3 Diabetes Friendly Holiday Recipes

November 25th, 2015


Serves 4


1 cup apples, diced
4 tbsp lemon juice, fresh
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1⁄4 cups – granola, low fat, divided

2 1⁄2 cups – Dannon® All Natural Plain Nonfat Yogurt, divided


1. In a bowl combine apples, lemon juice, maple syrup and ground cinnamon.

2. To assemble the parfait place 2 tbsp of granola at the bottom of 4 (12 oz.) glasses. Layer with 1⁄4 cup yogurt and 2 tbsp of the apple mixture to each cup. Repeat layers a second time. Top each cup with 2 tbsp yogurt and 1 tbsp granola for garnish.

Nutrient Analysis per serving

Calories 230 ● Protein 10g ● Total Carbohydrate 48g ● Dietary Fiber 4g ● Total Fat 2g ● Sat Fat 0.5g ● Cholesterol

Recipe from Dannon



Serves 4

This recipe is a healthful way to enjoy dark chocolate because it isn’t made with excessive amounts of sugar and other ingredients that often diminish the health benefits of high-quality dark chocolate.


2 cups nonfat Greek style yogurt

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned is perfect)

4 T dark honey

2 to 3 pinches ground cinnamon

2 pinches ground ginger

1/4 to1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 4-oz high percentage cacao dark chocolate bar, grated.


1. Combine all of the ingredients except the chocolate in a large bowl and mix well to incorporate.

2. Portion the mixture into individual servings. Divide the chocolate evenly between the servings and stir to incorporate.

Nutrient Analysis per serving

Calories: 278; Protein: 13 g; Carbohydrate: 38 g; Fiber: 3 g; Total fat: 12 g; Sat fat 6 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 45 mg

Recipe courtesy of Richard A. Amster, assistant professor and chef instructor at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Center in Riverhead, New York



Serves 12


2 6- to 7-oz packages of prepared cornbread stuffing mix

4 oz ground turkey or turkey sausage

3/4 cup pecan pieces

8 dried figs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Warm water in which to soak and plump the dried figs

1 honey crisp or Fuji apple, washed, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Low-fat chicken stock as needed, approximately 1 cup

* Using a store bought stuffing mix is the easiest way to start a good cornbread stuffing, and a premium quality mix will include the appropriate seasonings. The additional ingredients listed above will enhance the mix and make your stuffing special.


1. Cook the ground turkey, drain any fat, and set aside to cool.

2. Heat the pecan pieces in a skillet over medium heat to toast, shaking the pan to prevent the pecans from burning. When they give off a toasted aroma, remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

3. Soak the diced figs in the warm water for 15 minutes or until plump, drain well, and pat dry with paper towels.

4. Prepare the stuffing according to the package instructions and add the cooked turkey, the toasted pecan pieces, the plumped figs, and the diced apple.

5. If needed, add additional chicken stock to make the mix more moist and additional seasonings (dried sage, cumin powder, paprika, or any personal favorites) to taste.

Nutrient Analysis per serving using ground turkey

Calories: 196; Protein: 7 g; Carbohydrate: 29 g; Fiber: 6 g; Total fat: 7 g; Sat fat 0.8 g; Cholesterol: 4 mg; Sodium: 398 mg

Recipe courtesy of Richard A. Amster, assistant professor and chef instructor at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Center in Riverhead, New York

New Website and New Blog Home

September 13th, 2015


For more timely nutrition and health information, recipes and more, please visit my new blog home at www.constancebrownriggs.com

Diabetes: Preventable and Manageable

November 13th, 2014

November is National Diabetes  Awareness Month – a time set aside to raise awareness about diabetes and healthy living.

This year I have the honor of being recognized by dLIfe.com as a Diabetes Champion — a designation given to those who have gone above and beyond in the world of diabetes to inform, motivate, and inspire others to better self-manage their diabetes life.

