balls into chocolate with a toothpick to cover balls about 3/4 of the way.
6. Place balls, chocolate side down, on waxed or parchment paper. Refrigerate until being served is preferred.

Per ball: 109 calories, 2 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 40mg sodium. Calories from fat: 49 percent calories from fat.
[Original recipe, if it makes 32 balls, computes to 120 calories, 7 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, and 52 mg sodium per ball]

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Elaine’s Tips for Getting Through the Holidays without Extra Weight or Heartburn

November 25th, 2013 · No Comments

Elaine shares tips for getting through the holidays without extra weight gain or heartburn on KSFO.

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Recipe of the Month – October

October 15th, 2013 · No Comments

I enjoy soy in all forms–edamame, soynuts, soy milk, and tofu–but I’ve never been particularly motivated to create a chocolate mousse using silken tofu. I’m still not sure why I was suddenly motivated to try it last night, but it turned out so well that now I can’t wait to make it again. All you need is a microwave and a mixer too!

Soy Chocolaty Mousse

Makes 4 to 6 servings

16 ounces silken tofu
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (semi sweet can be substituted)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Add first 5 ingredients to a 4-cup glass measure (or similar micro-wave safe bowl). Stir to blend well. Microwave on DEFROST setting, for about 3 minutes, stirring after each minute, until chocolate is melted.
2. Transfer to large mixing bowl and add vanilla extract. Beat with mixer on medium high speed for about 8 minutes (it will be completely smooth).
3. Spoon evenly into 4 single serving dishes and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. Top with whipped cream if desired!

Per serving (if 4): 221 Calories, 7 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat, 4.4 g monounsaturated fat, .9 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 145 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 44 percent

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Recipe of the Month – September

October 1st, 2013 · No Comments

This is one of my husband’s favorite dinners and right around this time of year when the nights are colder, he starts asking for it. I lightened the original recipe, which used twice the cheese, and called for butter and chicken with the skin.

Original recipe contained 402 calories, 23 grams fat, 11 grams saturated fat, 134 mg cholesterol and 674 mg sodium per serving.

Makes 4 servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
Canola cooking spray
1/4 cup double-strength or condensed low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 ounces prosciutto (4 thin slices)
2 ounces shredded Fontina cheese (about 1/2 cup firmly packed)

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Wash the chicken pieces and dry well with paper towels. If desired, place chicken breasts, one at a time, between two pieces of parchment paper and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet until about 1/2-inch thick.
2. Place flour, black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper in a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag and shake vigorously to blend Add the chicken, one piece at a time, to the bag. Shake the bag again to coat the chicken well.
3. Add oil to large nonstick skillet, spreading it out to cover the bottom of skillet. Over medium heat, when the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces to skillet, lightly coat the tops with cooking spray, and brown the chicken on both sides.
4. Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish, drizzle each chicken breast with 1 1/2 teaspoons of chicken broth, then cover each with a prosciutto slice and sprinkle the Fontina evenly over the tops. Drizzle the remaining chicken broth evenly over the grated cheese.
5. Bake the chicken in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the breasts are cooked throughout and the cheese is bubbly. Serve with steamed brown rice and vegetables.

Per serving: 267 calories, 34 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat, 1.6 g polyunsaturated fat, 93 mg cholesterol, .3 g fiber, 496 sodium. Calories from fat: 34%. Omega-3 fatty acids = .4 grams. Omega-6 fatty acids = 1.2 grams.

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Elaine Talks Bacon On KSFO!

September 24th, 2013 · No Comments

Ohhh, bacon! Find out what Elaine said about bacon on KSFO!

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