How to Plan Easy Diabetic Recipes and Healthy Meals

How to Plan Healthy Meals Main

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If you prepare diabetic recipes, you know healthy eating takes intentionality. Creating healthy meals for someone with diabetes requires knowledge and the ability to adjust accordingly. You will need to make healthy food choices, compare similar items in the store, and read food labels. It’s not impossible to make healthy diabetic meals, but it does take some planning.

And so today I will share with you the tip that has helped me personally while I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for 32 years now. It has become my sweet spot for meal planning, and it may become yours too!

How to Plan Healthy Meals

WHAT MAKES UP HEALTHY DIABETIC RECIPES?

I talk about this a bit in my post about meal planning and in my breakfast ideas post as well. While I’m not a registered dietician or nutritionist, I have personally found from the last 32 years of living with diabetes that the key for me is a balance of fat, fiber, and protein in meals and snacks. (And I know of diabetes coaches and nutrition experts who have type 1 and agree.)

More specifically, these are the kinds of fat, fiber, and protein we’re looking for:

  • FAT – healthy fats are super important in our diets, and they help prevent a blood sugar spike after eating because they take longer to digest. Foods like a salmon filet, avocado, nuts and nut butters, olives, and olive oil are all sources of healthy fats.
  • FIBER – we need healthy carbs in our diets, but the ones with fiber are the best. Like the healthy fats, they slow digestion a bit to help prevent a blood sugar spike. Think whole grain breads and pastas, beans, oats, seeds, and fibrous fruits and vegetables.
  • PROTEIN – the protein we are looking for here is lean protein specifically. Good sources of lean protein include foods like turkey, fish, chicken breast, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and egg whites.

My Approach to Diabetic Recipes and Diabetic Meals

Here’s a disclaimer you may not have considered. Not every recipe I share on my blog is perfectly balanced on its own. You don’t have to only make diabetic friendly dishes. I start with things like lean meats, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables in my recipes for diabetics. And I avoid anything processed or fried. From there, I then build out a meals for diabetics around that recipe that helps balance fat, fiber, and protein to help stabilize blood sugar.

Foods that don’t have a balance of fat, fiber, and protein can still be diabetic friendly if they are paired with other foods to help balance it all out.

Here’s what I mean in some quick and easy examples of diabetic recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and even a snack!

Diabetic Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast is the start to your day. And it’s super important to start on the right foot. It just makes your day go so much smoother, doesn’t it? Please don’t sit down to a plate of french toast covered in cinnamon and sugar and drowned in maple syrup, and then eat a bagel and then a muffin. That’s incredibly carb heavy (and you’ll likely feel awful afterward).

Instead, let’s start out with a variety of foods we can combine to help us reach that fat, fiber, protein trifecta we need. We have so many different breakfast foods available to us, I almost don’t know where to start, but let’s try my favorite quiche.

1. Spinach and Feta Quiche

My spinach and feta quiche is one of my absolute favorite quiche recipes of all time. The creaminess of the egg paired with the bite of the feta cheese is just delightful! This quiche recipe contains 12g fat, 15g carbs, and 10g protein.

Now, there’s no fiber in this recipe (unless you do a whole grain crust of some kind). So I would pair it with some raspberries. That will give you a bit more in terms of total carbohydrates, but it will add in 8g of fiber in just one cup of berries! Or if you’re not a fan of raspberries, try some fresh strawberry halves or apple slices instead.

Quiche with Spinach and Feta Cheese
SPINACH AND FETA QUICHE

2. HAM, EGG, AND CHEESE ENGLISH MUFFIN

This recipe is one of the diabetic friendly meals in my “1 Full Week of Diabetic Breakfast Ideas” post. I have also been known to make this for lunch too. It’s like having a miniature sandwich! Carbs in this recipe total 33 grams, but fiber totals 9 grams, so the net carbs are 24 grams. (If you want to cut the carbs, just use an English muffin half.) Fat is 26g, and protein is a whopping 27g!

The whole grain English muffins I buy have good fiber and are a source of protein, and the avocado adds fat and fiber also. There’s even extra protein in the ham, cheese, and egg. 

Ham, Egg, and Cheese on a Whole Grain English Muffin
HAM, EGG, AND CHEESE ENGLISH MUFFIN

3. Protein Pancakes

Let’s round out the breakfast ideas with my protein pancakes. These fluffy pancakes are packed with the goodness of fresh blueberries and 13.5 grams of protein each!

The nutrition facts for these are: 3g fat, 15g carbs, and 13.5g protein in each pancake. The fiber is only 2g, so we will need to add to that. How about some nuts for a crunch on top of the pancake? How about a fiber-packed apple? The choice is yours, but I think you’re seeing now how I’m taking the nutrition facts of the main item and adding something to it to round it out. That’s the key!

Protein Pancake Mix Recipe with Blueberries with Syrup
PROTEIN PANCAKES

Diabetic Recipes for Lunch

Lunch can look different for different people. Do you work from home and have the ability to make something in your own kitchen? Maybe you work a 9-5 job, so you eat at the office. Are you in college and eat on campus?

