5 Delicious Diabetes-Friendly Dinner Ideas

   5 Delicious Diabetes-Friendly Dinner Ideas

“My general recommendation is to aim for a balance of nutrients at meals,” says Amy Kimberlain, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) and spokesperson for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Miami. She suggests making carbs a quarter of your plate, lean protein another quarter, and nonstarchy veggies the last half. “Having a balanced plate not only helps in the management of one’s blood sugar levels, but also helps to keep you fuller longer,” Kimberlain notes. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. When you have a family to feed, you won’t want to.

1 Mediterranean Low-Carb Broccoli Salad


This salad recipe is loaded with nonstarchy vegetables, including broccoli, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and onions. These foods are high in fiber, which will help you feel full longer, says Brittany Poulson, RD, CDCES, and author of Healthy Family Cookbook, who is based in Grantsville, Utah. “Healthy fats are included from olives and olive oil, making this a heart-smart choice, as well,” she says. Olives and olive oil are a rich source of monounsaturated fat, which helps lower your risk of heart disease, notes the American Heart Association (AHA). As diabetes doubles your risk of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s important to prioritize monounsaturated fats in your diabetes diet.

Plus, this salad’s creamy dressing uses protein-packed Greek yogurt (25.2 grams per cup) instead of high-fat mayonnaise (10.3 grams of fat; 1.6 grams from saturated fat per tablespoon).

One serving of this recipe (⅛ of the total) from the blog Food Faith Fitness provides 182 calories, 14.7 grams (g) of carbs, 5.9 g of protein, 12.4 g of fat, and 3.6 g of fiber.

2 Chicken Veggie Stir-Fry

Stir-fries make it easy to score a healthy diabetes dinner. And this recipe features plenty of diabetes-friendly veggies, including carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and green onions. It also features chicken as a lean protein choice, Poulson says. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests choosing chicken without the skin to cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol.

And instead of salt, this chicken and veggie dish from Liz’s Healthy Table borrows tons of flavor from garlic, jalapeño, fresh ginger, lime, and reduced-sodium soy sauce. Too much sodium, which is in salt, can raise blood pressure levels, increasing heart disease risk, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes.

One serving of this meal (¼ of the total recipe) packs 220 calories, 11 g of carbs, 26 g of protein, 3 g of sugar, 3 g of fiber, 9 g of fat (1.5 g saturated fat), and 380 milligrams (mg) of sodium.

If you want to add more carbs, be sure to serve this recipe over brown rice instead of white rice so you can get whole grains. Whole grains will help keep blood sugar spikes at bay, Poulson explains. A ½-cup of brown rice will add 150 calories and 33 g of carbs to the recipe, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

3 Vegetarian Lentil Tacos


These meatless tacos from Cooking Classy combine several healthy ingredients, including green lentils, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, green chiles, yellow onion, garlic, cilantro, lime, and a variety of spices (cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper). Using pulses like lentils in place of traditional taco starches like rice may slow digestion of sugar, ultimately lowering blood sugar levels, according to a study published in April 2018 in The Journal of Nutrition. And, “lentils add nutrients such as protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium,” Poulson says.

One serving (1/9 of the total) offers 145 calories, 2 g of fat, 23 g of carbs, 10 g of fiber, 2 g of sugar, and 8 g of protein. Poulson recommends using corn tortillas, whole-wheat tortillas, or wrapping your filling with a large lettuce leaf.

4 Healthy General Tso’s Chicken


For a healthier version of a popular Chinese takeout dish, try this General Tso’s chicken recipe found on the Plated Cravings blog. “This homemade version removes the breading and skips the deep frying, both of which make it a healthier option for people with type 2 diabetes,” Poulson says.

It starts with a lean protein source (boneless chicken breasts) and marinades it in a very small amount of cornstarch, salt, and pepper. It then adds a simple stir-fry made of peanut oil, dried chiles, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped scallion. Peanut oil, for one, is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, according to the ADA.

Finally, you’ll pour on a sauce made of ketchup, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, a touch of brown sugar, and soy sauce (look for low-sodium versions of sauces and condiments, especially considering the recipe includes 718 mg of sodium).

5 Banh Mi Chicken Burger Lettuce Wraps

Enjoy the flavors of a banh mi sandwich without tons of blood-sugar-spiking carbs and unhealthy saturated fats. These burgers from Diabetic Foodie use lettuce wraps in place of bread, and lean proteins like ground chicken or turkey in place of pork.

All those pickled cucumbers, radishes, and carrots also help make this a great meal for people with type 2 diabetes: “I love that this recipe piles the vegetables on top, hitting that goal of increasing nonstarchy vegetables at meal time,” Poulson says. Top the burgers with thinly sliced jalapeños and a small amount of sriracha mayo (optional). Be sure to use low-sodium soy sauce to whip up the burgers.


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