This light, low-carb meal was created on a very hot Missouri day and therefore requires no oven, stovetop or anything else that requires heat!
Makes 2 servings
2 zucchini, spiralized or chopped
1 large tomato or 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp Italian dressing
1 fully cooked deli rotisserie chicken
3 tbsp pesto sauce
Combine zucchini, tomatoes and dressing in a large bowl; stir to coat veggies.
Remove skin from breast portion of rotisserie chicken. Using a fork or your hands, pull chicken pieces in small chunks, or large chunks and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cup total). Save the rest of the chicken for another meal. Put chicken pieces in a bowl and add pesto sauce. Stir to coat chicken.
Divide veggie mixture evenly in 2 bowls. Top with pesto chicken. Garnish with parmesan cheese or fresh basil if wanted. Serve.
The concept of avoiding all white foods is a blanket statement to try to encourage people to avoid bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Do you have to avoid these foods? Not necessarily. People with diabetes should, if they do eat these, look for higher fiber versions of those foods, like 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice and bean pastas. Saying all white foods are bad gets confusing though, because some white foods, like white onions or the white of an apple, are touted as good for diabetes. When it comes to other white foods, here are 4 we absolutely should include in a healthy eating plan:
Cauliflower: raw, steamed, roasted, mashed or riced, cauliflower is a non-starchy cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of compounds known as glucosinolates, which may help to fight cancer.
White beans: examples are cannellini beans, garbanzo beans and great northern beans. Like other beans, these white beans are high in fiber and protein, making them an ideal protein option for vegans. Add them to soups, salad or blend into a healthy bean dip with garlic and spices.
White fish like cod: people with diabetes are encouraged to eat lean proteins, and white fish is about as lean as it gets.
Yogurt: Greek yogurt or non-dairy Greek yogurts are a simple way to get a protein-rich snack. Your best option is to get plain yogurt and add your own fruit for flavor. Add honey for a little sweetness. Each tablespoon adds about 15 grams carbohydrate.
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Try this for breakfast meal prep or to feed guests. Leftovers are perfect for breakfast burritos on the go. Just wrap a serving in a whole wheat or low carb tortilla. Double the ingredients and make 2 pans for leftovers.
8 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup shredded cheese
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 handful chopped spinach or kale
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons everything bagel seasoning
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Whisk the eggs and milk in a large bowl until combined. Add cheese, veggies and seasoning. Stir to combine.
Grease an oven safe glass 8″x8″ dish (or if you use a larger dish, reduce baking time by about 10 minutes). Pour egg mix into dish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the center is set. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Sugar alcohols are a category of reduced calorie sweeteners, often found in low carb snacks and “no sugar added” desserts. They can also be bought like other sweeteners to add to food and for baking.
Compared to regular sugar, sugar alcohol does not increase blood sugar as much as regular sugar. However, some of the products it is used in, like “no sugar added” cherry pie, could have almost as many carbs as the regular version from the crust, fruit and other ingredients added. Always check the nutrition facts label for the:
Serving size: if you eat that amount of the food, the numbers on the label are what you consumed. If you ate double that amount, double all of those numbers (like calories, fat, carbs, etc). For pie, the serving size will be something like 1/8 of the pie. So if it’s cut into 8 equal-sized pieces, one piece would be a serving.
Total carbohydrate: there will be a number and a “g.” for grams. This is the amount of carbohydrate you get in 1 serving of this food, like 1/8 of the pie for example. You do not need to add the sugar or do anything with it separately. The sugar is already included in the total carbohydrate.
Sugar alcohol can cause upset stomach, gas, bloating and diarrhea in some people. This typically occurs after eating a larger amount, like 15 grams or more, of sugar alcohol. Most labels will show “sugar alcohol” and the amount of grams per serving if sugar alcohol is in that food. If you are sensitive to it, it is best to avoid it.
Overall, it is best to limit artificial sweeteners and highly processed foods. Instead of the no sugar added pie, try thawing frozen cherries and stir them into plain Greek yogurt with 2 teaspoons of honey and real whipped cream. Top with 2 tablespoons of granola or chopped pecans for crunch.
One of my favorite grocery items growing in popularity and now much easier to find at the store, is the variety of bean-based pastas. My favorite is chickpea pasta and my cabinet is typically stuffed with a variety of Banza pasta and “rice”.
The base of this pasta is chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, which are higher in protein and fiber and slightly lower in carbohydrates per serving than regular and even whole wheat pasta. Here are 3 ideas for using chickpea pasta.
Make a high protein pasta salad. This is the perfect take-to-work lunch. Make a large batch to eat over several meals. Cook and cool the pasta. Add chopped cucumber, carrots, broccoli and/or bell pepper. For additional protein, add chopped chicken, deli turkey or any type of white bean like great northern or more chickpeas. Use a zesty Italian dressing and a little extra red wine vinegar for a punch of flavor. I like to add extra flavor with a seasoning blend like Code 3 Spices Grunt Rub (it’s like my version of Frank’s Red Hot; I put Grunt Rub on everything).
Chili MacHealthy. What’s more comforting than a bowl of chili mac? Click here for the quickie version. Try it with chickpea pasta instead of regular pasta to make a satisfying meal that will lead to less of a blood sugar spike. Also, a great option for making leftovers, or as I call them, planned-overs.
