It’s 6:00 PM and you don’t know what you are having for dinner. A common yet fixable problem. When it comes to making meals that are healthy for people with diabetes, keep it simple to start, include a source of protein and squeeze in as many vegetables as you can. Here are 5 ideas for simple dinners:
Mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken: use a whole wheat mix or Banza mac and cheese. Cook a bag of microwave friendly frozen broccoli, like Birdseye Stemfresh. Add to the cooked mac and cheese. Open and drain a large can of canned chunk chicken breast. Add it to the mix. Add pepper or your favorite garlicky seasoning to taste. This will make about 3 to 4 servings.
Everything cheesy scramble with whole grain toast: scramble 2 eggs and add 1/4 cup shredded or one slice cheese. Season with “everything bagel” seasoning and add any chopped veggies that need to get used up. Serve with a slice of whole wheat or high fiber toast with butter or peanut butter and a drizzle of honey.
Shake and cookies: use this option on nights you really don’t feel like cooking and really do feel like eating dessert. Make a high protein shake like this one. Serve with two Simple Mills soft baked cookies. (Note: if you worry you’ll be temped to eat many of these cookies once they are in the house, keep them in the freezer). To increase the fiber in this meal, add a powdered fiber supplement when blending the shake. I recommend 1st Phorm Multi-Fiber in vanilla or unflavored to mix well with any flavor shake or smoothie you make.
Toasted turkey and cheese with semi-homemade vegetable soup: Make a grilled cheese but layer deli turkey in with the cheese. For the soup, start with a can of reduced sodium vegetable soup. In a medium saucepan, mix the soup, 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (or any chopped fresh veggies you need to use up like carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach or cauliflower). Add pepper or other spices to taste. If you prefer spicy, add crushed red pepper flakes or sriracha, but remember a little goes a long way. Heat the soup mix on low to medium heat until warmed through.
Goodbye drive-thrus! Once you try these 6 breakfast recipes for people with diabetes, you won’t miss food from the drive-thru. Each of these includes a good source of protein and complex carbohydrates to give you energy and keep you full through the morning. Eating protein at each meal also helps prevent snacking throughout the day.
Overnight protein oats: mix together in a small dish with a lid ½ cup old fashioned oats, ¼ cup vanilla whey protein powder and ½ cup water. Stir to combine. Top with 1/3 cup frozen cherries or strawberries, 2 tbsp chopped pecans, ¼ tsp cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
Better peanut buster parfait: the Dairy Queen version has 710 calories and 95 grams carbohydrate! This version has 46 grams carbohydrate plus 24 grams of protein. Stir 1 tbsp peanut butter or powdered peanut butter like PB2 into 6 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt. Layer yogurt with 1/3 cup peanut butter Chex cereal, 2 tbsp chopped nuts and banana slices.
Avocado breakfast taco: scramble 2 eggs; in a low carb tortilla, like Mission Carb Balance, add the eggs, 2 tbsp guacamole or mashed avocado and chopped tomatoes or bell peppers. Wrap and go!
Peanut butter banana chocolate shake: click here for this on-the-go breakfast protein shake.
Waffle sandwich: toast 2 whole wheat or gluten free waffles. Spread 2 tbsp mixed powdered peanut butter and banana or apple slices. Increase the protein with higher protein waffles like Kodiak Power Waffles, or mix 3 tbsp vanilla protein powder with one tbsp water to create a protein-rich spread.
Breakfast charcuterie: plate up 2 slices deli turkey or 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 slices cheese, 10 grapes, 6 Triscuit or 10 Nut Thin crackers and 6 chocolate covered almonds.
When you are on the road, convenience is key for meals and snacks. Here are ideas for what to eat for diabetes when you are traveling by car.
Pack a small cooler
Keep it simple: turkey on whole wheat bread, greek yogurt and carrot sticks
Gas station options
Single serving packs of nuts, string cheese, lower sugar protein bars (12 grams sugar or less, 10 grams protein or more), Skinny Pop single serving bags, Fairlife Core Power protein shakes, P3 protein snack packs, Oscar Mayer Natural meat and cheese plate.
I suggest stearing clear of fast food if possible. It’s expensive for what you get and packed with preservatives and sodium. If it is the only option, here are some suggestions:
Subway turkey or chicken 6-inch sub on multigrain flatbread, hearty multigrain or sourdough bread. A 6-inch sub here will be around 40 grams carbohydrate. Or try one of their “No Bready” bowls, which is essentially a salad. Choose one with chicken, turkey or roast beef and load up the veggies.
Burger joints- they are pretty similar so at any of these places opt for a larger sandwich and no fries. A medium fry has about 60 grams of carbohydrates. A large burger will be close to that from the bun. A smaller hamburger is about 30 grams carbohydrate. Look for a small salad as a side option or get fruit and save it for a snack. Choose a burger or grilled chicken sandwich over fried fish or fried chicken sandwiches.
