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When someone is diagnosed with diabetes and beginning to research dietary changes and food planning techniques, it isn’t uncommon to think a diabetic diet will be bland and boring. This simply isn’t true – in fact, with just a few food swaps, a blood sugar diet meal plan can be full of delicious, unique dishes. Over time, you will also become more familiar with how certain foods can negatively or positively impact your blood sugar, and this knowledge will help you better prepare healthier meals with easy and delicious blood sugar diet recipes.
Before diving into a few blood sugar diet recipes, let’s discuss a few diabetes-friendly cooking tips:
- When a recipe calls for a solid fat, such as lard, butter or shortening, keep in mind that solid fats often contain saturated and/or trans fat. You want to keep these types of fat to a minimum. Instead, consider using a liquid fat such as olive, avocado or grape seed oil in your recipe. Some liquid fats have stronger tastes so test a few out and find one you prefer.
- When researching the best foods for diabetes, you are likely to come across material that discusses carbs and diabetes. Swap out carbs that are not as nutritious and can spike blood sugar, such as white rice and white bread, and you use whole-grain flours, almond meal, and brown rice as possible substitutions.
- When you are craving something sweet, try a piece of fruit before reaching for a piece of candy or chocolate. Sugars and processed candies can spike blood sugar, but a piece of fruit will satisfy your sweet craving and provide fiber, which can slow down the rate of sugar in your bloodstream.
- Over the years, many recipes have called for a solid fat, sugar and salt to create flavor, but there are other ways to make your dish taste delicious. Try herbs like cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. and experiment with vinegars to add a twist to your dish.
Now that you are familiar with some potential swaps to make in your diet plan, let’s take a closer look at some blood sugar diet recipes:
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup carrot or diced red bell pepper
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters1 large clove garlic, minced
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1½ teaspoons dried marjoram
6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
¾ cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)
Heat up 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Next, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Blend the flavors by cooking for five more minutes.
Mix the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.
Cut chicken into small pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups finely chopped broccoli crowns , (see Tip)
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Whisk garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar and sugar in a large bowl. Add broccoli, water chestnuts, bacon, cranberries and pepper; stir to coat with the dressing.
If you are pressed for time for an event, you can make this salad ahead of time and cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Tip: Most supermarkets sell broccoli crowns, which are the tops of the bunches, with the stalks cut off. Although crowns are more expensive than entire bunches, they are convenient and there is considerably less waste.