What Paula Deen typically eats in a day

Paula Deen is known for her true southern cooking. She's not afraid to fry, butter or add starch to any of her recipes. It's a tactic that started with her own home-based catering business back in 1989. Since then Deen has shared her love of cooking through several different cookbooks as well as her own food line, Paula Deen Foods. Her success doesn't stop there. In 2015 Deen launched her own podcast and radio show, and she's had several TV shows over the years.

In the midst of her success, Deen discovered that her love for food was seriously affecting her health. Back in 2012, Deen revealed that she had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes — a secret she had been keeping from both her fans and the Food Network for three years. 

It took a few visits to the doctor to really kick Deen into gear. She isn't a fan of dieting. "It makes me mad," she says. Small changes however; made a big difference for Deen. In only a few months she was shedding the pounds and her diet was slowly becoming a lifestyle. What eating habits did Deen indulge in on her journey back to health? We're about to find out just what Deen eats on a daily basis that help keep this TV personality in check.

Paula Deen uses buttermilk in place of cream

Paula Deen is no stranger to using butter in some of her most popular recipes. Desserts like her gooey butter cake contain 16 tablespoons of butter. There is one ingredient though, that Deen has turned to that you would think contains lots of butter, but actually doesn't have any at all. That would be buttermilk. That's right, there is actually no butter in buttermilk. It may seem like odd name choice for a product that is, in fact, butter-less, but once you learn where it comes from, it all makes perfect sense. 

Buttermilk is the liquid leftover after churning butter, and Deen tells Dr. Oz that when it comes to recipes that require cream, buttermilk is a great alternative. Not only is buttermilk free of butter, it is also significantly lower in fat than its cream counterpart. One cup of buttermilk has only 2 grams of fat, which is much less than the 98 grams of fat found in a cup of cream. Even better, buttercream has double the protein of cream. No wonder a more health-conscious Deen has added buttermilk into her daily rotation.

Paula Deen doesn't eat anything white

When it comes to choosing foods for her daily meals, Paula Deen pays close attention to the color on her plate. Carbs, she says, "are a killer." As much as she enjoys the taste of foods like white bread, white rice, white potatoes and pasta, when talking about the changes she made to her lifestyle once she found out about her diabetes, Deen says, "I went home to my kitchen and I threw out everything that was white." 

Deen's commitment to kicking white foods to the curb paid off. In only four months she had lost 40 pounds and found herself on season 21 of Dancing with the Stars in 2015. Deen was eliminated in week six, but her healthy habits are still dancing on. For those who don't have that kind of willpower, Deen isn't saying to wave goodbye to carbs forever. Even she has a little white flour every now and then, but most days she avoids it as much as possible.

Paula Deen eats a lot of greens

If you're ever lucky enough to sit down for a meal with Paula Deen, take note of the landscape of her plate. Limiting carbs means there is more room for other things such as green vegetables. Since Deen's change to a healthy lifestyle, she has doubled the amount of green vegetables found on her plate. "I really have been eating more of them-more veggies and more salads-and loving it," she told Shape.

Now when it comes to Deen's plate, she probably isn't scooping heaping spoonfuls of recipes like her fresh green beans that call for bacon drippings and of course butter. She's talking about what she calls the "fabulous array of good vegetables," Deen says are at the fingertips of those living in the south. "We eat more vegetables in the south than any other area I've ever been to," she told Dr. Oz. Those vegetables help keep Deen's appetite in check throughout the day filling her up faster than her old favorite carbs would. 

Paula Deen drinks unsweetened tea

Before Paula Deen's big transformation there was one thing you would always find in her hand. The Georgia native never went a day without a glass of sweet tea. "I would start drinking it at 11 o'clock in the morning, and it would be on my bedside table when I went to bed," she told Prevention (via Eater). In her sweet tea obsession alone she was consuming around one cup of sugar each day. That is well above the American Heart Association's recommended amount. They say that women shouldn't consume more than 24 grams of sugar per day.

Trying to eliminate empty calories, Deen traded in her sweet tea for unsweetened tea and it turns out she didn't think it was all that bad. "I began to enjoy flavored teas..." Deen told Shape. She's specifically fond of flavors like peach, lemon and passion fruit. "I even discovered a mint julep flavor that had less sugar or was sugar free." 

