Simple steps to a healthier you

Around the New Year, most of us vow to make drastic changes to our diet or lifestyle. These resolutions are often short-lived. According to the authors of the American Diabetes Association’s new cookbook, when it comes to making lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, slow and steady wins the race.

“There’s no doubt that committing to eat healthier and get more exercise are great New Year’s resolutions,” says Chef Jennifer Bucko Lamplough, MBA, coauthor along with Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, RD, CDE, of The Diabetes Cookbook: 300 Recipes for Healthy Living Powered by the Diabetes Food Hub.  “But unless your new practices are sustainable, any progress you make could be short-lived.”

If you’re ready to take some small steps toward better health, give these tips a try.

Cut out sugary drinks immediately. Replace them with fresh water, low-fat milk, flavored calorie-free carbonated water, and unsweetened tea and coffee.

Purge the junk food. The best way to avoid them is by removing them from your home.

Choose leaner cuts of meat. An easy way to reduce your saturated fat intake is by choosing lean cuts of meat.

Plan your meal around veggies (instead of making them the afterthought). Try to fill at least half of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables (see cauliflower recipe below). Start any meal with a simple salad of mixed greens.

Try lettuce wraps instead of bread. Iceberg, green leaf or butter lettuce make a surprisingly delicious bread substitute. Use them in place of bread for your next sandwich.

Eat veggie noodles in place of pasta. Veggie noodles are a delicious, lower-carb option that can be eaten in place of grain-based pastas. A kitchen tool called a “spiralizer” quickly and easily turns vegetables into “noodles,” or you can use a standard vegetable peeler for a similar result.

Schedule in exercise five days a week. Just taking a brisk 30-minute walk each day – or at least five times a week – is a great way to get your heart rate up and kickstart weight loss and improved health. Of course, if you’d like to take up running or sign up for a cardio class, go for it!

But don’t do ONLY cardio. Get in some strength training too (even if you’re watching TV at the same time). Strength or resistance training helps to maintain and build strong muscles and bones.

Do at least some of your exercise outdoors. The fresh air is invigorating, and studies show that being in nature decreases stress and promotes positive emotions.

Shake up your sedentary workday every chance you get. For example, take a 10-minute walk after lunch, get up and move a little each hour (even if it’s just a walk to the water fountain or restroom), park farther away than you normally would, take the stairs instead of the elevator.

About the cookbook’s authors:
Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, RD, CDE, counsels a wide variety of people from those wanting to
lose weight to others trying to better control their diabetes or cholesterol. Her role is to educate people on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but also to help them incorporate it into real life with healthy eating and cooking.

Jennifer Bucko Lamplough, MBA, and chef, is working to help solve hunger by working with food pantries, soup kitchens, and meal programs in northern Illinois to not only distribute meals, but to provide nutrition education in those settings. She continues to work as a cooking demonstrator, teaching people how to cook healthy and showing that it can be delicious and easy!

As a team, Chef Jennifer Bucko Lamplough and Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton have written two previous books for the American Diabetes Association? The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook and the best-selling Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking?and developed hundreds of recipes for the Association’s healthy eating programs, many of which are appearing here for the first time in print. For more information, visit or

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette

Excerpted from The Diabetes Cookbook: 300 Recipes for Healthy Living Powered by the Diabetes Food Hub (American Diabetes Association, November 2018, ISBN: 978-1-580-40680-2, $24.95)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Serving size: ½ cup

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
2½ pounds whole cauliflower

Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried parsley
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil and salt.

Place cauliflower, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Pour olive oil evenly over cauliflower and use your hands to rub the oil and salt mixture into the cauliflower.

Place on the middle oven rack and roast 60 minutes (if cauliflower starts getting too
dark, then cover with aluminum foil).

While cauliflower is roasting, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.

When cauliflower is finished roasting, pour vinaigrette evenly over entire head.

To serve, cut whole cauliflower in half, then cut each half into 4 pieces.

1 Nonstarchy Vegetable, 1½ Fat

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