Pasta con Broccoli you can feel good about. This dish is notoriously loaded with saturated fat, carbs and calories and a tiny amount of broccoli- not exactly a picture of health. Make it healthy and diabetes friendly by using a lighter sauce, double the amount of broccoli and use chickpea pasta. I’ve always liked an alfredo sauce like this one that uses cottage cheese as the base. Add grilled chicken or shrimp to increase the protein and make a meal that looks and tastes indulgent.
Going plant-based or just eating more veggies is daunting if you don’t like vegetables, but there are ways to learn to love them. Start by putting aside bad vegetable experiences of your past, like having to clean your plate of overcooked broccoli. Vegetables do not have to be bland or boring. Try these 3 ways to enjoy veggies:
Add diced carrots, bell peppers or butternut squash to chili. The vegetables will take on the flavor of the chili spices and add more texture and nutrition to your dish. Add towards the beginning of cooking if you prefer them soft; add towards the end of cooking if you prefer them more crunchy.
Try one vegetable in a variety of ways to find your favorite preparation. Broccoli, for instance, tastes different raw than it does cooked, and cooking methods will change the flavor too. Try an experiment of tasting raw broccoli with dip, steamed broccoli with soy sauce and roasted broccoli with parmesan cheese and pick your favorite.
Go to a vegetarian restaurant or one that offers a variety of plant-based options and taste how the pros prepare them. When you find something you like, ask questions about how it was prepared and with what seasonings. You can try mimicking the flavors at home.
If eating enough vegetables seems challenging, try 1 or 2 meatless meals per week. To learn more about vegetarian cooking, try meal delivery services like Green Chef (plant powered), Sunbasket, or Daily Harvest.
This is a very quick dinner idea or lunch meal prep option for people managing their blood sugars. The no sugar marinade and smaller portion of rice per serving help reduce total carbohydrates.
1 lb frozen, fully cooked, diced chicken breast- reheated in the microwave according to package directions
1 lb bag frozen stir fry vegetables, cooked in the microwave according to package directions
1 bag Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, whole grain brown, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup G. Hughes sugar free Teriyaki marinade
After heating the chicken and vegetables, combine in a large dish. You can also choose to combine these in a saute pan if you prefer to cook the sauce into the meat and veggies. Otherwise, add the Teriyaki marinade to the chicken and veggie mix and stir to combine.
Serve the chicken and vegetable mix over warm brown rice.
The food we eat is made up of 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein. Some foods are a mix of these and some are primarily one macronutrient. People with diabetes are often told to eat more “lean” protein and eat fewer carbohydrates. Here is a list of lean protein, lower (or no) carbohydrate foods:
Beef loin or round
Whey protein powder
Vegan protein powder (check brands for nutrition)
Low fat cottage cheese
Fat free or low fat Greek yogurt
Soybeans or edamame
For a quick, high protein low carb snack, stir 1/4 cup whey protein powder into 5 ounces Greek yogurt. Top it with 1/4 cup berries and 2 tablespoons granola. Some of my favorite Greek yogurt options are Siggi’s Nonfat Icelandic yogurt, Siggi’s plant based yogurt, Oikos Triple Zero and Chobani Less Sugar Greek yogurt.
The buzz is all about plant-based. So what is a plant-based eating style? Plant-based diet or eating style is a broad term for eating patterns that focus on foods primarily from plants, but generally not completely meat and dairy free. A vegan diet is strictly plant only with no animal products.
When we look at all of the studies on diets over the years, one thing rings true. The more vegetables in a diet, the better. For people with diabetes, eating more non-starchy vegetables is good for reducing processed carbohydrate intake, increasing micronutrients and fiber in the diet and a heart-healthy option. Here are 5 meal ideas that are plant-focused.
Pasta primavera with whole wheat or bean pasta: cook you favorite whole wheat or bean pasta, like chickpea pasta, and combine it with steamed or sautéed (or just you favorite frozen veggie mix straight out of the microwave) vegetables. Some good options are chopped zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli and tomatoes, but any of your favorites will work. Mix the pasta and veggies with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic or granulated garlic, grated parmesan cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper flakes if you like spicy. Chopped olives and jarred sun-dried tomatoes add extra flavor to this meal.
Simple Vegetable Soup: this is a basic vegetable soup which can be eaten as is, or you can add other vegetables, more spices, or even leftover baked chicken for additional protein- the soup would still be largely plant based. Click here for the recipe.
A little beef and broccoli stir-fry: instead of using a pound of meat to make a typical beef stir-fry, use half a pound. Or if you are cooking for several people, use a pound of beef, but double the broccoli or other vegetables. Using less meat in a recipe is an easy money-saver too. Pair with Birdseye Steamfresh frozen brown rice (so quick and easy!) or riced cauliflower.
Mediterranean tuna salad: use a small can of tuna and mix it with rinsed, drained white beans, chopped cucumber and cherry tomatoes, Italian dressing and chopped olives. Serve over salad greens or with a higher fiber cracker like Triscuits, Ak-Mak or Wasa crackers.
Zucchini turkey tacos: in place of half of the ground turkey you would normally use, substitute chopped or shredded zucchini as you cook your ground turkey. The zucchini will take on the flavor of the taco seasoning. Top with shredded spinach, tomatoes, salsa, jalapeños and black olives to really up the veggies in this dish.