Chef Mark Allison


Since we’re all stuck at home, here’s some cooking advice to help you through. Chef Mark Allison has three boys.. one of whom was diagnosed with type 1 as a baby. He has tips and tricks for us.. starting with: just get started. Mark teaches healthy cooking but isn’t above eating smores with his three sons.

Check out Stacey’s new book: The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom!

Mark currently works with the Cabarrus County Health Alliance teaching needed home cooking skills. He’s been the Director of Culinary Nutrition for the Dole Nutrition Institute and he spent many years teaching classical chefs at the Dean of Culinary Arts Education at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.

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Mark has a new book out Let’s Be Smart About Diabetes: A cookbook to help control blood sugar while getting the family back around the kitchen table

In Tell Me Something Good – a lot of mac and cheese and a lot of help for someone who has always been giving it. Talk about paying it forward… and back.

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Episode Transcript (Rough transcription, has not been edited)

Stacey Simms  0:00

Diabetes Connections is brought to you by one drop created for people with diabetes by people who have diabetes by real good foods, real food you feel good about eating and by dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with dexcom.


Unknown Speaker  0:20

This is diabetes connections with Stacey Sims.


Stacey Simms  0:26

This week, how are you eating these days? Some kitchen and cooking advice to help us through Chef Mark Allison knows his way around the kitchen with a family he has three boys one of whom was diagnosed with type one as a baby. As a professional chef teacher. He says just get started


Chef Mark Allison  0:45

getting in that kitchen and making something over the next 30 or 40 minutes and then sitting down eating the food but actually having a conversation instead of everybody upstairs playing Xbox or some kind of games. You’re actually in one room. Communicate it and you make them so think that hopefully everybody’s going to enjoy.


Stacey Simms  1:03

You’ll hear Mark’s unique story. He and his wife moved to Alaska for an international program back in 1999. And their 14 month old son was diagnosed shortly after that in Tell me something good. A little bit of help for someone who’s been giving a lot of it, talk about paying it forward and back, and a lot of mac and cheese. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider. Welcome to another week of diabetes connections we aim to educate and inspire by sharing stories of connection and in this time, it is so important to stay connected. On this week’s show. We are not going to be talking specifically about the corona virus. Rather, this is a show that will maybe inspire you or help you to get in the kitchen at this time when we are all first in our house and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been Looking more than ever, but maybe to look at things a little bit differently, get your kids involved, try something new. I was so excited to talk to Mark Ellis. And we’ve known each other for a long time. And I’ve been trying to get him on the show. And it’s just one of those. You know, the beauty is in the timing sometimes, because maybe this episode will kind of give you a fun day and some fun ideas to try at a time when boy, we do need a little bit of fun, and a little bit of inspiration. So there will be more information about Mark’s cookbook. Let’s be smart about diabetes a little bit later on. And I would urge you if you’re not already in the Facebook group to please join that it is diabetes connections, the group because I’m going to be putting some of the recipes and notes that he gave me into the Facebook group, I cannot put them in the show notes. It’s just a format thing. So I apologize for that. They will not be on the episode homepage, but they will be in posts in the Facebook group. So head on over there to that. And just another quick note before we get started. Thank you to everybody who continues to buy my book, the world’s First diabetes mom, if you need a laugh in these times, maybe it’s there for you. I’ve heard from people who are really enjoying it right now who have the audio book to who maybe didn’t have time to listen before, although I mostly listen to audiobooks in my car. So my audio book and podcasts consumption, frankly, is way down right now. Because I’m at home, I’m not commuting. I’m not driving anywhere. But I do listen when I clean and do laundry and stuff like that. So maybe that’s it. But thanks again, the world’s worst diabetes mom is available at Amazon. It is in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. You could also buy it over at diabetes, connections calm but frankly, Amazon’s probably the easiest right now. And I was so happy to be involved in the children with diabetes virtual conference that happened recently. I bet you can still find that online. I was able to take my world’s worst diabetes mom presentation for them. Of course, as you know, like many of you, I was planning to go to lots of diabetes conferences in the last month and this spring and it’s all on hold right now. So a little bit of online goodness. For you, I will also link up the children with diabetes conference which had tons of presentations in it. I think it’s going to be a real resource going forward for a lot of people so I’m thrilled that they did that. All right Mark Ellison coming up in just a moment but first diabetes Connections is brought to you by real good foods. We got a sample of the real good foods ice cream. They sent it to us a Benny and I did a Facebook Live. I think it’s almost three weeks ago now. Wow. About what we thought our reactions and I gotta tell you, I have been enjoying the real good ice cream since then. It is so delicious. It is a lower sugar ice cream that tastes like ice cream. You have probably had ice creams that are lower carb that tastes kind of chunky and chalky. And there isn’t none of that I sat down. I shouldn’t say this. I ate almost the entire pint of the mint chocolate chip. I stopped myself but it was going there. So check them out. You can find out more at really good foods calm. They ship. Yes, they’re the grocery store for you. Right now I know a lot of you and us included group looking at home delivery, and you can find all of their stuff online. They’ll deliver it for you some great shipping deals as well. Just go to diabetes, connections comm and click on the real good foods logo.


