6 Delicious Diabetes Recipes You’ll Love This Summer
Finding new, healthy recipes to try when you have diabetes can be a challenge.
In order to keep your blood sugar under control, you ideally want to pick recipes that are lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
Here are 6 recipes to try, straight from nutritionists and diabetes experts.
1. Cauliflower-based bowls
You’ve probably encountered cauliflower rice by now, which is a nice fiber-rich, low-carb choice that provides a rice-like texture in a variety of dishes. It takes on the flavor of whatever you serve it with, making it an incredibly versatile meal base.
The recipe: Mediterranean cauliflower rice bowls with Norwegian salmon
“As an alternative to brown rice, cauliflower rice is perfect for bowl-type meals,” explains Mary Ellen Phipps, a registered dietitian who also has type 1 diabetes. “This dish is also great for people with type 2 diabetes, thanks to the high omega-3 content of salmon. And with ample protein (from the salmon, veggies, and feta cheese), this meal is great for appetite control and keeping you satisfied and full.”
2. A make-ahead breakfast option
Typical breakfast options like cereal, bagels, muffins, and even granola bars often aren’t diabetes-friendly because of their refined sugar and starch content, which can lead to unstable blood sugar levels.
The recipe: Crustless asparagus and mozzarella quiche
“Eggs are a protein-filled option for breakfast… but what if you don’t have time to whip them up in the morning? This cheesy crustless quiche is the perfect solution,” says Nicole Villeneuve, a certified diabetes prevention lifestyle coach at PlateJoy. “Leaving off the traditional pie crust is not only a way to reduce carb count. It also makes it effortless to throw together ahead of time and reheat throughout the week.”
Plus, recent research suggests that a low-carb diet paired with moderate fat intake can be especially effective at improving glycemic control. It may even help people with diabetes decrease their medication. “With less than 5 grams of net carbohydrates (that’s total carbs minus fiber) and some fat from the delicious combination of cheese, this is a great way to start off that journey,” Villeneuve tells Healthline.
As a bonus, the asparagus adds a boost of fiber and is a natural anti-inflammatory. This may help reduce other chronic conditions related to diabetes, like heart disease and arthritis, according to Villeneuve.
3. Anything-but-boring salad with nuts
Nuts add excitement and flavor to salads, and have been shown to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, which makes them a wonderful addition to any diabetes-friendly recipe.
The recipe: Spicy cucumber and pistachio salad
“With 6 grams of carbs per serving, this salad is a great addition to any meal or snack,” says Lori Zanini, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. “Additionally, both pistachios and cucumbers are available year-round, so it’s an easy way to get more fiber and plant-based protein. I love to recommend pistachios because they are nutrient-dense, are one of the highest in protein among snack nuts, and nearly 90 percent of the fat from pistachios are the better-for-you unsaturated type.”
4. A main course with plant-based protein
A meatless meal is an ideal way to get a little plant-based protein — like lentils — into your diet. Plus, research suggests that swapping out some animal-based proteins for plant-based ones may help increase glycemic control in people with diabetes.
The recipe: Sweet potatoes loaded with lentil stew
“Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) have an exceptionally low glycemic index, so adding them to any meal helps to slow the rate that the glucose of the meal is absorbed into the bloodstream,” explains Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro of Mastering Diabetes.
Legumes also have what’s called the ‘second meal effect.’ This means that their beneficial effects on blood glucose control last for hours after the meal — or even into the next day. ”So this lentil stew will not only taste amazing, but you’ll have steady numbers all day after you eat it,” they say. “Does it get any better than that?!”
5. Fried rice that’s light on carbs
Healthy twists on takeout staples make sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet a lot easier. While people with diabetes don’t need to avoid carbohydrates completely, recipes that are balanced between macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) are best.
The recipe: Shrimp fried rice — cauliflower edition
“This healthy meal is great for people who have diabetes because when pairing high-fiber carbohydrates with protein, there will be less impact on blood sugar,” notes Haley Hughes, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.
“The American Diabetes Association recommends having 2 to 3 servings of fish or shellfish a week. Shrimp is protein-rich, has little effect on blood sugar, and is a great source of selenium, B-12, and phosphorus.” Not a fan of shrimp? Simply swap it out for another protein such as chicken, or try a vegetarian option by adding lentils.
6. A low-sugar sweet treat
Dessert doesn’t have to be packed with sugar, which can cause blood glucose swings. And yes, chocolate can be part of a healthy diabetes-friendly diet — as long as it’s enjoyed in moderation, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The recipe: Flatout Greek yogurt ice cream sandwich
“Instead of enjoying a sugar-laden ice cream on a hot day, this healthy swap packs all the same great taste with significantly less sugar, along with a good source of protein and fiber,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, a registered dietitian.
“The combination of the protein and fiber help to slow the rise of blood glucose levels after eating while also helping you to feel more satisfied. The reduced fat and calorie content of this recipe compared to the traditional ice cream sandwich is also perfect for the individual with diabetes who is focused on weight management,” she tells Healthline.
Time to dig in — without risking a blood sugar spike.