Her latest obsession? "I am hooked on smoothies," she tells PEOPLE. "I'd just as soon have that as a milkshake."
The queen of comfort cooking has changed the way she eats since coming to terms with her diabetes diagnosis and dropping 30 pounds.
One of her last challenges was learning the importance of having a healthy morning meal. "I was bad about missing breakfast," admits the Food Network star, 65. "I always felt like if I start the day eating, I'm going to finish off the day eating."
A couple of months ago, she started making fruit smoothies for breakfast. Says Deen: "They're so tasty and delicious."
Curious about her healthy smoothie recipe? Try one yourself:
Paula Deen's Peachy Ginger Smoothie(Serves 2)
1 cup cold water
1 cup frozen peach slices
½ cup frozen strawberries
½-inch piece fresh ginger
Juice of one lime
Artificial sweetener to taste
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend one minute. Add a little water if you need to loosen it up.
In response to reader comments and concerns about Deen – a diabetic – endorsing fruit smoothies, PEOPLE spoke to Andrea Allouche, a dietician who is affiliated with the Diabetes Research Institute.
Allouche tells PEOPLE, "Generally we do not recommend smoothies for people with diabetes or in general because once you blend fruit it digests faster than eating it whole. Fruit already is absorbed quickly and can cause a quick elevation in blood sugar."
But she notes that this specific recipe is for two people, "So it actually comes out to less than one serving of carbohydrate per serving," she says, "which is 15 grams of total carbohydrate" – much lower than most smoothie recipe. As a result, she explains: "[It] shouldn't have a huge impact on your blood sugar. It's fine to have one serving of this because fruits are healthy."
But, she does add: "To make this recipe more balanced, I would recommend blending it with low-fat plain Greek yogurt and flax seed. The protein and the fat will slow down the absorption of carbohydrate into your blood stream."
For all the details about Paula Deen's weight-loss plan, plus some of her new guilt-free recipes, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now