Rita Lavoie of Minot believes that recipes are merely a guide for a cook in the kitchen. “The recipe in a book is only someone else’s version of that dish. There is no rule against you changing something to suit you. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get it right at first. Learn from your mistakes.”

Lavoie’s willingness to change the suggestions provided in a recipe is what makes her known as a cook who prepares great recipes for diabetics like herself. However, Lavoie doesn’t use recipes that are written for that purpose. “I don’t specifically use ‘diabetic’ recipes. I just use regular recipes and add more vegetables or reduce carbohydrates or add different spices, etc., to help me regulate my blood sugar with good-tasting food.”

But she recommends that diabetics follow specialized recipes written for them, “until you are comfortable cooking that way. Then start using regular recipes and adjust them accordingly.”

Lavoie says her husband, Al, calls her the Stir-Fry Queen “because I like to just add things to the stir-fry until I like the taste. No two stir-fries are the same.” Lavoie also admits that she’s not the neatest in the kitchen. “I’m a messy cook, so I need a lot of pots and pans and spatulas and spoons and bowls and a lot of different spices.”

She says that for her, the best part about cooking is preparing a meal for a crowd, having no leftovers at the end of the meal and having the guests ask for the recipes.

Lavoie says that Al is a good cook, too. “A lot of times, my husband will help me cook up leftovers for a week. He is a good cook, so he’s a great help in the kitchen.”

He also helps when it comes to critiquing her recipes. “When I was first married, I made a crock pot recipe that took all day to cook. I had followed the recipe to a T, but for some reason, it didn’t smell that good when it was cooking. When we sat down to eat supper that night, my husband took a bite, put his fork down, and said, “Let’s go out to eat.” He had told me he would do that if ever there was something he didn’t like that I had cooked. I was devastated and cried my eyes out. I threw away that recipe!”

Lavoie is a vice president of Farm Credit of Maine at its Auburn office, as well as a skin-care consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She and her husband have four cats. Lavoie enjoys trimming trees, working outside with ‘Al the Handyman’ and loves to dance. Her last piece of advice for wives who cook is, “If you have a husband that doesn’t mind working with you in the kitchen, have him wash dishes when you cook, because you never know when you will need to reuse the pan he just washed.”

Vegetable soup
Ingredients:
Large can of chicken broth

1 extra can of water

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large stalk of celery, chopped

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 quart diced tomatoes, canned tomatoes, not chunky

1/3 cup of rice

1 can carrots, undrained

2 large potatoes, cubed

1 can of corn, undrained

1 tablespoon Garden Seasoning, optional, but it adds flavor

Celery salt, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste
Method: Add all the ingredients to a large kettle on the stove. Use the empty chicken broth can to measure the can of water. Cook over medium-high heat until the broth starts boiling, then reduce heat to medium until potatoes are cooked and bouillon cubes are dissolved.



Rita’s notes: This is a lightweight dish for diabetics – it has no fat and is easy to make. Serve with White Cheddar Cheez-Its.


Mexican dip
Ingredients:
16 ounces of cream cheese, regular or low-fat, room temperature

1 cup or more of your favorite salsa

Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Method: Empty cream cheese into mixing bowl. Mix in salsa to make a thick dip. Start with 1 cup and add to suit your taste.
Layer the mixture in a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Spoon a little salsa – 2 to 3 tablespoons – on top and spread it over the first layer. Using a fine cheese shredder, shred some sharp cheese – Cabot sharp cheese is best – and lay that on top of the salsa. Serve with Doritos.
Rita’s notes: This is nice at a party – everybody loves it! Pace salsa is the best-tasting for this recipe. I like hot salsa, but that may be a little too hot for someone who is not used to it. Use medium, and the taste is still good. The cream cheese will tone down anything that is spicy.


Muffins
Ingredients:
2 cups of flour

1 cup of rolled oats

1/3 cup of Sugar Twin or Splenda artificial sweetener

3 teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of milk

Half a package of Fruit Medley, thawed. Chop any large pieces of fruit

1 ripe banana, mashed
Method: Mix the five dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, vegetable oil and milk to flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Add fruit to mixture and stir.
Use Pam cooking spray to grease a muffin tin. Spoon mixture in muffin tin. Bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.
Rita’s notes: Any combination of fruit is good. Use whatever is in season. I usually double the recipe.
Two variations for double recipe:

• For the fruit, use 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of sliced strawberries, 1 cup of chopped rhubarb and 1 mashed ripe banana.

• For the fruit, use 2 cups of chopped apples, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 ripe mashed banana, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.


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