Let’s face it. Cereal, for the most part, is not the healthiest choice for anyone, but there are some that can be worked into a healthy eating plan for people with diabetes or prediabetes. There are a couple of things you want to look for in a cereal:
Fiber: Look for cereals with dietary fiber, 5 or more grams is best. Fiber helps minimize blood sugar spikes and is important for your gut microbiome.
Protein: This is harder to find but not impossible. Adding dairy milk also adds protein to your cereal bowl at 8 grams protein per cup.
Less sugar: 10 grams sugar or less per serving. The lower, the better.
Less “stuff”: Cereal is a highly processed food so the fewer ingredients, likely the better. This does not include the added vitamins and minerals cereals are fortified with, but ingredients like added colors and BHT.
Here are 6 cereals to try if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Cereal is better as a sweet and crunchy snack than a breakfast.
Kashi Go: there are several flavors and all pass the fiber and protein test. They are CRUNCHY–beware! Try as a cereal or sprinkle some into Greek yogurt for added crunch.
RX Cereal: while it’s higher calorie than others, it’s also higher in protein. Try measuring out the portion size and put it in your favorite mug or bowl to know what a serving looks like. RX makes protein bars and mini protein bars with simple ingredients as well.
Bran Flakes: simple and high in fiber, bran flakes can be mixed with other cereals if you don’t like them on their own.
Kashi Honey Toasted: this on is a slightly better version of Cheerios with 6 grams fiber and 4 grams protein per 1 cup serving. Mix up a vanilla protein shake to use as your cereal milk with this one for a more complete meal.
Kodiak Protein Packed Oatmeal: Kodiak makes many things from protein waffles to teddy-like snack cookies, with a focus on whole grains and protein. These oatmeal packs have 3 grams fiber and 12 grams protein per serving. Stir in raspberries or ground flaxseed to up the fiber even more.
Fiber One Honey Clusters: this one has more sugar and preservatives than some others, but people seem to love the taste and crunch. Also great as a Greek yogurt topper, this one has 4 grams protein and a whopping 10 grams fiber per cup.
The kitchen is a scary place for people who don’t like to cook. Sort of like looking under the hood of a car is for me! But the more you know, right? So just like I was scared to check the oil, but learned how to and now it’s not scary, you can learn a few tricks in the kitchen to make cooking for diabetes less scary and more fun.
Here are a few tips for beginner cooks:
How to chop veggies and basic knife skills: start with this quick 6-minute video from Tasty.com to learn the basics. This is an important step in order to add more fresh vegetables to your cooking. The important part is the safety and proper holding and motion of the knife. For most home cooks, the size of the dice or type of cut really doesn’t matter. It takes practice to get comfortable. As for the onion part, I prefer this method from Rachael Ray. Try chopping fresh garlic; it’s kitchen therapy!
Foil is your friend. If the thought of cleaning up the kitchen is what stops you from cooking, try simple sheet pan meals with foil lined baking sheets. These are so versatile, easy to prepare and easier to clean. Be sure to cover all of the bottom and up the sides of your sheet pan to keep the pan totally clean during cooking. Here are sheet pan meal ideas from Eating Well. Foil packets are a great option for first-timers cooking fish, too. Try this Lemon Butter Baked Cod in foil packets.
Use seasoning blends to shorten ingredient lists. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried thyme and dried rosemary, just use 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning instead. It might have a few more herbs in there, but your end product will be good, maybe even better. If the recipe calls for spices like garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper, a blend like Code 3 Spices Grunt Rub combines these and more. It’s excellent on vegetables, chicken, fish, pasta and potatoes. Side note: their Top Gun rub is the best, single item I’ve found for baking, grilling or smoking chicken breast you’ll actually crave.
Chicken breast is on 99% of grocery lists of people making diet changes for better health. And by week 3, 99% of those people are burned out on baked chicken breast. Here are 5 ideas for healthy meals that are chicken breast free.
Burger Bowl: think of everything you like on a cheeseburger and put it into a healthy burger bowl. You can use brown rice, Banza chickpea rice or cauliflower rice as the base. Use lean beef, ground turkey or ground chicken for the “burger” meat. Try this Classic Cheeseburger Bowl.
Cottage Cheese and fruit salad: use your favorite salad greens, top with cucumber and a fruit or two (examples: diced apples or pears, sliced strawberries, pineapple tidbits, halved grapes). Top it with 1/2 to 1 cup cottage cheese for 13 to 26 grams of protein.
Chili Mac: this dish is great for prepping ahead a few meals for the week. Try it over bean pasta or whole wheat pasta.
Bean pasta con broccoli: cook and combine a bean pasta like Banza penne pasta, cooked frozen broccoli and a light Alfredo sauce like Bertolli Alfredo with Cauliflower and Milk or Simply Organic Alfredo Sauce Mix.
Overnight Oats: breakfast for lunch is perfectly acceptable! Mix up your flavors with various fruit and add nuts or peanut butter for heart-healthy fats. Blueberry Walnut ONOs are a classic combo.