Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes? You may have been appalled to discover that most of the popular snacks available are not healthy for diabetics. Even healthy-sounding snacks like granola bars, fruit leather and veggie chips are brimming with sugar or starch.
Imagine what a change Paula Deen, renowned chef who is famous for her recipe recommending a burger served on two Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, had to make when she was diagnosed with diabetes in 2012. Deen is known for saying, “ I was determined to share my positive approach and not let diabetes stand in the way of enjoying my life.” This Southern cook has found ways to alter her diet to accommodate her condition, and you can also. All it takes is a little determination and preparation.
Your doctor probably gave you a list of snack items that consists of lean meats and fresh raw vegetables. Most of us get tired of munching on celery sticks and broccoli florets if there isn’t something creamy and delicious to dip them into, but most dips and salad dressings sold at the store also contain hidden sugars.
You may feel like your options are severely limited, but the truth is you just need to adjust your expectations and learn cooking tricks to transform healthy foods into yummy snacks. If you start making your own dips, dressings and snacks, you can control how much (or little) sugar goes into the end product. The following recipes are delicious, easy-to-make and good for diabetics. Have fun experimenting with new recipes!
DIP AND MARINADE RECIPES TO HELP YOU EAT ALL THOSE VEGGIES
Diabetics should aim to eat at least seven servings of vegetables a day – more, if you can do it. If you can get in the habit of snacking on raw vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrot and celery sticks, sliced mushrooms, cucumbers and bell peppers, etc.) with a modest portion of delicious dip, you will find your cravings for other unhealthy snacks will lessen. Why? The fiber in the veggies will fill you up and the flavorful dips will help you feel as if you’ve gotten the flavor blast you crave from snacks like Doritos. Make the following dips and enjoy them in small portions along with a generous bowl of fresh veggies.
Homemade hummus is high in protein and fiber.
1 can of chickpeas, drained
½ teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Process in the food processor or blender. Enjoy!
Avocados are full of good fats, which can help you feel satiated.
½ small roma tomato, seeds removed, minced
½ teaspoon fresh jalapeño pepper, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
Mash and enjoy!
Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in sugar.
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Mix and enjoy!
Experiment with other fresh herbs with plain Greek yogurt for delicious dips. Try fresh basil, rosemary or tarragon and see if you find a flavor you love. You can also try mixing in fresh minced garlic or curry powder for new flavors.
Some people like cucumber slices marinated in plain white vinegar. Give this a try and see if you enjoy it. If you long for something with more zing to it, try this recipe:
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/8 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper each
Mix and marinade cucumber slices for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
For even more fun, top celery sticks with feta cheese mixed with plain Greek yogurt. Then top with diced, marinated cucumber chunks. You’ll be surprised at how tasty and healthy it is! Find low-carb crackers; you can use this combination on those as well.
According to a medical study conducted at the University of Toronto, diabetics who eat two ounces of nuts a day are more likely to experience better blood sugar control and lower cholesterol than diabetics who don’t eat nuts. This is a great reason to find ways to snack on two ounces of nuts each day.
You can, of course, snack on simple unsalted nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamias and hazelnuts. However, most of us long for something more – and salt isn’t good for diabetics, especially those with high blood pressure. Try the following recipes for delicious nuts that will satisfy your longings:
Spiced Nuts Recipe
2 cups mixed nuts, shelled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Spices of your choosing (see suggestions below)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place mixed nuts in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Mix the nuts until they are coated with oil. Now choose the spices that appeal to you most and sprinkle the nuts, coating them with flavor. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and roast them for five minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Enjoy hot or cooled.
Sweet? Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or all-spice.
Sweet and Spicy? Add a tiny squirt of agave nectar in with the olive oil when coating the nuts. Then sprinkle with a mixture of cayenne pepper and cinnamon.
Savory and Spicy? Sprinkle with garam masala, an Indian spice medley.
Hot and Spicy? Add lime juice to the olive oil when coating the nuts. Then sprinkle with a light dusting of cayenne pepper.
FRUITY SNACKS THAT WILL SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH
As a diabetic, you will need to wean yourself off sweets and learn to appreciate natural sugars in foods like fruit. Even so, it’s best to limit fruit consumption to low-glycemic fruit like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Try the following quick and easy recipe ideas to increase your enjoyment of fruit snacks.
Berries in Cream
Serve berries of your choice in a small serving of half and half. Use just enough half and half to get a taste of cream with every big bite of berries.
If you need something sweeter, whip up some homemade, low-sugar whipped cream by whipping a half cup of whipping cream with a quarter teaspoon of vanilla (instead of sugar). Berries and whipped cream will help you avoid sugary snacks.
Toss mixed berries with lime juice, chopped fresh mint and chopped mixed nuts for a fresh and healthy take on fruit salad.
HIGH PROTEIN SNACKS
You’ll quickly discover that protein is your friend. Snacks that are high in protein will help you feel satisfied longer and resist temptations to cheat.
Mini Egg Bake Snacks
Make these ahead of time in muffin tins and freeze them. Warm one up in the oven on 250 degrees (or in the microwave, covered) for a quick and healthy mid-morning snack.
2 whole eggs
3 egg whites
¼ cup whole milk
1/3 cup spinach or broccoli florets, chopped
¼ cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¼ cup ham, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray muffin tins. Combine eggs, egg whites and milk and mix well. Add remaining ingredients (except cheese) and mix just until combined. Pour into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for ten minutes or until toothpick comes clean. Eat one immediately and freeze the rest for future snacks.
Other high protein snack ideas include:
- Shrimp cocktail (make sure the sauce has low or no sugar)
- Slices of cold cuts and cheese, rolled up
- Natural almond butter (no sugar added) on celery sticks
Keep full on protein and fiber and you won’t miss the processed snacks you used to eat.
SNACKS FOR DIABETICS
Staying on a diabetic diet can be tough, but you can do it if you fill your house with ingredients you can use to quickly and easily make a delicious snack. You may want to keep the following items in your house at all times:
- Low-sugar cold cuts
- Unsalted nuts
- Fresh berries
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Canned tuna
- Fresh vegetables that can be eaten raw
You will also want to either buy fresh herbs on a regular basis or start a windowsill herb garden so you will have easy access to these key flavor-boosters. Once you develop a taste for foods seasoned with fresh herbs, you’ll find artificial flavorings far less appealing.
If you routinely fill your pantry, freezer and fridge with these items, you will learn how to combine them in unique ways that suit your individual preferences. As your cravings for unhealthy snacks lessen, you’ll find it easier to stick to your new way of eating. You’ll feel better, too!