Sam Talbot and Liz GumbinnerWhen Kristen and I had the opportunity to sit down with Sam Talbot, our Top Chef crush for the last few years, it was hard not to say yes. (Frankly, it was hard not to get all sweaty and nervous for days beforehand.)

It was a bit intimidating; not because he’s adorable and charming and the executive chef of the new Mondrian Soho in NY, and rumored to be dating models up the whazoo–but because he’s such a passionate, talented chef. And frankly, we’re both better at eating fabulous food than cooking it ourselves.

As a former personal chef to a family with two young kids, Sam
actually has some smart ideas about getting kids to eat better. And as as a diabetic himself, Sam been very active volunteering to help promote Juvenile Diabetes research and has a lot to say about cooking without sugar.

[After the jump, get some great tips plus an exclusive recipe from Chef Sam Talbot]

Sam Talbot and Cool Mom Picks
Sam Talbot with Cool Mom Picks editors Kristen + Liz, and Isabel Kallman of Alpha Mom

Now I will say I am not a fake sugar fan at all. I don’t like diet sodas and Aspertame freaks me out, so I just don’t think about sugar alternatives all that much. But I admit I had never considered what a godsend the natural sweeteners are for diabetics and parents of diabetics.  Which is why Sam is working with Truvia Natural Sweetener (an extract from the Stevia plant) and helping them create all sorts of recipes using it. Sam Talbot’s Tuna Ceviche with Sweet + Spicy Popcorn? Hello!

Stevia products were always huge with the natural food community, and I only ever saw it in our health food store before Truvia went mass about a year ago. You can actually bake with it, and when I tried it on a strawberry, hands down it was the closest to sugar I had ever tasted. So I totally get how valuable it’s been for a lot of families.

I asked Sam for a few of his tips about getting kids, and especially diabetic kids, excited about food.

Open their minds, not just their mouths: Get the kids involved – if you are lucky enough to have one near you, take them to the farmers market to be a part
of the whole process.

Talk about the ingredients. For instance, when using carrots, I always
make funny side comments like Hey did you know carrots are rabbits’
favorite vegetables? That’s why they are always hopping around so happy
…it’s because of all the energy carrots give them!
Involving animals and
fun anecdotes are essential to teaching kids the importance of what
healthy foods provide.

Keep it simple I always try to keep meals very basic for kids. No more than 3 or 4
ingredients per dish so they don’t lose interest.

Don’t keep them at the table while you’re at the counter Letting them play with
and handle the food is key so they really feel involved. The more they
are hands on and up on the counter helping me make it, the more inclined they will be to
eat the resulting healthy snacks or meals.

Truvia Natural SweetenerDiabetic tip: A really good way to get ALL kids, not just those who are diabetic,
excited to learn how to eat healthy is through baking. What kid doesn’t
love making or eating cookies? So sometimes I use the dessert to lure
them in. When engaging with diabetic children, the trick is to teach
them the difference between a processed sugar and a natural sweetener. Truvia has no affect on the glycemic index, making it a great brand to introduce
to parents and their kids. There’s no need for diabetic children to miss
out on the joys of baking!

RECIPE: Chef Sam Talbot’s Brined Chicken

Brining a chicken before cooking is the
only way to go if you want your chicken moist, juicy, and fabulous. (The benefit of making babies with a culinary school grad is that you learn things like this.) So I asked Sam
if he could offer up his own brined chicken recipe, made with Truvia, for
folks who have to limit sugar in their diets.


This makes enough for a 6 lb chicken, or up to 10 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

1 gallon ice water

1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup sea salt
(not iodized table salt!)
4 tablespoons Truvia
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons ginger, chopped

2 tablespoons pink peppercorns, whole

Combine all the ingredients into a large pot on medium high heat.
Bring to a boil, whisking well. Once the brine has boiled cook it for
about 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room
temperature (or store in the fridge until ready to use).

Place a whole chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours for bone-in chicken. Drain and pat the chicken dry before cooking as desired.


For more celebrity chef recipes for families limiting sugar in their diets, check out the Truvia website.

And for more about Juvenile Diabetes, including some great tips on managing all the sugar around the holidays, please check out the JDRF website.