My guest this week is a terrific chef, who as you know here teaches healthy cooking, but isn’t above eating s’mores with his three sons. Mark Allison works with the cabarrus County Health Alliance, a local county to me here in North Carolina teaching needed home cooking skills. He has been the director of culinary nutrition for the dole nutrition Institute, and he spent many years teaching classical chefs as the Dean of culinary arts education at Johnson and Wales University here in Charlotte. Yes, Johnson Wales does have a campus here in Charlotte. One of Mark’s sons was diagnosed with type one as a baby and his wife was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2008. Now she did pass away But as you’ll hear it His wife was able to live longer than anybody expected her to, which he says really made him a believer in the power of a plant based diet to fight disease and prolong life. Mark has a new book out called Let’s be smart about diabetes, a cookbook to help control blood sugar while getting the family back around the kitchen table. We are putting recipes in the Facebook group, as I said, and of course links in the show notes. Here’s my talk with Chef Mark. Allison. Mark, thank you so much for making some time for me. I know you’ve got all your boys home. And while we’re not, I guess we’re not doing much these days. It still seems like the time is filling up. But thanks for being here. I appreciate it.


Chef Mark Allison  6:40

They see You’re very welcome. And it’s a pleasure to be on your show. Thank you very much.


Stacey Simms  6:43

I’m excited to talk to you. We’ve known each other for a long time. I was thinking I think we met possibly the Johnson and Wales cooking competition of some kind where I was an extremely unqualified judge.


Chef Mark Allison  6:59

The good old days here In the good old days, Yes, I remember you there and you were totally qualified for the position to be church exceptionally well because I enjoy eating.


Stacey Simms  7:11

So there you go


Chef Mark Allison  7:12

to nature, you know, in my opinion chef is fitted very nicely into my lifestyle, because I love to eat. I love it.


Stacey Simms  7:19

Well, you know, I want to pick your brain as long as we have you to talk about how to try to eat well, as long as you know, we’re all stuck at home. But let’s talk about let’s talk about diabetes. First, let’s get your story out because I know everyone already hearing you knows that you are your native to North Carolina. That’s a beautiful Southern accent that you


Chef Mark Allison  7:37

see I was born in Charleston, South Carolina. People get that mixed up all the time. I’m actually from a little town called at Newcastle upon Tyne which is in the northeast of England. And I grew up there and the place where the usually state calls from Newcastle on Newcastle brown ale on Newcastle soccer club whether the three things that people read knowing you’re comfortable, but that’s where I was born. I moved to South Wales and lived in South Wales for 10 years, traveled all over Europe and in 2004 landed in Charleston, South Carolina, lived there for yet then moved up to Charlotte and I’ve been in Charlotte now 15 years and absolutely love living in Charles. That’s great.


Stacey Simms  8:20

All right, so but your your diabetes story your son’s really starts in Alaska. Can you tell us that


Chef Mark Allison  8:26

I was one of 30 people fit by the Fulbright teachers Experience Program, which is a program that started after world war two to get the world together through education. And teachers apply and they are asked to go to different countries around the world. And I was asked to go to America and I thought Yes, this is going to be fabulous. being brought up in the 70s in the 80s. On Starsky and Hutch and streets of San Francisco. I naturally thought I was going to California, but I would have 500 teachers that apply to come to Europe, there was only one chef and he did not live in California. He actually lived in Anchorage, Alaska. And we actually turned down the position first because my wife said we are not taking a two year old and an eight month to Alaska. So we turned it down. And then Glen, the teacher rang me over to him and said, Look, can you do me a favor? This is the fourth year I have applied. And my daughter has won a four year scholarship at Oxford University and this is her last year. Can you please take the position so we can be with her for the last year that is in the UK. So we decided to move over that and we actually had an absolute fabulous year. But while we were living there, Matthew, my youngest son at the time, who was it month when we arrived, when you go to the age of 14 months, he became ill, and we took him to the doctors and the doctor said he just had a bad case of the flu, he’d be okay. And about a week later, he had lost a tremendous amount of weight. He was drinking a lot of fluids and just happened to be Tom My brother on the forum that weekend who is a type one diabetic and has been since the age of 15 years old. And he said, I think he may be a type one take him back to the doctor’s. So we took Matthew back. And we had a young doctor, she was lovely lady. But she said, there’s no way as a type one diabetic it normally it’s going to be about seven or eight years old. He’s only 14 months. And she just said, No, I’m not testing as blood. So of course, my wife who was there, like any mother has said, well, we’re not leaving your office until you actually test his blood. So there was a bit of a standoff for about 30 minutes. And then she tested this blood and within 30 minutes, Matthew is in intensive care and he was there for the next seven years. And his blood sugar’s were so far through the roof that we were told that we had left her office and went to him more than likely would have been in a coma that night. So we were exceptionally lucky. And the doctor from that stage could not do enough for us as he was at his bedside every day. And as you know, Life changes. So we decided to look at food as sort of medicine and changed all our eating habits for Matthew. So from the age of 14 month, Matthew has been on a really healthy diet, you know, just turned 22 in December, and he’s in great shape, but he’s at college at the minute, and he’s doing exceptionally well. But that’s where it all started back in 1999.


