Cooking for Everyone’s Preferences and Dietary Needs
Many times, when we get together for family holidays, the menu is already fixed. We look forward to our favorites and these traditions span generations. The traditional days can remain the same with few exceptions to make the meal diabetes-friendly. But what about all those meals that can lead up to the holidays, or if family is vacationing with you or getting together on a Sunday afternoon? Grandpa wants biscuits and gravy, grandma wants a gelatin salad with fruit, and the kids—well they may just be waiting for dessert. Keep reading to learn how to please them all with some healthy choices.
Use the Diabetes Plate Method
The Diabetes Plate Method is an easy way to create healthy meals that help you manage your blood glucose (blood sugar). This method is based on a nine-inch plate, with half containing non-starchy vegetables, one quarter containing meat or other lean protein, and the other quarter should include a starch, preferably whole grains. Other dietary recommendations include less foods with solid fat (meat fat/dairy fat), moderate salt, and small portions for dessert. Is it possible to do that and make everyone happy?
Offer a Variety of Options
Asking your guests ahead of time what their favorite healthy food and snacks are may be helpful, but you can also offer an easy variety for them to pick and choose:
- Set up a salad bar on the counter. Include lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, garbanzo beans, radishes, or other salad toppings—certainly there will be something each person would be willing to try!
- For the side dish, consider easy-to-make roasted baby baked potatoes, corn, or a blend of brown and white rice.
- If you are considering homemade rolls, and mix whole wheat and white dough—a bit of each for everyone’s taste.
- Grilled meat such as chicken, grilled fish, or a lean beef roast may be an easy crowd pleaser, leaving the gravy off the menu or opting for a lighter or more natural juice. The protein dish may feel a bit more of a challenge if you also have guests who are vegetarian or vegan.
- Have guest that crave dessert? Topping angel food cake with strawberries or blueberries is a great dessert! Another easy dessert may be a small scoop of ice cream topped with fresh fruit.
If you have family or friends for an extended stay, carefully plan the grocery store shopping ahead of time:
- Fresh vegetable trays with dips are usually a hit for those that like to snack or can’t wait until dinner is served.
- There are lots of new zero-calorie flavored water products on the market. Or just slice up some lemons, oranges, or limes and add to a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for flavor infused water.
Being a role model for healthy eating can be hard, but by offering a variety of healthier options, you are giving your family and guests opportunities to make healthier choices.
It also helps to plan meals in advance. Check out these diabetes-friendly recipes from Know Diabetes by Heart™ for inspiration.
For more healthy ideas, check out diabetes.org/nutrition or recipes.heart.org .