Recipes for chocolate covered strawberries, peanut butter cookies, ricotta pudding with lemon, and fudge sound sinful enough. But what if you could make them without carbohydrate-saturated sugar? You can, thanks to Miss Michigan's Outstanding Teen 2012 Sabrina Jeffery. Dealing with a no-sugar diet might sound hard, but the 15-year-old lives it everyday because of juvenile diabetes. It's not so bad though, Sabrina says. There are ways she still gives in to her sweet tooth and is able to share her message and platform, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, with the entire country.
Sabrina competed in her first pageant when she was 13 years old, the same year she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Even then her platform was at the heart of her stage presence. Now that she has the state title, she's using the crown to get into schools where she'll teach others about the signs and symptoms of juvenile diabetes. It's more common than you think, she says.
"A girl with a crown will stand out. I'm using that as my voice," she says. "It's important for people to look for the symptoms and signs of this disease…symptoms like drinking a lot of water, going to the bathroom a lot, or losing weight."
As a sophomore at Bay City Western High School, Sabrina is busy with classes, but not too busy to help plan and walk in an annual fundraising event held locally. To date, she and her family have raised more than $30,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The money goes toward finding a cure to the elusive disease that causes the body to attack itself and prevents the pancreas from producing the necessary insulin that helps break down carbohydrates like the kind contained in sugar. That's where Sabrina's cookbook comes in.
The book is a compilation of recipes Sabrina and her grandmother found online and adapted to fit her dietary needs. By substituting carbs for low-carb ingredients and exchanging sugar for Stevia, Sabrina can eat what she likes for dessert after dinner.
"They actually do taste really good!" she says.
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