Stacey Simms  11:24

And I think it’s worth repeating for people who are you who have children who are newer diagnosed or maybe have been newer diagnosed themselves. There really was this thinking because the same thing happened to us, Ben, he wasn’t yet two years old. And they said, Yeah, under the age of two, it’s Yeah, it’d be type one. There was this thinking and I don’t know if it’s just that they’re getting better at it or there are more cases and infants and babies, but it has changed a lot thanks to people like you push an educated Oh my goodness.


Chef Mark Allison  11:51

You know, it is frightening. Because you’ve got your doctor and you just think they’ve got all the answers. And but something like Type One Diabetes is you know, in Now it’s becoming more and more people become more and more aware. I remember when my brother was diagnosed that he was in hospital for six months because they were unsure of actually what it was. And the unfortunate thing for my brother, he was 15 at the time, so he was nearly an adult in England. And he was actually on a cancer Ward for six months, and was frightening with him was he was watching people that were dying around him. And unfortunately, that marked him for life. He is now nearly 60 and he’s in good shape and he’s healthy. But he still remembers them times where people were actually dying around them because they thought he didn’t have diabetes for 30 years cancer at the time, but times have changed and I think it’s a lot more easy to diagnose now. And we’ve got great doctors, people like that more fonder. Well, it’s just amazing. I think now we can rely on the medical professionals to diagnose a lot quicker than what was said 20 years ago.


Stacey Simms  12:58

And when you’re Your son and your brother must have had some interesting conversations about not only the difference of diagnosis, but the difference of treatments. I mean, I’m so your brother is doing well, because I can’t imagine.


Chef Mark Allison  13:11

Well, my I can remember my mother have sterilized his syringe and needles every night. Because the other days, whether we’re like the one inch long needles, and you could reuse them, and the syringe was reused, and he was getting injected twice a day, now he’s on the pen. So you’ve worked a lot better for him, but I can remember those days and the previous thing, and testing was blurred and then cleaning the syringe and countless cops. It was a difficult time for my mother. I know that.


Stacey Simms  13:44

I feel you never want to say we’re lucky with diabetes because it still stinks. Yeah, but also to make me grateful for insulin pumps and pens. My good.


Chef Mark Allison  13:54

Yeah, my back muscles just changed over to a new pump. The Omni pod and you know, he He’s been on the pump for at least the last 12 years and what a difference others made. You know, we as parents, I’m sure you have the same feel a lot easier that he’s on something that basically regulates everything. And as long as he tests his blood, he knows when he’s either going to go low, go high. And these instruments these days are just amazing.


Stacey Simms  14:21

It really is. I feel really grateful. Yeah, let’s jump in and let’s talk about food. Because not only are you a renowned chef and a you know, an educator of other chefs, but now you work to educate the public which I just think is absolutely amazing because we need all the help we can get mark, as you well know. First of all, let me let you explain what it is that you do you work for the Harris County Health Alliance, which is a nearby you know, county to mine here in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. What do you do right now in terms of teaching the public


right back to mark answering Question, but first getting diabetes supplies is a pain. Not only the ordering and the picking up but also the arguing with insurance over what they say you need and what you really need. Make it easy with one drop. They offer personalized tester plants. Plus you get a Bluetooth glucose meter test strips lancets and your very own certified diabetes coach. Subscribe today to get test strips for less than $20 a month delivered right to your door. No prescriptions or co pays required. One less thing to worry about. not that surprising when you learn that the founder of one drop lubes with type one, they get it one drop, gorgeous gear supplies delivered to your door 24 seven access to your certified diabetes coach learn more go to diabetes connections comm and click on the one drop logo. Now back to mark and he is answering my question about teaching people the very basics.


Chef Mark Allison  15:55

I have a wonderful job and it’s funny how I started the shop at 16 and I printed with French cuisine, and lots of thoughts, sugar and salt, and nobody counted calories or anything. And now I’ve went closer to being a healthy chef. And I tried to teach people how to improve their diets. So I work for the cabarrus Health Alliance, which is based in kannapolis. And my job is a fascinating job. And the fact that I go out to the general public, I go to schools and hospitals and churches, and I also do cooking classes at the cabarrus Health Alliance, and I try to teach people how to cook because if you think about it, Stacy, cooking is a life skill, but nobody knows how to cook these days. What I noticed just last week, when the food stores were out of canned goods and frozen goods, actually the produce section was still full. And my advice to anybody, especially at this time with the corona virus is eat healthy by eating as many fruits and vegetables as you possibly can because they’re just packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. So my job at the Cabal ourselves Lyons is basically trying to teach people how to cook and choose better food choices, and not so much processed food, not so much food that is packed with fat, sugar, salt, and try to get a healthy balance. You know, it doesn’t all have to be healthy. But if you do choose healthy options, you’ll feel better. Your health will improve and it’ll fight off viruses.