On World Diabetes Day, November 14 at 12:00 EST,  I invite you to join me and other Diabetes Champions for a discussion on Food & Fitness challenges, solutions and the holiday season. To sign up for the free Diabetes Champions Food & Fitness webinar, visit:www.dlife.com/championswebinar

Then at 1:00 EST, I will join an expert panel to discuss “The Truth about Black Women and Diabetes” hosted by BlackDoctor.org. To view this discussion just tune in to BlackDoctor.org You Tube channel. This discussion was prerecorded, but I’ll be live tweeting during the discussion – @eatingsoulfully

What’s Wrong with Gluten Free Food?

October 28th, 2014

Wondering if going gluten-free is right for you? In this months newsletter I am discussing a nutrition “hot” topic, one I am sure to get both positive and negative feedback on, but that is OK. I want to challenge you to think about the choices you make on a daily basis, and inspire you to do what is right for YOU, not for your neighbor.

This month’s topic is “What’s Wrong with Going Gluten-Free?”.  Let me preface this by saying that we know, based on scientific research, that gluten allergies and sensitivities are real. Celiac Disease is a medical condition that needs to be treated properly, and treatment involves avoiding gluten.  I am also fully aware that people (many clients that I work with) suffer with true gluten sensitivities, and when they avoid gluten, symptoms disappear. However, as a nutrition expert I also know that the same nutrition prescription does not work for everyone, nor do I believe everyone needs to eat gluten-free.

Click here to read this months newsletter and learn more about why gluten free may not be right for you!

Reclaim Tradition with Ancient Grains

September 16th, 2014

Udi's Stuffed Chicken

September is Whole Grain Month and a good time to reclaim traditions from the past. Ancient grains, also known as heritage grains, provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber — all essential to good health.

Traditionally, all grains eaten were whole grains. Studies show that including whole grains in your diet can significantly lower your risk for chronic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. If you’ve already been diagnosed with one of these conditions whole grains can make it easier to manage the disease.

According to the Boston-based, Whole Grain Council, whole grain consumption jumped 23% from 2008 to 2010, as more people discovered the many delicious whole grain options available in restaurants and on grocery shelves.  Yet most people are still far short of recommendations, and would benefit from switching more of the grains they eat to whole grains.

In a webinar “Teach an Old Grain New Tricks,” sponsored by Udi’s Gluten Free, registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, cleared up the confusion and myths surrounding ancient grains and provided tips on incorporating them into your diet.

Contrary to popular belief, Bonnie said most ancient grains are gluten free, versatile and flavorful, and because of their high fiber content, they can help you loose weight too. That’s because the fiber in them provides a feeling of fulness, resulting in fewer calories eaten at a meal.

The following are a few of the ancient grains Bonnie discussed:

  • Amaranth is more like a seed than a true grain. It is popular in Africa and South America. Amaranth is naturally gluten-free, and contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron. You can use amaranth as breakfast porridge, ground into flour for breads or muffins, and the seeds can be popped like popcorn.
  • Quinoa is one of the most popular ancient grains in the United States. It is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Quinoa is also rich in iron an phosphorus. Quinoa is a South American grain that cooks much like rice but faster. It’s great for soups, salads, casseroles, and in any dish that calls for rice.
  • Millet a staple of Asia and Africa. Millet, also gluten free is a heart healthy grain. It provides copper, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. Use millet for the texture of fried food without the frying. Breading with millet will give your chicken a crisp and crunchy coating.
  • Sorghum is a popular gluten free whole grain that can be substituted for wheat flour in baked goods such as muffins, breads, pizza dough and cakes. It can also be eaten as a cooked cereal.

Along with chia and flax seeds,Udi’s combines these and other ancient grains to make a variety of recipes and products that have all been tested for deliciousness…just happen to be gluten free…and are packed with wholesome goodness.

Here are just a few of their wonderful recipes you’ll want to try. Your tastebuds will be glad you did!


This post was written while participating in my partnership with Udi’s Gluten Free. However, all opinions are my own.