Paula Deen eats meat by the fistful

When planning her meals, Paula Deen doesn't forget to add protein to her plate. One of her favorite cuts of meat is country style pork backbone. As a true southerner, Deen still shops for her old fashioned meat at the General Store. Only now when she brings it home she makes sure her meat doesn't take up more space on her plate than her vegetables do. Her new rule of thumb is serving up only a fistful of meat per meal. That fistful is equal to about 3 ounces, which is what the USDA and FDA deem a single serving. 

In the past for Deen, that serving of meat may have consisted of chicken fried steak. Now, Deen says she'll either sear her steak "in a skillet or put it on the grill." Deen has been pretty creative in the kitchen when it comes to cooking meat. In place of butter for added flavor the well-beloved chef has been known to squeeze fresh juices of oranges and limes to create a marinade. With all the recipes she has under her belt across more than a dozen of her cookbooks Deen has plenty of ways to spice up her meat to enjoy daily.

Paula Deen eats lots of fresh food

Fried foods may be associated with the south, but Paula Deen promises southerners care about more than just frying their food. They also care where it comes from. "We're about fresh food," Deen told Shape about about the south. "My table is always filled with great vegetables." 

One vegetable Deen loves is rutabaga. A rutabaga is a root vegetable that may not be very pleasing to the eye, but can truly enhance the flavor of your dish. Since Deen knows her stuff when it comes to adding flavor in cooking, rutabaga may need to be an addition to your next shopping list. 

For Deen, fresh food doesn't have to be complicated. With adding more vegetables to her diet, the TV personality has found ways to add flavor without making the recipe complicated. Deen's salads for example are compiled with only a few ingredients such as tomatoes and blue cheese. She then tops the salad off with black pepper and a homemade (and pretty healthy!) vinaigrette dressing. A pretty easy combination to enjoy daily.

Paula Deen eats real food

When it comes to giving up foods, Paula Deen is fine with added sugars and sticks of butter, but there are some things that her new eating habits can't get rid of and that's real food. Open up Deen's fridge and you won't find any diet food alternatives to the real thing. "There's no light mayonnaise," she says. "I'd rather eat less of the real thing and have it taste really good than have diet stuff that tastes awful."

This one is a bit murky though. Just because Deen won't eat it herself doesn't mean she won't cook with it, apparently. Deen is using her diagnosis for the better by taking her traditional recipes and lightening the ingredients so they're better on the waist line. Food lovers will now find that lighter versions of popular recipes like Deen's Chicken Divan or salmon burgers do include light mayonnaise (as well as other low-fat and nonfat ingredients). Perhaps light mayonnaise and other diet foods pass the test as long as Deen can't actually taste them.

Paula Deen swaps in Greek yogurt

Diet foods may not be at the top of Paula Deen's list, but substitutions just might. There is one food substitute in particular that Deen stands behind and that is Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt can be a healthier alternative to many things because of its low calorie count and the fact that it's high in protein. 

If you're looking to go healthy like the Food Network star she recommends using Greek yogurt as a substitute for cream in sauces, fillings and desserts. See what happens when you swap it for the butter in mashed potatoes, or as Deen does, use it in place of sour cream. The conversion is simple. Use the same amount of Greek yogurt that you would sour cream. You might notice a little bit more of a tart flavor, but when it comes to the creamy texture, Deen gives Greek yogurt two thumbs up.

Paula Deen adds peanut butter to her smoothies

Fruit smoothies were one of Paula Deen's favorite breakfast choices. That was until she learned that carbs shouldn't be eaten alone. Deen says a fruit smoothie is all carbs, and those carbs will immediately turn to sugar. That's why Deen learned to add peanut butter. 

Peanut butter falls very low on the glycemic index, a scale that ranks foods based on what happens to blood sugar after eating specific food types. Foods like peanut butter that digest slowly have a lower GI score. 

This may work for Deen when it comes to her fruit smoothies, but not with her beloved peanut butter pie. Though she has tried, a successful attempt at a healthier version of Deen's peanut butter pie hasn't yet been made. "It doesn't taste good if you do a lighter version," Deen says. So, even though a daily dose of actual peanut butter may be on Deen's menu, unfortunately her peanut butter pie can only be enjoyed on occasion. 

