I love spending time in the kitchen creating new recipes and putting together homemade meals for my family. But many people find cooking to be an overwhelming task – coming up with a menu, shopping for groceries, figuring out the logistics of working in the kitchen and getting a whole meal on the table at the same time. And if you have a disease like diabetes, it can be even more intimidating due to the dietary changes you have to make. If you have diabetes or know someone who does, don’t stress about cooking diabetic-friendly meals – they can be easy and delicious and keep your blood sugar stable as long as you follow a few techniques and use a variety of ingredients.
When cooking a diabetic meal, remember that you want to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and split the other half between whole grains and lean protein. How should you cook these foods? Here are some techniques to try:
- Grill lean red meats, chicken, fish, or even tofu. Searing meat on a grill locks in the juices, meaning a moister end result. It also gives food a nice smoky flavor without all the sodium that smoked foods have.
- Roast vegetables – roasting is my favorite technique for cooking vegetables. Just toss them with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and fresh pepper, roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes and the natural sweetness of vegetables will come out. Try roasted broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and parsnips.
- Poach fish and eggs – poaching involves gently simmering food in a liquid. It’s a fairly quick and easy way to cook food and yields a nutritious result. It also sounds very professional! Just be sure to limit high sodium and oil-based poaching liquids.
- Braise chicken and meat – sear meat to lock in juices and then simmer it in liquid. Use low-sodium broths and sauces and add fresh or dried herbs and spices to add flavor.
- Bake chicken and fish – baking isn’t just for desserts! It’s a great way to prepare meals without using a lot of fat and salt.
Steer clear of recipes that call for stir-frying, sautéing, and frying. These use a lot of fat and sodium, both of which should be moderated if you have diabetes.
Looking for more tips about eating healthfully with diabetes? Check out these 9 Food Tips for Better Diabetes Control.
Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the founder of Nutritioulicious, a nutrition counseling and consulting practice in New York. Jessica has extensive experience as a nutrition writer, editor, and speaker. She is the co-author of We Can Cook:Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities (Barron’s 2011). Jessica also consults for food and beverage companies including The Coca-Cola Company, Frito-Lay, the Corn Refiner’s Association, and Avocados from Mexico. Additional services she provides including recipe analysis and recipe development and makeovers. Connect with Jessica via Twitter @JLevinsonRD and on Facebook.