Food Allergies and Healthy Lunches

September 15th, 2014

Sending your child off to school for the first time may be difficult, but for those parents who have children with food allergies, it can cause even more anxiety. Recent studies show that 1 in 20 children under the age of 5 are allergic to at least one food. With food allergies affecting an abundance of young children, as a parent it is important for you to let your child’s principal, teachers, and cafeteria staff know of any allergies so that they can take the necessary steps to protect your child’s well-being. This month I am sharing information on common food allergies and what you can do to help. And even if your life is not personally affected by food allergies, please share this newsletter with colleagues, friends, and relatives!

Click here to find out the three most common food allergies in kids.

Prevention is Power!

April 21st, 2014

April is National Minority Health Month, a time to raise awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect African Americans and other minority groups. This year’s theme, Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity emphasizes the critical role of prevention in reducing health disparities and presents a prime opportunity to talk about the importance of diabetes prevention.

Research shows that maintaining a healthy weight and eating a nutrient-dense diet that includes yogurt and other low-fat dairy products can help prevent diabetes.  A study published August 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that by drinking one extra glass of milk per day you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 percent. Other studies show that it’s not just the amount of dairy but the type of dairy is also very important. Eating more low-fat fermented dairy products such as yogurt is associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

And there’s good news for people who’ve already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?  In April 2014 the American Diabetes Association published a study that showed when patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes followed a low carbohydrate Mediterranean style diet, they had a greater reduction of average blood glucose (HbA1c ) levels, higher rate of diabetes remission, and delayed need for diabetes medication compared with a low-fat diet.

Greek yogurt is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and can help you prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. And if you’re lactose intolerant there’s no need to worry. Yogurt is more easily digested than milk because it has lactase-producing yogurt cultures.

The following tips will help you enjoy the great taste of yogurt and get all the health benefits too.

  • Add 1 cup Greek yogurt to 2 lbs. mashed potatoes in place of 4 Tbsp. butter.
  • Replace Greek yogurt for sour cream, cup for cup, in your favorite muffin or coffee cake recipes.
  • Use the same amount of Greek nonfat yogurt in place of oil in marinades for chicken, fish or pork before grilling for a tangy flavor.
  • Use 1 Tbsp. Greek nonfat yogurt per serving instead of 1 Tbsp. sour cream to garnish bean soups or chili.
  • Have you tried Greek in place of butter on bagels or muffins yet? Try it!
  • For more great tips on cooking with yogurt click here.

Bon Appétit

This post was written while participating in my partnership with Dannon, but as always, all opinions are my own and consistent with my personal mission, to shorten the cultural distance between patients and their healthcare provider.



Explore New Foods and Flavors

March 24th, 2014

Taste is the number-one reason why one food is purchased over another. So what can you do when the taste of favorite foods starts to lose its luster? As part of the 2014 National Nutrition Month® theme, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to explore new foods and flavors, keeping taste and nutrition on your plate at every meal.

Claim Your Health Claim Your History

February 7th, 2014

 February is Black History and American Heart Month   A Perfect Time to Claim Your Health and History

Also, coinciding with Black History Month is African Heritage & Health Week, February 1 – 7, which commemorates the foods, flavors and healthy cooking techniques that were core to the wellbeing of our African ancestors from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the American South.

Scientific studies show that many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, now prevalent in our communities, appear in populations as traditional diets are left behind. Studies have also shown that as younger Africans shift from traditional to nontraditional lifestyles weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels – signs of metabolic syndrome – rise.

So, if Africans who eat traditional foods from Africa are healthier than those who adopt a typical Western diet, it stands to reason that a healthy African-American diet should go back to its roots.

To help you do just that, Oldways – a Boston based nonprofit, developed the African Heritage Diet Pyramid, a cultural model for healthful eating based on the traditional diets of Africa. In fact as part of African Heritage Health Week, Oldways challenges everyone, everywhere to enjoy at least one delicious dish at home or at a restaurant inspired by the cuisine of African-American ancestors.