Stacey Simms  17:23

So when we’re all stuck at home and we have this mentality, which is this is very unique, obviously. Yeah, I mean unprecedented. But now that we’re stuck at home, what would your advice be? Because I did the same thing I’ll be honest with you when I went to the grocery store a couple of days ago, I picked up you know, some apples some oranges, but I wasn’t I was thinking hunker down. Yeah, I bypassed a lot of the fresh fruits and vegetables now that it seems and again we’re as we’re recording this, it seems like the grocery stores are gonna be fine. There’s no problem with supply. What What would you suggest we do next time we go to the store,


Chef Mark Allison  17:54

I would look at the air fresh produce and you know, start by Picking the fruits and vegetables that you like to eat. And then why not try something different? Something that you’ve seen before. But though you know what, I wonder what that tastes like, give it a try. You’ll be amazed, I normally teach this in class where we’ll have like a surprise ingredient. And part of the classes, everybody’s going to try everything I make. And I might have a fresh fruit or vegetable and I chop it up and I pass it around. And it’s amazing that nine times out of 10 everybody likes it. We’ve got these preconceived notions that we’ll look at something think No, I don’t think I like that for actually when you put it in your mouth and try it more than likely you’re going to try something new and it’s going to be interesting, then you’re going to enjoy the test. So I would go around the fresh produce section and try something new, try something different. And I found the best way so especially with having three boys, if I wouldn’t try something new with them. I normally just make a smoothie or soup because you can easily add something new and disguise it and they don’t even know that they’re in and then we told them that believe in something new. See, you know what, that wasn’t too bad. Let’s try it again. So I think it’s all about experiment. And we’ve got the ideal time that you’ve just said, There. See, we’re all cooped up at home. Why not get in the kitchen with the boys or girls, or family members and make something delicious to eat tonight? I’ve got to be honest, people tell me when they asked what I do for a living, I say, well, I’ve never worked a day in my life because I love what I do, which is I love food, and I love to cook. But our sound, it’s the best way to make new friends. It’s the best way to keep the family together, getting in that kitchen and making something over the next 30 or 40 minutes and then sitting down eating the food but actually having a conversation. Instead of everybody upstairs playing Xbox or some kind of games. You actually in one room communicate and you’re making something that hopefully everybody’s going to enjoy.


Stacey Simms  19:50

Alright, a lot of people listening are gonna say, Well, sure that sounds great. But I never learned to cook. I’m afraid to cook. My Stuff always comes out. Terrible. How can you start adults who really did not learn the skill?


Chef Mark Allison  20:05

You know what I was very lucky because when all my friends chose to do woodwork and metalwork, I was doing home economics. And as you can imagine, back in the 70s and 80s, that didn’t go down too well with a lot of the guys, but you know what my thinking was, they see one instead of being locked up in a room with 19, sweaty guys, I was in an air conditioned room with 19 girls. And it worked out pretty good, because I found out very quickly two things. Everybody likes people who can cook and it’s the best way to make friends. So I understand that a lot of people don’t know how to cook. But actually, you can go online now and on YouTube, and you can learn practically any technique that you need. And I’ll tell people all you really need to start with is a chopping board and a knife, and then find a recipe that you’ve always wanted to try. And you can easily download any recipe now from online or watch a YouTube video and cooking There’s one of the simplest things you can ever learn. It’s all about temperature control. It’s either gonna be hot or cold. And if you can control the temperature you can make and eat anything you like. Wow.


Stacey Simms  21:11

Do you remember I’ll put you on the spot here. Do you remember what you first taught your boys to make when they were little I pictured them standing on stools in the kitchen, you know, learning from dad,


Chef Mark Allison  21:21

and properly. And this isn’t exactly healthy. And actually, we did this last night, we were sitting in the backyard having a fire pit and we all had smalls. So I’m guessing probably smalls are probably one of the very first recipes. I taught my boys. But I also taught them something very important. It’s all about moderation. Whatever you make, have it in moderation. But my three boys all know how to cook, obviously, because they’ve been brought up by a chef. I tell people when I’m at work, I’ll text my boys and be the dishwasher, prepare the vegetables, set the kitchen table, and then when I get home, all that’s done, and then we get in the kitchen together and we cook dinner That night, but if I forget the text one day, believe it or not today, see, I get home and nothing has been done because boys are boys.


Stacey Simms  22:08

Oh, yeah, I’ve been there with both of my kids boys and girls. Yeah. Oh yeah, but you didn’t send the text that’s funny but I’m you know, it’s good to know you’re human. I think it’s always more fun to know with the s’mores, right that you know, yeah. And food and it’s fun to learn. And then you can use those skills. I don’t know what quite what skills are making but you have to control the temperature.


Chef Mark Allison  22:33

Don’t right. Yeah, that was our main skill. I think


Stacey Simms  22:36

that’s an important one in the kitchen.


Chef Mark Allison  22:38

people. People ask me all the time, how do you make a healthy dessert mock and I’ll say there’s no such thing as a healthy dessert. So just enjoy whatever you’re going to eat but have a smaller portion.


