Paula Deen talks Type 2 diabetes, Joe's Stone Crab & the South Beach Wine & Food Festival

2012 has been quite the headlining year for Paula Deen. The “queen of Southern cuisine” went public with her three-year-old diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and brand new drug company contract in January – then bore the inevitable wrath and support that followed.  We spoke with Deen about her diagnosis, lifestyle changes and infamous Festival Sunday brunch

Catch Paula Deen at the Sunday Grand Tasting Village and her Sunday Brunch.

How are you feeling?
I feel overall pretty good, it’s been a very emotional few days and today I’m feeling vulnerable, but at the same time at peace with the decisions that I’ve made. I’m ready for all the naysayers because I gave all of this great, great thought and consideration. My kids, team and I have had three years to think about ways that we could bring solutions, encouragement and hope to other people in my position. It would have been irresponsible of me to have done it any other way. Now I’m prepared and have something to bring to the table and offer to others.

Have you changed the way you eat since your diagnosis?
I don’t drink sweet tea anymore. I figured I was consuming a cup and a half of sugar every day through empty calories that I was drinking, that was the first thing I put down. I’ve always practiced moderation. But it’s not what people hear because they see me doing something totally different on TV every day. My show airs daily, but it’s all taped within a 30-day period.  For today’s lunch I had a wonderful homemade meatloaf with ground turkey and succotash – okra, corn & pea, a wonderful variety of veggies.

Speaking of eating, your Sunday Brunch was among the first events to sell out this year – congratulations!
Are you kidding me? Yay! You know, I’ll tell you what makes it so special for me. By Sunday, we have had a big weekend of drinking & eating and partying and I’m not a drinker. So this Sunday brunch is perfect to me because it’s more about a celebration of friends & enjoying the music. There’s not a great deal of alcohol involved, there’s partying but in a different way. It’s the kind of partying that I love to do.

What makes for a good brunch?
I love and have always loved breakfast-type dishes. At brunch you’re able to incorporate lunch foods as well. I always love tenderloin, steak & eggs, sweet dishes, salads and good coffee. It’s a great way to celebrate at a new hour

How long have you been participating in the Festival?
I’m not sure exactly, but I almost think this might be my sixth year. I just adore Lee, I think he’s extremely bright, I can’t imagine all the work that goes into organizing something of this magnitude without screw-ups. He does a grand job of orchestrating this and he’s proven himself to be a good friend.

What’s unique about the Miami festival?
The location is incredible. The beauty of it is just breathtaking and the weather is usually so fabulous. And the fact that it takes place in a smaller environment makes it logistically easier to get around. In New York, I usually don’t even see my cohorts because they might be in Midtown and I might be on the East Side.

You’ve earned quite a reputation for your cooking demos at the Tasting Village.
Demos are always so much fun, I’m not scripted, I never have a plan, the last thing I say before I walk out is “god please put the words in my pie hole.” It’s just my desire to go out there and spend 30-45 minutes with some of my friends and laugh and have a good time and enjoy the fellowship. And you never know what’s going to happen – who can ever forget when my britches fell down.

What’s on your must-do Miami list?
There’s one that I don’t ever miss. I’m not coming to South Beach without a visit to Joe’s. I just wait all year to come down and have their wonderful fresh stone crabs, coleslaw and wonderful mustardy mayonnaise horseradish sauce.


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