By Patricia Danflous
Devin Alexander Says You Can Have It!
Wow! That’s how most people respond when they first meet Devin Alexander. Her thick, glossy hair perfectly frames her glowing complexion. Her trim figure reflects strength and energy. It is her sparkling smile however, that you will always remember.
Double wow! That’s what you will say when you get to know her. Her professional credentials are exceptionally impressive. Alexander is NBC’s The Biggest Loser chef, a specialist in healthy comfort food, best-selling author, weight-loss coach, and her media appearances include The Today Show, Dr. Phil and CNN.
Her personal life is equally inspiring. “I was bullied brutally as a kid because I was fat,” she says. “I tried every diet under the sun from the time I was eight until the time I was fifteen, but I just kept gaining weight. I eventually realized that I am incapable of following a diet and didn’t have success until I started to cut calories in creative ways. That’s what set me free.”
Alexander not only lost 70 pounds, she has kept it off for almost 30 years without sacrificing her love for cooking and food. “To be honest, I never planned to be a chef,” she recalls. “Other people figured out what I could do and encouraged me. That’s how my career came about.”
Living an awesome healthy life without cutting out a love for food has earned her a reputation as the go-to-expert for decadence without consequence.
“You don’t have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy,” she frequently advises. It is that philosophy and a strong commitment to helping others that motivated her to approach the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for volunteer work–at the same time they were reaching out to her.
“I was in a pretty serious car accident that shook me up and made me realize I needed to do something to give back,” Alexander said. “Knowing how serious the type 2 diabetes epidemic is and how diet is a control, I found the perfect match for me to make a difference.”
Now, as an Ambassador for the ADA, the celebrity chef’s latest cookbook is helping diabetics experience decadent eating without jeopardizing insulin levels. “You Can Have It!” features 125 original diabetes-friendly, comforting and delicious recipes.
The book is a culinary road map for anybody who wants to be fit whether they are diabetic or not. Although it is diabetic focused and low in sugar content, Alexander’s recipes are also low in carbs and sodium. “I think the people who are going to first embrace the book are those who already eat healthy,” she said. “Then, they’re going to very easily be able to bring over the people who think ‘diabetes food doesn’t taste good’.”
Don’t ask Devin to select her favorite recipe or her favorite decadent food. “That’s like asking a mother to name her favorite child,” she laughed. “You Can Have It!” has a Thai Shrimp Pizza that is shockingly good, but there is also a Japanese London Broil, a German Chocolate Overnight Oats, and a chocolate pudding. Try the whipped topping with only six calories per tablespoon for something really fantastic. It was not easy to develop recipes which comply with the ADA guidelines, but the effort resulted in great dishes that look good, taste great, easy to make, and are affordable.”
Alexander no longer keeps her eye on calorie numbers although she is conscious of high calorie foods. “I don’t count calories at all, honestly, but that said, I do have knowledge of what is good for you, and I actually enjoy reading labels. For me, it’s about finding balance. I believe in having one serving of lean protein, one serving of a good-for-you-type carb, and then plenty of vegetables. That’s how I construct every plate that I eat unless I purposely choose not to for a special occasion, like a party or going out to dinner.”
“I eat less vegetables in restaurants than I do at home, because restaurants often soak green beans in sugar, add bacon or use bacon fat for cooking without telling you. When people go out to dinner, they eat carbs such as bread, potato or rice with the meal, usually a glass or two of wine and dessert,” she said. “I count each one of those as a serving and just pick one. You should not have chocolate cake instead of a good carb on a regular basis, but when making selections, that’s how I choose.”
With a history of obesity an on-going love for food, Alexander has beaten the odds successfully maintained a weight loss and found a way to have it all.
It was not easy to develop recipes which comply with the ADA guidelines, but the effort resulted in great dishes that look good.