Stacey Simms  22:50

You’re not free and substitutes and things like that.


Chef Mark Allison  22:53

I don’t use any sugar free ingredients if I’m going to make something and add sugar and the sugar because normally Even if you make an a cake and asks for half a cup of sugar, when you consider that cake is going to divide a divided into eight or 10 portions, that half cup of sugar comes down to practically nothing. So I’d rather use the ingredients that are meant to be in a certain food items, then start trying to guess, well, if I put sugar free, I mean, it’s going to work out the same because I’d rather just enjoy it the way it’s meant to be, then try to mess around with it. That’s the same with all these gluten free products and low in sugar products. You know, you’re taking out one thing, but you’re adding something else processed. And to me, you’re far better off eating ingredients that you know, are ingredients that are more healthy than something that is a preservative or an additive or colorant.


Unknown Speaker  23:49

So tell us about your cookbook that you have out right


Chef Mark Allison  23:52

now. I brought out let’s be smart about diabetes a few months ago and that actually started 2008 but that was the same year my wife was diagnosed with stage four cancer. So the book was shelved. And then when my wife passed away in 2015, I was approached by the American diabetic association to publish the book. And so they, they bought the rights to the book, but then they held on to it for two years. And then unfortunately, they laid off most of their editorial stuff, and said they were only going to publish well known authors, which I was not one of them. So they give me the full rights back. And so I just published that about six months ago. And it’s all family recipes that we’ve used over the last 20 years with Matthew, all the recipes, believe makes a car very easy to use. You know, most of them take between 10 and 20 minutes, and the all healthiest there’s nothing outrageous. I’m not asking anybody to buy superfoods. I don’t believe in superfoods. I believe in it, eat an apple, that’s probably the best food you can eat or a banana or if you had broccoli or cabbage. They don’t have to be super foods. They’re just packed Anyway with healthy vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals. So it’s all based on practicality and what you can actually buy in your local store. And so this is packed full of soups and breakfast ideas, snacks, lunches, and meals for the kids and sort of healthy desserts.


Stacey Simms  25:17

I’d love to ask you and I, we didn’t discuss this in advance, but would it be possible to grab a recipe or two from the book that you think might help people who are you know, stuck at home right now? Maybe dollar level or something that would keep and we could post that for the podcast audience?


Chef Mark Allison  25:32

Yeah, please do. Just choose whatever recipe you think is suitable. There’s over 150 recipes in the book to choose from, and like I said, very easy to put together. And this could be the ideal time to grab a cookbook and try some of the recipes.


Stacey Simms  25:45

No doubt. All right. How do you stand on we’ve talked about you know, going to the produce section trying to buy fresh whenever possible. Where do you stand on canned and frozen ingredients?


Chef Mark Allison  25:55

Yeah, I’m a firm believer in fresh wood. If if you’ve got no option, then throw would be my next choice and then can’t but if you’re going to buy canned fruits or vegetables, make sure that they haven’t got any added sugar.


Unknown Speaker  26:07

Yeah, you know what I saw in the supermarket recently forget added sugar. They were packed in Splenda, their sugar substitute in the quote for juice.


Chef Mark Allison  26:16

Yeah. Well, you know what people have got to make their own minds up on if they’re going to use artificial sweeteners or not. I personally don’t so you know, it’s a choice you’ve got to make. But to tell the truth, if I’ve got the opportunity I always buy fresh because fresh normally isn’t seasonal. So if you can buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, then they’ve got the best nutrient dense properties within them. They haven’t been touched. Make sure that you wash your fruits and vegetables when you get them home and either eat them raw or add them to some kind of soup or lunch or dinner item. And to me that’s the best way to keep yourself healthy. I’m a firm believer and my boys follow this practice as well. If you have half your plate, fruits and veggies But then you know, it’s going to go too far wrong from being healthy and the idea with that’s great advice.


Stacey Simms  27:05

Yeah, back to the the canned fruit though I gotta be honest with you and you don’t have to you don’t have to take a stand. But I was appalled to see canned fruit with Splenda added because the big packaging was like, you know, low in sugar, and I thought, Oh, good. Water or something. And I turned it over to look at the label. I was like Splenda, how much processing you have to go through to add that and I was like, uh, so I put that back. But in these, I know, people are worried right now, and many people may have purchased more canned and frozen goods than you ever really do. Looking at me. So we’re all looking to try to do the best we can.


Chef Mark Allison  27:38

Yeah. And it’s baby steps. It’s baby steps. You know, you can kind of just turn your diet upside down because it’s not gonna work. And I tell most people start with breakfast and just eat something healthier at breakfast and that’s the ideal time to have a smoothie, you know, and you can Pocket full of vegetables, you know, cut back on the fruit so much, but ask or kale to smoothie out blueberries, but look at your your breakfast first and just change your breakfast for about a month, and then work on your lunch. And then finally work on your dinner. So, you know, if you just start slow, then your body becomes adjusted to it and you’ll feel a lot more healthier.


Stacey Simms  28:17

What’s your favorite movie?


