People to Know 2015: Pat LeGrand
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Pat LeGrand knows this firsthand. When her parents were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2004, she took it upon herself to transform their diet of Southern comforts into something healthy.
One day, in the midst of preparing food for the entire week, Pat had an aha moment. “I was hot [and] tired and realized that not everyone was going to prepare healthy food at home,” she says. “A light bulb went off: Somebody has to take care of people with diabetes and their food needs, and that somebody would be me.”
In March 2006, she opened A Touch of Sugar restaurant in Cleveland. The attention was almost instant. Patrons flooded the establishment, many from the city but others traveling far and wide for the combination of delicious food, diabetes focus, and portion control.
Like any astute businesswoman, Pat wanted to reach even more people with her much-needed service. While she was still running the restaurant, she began teaching about healthful cooking and good nutrition in her community. She provided free food for Tour de Cure® and Step Out events and has worked on the Association’s faith-based Project Power® initiative in the African American community.
In 2012, Pat closed the restaurant portion of A Touch of Sugar and now focuses on A Touch of Sugar’s nationwide food delivery service, worksite wellness programs, and cooking education. Her goal is simple: deliver healthy food with a great taste. “While tofu and sprouts are certainly nutritious, the reality is people want mashed potatoes and fried chicken,” she says. With the food she creates, healthy eating has down-home appeal.
Robyn Webb, MS, LN, is an award-winning cookbook author, nutritionist, and food editor with Diabetes Forecast. Check out her cooking videos and American Diabetes Association cookbooks at shopdiabetes.org/robynwebb.aspx.