Paula Deen says it's all about sensible portions

It may have taken Paula Deen a few decades to figure out the not so secret way to maintaining a healthy weight. Now that she has though, she's sticking to it. "What I'm really trying to focus on is moderation. Eat a cookie," she told Dr. Oz, "just don't eat six of 'em!" 

Sometimes Deen can't help but indulge in macaroni and cheese or biscuits. When that happens, she balances it out with healthy foods for the rest of the day. Luckily for Deen, she has quite a sentimental reminder to keep her on track. "I want to be here for my grandchildren..." she told Woman's Day

Both of Deen's parents passed away in their 40s. Deen has well surpassed that and still looking forward to what her later years hold. "Waking up every morning is very exciting for me, to see what the day is going to bring." All good reasons to keep up with her sensible eating habits and moderation each day.

Paula Deen eats lollipops for dessert

For a post meal dessert, Paula Deen is used to whipping up delicious treats like her famous Gooey Butter Cookies, but now that she's had to say goodbye to things like cream cheese and butter, Deen's found some pretty tasty alternatives. 

Having to keep her diabetes in check, she has a new found love for dessert on a stick. See's Lollipops have been a saving grace and a great way for Deen to curb her sweet cravings. "They're incredible," she told Woman's Day. Deen is particularly fond of the butterscotch. 

Even though the lollipops also contain butter and heavy cream, it comes in a much smaller package. After 10 minutes, Deen's cravings are eliminated and since small amounts of sugar every now and then are okay for those with type 2 diabetes, Deen is in the clear. Butterscotch seems like a good trade off for her Gooey Butter Cookies.

Paula Deen really enjoys boiled peanuts

If you've never heard of boiled peanuts, Paula Deen is shaking her finger at you. The southern favorite is one of Deen's go-tos in between meals. Which shouldn't come as a surprise since she says that her home state of Georgia is the peanut capital of the world. 

On an episode of Dr. Oz, Deen says you can't eat boiled peanuts without salt, and lots of it. It's a good thing that boiled peanuts have half the calories of regular peanuts. Boiled peanuts are also easy to eat. Deen doesn't need any extra frills. She just cracks open the shell and enjoys the boiled peanuts as is. 

The best time to enjoy the freshest peanuts is between June and September. Those raw peanuts take about an hour and a half to cook. Outside of fresh season, Deen can still enjoy her boiled peanuts, she'll just need to pick up dry ones from the grocery store which can take up to 10 hours to cook. Deen seems to think the end result is worth the time it takes to wait for her favorite snack.

Paula Deen loves orkra from the garden

The south is no stranger to okra, a green, finger-shaped vegetable that provides a good source of vitamins and fiber. Since okra does so well in the south, it's a staple vegetable you'll find always growing in Deen's garden. When sharing her cooking secrets with Dr. Oz, Deen says her favorite way to eat it is in succotash, but she also shares some others ways to use okra as a side dish including simply mixing it with tomatoes. If you're looking for a dish with almost no calories, that would be it. Deen also likes to boil her okra, add a little pat of butter and then season it with salt and pepper. 

Sometimes, Deen finds herself unable to resist her southern fried ways when it comes to okra. On her cheat days, which she says are limited, she may deep fry her okra in buttermilk and flour. Deen assures fans though that those are only days when she's "cooking like grandma." A day she says that she has to have in order to stay on the wagon. Most days though her okra falls much more on the healthier side of the scale.

Paula Deen counts cauliflower as a friend

When Paula Deen decided to make a healthy start by throwing away everything white in her kitchen, she may have saved one thing in the refrigerator. That was cauliflower, a vegetable that Deen says has become her "very good friend." Using cauliflower, Deen says, was her way of pretending she could still enjoy mashed potatoes. She got the mashed part down, but skipped the actual potatoes when she created a mashed cauliflower recipe. A meal that takes only 10 minutes to make. All she does is pop one medium head of cauliflower florets into the microwave with ¼ cup of water until tender. Then Deen dumps the cauliflower into a food processor with a few extra ingredients (none of which are butter) until smooth. It's that easy. She recommends sliced chives for garnish. 

Deen also has a roasted cauliflower recipe that is healthy and low in carbs. In this recipe she bakes the cauliflower in the oven and tosses it in a seasoning of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, thyme, and salt. Both recipes seem to align with Deen's newest lifestyle, and with all the ingredients on her approved eating list, these are easy recipes to be able to incorporate in daily meals.