Chef Mark Allison  28:18

Actually, when I used to be the director of culinary nutrition for the dog food company, I came up with a smoothie that obviously included bananas. It had almond milk, bananas and coffee. And that was a coffee fix up and the number of people that complimented that smoothie was unbelievable. But my favorite smoothies as always got blueberries and because blueberries are one of the best fruits you can eat for your memory as you get older and talk about with blueberries and spinach I use gave a banana and I use almond milk and a handful of almonds. And that saves me all the way through to lunch.


Stacey Simms  28:55

I liked spinach, mango and Domino.


Chef Mark Allison  28:58

That’s Like mangoes my favorite fruit. Ah,


Stacey Simms  29:02

I’ll tell you what, I use the frozen mango because it keeps it cold and gives it that exactly feel. But I was a big I was very reluctant to put anything green in a smoothie. I thought it was disgusting. I really did. I really did. And finally my husband convinced me and it’s delicious. I’m shocked shocked. Yeah,


Chef Mark Allison  29:25

you can get your best and fishy and all that as spinach has got more protein than the average piece of meat weird for weird. So if you put four ounces of spinach in your smoothie, then that’s got actually more protein than four ounces of beef. So probably I hit it right yeah. Spinach and spinach is one of the best foods in the world you can eat that as well as kale.


Stacey Simms  29:47

Yeah I’m still I’m not around to kale but maybe I’ll try it all if I could. Finish I can try to


Chef Mark Allison  29:55

kill you can get away with in smoothie and solid j the like it are you doing


Stacey Simms  30:00

Exactly. All right, well, that’s a great idea. Um, and then I know you said start with breakfast, move on to, and then ultimately do your dinners. But I have to ask for people who are listening who have younger kids, easy suggestions for dinners that the kids can help with? Is there anything that comes to mind that you did with your boys,


Chef Mark Allison  30:17

you know, you can always make your own chicken nuggets, that easy to make. In fact, there’s a recipe in the book for that. But start with things that they actually like. And then just all the some of the ingredients to more healthy ingredients. Because most of the things you can buy in fast food outlets, or and most restaurants, you can replicate at home and make them a lot more healthier. It’s just like anything. If you want to learn something, you’ll take the time to learn. And to me, the good thing about coupon is it’s a social event that actually gets people together. And it’s a great way when my wife passed away five years ago, that was one of the things I insisted with my boys that every night we went in the kitchen now five years on We do exactly the same thing they were, they can’t wait to get in the kitchen, see what we’re going to eat that night. And usually they choose one of the evening meals during the week. And then we’ll all muck in together all your sleeves up, we’ll all cook together. And then again, I said, we actually sit down at the kitchen table and spend the next 30 to 90 minutes just having a conversation, which is fabulous. It’s the highlight of my day.


Stacey Simms  31:22

I’ll tell you what, it really is an amazing thing when you can get everybody away from their electronics sitting at the table. You know, we set we did that too. We set the table every night. Yeah. Even if we’re bringing in, we do bring in occasionally, you know, it goes on the table, it comes out of the takeout.


Chef Mark Allison  31:39

What is social experience food is this food is one of the one things that will bring people together. And even if it doesn’t turn out great. You can all have a laugh about it. And just try it again the next day. You know, nobody’s gonna have a fight over a burnt pancake. You know, they you’re just gonna laugh about it and say, You know what, I’m gonna cry better tomorrow.


Stacey Simms  31:58

You know, I’m glad to hear you say that because I I’ve been there many times. Before I let you go, you know, your life has been so interesting to be touched by type one diabetes in your family. And then of course, you’ve had that unbelievable experience with cancer and losing your wife and I’m so sorry, Mark, but now working with people who are honestly dependent on you to teach them better ways to manage health, whether it is diabetes, or trying to avoid complications from other illnesses. And I’m curious, you know, when you do meet with these people having, as you said, you started with, you know, French cuisine, fancy restaurants fancy chefs, now you’re meeting with people who may not even understand how to fry an egg. You What was


Chef Mark Allison  32:39

that been like? Interesting.


Before, before I took this job, I was a culinary instructor for 20 years, so I could have dealt with a lot of people and different learning needs. And it all always comes back to the basics. If you can pick up the basics of anything that You’ll be successful. So when you consider, I’m now working for the health department and I didn’t realize these stocks until I actually started working for the health department. But 85% of all chronic diseases such as heart disease, type two diabetes, obviously not type one, and cancer are food related. And we live in an epidemic at the minute with the rise of type two diabetes, and the continuing rise of heart disease and cancer. And if people just realize that food is so important to prevent heart disease and cancer and type two diabetes, but also it’s so important once you’ve got one of these diseases, to actually improve your immune system by eating healthy food, and the healthiest foods on the planet are fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, seeds, and lean proteins and lean dairies. You’ve got to look at your food supply, try not to eat so much processed food because that’s where all the additives are. That’s where they put in the colorings the preservatives. You can’t buy a loaf of bread that was moldy in a day. And now, you know that loaf of bread will stand there without gathering more for a week to two weeks. Now that isn’t good. You know, actually, I just had fresh bread last night. I couldn’t get any bread at the store yesterday. So I decided to get the flour out and I had some dry yeast. And making bread is so easy, it took less than five minutes. But just look at the food that you generally eat. And just try to you know, when you consider the rising costs of health insurance, every year, it goes up and up. And you will know because I know with Matthew’s insulin and equipment for his pump, it just gets more and more expensive for free and, but if you’re healthy, then look at that as being a lifesaver for you, as far as money is concerned, because if you can stay healthy and off prescription medication, you’re gonna literally save thousands of dollars every year, and your life is gonna live longer, and you’re going to enjoy life more. So A lot of it’s all about prevention. But if you do have an illness, then really look at your diet, because the food, it’s food is not medicine, but it can help in a way that will make you feel good about yourself and make you lose weight. And it’ll keep you alive a lot longer if you pick the right food choices. And the right food choices are eat more fruits and vegetable.


