By Michael Thomas Masters
In the spring of 2010, I was extremely fortunate to have been introduced to a modern day chef, Robert Lewis, The Happy Diabetic, residing in Bettendorf, Iowa, who offers his own unique 21st Century culinary innovations. Chef Robert’s personal goal is for everyone – diabetic and non-diabetic – who are eager and willing, to maintain a healthy, happy and delicious culinary lifestyle filled with oomph and success.
Like Chef Robert, Julia Childs and Graham Kerr (1970s Galloping Gourmet) comprise a long list of popular chefs. Furthermore, the mystery farce, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978), the animated film, Ratatouille (2008), and the comedy-drama, Julie & Julia (2009) creatively focus on the culinary world of chefs.
In fact, eating well and knowing how to properly cook and bake, continues to both captivate and challenge people worldwide.
Honestly, do not Amos & Andy’s Moon Cake, Grandma’s Rice Chex Dessert and Wilma Marie’s Cream Puffs desserts all sound incredibly delectable? How about Chicken-Almond Stir-Fry or Glazed Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions? Perhaps even barbequed Shrimp or Lemon garlic Alaska Salmon? Has your mouth begun to water yet?
Now understand that all of these recipes (and countless more) are featured in two successful cookbooks for diabetes, Simply Desserts and Get Happy, Get Healthy! both written by Chef Robert Lewis. Chef Robert’s latest cookbook catering to diabetics, Cooking for One, will be available in Fall 2010. Additionally, visit Chef Robert’s informative and cool website, happydiabetic.com.
Of course, non-diabetics, like me, are also strongly encouraged to enjoy these appetizing and healthy meals and desserts. Eating well and being healthy and happy should be the objective for all people.
Robert Lewis’s passion for good food, and the creative outlet it provides for him, initially materialized as the promising chef, who graduated in 1976 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, grew up in culinary unique Los Angeles.
When first diagnosed in 1998 with type 2 diabetes, Chef Robert believed that the infinite food choices he had come to appreciate would be greatly restricted.
“Much of what I heard in those early days after being diagnosed was about the foods that were prohibited. I suspected my days of good eating were over,” Lewis recalls.
However, Chef Robert did not lose heart, but instead, he moved forward with a positive and educated approach towards the disease and his new life’s challenge as a type 2 diabetic.
“Instead of viewing meals and diet as just another set of restrictions, it’s about treating food as a reward,” states the renowned Chef.
Robert Lewis is thrilled that his recipes celebrate great-tasting as well as healthful foods that both diabetics and non-diabetics can enjoy.
Extensive knowledge of cooking and food preparation, coupled with his friendly personality and delightful humor, has landed Chef Robert on the Quad City TV’s top rated show, Paula Sands Live. Additionally, Chef Lewis has been featured each fall on WGN Chicago’s call-in radio show, Turkey Talk, and appeared on ESPN’s Cold Pizza program. Lewis has also worked with television personalities Al Roker, Richard Simmons and Ann Curry.
Chef Robert currently is the Director of Training and Development and Corporate Chef for Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlors at its support center in Bettendorf, Iowa.
In recent years, Chef Robert and the Eli Lilly Company have successfully teamed up to create an amazingly informative and fun interactive virtual kitchen, filled with tips, tidbits and humorous anecdotes, available at both the lillydiabetes.com and happydiabetic.com websites. In fact, Chef Robert was selected to be the culinary face on the new Lilly Diabetes website.
The Happy Diabetic recommends that people work to manage their health in partnership with their doctor or dietician.
It is critical to note that diabetes is an incurable (and often successfully manageable) disease and not a medical condition, as many people incorrectly suppose. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations and can strike all ages and all nationalities, both male and female.
During the last ten years, diabetes has grown at an astounding rate of 50%. Americans need to become better educated about the disease and how to effectively control it, while living a high-quality life, through a healthy and well-balanced diet and exercise.
Yes, exercise is important for diabetics (and non-diabetics) alike. Physical activity, such as walking or riding an exercise bike, is a critical factor in maintaining a healthier life.
Chef Robert also encourages joining a neighborhood diabetic support group,
“Newly diagnosed diabetics can learn from people who have lived with the disease for a long time. It helps to talk with others who have similar challenges and questions.”
In regards to diet, Chef Robert also recommends a diet high in fiber to help control blood sugar levels from spiking. Additionally, he recommends considerably cutting down processed foods from one’s diet and substituting them with beans and whole grains, which are not just healthy, but can actually save money. In addition, when out dining, “pair and share” restaurant portions, since many meals are often too large for one person. Order a salad each and spilt one large entrée.
When making healthy dietary choices, Chef Robert suggests creating small changes over time, in what one eats and in the level of exercise, since small steps usually work better than taking giant hurdles. Eat and enjoy all foods in moderation. If you occasionally desire to visit a fast food restaurant, choose your meals wisely (favoring salads and low calorie and less fat menu items) and resist the temptation to super-size your order.
By shifting eating habits and food menus towards a healthier diet and lifestyle, Chef Robert Lewis advocates, “We’re changing the way people eat one recipe at a time.”
Certainly, my eating habits and meal menus have become healthier, as well as more exciting and delicious since discovering Chef Robert Lewis.
Now, a healthier and tastier Bon Appetite to you!
Michael Thomas Masters can be reached at email@example.com
Robert’s Mediterranean Chicken of Love
Recipe by Robert Lewis, www.happydiabetic.com
If you’ve ever traveled to Greece, you know all about the healthy eating habits of the locals. This dish is a rich and full-flavored sample of their cuisine, heavy with aromas from the Mediterranean. The tender chicken, garlic, and tomatoes create a delicious combination that your friends and family will not soon forget, and it’s just as good if you substitute shrimp for the chicken. This recipe is easy to prepare…and remember, it was made with love!
Ingredients & Methods
Robert’s Mediterranean Chicken of Love
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced
2 cloves of garlic
3 roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon oregano
10 pitted black pitted olives
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Nutrition at a Glance (per serving)
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced chicken and sauté about 4 to 6 minutes, until golden. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
2. Sauté garlic in pan drippings for 30 seconds, then add tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes. Lower heat, add white wine, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add oregano, rosemary, and basil, and simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes.
3. Return chicken to skillet and cover. Cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Add olives and parsley to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.