Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to various people immersed in the world of cooking and baking for diabetes. Some of them are professionals in their rights like chef Dennis Sheehan or vegetable-enthusiast Kathryn Sheehan (no relation). Both tackled their favorite comfort foods after their type 2 diabetes diagnosis and turned them into diabetes-friendly masterpieces. Today, I want to introduce baker and blogger Peggy Meckling. She seems to speak the language of baking fluently, but had to make adjustments after a surprising type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
An Unexpected Call
“We all met down at the casino for a friend’s birthday,” Peggy said. “I was thinking, ‘Hmm, which one of those desserts is going to land in my mouth, eh?’ when my cell phone rang.” It was her doctor’s nurse, asking Peggy to come into the office to discuss her blood work results.
It turned out Peggy had an A1C level of 12.2 after routine blood work was done during a checkup in 2013. “I was in shock,” Peggy said. “I couldn’t believe this. Nobody in my family has this; why have I got it?”
Peggy immediately went into research mode. “I had a lot of learning to do very quickly. I wanted to try and figure out what did this number mean,” Peggy recalled. “It was like running into a brick wall. I really had to take a very hard look at myself, my meal choices, my eating habits, everything.”
After her diabetes diagnosis, Peggy thought her baking days were over. “I love baking. I used to bake all the time. When I got the call from my doctor, I was literally trying to figure out what I was going to bake,” she remembered. “I thought you couldn’t bake without sugar. I was convinced that I just was never going to be able to have baked goods ever again.”
Get Your Bake On
An opportunity to bake part-time for a friend’s gluten-free bakery turned into a chance to continue what she loved while not having the temptations of baked goods in the house. “Working at the bakery was a way for me to continue to do that,” she said.
It was that job and some soul searching that got Peggy back into the baking game at home. “Taking on that job, I thought, ‘I can get my bake on,’” she said. “Part of what drove my friend to develop these recipes was their friends who live with celiac. If these recipes can be adapted for folks with this medical condition, I thought I should be able to develop some baked goods that would serve diabetics.”
And that was what Peggy did — revolutionized some of her favorite recipes. “I’ve been using almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour and oat flour. I can use those to develop recipes,” she said. “You just have to take the time to look at these things, to look at the food and break it down. Whether I’m baking or whether I’m making savory dishes, I do the same thing. I figure out where the sugar is and where the carbs are in it, and then figure out how to amend it. Like I did for my crab cakes.”
You can find some of her diabetes-friendly concoctions on her blog, Crazy Thrifty Crafts.
Cooking for Diabetes Support
Peggy has made some major adjustments — and not only did she make changes to her diet, but her boyfriend did as well. “He could feel I was clearly a little shocked and taken aback by the diagnosis,” Peggy stated. “But he was on board immediately. He’s like, ‘Yeah, we’ll find food for you to eat.’ He was mindful about trying to keep food at his house that I can eat.”
He offers additional support by transforming their favorite dishes to be more diabetes-friendly. “He’s made a lot of adjustments in terms of his cooking style. He’s got some fairly good skills,” she said. One adjustment he made was to start incorporating Stevia® into his homemade barbeque sauce.
One Crafty Baker
Peggy not only bakes foods that are diabetes-friendly but also is quite crafty — and that acts as a source of creativity as well as income. Her type 2 diabetes diagnosis has also played a role in some of her crafts. “I think my weight loss and my feelings about myself have probably inspired me to do more clothing that I may not have done if I wasn’t feeling so good about myself,” Peggy said. “Feeling good physically, feeling more healthy, makes me feel like, ‘Oh yeah, I could wear that short skirt. I could rock that.’”
With the support of her boyfriend and family, Peggy felt like she could still be herself. “Those things that give meaning to my life are the same, and that’s important because it’s a big, life-changing thing to be diagnosed,” Peggy said. “It certainly has been for me. To know that I can still be myself — I can still bake; I can still cook; I can still make things — those things haven’t changed. I’m still who I am. I just have to make these other changes to try to make sure that I’m going to be healthy as long as I can.”
What a great outlook on a diabetes diagnosis and life. But the next time I have a conversation with a baker, I will make sure to eat my lunch first! After listening to Peggy chat about her delicious recipes, it left me wanting to immediately try her berry fraîche fruit tart or crab cakes. Many thanks to Peggy for sharing her story.
All the best,
Disclosure: Peggy Meckling received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
Stevia is a registered trademark of Zhejiang Green World Bio-Tech. Co., Ltd.