Stacey Simms  35:22

Well, I really appreciate you spending some time with us. It’s just always wonderful to talk with you. I’m glad your boys are doing well. Everybody’s home now.


Chef Mark Allison  35:29

Everybody, so yeah, everybody. So James got led over school for the next two weeks, possibly more, who knows? Matthews at college, but he’s at home at the minute and he’s just doing everything online. And then unfortunately, my son who works in a restaurant, he just got laid off yesterday. But you know what, things could be a lot worse. We’ve just got to knuckle down and stay healthy and hopefully this virus hopefully will be gone in two or three weeks in the golf fleet. The nation can get back to normal. Yes, I hope so, too.


Stacey Simms  35:59

Mark, thank you so much for joining me, we will link up all the information about the book, we’ll see how I can go about posting a recipe or two. And I’m just wishing you and your boys All the best. Thank you so much for talking with me.


Chef Mark Allison  36:10

Thank you for having me on the show and you and your family stay safe and stay healthy. And hopefully we’ll catch you up with another diabetic conference.


Stacey Simms  36:19

Yeah, hopefully down the road and everything is rescheduled. I think the best thing is gonna be it’s gonna be a very busy fall, I think.


Chef Mark Allison  36:25

I think


Unknown Speaker  36:32

you’re listening to diabetes connections with Stacey Sims.


Stacey Simms  36:38

Lots more information at the episode homepage. And of course, as I mentioned, we’ll put some of the recipes and other information Mark was very generous and giving me an excerpt from the book. I will put that in the Facebook group, diabetes connections, the group, I don’t care what he says I am not trying to kill smoothie. I’ve been there done that. But for somebody like me, having a green smoothie is a big step. I do eat a lot of vegetables. But I never thought I’d like smoothie. But like I said, the spinach smoothie was great. So he just like he said, one new thing, one new thing. Try it, see if you like it. You know, I’ve tried to teach my kids, although my husband is a really good cook, and he’s done a much better job of teaching the kids actual cooking skills, but I try to teach them that mistakes are okay, which is coming out of my mouth. I just realized that just sounds like everything else I say with diabetes. But I mean, it’s my philosophy of cooking too, because I make a ton of mistakes and everything somehow tastes good. I mean, sure, I’ve burned things. The first book I wrote was, I can’t cook but I know someone who can. Actually Mark has a recipe. That book is a wonderful recipe. The conceit of that book is that I can’t cook so I went and asked all of my restaurant and Chef friends for recipes. And it was a big book for charity for jdrf. And it was a lot of fun, but I did write a whole bunch of kitchen disaster stories into that book. Yeah, I think my life philosophy is make all the mistakes. Hey, it’s working out so far. Up next, tell me something good. But first diabetes Connections is brought to you by dexcom. We have been Using the dexcom g six since it came out almost two years ago is that possible? It is just amazing. The dexcom g six is FDA permitted for no finger sticks for calibration and diabetes treatment decisions. You do that to our warm up and then the number just pops up if you like us have used x come for a long time before that. It’s really wild to see the number just kind of self populate. You just have to do a lot more finger sticks for calibration. We’ve been using the dexcom for a long time. It was six years this past December and it just keeps getting better. The G six has longer sensor were 10 days and the new sensor applicator is so much easier to use. And of course the alerts and alarms we can set them how we want if your glucose alerts and readings from the G six do not match symptoms or expectations. Use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. To learn more, go to diabetes connections comm and click on that dexcom logo


