Karen Chapman Novakovski - Associate Professor of Nutrition

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Fiesta of Flavors: Traditional Hispanic Recipes for People with Diabetes

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December 2012- January 2013

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In This Issue

Diabetes and Exercise- The Medical Perspective

The holidays are times when we tend to indulge. It is easy to get carried away with holiday foods, drinks, skipping exercise, and even overspending. Many people make extreme New Year's resolutions to improve their lifestyle, but New Year's isn't always the best time of year to set life-changing goals. If you do want to achieve a goal, resolve to make a SMART goal.

S specific
M measurable
A attainable
R relevant
T timely

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Be specific. Break your goal into smaller steps. You can break down a weight loss goal into smaller steps by recording foods in a food journal or participating in exercise most days of the week. Don't set a goal such as "I will lose this much weight by February," because it can be frustrating if you do not achieve it. Think about what you can do specifically to help reach your goal.

A goal should also be measurable. Check to make sure that you are making progress. Keep a record to see if you are moving towards your goal. This could be a log of your weekly weigh-ins or a calendar that you use to track the servings of fruit or vegetables that you eat. Look back at the things you said you would do to meet the goal and measure how you are following through with those steps. Are you actually logging most of your foods in that journal and participating in exercise?

Make your goal attainable. Many of us would love to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, but that is unrealistic for most people. Setting attainable goals will help assure that you meet them. Make your goal relevant to what is important to you. Don't set a goal just because someone else thinks that you should. Avoid setting yourself up for failure and invest your energy into what is meaningful to you.

Finally, make the goal timely. If you do not see the results that you want in a reasonable amount of time, look back at your plan and made adjustments. If you repeat the same goal for a long period of time with little results, it will feel less meaningful and achievable. Take the time to really think about what you will gain before planning any lifestyle change. Plan exactly how to carry it out. Remind yourself of why the goal is important to you often and reward yourself as you progress. Don't be discouraged by minor setbacks. Set yourself up for success by keeping your goals specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Medication Update

It is a good idea for most people to get the flu vaccine as the weather gets colder and flu season hits. However, a recent scientific study has shown that a person's body weight may affect their response to the flu vaccine. A study of normal body weight, overweight, and obese participants revealed that the flu vaccine was not as effective in the overweight and obese individuals.

While all three groups were about the same one month after receiving their flu vaccines, the obese participants had four times fewer antibodies than those of normal-weight. Overweight individuals fell in between these two groups which indicates a correlation between body weight and flu-fighting antibodies.

We already know that keeping weight within in a healthy range will not only help maintain target blood glucose values, but now we have reason to believe it might also mean less flu-related sick days this winter season.

Links of Interest

Recipes To Try

Pumpkin Vegetable Soup
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Yields 6 servings (about 1 cup each)

  • 1 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can (4 ounce) chopped green chiles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups cubed cooked pumpkin
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  1. Sauté tomatoes, green chiles, onion and nutmeg in oil for about 5 minutes in a large pan.
  2. Add pumpkin and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring until well blended.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories 80
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 8 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Fat 5 grams
Calories from fat 8%
Cholesterol 370 mg

A traditional Mexican Christmas punch
Preparation Time: 60 minutes
Yields 10 servings

  • 1 cup chopped pear
  • 2 cups diced pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cups water
  1. Place the fruit, cinnamon, and water in a large pot.
  2. Heat until it comes to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat and let simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Serve in a mug.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories 30
Protein 0 grams
Carbohydrate 8 grams
Fiber 1 gram
Fat 0 grams
Calories from fat 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 10 mg

Menu Suggestions


Amount/ Portion


½ cup

Skim milk

½ cup

Chopped pecans

2 tablespoons

Orange juice

½ cup

 360 calories; 45 carbohydrates; 3 carbohydrate choices



Whole wheat crackers

6 crackers

String cheese made with skim milk

1 piece

 150 calories; 12 carbohydrates; 1 carbohydrate choice


Whole wheat pasta

1 cup cooked

Grilled chicken breast

4 oz.

Mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, fresh

Unlimited amount

Olive oil

1 teaspoon

Low-fat yogurt

1 container

415 calories; 60 carbohydrates; 4 carbohydrate choices



1 small piece


7 walnut halves

150 calories; 17 carbohydrates; 1 carbohydrate choice


Zesty turkey burger with mushrooms†

1 burger

Whole grain bun

1 bun

Four bean salad

1 serving

Lettuce salad with tomato and cucumber

Unlimited amount

Light balsamic vinaigrette

2 tablespoons

Skim milk

8 oz.

 595 calories; 60 carbohydrates; 4 carbohydrate choices

Total: 1670 calories; 194 carbohydrates; 13 carbohydrate choices

† recipes from Recipes for Diabetes or Fiesta of Flavors at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/intro.cfm

About Diabetes | Food & Diabetes | Medications & Diabetes | Current Issue | Archive | En Español

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