Book Review | Tex – Mex Diabetes Cooking by Kelley Cleary Coffeen, PhD

The good news is I get to share another book review with y’all. The bad news is all of the dishes I’d prepared to photograph for this review perished when my freezer decided it was time for a diy defrost, which in turn caused the refrigerator to warm up and spoil all of the food.

That being said though, even though there won’t be any photos of recipe tests, I did get the chance to try them while I was making them, and they did not disappoint. As an added bonus, you’ll also find some Q&As I had with the author!


In her new book, “Tex – Mex Diabetes Cooking,” author Kelley Ceary Coffeen, PhD shares more than 140 of her  favorite southwestern recipes. I am excited to share a title that some might shy away from because it has “diabetes” in the title, but that just means many of the recipes reduce carbs and encourage lighter alternative to heavy staples like cheeses and sauces.

That’s not to say you won’t find cheese or sauce in here, just in moderation! Even if you’re not pre-diabetic or health-conscious in the slightest, it’s nice to come across a cookbook that takes the healthy options into consideration for you, so you don’t have to sit there and measure ingredients or count xyz. The main areas emphasized are: low-carb, low-fat, and sugar conscious.

You say the recipes are “guilt-free”. How so? 

In an effort to reduce excess carbs, calories and fat in each recipe I make sure to use lean meats and protein for taco and burrito, enchilada fillings. I add fiber with a lot of fresh greens, onions, tomatoes and peppers. I have created salsas and sauces that are considered “free” exchanges within the ADA guidelines made from fresh produce, herbs and spices. Finally, I only use low fat dairy products and employ cooking techniques such as baking tortilla chips and taquitos using cooking spray in a high heat oven.

In the acknowledgements, Dr. Coffeen notes that she lost her mom to diabetes while she was writing this book. Unfortunately, her story is not uncommon, as nearly 100 million Americans live with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the CDC. Even if you aren’t counting calories or carbs, it can never hurt to know a little bit more about healthy options that are available…sometimes you just have to ask. For example, I didn’t know, but many Mexican restaurants will bring out cut vegetables to go with tableside salsa instead of chips…you just have to ask.


I really like how the book is organized. It has a very descriptive table of contents, where you can look up anything from cocktails and starters, to salsas, breakfast favorites, and a really wide variety of tacos and enchiladas. If you’re a more visual person, you’ll notice that each chapter is color-coded (e.g. the “breakfast favorites” section is green), so if you flip through the book, you can easily get to what you’re looking for.

Dr. Coffeen shares lots of tips throughout the book about how to keep recipes “diabetes friendly,” including: warming tortillas (instead of frying them), opting for reduced fat (or dairy free) milk and sour cream, as well as being “cocktail smart” and choosing lower or no sugar juices and mixers when ordering a drink.

Let’s talk about Tex-Mex. What exactly is it? Is it Mexican? Is it Texan? Is it a mashup of foods from different regions?

Rooted in the state of Texas’s Tejano culture with traces of Native-American, Mexican, and Spanish cultures intertwined, Tex-Mex is a culinary adventure all on its own.  Tex-Mex has evolved into a style of ethnic cuisine that features rich gravies and cheeses melted over enchiladas, grilled meats folded into tortillas, crispy nachos topped with lean meats and hot chiles, rich quesos, and crispy corn tortilla chips. Tex-Mex has become a mainstay in Mexican American cuisine over the past 60+ years. Its popularity is due to the flavorful lean proteins used in tacos, burritos, nachos and enchiladas accented with greens, veggies and fresh salsas and sauces.

Another great thing about this cookbook is how each recipe is organized. For each recipe you’ll find: serving size, prep & cook times, ingredient substitution suggestions, as well as basic nutritional values like: cholesterol, protein, calories, etc. This can be really helpful if you’re trying to find a dish that’s more or less of a certain nutritional content, especially since most recipes don’t have a complete nutritional set of values…you’d have to calculate it based on each ingredient. Here, the little charts take the guess work out of the equation.


Of the recipes I tried, the baked chicken flautas were a favorite. They were easy to prepare, full of flavor, and something I could easily make ahead of time and pop into the freezer as a quick meal. That is, when I have a freezer again…

I also tried the chilaquiles with eggs, because that’s one of my favorite things to get at a Mexican restaurant. I think it’s something about the crunchy tortilla chips mixed with the runny yolk. This recipe takes about twenty minutes, and if adding tortilla chips isn’t something you want to do, I could easily see substituting something else that’s crunchy like kale chips or another healthy crunch alternative.

Do you include recipes for every meal of the day and special occasions? 

Yes, these recipes are simple enough can be made for everyday meals but they can be served for special occasions, they are very versatile for example:

Fajita Tacos, Classic Rolled Tacos, or Seared Sirloin Tacos with Guacamole can be a week night favorite as they are quick and easy. But they could also be elevated to be served for a special birthday or celebration. Pan Huevos with Avocado is a delicious brunch entrée. I love to serve it with my Spiced Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Parfait for a special occasion.


All in all, I think this is a fun cookbook that seamlessly puts together a wide variety of southwestern favorites. None of the recipes are too complicated. I think the best feature about this book is its organization and how it really caters to a demographic that’s ingredient-conscious; so if you’re looking for something that puts an emphasis on what’s in the recipes and what kind of nutritional value each recipe has, you should check out this book!


I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images. There are no affiliate links attached in this post.

Book Stats– Tex – Mex Diabetes Cooking: More Than 140 Authentic Southwestern FAvorites by Kelley Cleary Coffeen, PhD

Genre-Cookbook/Health/Diabetes

Page Count- 192

Binding– Softcover with some color photography

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