and tell me something good this week. If you saw this post on social media you might have thought Stacy, you’re telling me something good backgrounds are usually blue. Why was this one orange? Well, that’s because my friends It featured mac and cheese. So let me tell you about Ty Gibbs. Ty is a swimmer at Henderson State University in Arkansas. He was diagnosed in 2017. It was actually very serious. He was being rushed to the hospital at the time. He was in intensive care. He spent time in the ICU, but his mom Cheryl says as he was rushed into the ICU, he was just starving. And he kept asking for mac and cheese over and over again every year since we celebrate with a ton of mac and cheese. So this tells me something good on social media the photo if you saw it was his teammates and friends celebrating his diversity with seven pounds of mac and cheese and a cake. You want to talk about a carb explosion? No, of course the celebration took place weeks ago. I believe this has And very early in March or maybe it was even in late February when they actually celebrated it before the social distancing was taking effect. But I really appreciate Cheryl sharing this story. I love the idea of celebrating with a mac and cheese. That would be something for my daughter more so than my son. When the kids are left to lane. They were asked to empty their dorm rooms of food. They weren’t ordered to it was a food drive for people in New Orleans. And a lot of these kids like my daughter, most kids into lane are from far away. So a lot of them were jumping on planes or getting out of there and going long distances and didn’t want to pack up everything in their dorm room. So the school organized a big food drive. And I tell you all this because my daughter donated her mac and cheese. I know she had other junk in her room that she didn’t share with me but oh my gosh, she’s definitely the mac and cheese lover in the family. So thanks, Ty and congratulations on your dire versary hopefully next year we can celebrate again we’ll send you some mac and cheese to our other Tell me something good comes from Laura Bilodeau. A familiar name to many of you. She is the powerhouse, behind the friends for life conferences and so much more with children with diabetes. But recently, Laura found herself in the unusual situation of asking for help. She has connected thousands of people over the years. It’s no exaggeration, the friends for life conference is 20 years old. And the children with diabetes organization is older than that. And I’m telling you, they have connected so many people to each other, for help for education for inspiration for friendships, including me, I’ve made so many friends there. But her son actually needed to help her adult son doesn’t live with them, but with everything that was going on, came back home to Michigan a couple of weeks ago, and they were having trouble with diabetes supplies. They had been I’m not going to go through all the details. But like many of us, you know, they had insurance issues, somebody wasn’t following through. The supply wasn’t coming when it was supposed to come. And so they turn to the diabetes community for help. And as we always do, People reached out and so she posted a great picture about two weeks ago now almost that Mike Hoskins who’s also been on the show is a great writer over a diabetes mine and his wife Susie. They met for coffee although they met you can see the picture. They’re six feet apart each Zingerman’s coffee roastery which was still open for takeout and this picture looks great. I bet that’s a terrific coffee place. I’d love to check it out if I’m ever in town there but of course the big deal was that Michael was able to help her with the supplies that she needed. Is your community doing that we’re having a lot of that here in the Charlotte area where people are just reaching out I already no surprise gave insulin to a friend of mine who’s got an adult son who does not have insurance and is really struggling right now. So we were able to donate to them. I’ve got friends who had you know my Omni pod PDM knocked out and you know, they’re going to get us a new one but does anybody have one in the meantime? Anybody spare sensor, little things like that goes such a long way. You know, I mean, they say little things. They They’re really not when you come to rely on this stuff day to day could we go without except for the insulin? Of course, we would do finger pokes, we would use shots. But you know, you don’t want to be without this technology once you have it. So way to go. Mike Hoskins way to go Laura Bilodeau, because it’s tough to ask for help, especially when you’ve always been in the position of providing it. I’m so glad everybody got what they needed. All right, tell me something good. It’s the best segment of the show each week. Tell me what you got. You can send it in Stacy at diabetes connections calm posted in the Facebook group. Or if I see it like I did, Laura, I’ll just get your permission to share your story. But I really love when you send them in. So keep them coming and tell me something good.


Not too much to say here before I let you go. I do apologize for sort of the weirdness of the schedule. I always pride myself on every week the consistency of getting the show out there on Tuesdays and then those mini episodes I was doing on Thursdays foot, gosh, I feel I bet you feel the same. It’s almost like time has been Meaning right now. Right? what day of the week? Is it? am I eating breakfast? Am I having cocktails? You know, it’s just a crazy time right now. So I am giving myself the grace to put out episodes when they make sense. I am listening to podcasts right now when I am listening, that are entertaining and distract me. I’m listening to a lot of my Game of Thrones podcasts, a lot of my history podcasts, a lot of podcasts that make me laugh. So I’m not that concerned about getting my news up to date from podcasts. I hope an episode like this, you know, gave you 40 minutes or 50 minutes. I honestly don’t know where that’s going to come out to yet of distraction entertainment, something good to think about and a feeling that you’re not alone. As we go forward in these weeks, I’m not sure just like everything else. I’m not sure what the podcast production schedule is gonna look like. Of course, I have my sponsors and I will do what is responsible and we’ll get those episodes out. But I really liked connecting on zoom calls, Facebook Live, other things like that. So as with everything else after this is over We’ll see what the podcast landscape looks like, right? I mean, who knows? I hope to keep doing this, but we shall see. We’ll see where you all are. It’s gonna be a long, long time before things go back to quote normal. And I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I do hope and expect that we will be in it together as we have been as the diabetes community always is. So please let me hear from you. Tell me what’s on your mind. And I really appreciate you tuning in. As always, thank you to my editor john Pugh kennis of audio editing solutions. JOHN, I hope you’re staying safe in Philadelphia and doing well and that your kids are alright as well. And thank you, as always for listening. Stay safe. I’ll see you soon and more now than ever before. Be kind to yourself.


Unknown Speaker  45:50

Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Sims media. All rights reserved. All rounds avenged.


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