Regardless, there are healthy choices to be made for a healthy lifestyle. Let’s take a look at a few diabetic lunch ideas.

4. Easy salsa chicken

This easy salsa chicken is a super simple recipe to make. It would also warm nicely in the microwave if you eat lunch on the go. (Just wait to add the cheese on top until you warm it.) It’s chicken breasts and salsa, and then some cheese — that’s it. I like to pair it with some brown rice and put some green onion and avocado on top.

The nutrition facts for this easy chicken recipe are 15g fat, 8g carbs, and 38g protein. The fiber is a bit low in just the chicken recipe itself, so I appreciate the additional few grams of fiber from the brown rice and several from the avocado as well. Or some black beans would add both fiber and plant based proteins.

Easy Baked Salsa Chicken Recipe served with sour cream, green onion, and brown rice
EASY SALSA CHICKEN

5. BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Pizza is one of those things that can really mess with blood sugars. But this homemade flatbread is a much healthier choice (and it tastes a whole lot like a BBQ chicken pizza)! You can control the ingredients as you make food from scratch, and you can choose any ingredient substitutions, and that’s huge for blood sugars. This would reheat well in the oven, in a skillet, or in a toaster oven also.

This particular recipe offers 24g of fat, 53g carbs, and 37g protein in a quarter of the flatbread (that fills a 9×13). If that’s too high in carbs for your diabetic diet, consider eating a smaller serving size and also pairing it with a salad.

You will again want to add fiber to this meal. Here’s an idea. Consider adding sunflower seeds to your salad — they have 12g fiber in a one-ounce serving. Include some almonds too, at 6g per half cup.

BBQ Chicken Flatbread Diabetic Super Bowl Snack
BBQ CHICKEN FLATBREAD

6. Chili with Ground Chicken

This is one of my absolute favorite diabetic meal recipes to make in cooler weather. It is so nutritionally dense, and it’s gluten free (until I add the crackers on top). It freezes and reheats super well, so I often freeze some for later when I make it. Guys, I don’t really like chili. But I love this chili recipe!

The nutrition on this one is amazing: 8.5g fat, 18g carbs, and 20g protein per serving. The fiber content is already at 5g per serving, so that’s great! And that means net carbs are down to 13g. So you have room for a cornbread muffin, too!

Low Carb Chicken Chili Diabetic Super Bowl Snack
CHILI WITH GROUND CHICKEN

Diabetic Recipes for Dinner

Dinner has always been a meal that I try to watch and make sure it balanced. That’s because it can affect my night time blood sugars. And this mama values her sleep! So I always try to have a healthy dinner.

Now let’s check out a few examples of diabetes-friendly dinner recipes.

7. Baked Pasta

Yes. People with diabetes can eat pasta! And it’s far better if you make it at home because, again, you control the ingredients. This specific pasta recipe has been one of the most often visited pages of my entire website. And for good reason — it’s super easy to prepare and it’s delicious!

This pastas recipe has 6.5g fat, 27g carbs, and 17g protein. Fiber content is 4g per serving, due in large part to the whole grain pasta in the recipe. To add more fiber, you could include nuts and seeds in your salad. Or you could steam some fibrous root vegetables and serve as a side also. Another of my favorite is to serve with a zucchini half. (Sprinkle some extra cheese on that, too.)

The Best Baked Rotini for Diabetics with bread and salad
BAKED ROTINI PASTA

8. Mexican Cauliflower Rice

This Mexican burrito-bowl-style recipe is a staple in our home. And even the pickiest eaters say they can’t tell I used riced cauliflower in place of cooked rice. I always make enough to freeze the extra for later because it freezes and reheats super well.

As far as nutrition is concerned, total fat content is 7g, carbohydrates come in at 17g, and protein is 14g. The fiber in this one is 4g per serving also. But when you add in some avocado, you’re adding almost 7 grams of fiber per avocado half.

Diabetic Friendly Mexican Cauliflower Rice Recipe
MEXICAN CAULIFLOWER RICE

9. Turkey Vegetable Soup

This is one of the most healthy and hearty soups I make. The flavor combination is amazing, and it’s also super filling. Packed with lean ground turkey, beans, sweet potatoes and other non-starchy vegetables, and fresh herbs, it all cooks up in one pot. (Read: easy clean up.) And this recipe makes a ton, so freeze some for later or share with a friend.

Nutritionally speaking, this is a very balanced dish on its own. Each serving contains 5 g fat, 24g carbs, and 17 g protein. Fiber is at a whopping 7g per serving. Enjoy!

Hearty Italian Ground Turkey Soup with Vegetables
TURKEY VEGETABLE SOUP

Easy Diabetic Recipes for Snacks

This is one area I could improve in myself. When I feel hungry for a snack, I generally just grab what is easiest. I hardly ever plan out snacks in advance, but I should! Balanced nutrition is important in snacks as well as meals.

