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Vivian Howard’s Recipe To Help Her Dad With Pre-Diabetes

By Blue Cross NC | May 16, 2019 | Healthy Lifestyle

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“For as long as I can remember, my Dad’s been on a diet, trying to lose weight,” Vivian Howard explained. “Overall he’s very healthy; he exercises every morning. Well, about eight years ago, we learned Dad is pre-diabetic… he has ‘a little bit of sugar’ as they say.”

Tracy, a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Counselor, said, “Changing your diet plays a huge role in preventing or managing diabetes. Cutting down on carbs (bread, pasta, cereals) is an important part of that change. With diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin on its own to properly digest the carbs.” One of John Howard’s favorite dishes is spaghetti with meatballs. Vivian devised a version of this without the pasta and shared the recipe with Tracy.


Vivian Howard’s test kitchen in Kinston, NC. This is where her new dishes are born, revised and perfected before gracing the tables at Vivian’s award-winning Chef & The Farmer and The Boiler Room restaurants.


The task at hand? How to keep the deliciousness of spaghetti and meatballs but without the pasta, and overall make it a healthier dish.

First, for a meaty but healthier sauce, Vivian swaps ground turkey for the more traditional ground pork. Tracy noted that this is “a great way to get all that good protein in without the extra fat.” Vivian noted, “My dad’s a pig farmer, so we didn’t tell him it’s turkey.”

Second, for lots of texture, the tomato-y sauce is poured over an entire head of broccoli that’s been steamed to perfection. With the gentle ‘crunch’ of the broccoli, you don’t really miss the pasta.

Tracy said, “I love that you use broccoli. One of the main things I work on with my patients with diabetes is lowering their carb intake. Broccoli is a great choice because it increases important nutrients and decreases the carbs. Making simple changes like this can make a big difference in your health. For members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, nutrition counseling is covered in many of their plans.”

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Lean ground turkey (instead of pork) + Healthy veggie sauce = Yummy! And you won’t miss the spaghetti.


Vivian topped the steamed broccoli with the hearty sauce and garnished it lightly with freshly shaved parmesan cheese. “Ok, let’s taste.” Tracy remarked, “This is delicious! An A-plus recipe!”

John Howard said, “Good again, Vivian.” He paused and with a smile added, “Thank you for keeping me alive.” Dad and daughter shared a nice hug.

Check out the full ‘Recipe Swap’ video.



You can make delicious meals that also contribute to improving your health. Eating the right foods can help you prevent, manage and potentially reverse chronic conditions. A Nutrition Counselor can help you meet your health goals. Next steps:

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