Janet Dietz — founder of Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights, a Las Vegas fixture for more than 30 years — created her diabetic-friendly recipes out of necessity.
Janet Dietz’s diabetic-friendly recipes were created out of necessity.
Dietz is the founder of Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights, a fixture at 3466 S. Decatur Blvd. for more than 30 years.
“I had lost one husband due to diabetes and a heart condition,” she said of the bakery’s genesis. “Then I met Ron Dietz — diabetic, majorly.”
But she was prepared to do battle. She hit supermarkets, specialty stores — anything she could think of — in search of sugar-free foods. She tasted it all. And then threw it in the trash.
“I said, ‘Nobody should have to eat this; it’s horrible,’ ” Dietz recalled.
She decided to take things into her own hands. Using family recipes and some from other sources, she tinkered to make them usable for diabetics, analyzing the nutritional content with the help of a computer program. She sought input on flavor and texture at local workplaces, and soon she had an acceptable cheesecake and a few other items.
That’s when Ron told her they had to open a bakery.
“I said, ‘Are you crazy?’ ” she recollected. “ ‘I’m not getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning.’ ”
His response: “We have to go for it. We diabetics have nothing.”
And there are plenty of them in the United States — more than 37 million, or 1 in 10 Americans.
Confusion about diabetes
The disease is in the spotlight during November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, but awareness is an ongoing issue for Katie Spada, a registered dietitian at University Medical Center. Spada said there’s a lot of confusion about the two types of diabetes. Type 1 usually is detected in childhood, but in recent years more and more frequently in teens and young adults.
“Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder,” Spada said. “We don’t have control over whether it occurs or not. Type 1 attacks the body’s ability to make insulin. There’s nothing we can do to prevent it, or to improve your body’s ability to make insulin. It just kind of shuts down that capability.” Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is more a factor of lifestyle, exercise and diet, she said.
“Your body still produces insulin and you can make modifications to your lifestyle to reduce the impact of diabetes,” she said.
Type 2 diabetes isn’t directly linked to obesity, she said, but “we tend to see it more in people who live in larger bodies, simply because of their food choices and level of exercise.”
Modifications include moving more.
“Take a walk after you eat,” she advises patients. “That takes the sugar out of your blood and moves it to your cells. Even a simple 10- to 15-minute walk can really help to lower your blood sugar levels.”
Spada said there’s a misconception that diabetics have to avoid carbohydrates in their diets.
Instead, “don’t let your carbs go naked,” she said. “Pair them with a protein or fat, which tends to reduce the spike in your blood sugar.” And opt for complex carbohydrates when possible.
Spada noted that guidelines for increasing exercise and adjusting diet also apply to prevention of Type 2 diabetes, as well as improving health in general.
Sugar-free treats
Sweet treats, which generally involve simple carbohydrates not paired with sufficient amounts of protein or fat, are to be avoided by Type 2 diabetics, which is where Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights comes in.
Dietz sold the business eight years ago to Juan “Pepe” Medina, who’d worked there for 15 years. He said the couple took him under their wings soon after his arrival from Mexico, teaching him how to bake, how to use their recipes — and to speak English.
“He took an interest in it,” she said of the business. “Pepe learned it really quick.”
Today the shop sells goods made from Dietz’s original recipes, with a few tweaks to update them along the way. They’re currently sweetened with a blend of Splenda and stevia.
Medina said the cheesecake is most popular, followed by eclairs and cheese Danish. Other choices include Napoleons, cream puffs, turnovers, cakes, pies, bear claws, pinwheels, muffins, brownies and cupcakes. All of the bakery items are made in-house, along with some of the candy. Dietz said they also make the blueberry, pineapple and apple fillings from scratch. Nutritional information is available on a printed sheet.
Las Vegan James Tatman said he’s been coming to the shop for 20 years and especially likes the cheesecake.
“Their food is very good; it’s always fresh,” Tatman said. “I wouldn’t buy anywhere else.”
Davi Digittelli said he likes the baked goods such as cupcakes and eclairs, and the candy.
“Eating this stuff, you wouldn’t think it’s sugar-free,” he said.
And he said such products, in quality, are hard to find.
“There’s not a whole lot of options,” Digittelli said. “That’s why I come here. I would much rather shop local than buy online. And (Medina’s) great. That’s another reason I keep coming back.”
Dietz said Mrs. Williams Diabetic Delights remains unique.
“Nobody’s got a full line of sugar-free (products),” she said. “I love it when new customers walk in and say, ‘What’s sugar-free?’ They’re so happy when they see that everything is.”
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