So here are a few nutritionally balanced snack ideas for diabetics.

10. Apple Nachos

This is a great one for kids (and kids at heart also). This recipe combines a juicy bite of apple, a crunch from the granola, a tangy taste from the cranberries, and then the sweetness from the chocolate chips on top. It’s a ingredient marriage made in heaven.

As far as food labels go, this recipe has 18g fat, 46g carbs, and 7.5g protein. Fiber is already at 8g per serving, so that’s great. If you wanted to lower the carbs, you could choose not to include the cranberries that add quite a bit of sugar to the dish, or the granola or chocolate. Be creative and make a topping combination you love that also fits in your diet!

Apple Nachos Diabetic Super Bowl Snack
APPLE NACHOS

11. Orange Raspberry Oatmeal Cookies

The flavor of these cookies is my favorite part. It’s the combination of orange and cranberry that is just so delicious. Also, these cookies have whole grains and no added sugar.

For nutrition, they contain 2g fat, 15g carbs, and 1.5g protein per cookie. Fiber is a bit low in these, so you could always eat a few more raspberries that pack in 8g fiber per cup. Pair these cookies with a glass of milk or a cheese stick for some added protein.

diabetes oatmeal cookie recipe - finished photo
ORANGE RASPBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES

12. Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These are like a homemade granola bar to me. When you bake peanut butter, oats, and banana in these bars, they combine to make such a delicious flavor and chewy texture. You’ll want to make this delicious recipe for a snack soon (or for breakfast — I won’t tell).

As far as nutrition goes, these bars include 14g fat, 29g carbs, and 8g protein. The best part is they have 5.5g fiber (which puts net carbs at 23.5g), so it’s a nutritionally balanced snack all on its own!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Diabetic Bars Recipe - finished bars
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BARS

CARBS FOR THese Diabetic RECIPEs

Be sure to work these foods into your healthy diet how you best manage your diabetes. And be sure to count the total carbs in the specific products you use also. Different brands vary in ingredients, so be fully sure of the nutritional information in what you’re eating.

Want More Examples of How to Make a Meal from Diabetes-Friendly Recipes?

If you’re looking for more examples of how to make foods more diabetic friendly, then check out my Irish foods post. In that post, I basically took a bunch of traditional Irish foods for St. Patrick’s Day, made some adjustments, and created a meal that would be more balanced and diabetic friendly. So that post will give you several more examples of how to take something and make it diabetic friendly.

Consider the glycemic index

The glycemic index is basically a ranking of foods that contain carbs based on how slowly or quickly they are digested and increase blood glucose levels. I talk about this in my meal planning post as tip #7. But having a basic understanding of where different foods fall on the index can help you with the timing of your pre-meal insulin delivery times. That can also help with blood sugar control with meals.

Just Starting Out Making Diabetic Recipes?

If you are just beginning your diabetes journey, then make slow changes. Talk with your doctor and healthcare team about nutrition. Work up to really well balanced meals. No one says you have to have everything perfect from the start. Changing eating habits takes time. And that time allows you to learn and become better and better at putting a healthy twist on recipes and balancing meals.

The Importance of Planning Diabetic Recipes Ahead

One of the keys to my success is planning ahead. If I don’t plan ahead and even prepare food ahead, I won’t get what I need at the grocery store. Then I will reach for the easiest and quickest thing when I’m hungry. And that isn’t great sometimes. So I plan a week at a time as a personal preference.

For more information on my approach to a diabetic meal plan, read my post on meal planning made easy. Then you can download my free meal planning templates below!

COUNT CARBS and Nutrition Facts EASILY

Looking for a way to count your carbs, fat, fiber, and protein easily? Look no further… 

I love how this template makes counting nutrition facts SO easy. You literally list the total grams from each ingredient, total it at the bottom, and divide by the number of servings. Voila! 

This recipe template walks you through every step. And you can keep it for future reference. Just calculate it once and you’re done!

Check my Etsy store for an instant download that includes a cover page, section header pages for different kinds of recipes, section tabs, and this recipe template.

Diabetic Recipe Template with Carb Counting and Nutrition Facts

DID YOU Make these RecipeS?

If you’ve made any of these healthy recipes, then would you please let me know? I would love to hear from you!

If you want more diabetic friendly tips, new recipes, and more, please join my VIP list and follow along on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for the latest updates.

NOTE: I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician. Nothing here should be taken as professional medical advice. Any nutritional information provided should be used as a general guideline and estimate only. For the most accurate information, please calculate based on the specific ingredients and brands you use, as well as any changes you make to the recipe for your diabetic diet.

Looking for More?

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How to Plan Healthy Meals

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Kaycee - Devotions on Diabetes

HEY - I'M KAYCEE!

Welcome to my Devotions on Diabetes website! Thanks for stopping by. I've lived with diabetes for 30+ years. And I'm here to provide you with a heaping helping of encouragement while you deal with diabetes and navigate this chronic illness with God by your side.

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