With a name like “Chef LaLa” and a cookbook called Latin Lover Lite, Laura Diaz highlights her funky — and easily marketable — side. But after a Cinco de Mayo cooking demonstration, I found more to admire about the woman.
Chef LaLa cooked and spoke at an Inside Columbia Magazine event Friday night. She was also in town for the Speaking of Women’s Health conference. In an hour, I learned she used to be a pop singer, went to med school to be a heart and lung specialist, became a certified nutritionist and studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
She also made four dishes in real time — without the tricks cooking demonstrators usually use. On her menu was:
- Coca-Cola-Marinated Pork with Fruit Salad
- Chicken Fajitas
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Colorful Bean Salad
Chef LaLa, an advocate for healthy eating and diabetes awareness, spent a good part of the demonstration dispelling myths that Mexican food isn’t good for you. To a crowd of mid-Missourians, this might have been a surprise to some. She said real Mexican food includes a lot of fruit and vegetables. “We do not eat chimichangas,” she said.
LaLa talked about her family’s history with diabetes and her own issues with weight. “I look at cake and get fat,” she said. She chooses healthy options like low-fat sour cream and corn tortillas instead of flour ones. Some flour tortillas have as much fat as 16 corn tortillas, she said.
Chef LaLa also encouraged people to cook with their families and be open to experimenting with recipes — both important to us at He Cooks, She Cooks. “Recipes are a blueprint for what you like,” Chef LaLa said. “Do it your way.”
Overall, Chef LaLa gave a strong presentation with easily accessible recipes, helpful information and her own personal style. Best line of the night:
“Come closer. I’m not going to bite,” she said to the cameraman. “And if I do, you’ll like it.”
Chef LaLa will be on the Today Show on Cinco de Mayo (Tuesday morning).