Before you head out to eat, check out the “African Heritage Dine Around” section of the Oldways website. It was designed to help you discover destinations, including pop-up shops and fine dining restaurants, across the nation, from Alabama to Wisconsin, where you can enjoy foods and flavors inspired by the cuisine of your African-American ancestors.

If a meal at home shared with family and friends is more appealing, Oldways suggests its own recipe for Jollof Rice as an option. This is a traditional African rice dish that is delicious and healthy, plus budget friendly. Plenty of other recipes are offered on Oldways’ website and the African Heritage & Health Pinterest recipe-sharing webpage.

Bon appétit!


Get Through The Holiday Season Sensibly – No Guilt or Deprivation!

December 10th, 2013

Thanksgiving is probably a distant memory and hopefully by now you’ve recovered from your dietary indiscretions…or should I say pigging out. But Christmas is right around the corner, filled with more rich hors d’oeuvres and temptation. Managing weight is difficult under the best of circumstances and can be especially challenging during the holiday season. There are just so many more opportunities for you to over indulge. The following 10 tips are designed to help you get through the holiday season sensibly – without deprivation or guilt.                                                                                                                                

Enjoy traditional holiday foods:  Depriving yourself of special foods or feeling guilty when you enjoy them isn’t part of a healthy eating strategy. Forget the “all or nothing” mindset and enjoy small portions of your favorite holiday foods.

 Slow down: Concentrate on eating slowly by putting the fork down between bites and savoring the taste and companionship during the meal. It takes at least 20 minutes for the stomach to tell your brain that it’s full. End result – eating slowly will help you stop eating before you feel bloated and stuffed.

 Be selective: Choose to explore new taste and flavors, rather than waste calories on everyday foods, like mashed potatoes or broccoli.

 Plan ahead: If you are invited to a party, call ahead for the menu. Offer to bring a dish you can enjoy without guilt. (See recipe below for Pumpkin Chocolate Yogurt) Schedule your exercise before you schedule other holiday activities. Be flexible and remember, if you don’t plan exercise time it won’t happen.

 Step away from the appetizers: Upon arrival at the holiday party, place appetizers on a plate instead of picking on foods here and there. You’ll be less likely to overindulge! Then move away from the appetizers to avoid mindless eating.

 Drink to your health: Instead of a second glass of eggnog for over 300 calories, try sparkling water, seltzer or diet soda. Coffee and unsweetened tea are calorie free. Champagne, wine and alcoholic drinks are high in calories.

 Scan the buffet: Before you make your food choices scan the entire buffet. Choose small portions of food you really, really want. Use a small plate and leave plenty of space around your portions. Often just a taste will satisfy cravings.

 Socialization is calorie free: Remember to enjoy other aspects of the holidays, such as socialization with family and friends, the spirit of the season, exchanging gifts, and holiday decorations.

 Look your best: When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re less likely to seek comfort in food.

 Burn it up: Balance the food aspect of the party with games or other fun activities.  Plug in the Wii for a game of tennis or take a walk after the meal. Invite family and friends to participate.  Physical activity will burn those extra calories from the holiday meal.

 Pumpkin Chocolate Yogurt

Instead of pumpkin or sweet potato pie, lighten up your dessert table with this delightful, nutrient rich dessert. Pumpkin chocolate yogurt is a healthful way to enjoy dark chocolate. It isn’t made with excessive amounts of sugar and other ingredients that often diminish the health benefits associated with high-quality dark chocolate.

Serves 4

2 cups nonfat Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (canned is perfect)
4 T dark honey
2 to 3 pinches ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
One 4-oz cacao dark chocolate bar that contains a high percentage of cacao solids, grated

1. Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate in a large bowl and mix well to incorporate.

2. Portion the mixture into individual serving dishes. Divide the chocolate evenly between the servings and stir to incorporate.

Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 278; Protein: 13 g; Carbohydrate: 38 g; Fiber: 3 g; Total fat: 12 g; Sat fat 6 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 45 mg

— Recipe courtesy of Chef Richard A. Amster