7 Holiday Cooking Tips for People with Diabetes by Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN

‘Tis the season to be surrounded by holiday indulgences. Luckily, you can make your own wise upgrades to festive favorites right from your kitchen, creating better-for-you bites with no excess saturated fat or added sugars in sight. Try one, two, or all these simple culinary tips this holiday season that still offer the memorable aromas, tastes, and traditions at the table for all.

7 Holiday Cooking Tips for People with Diabetes 1. Get “Board” with Cheese & Crackers
Diabetes-Friendly vegetable party platterBuild a wow-worthy appetizer grazing board filled with colorful produce (like two types of grapes, peppers, and cauliflower). Prioritize filling the board with non-starchy vegetables. For the most “wow” factor, try keeping items bite-sized and arrange the largest items on the board first. Include hummus in festive small bowls, whole grain crackers, and plant-based treenut cheese, plus fresh rosemary sprigs for festive flair.
Need some more inspiration? Try this easy Holiday Veggie Platter with Hummus quick recipe or add some additional colorful flair with Red Lentil Hummus.
2. Go for a Multi-Tasking Gravy
Gravy is comforting favorite, but is often made with greasy pan drippings, all-purpose flour, and butter. That’s fine for those who only eat a drizzle of gravy, but for gravy dousers, consider a more nourishing pick that brings eye-appeal and flavor intrigue to the plate: soup! Just heat up a carton variety, like creamy butternut squash or cashew carrot ginger soup. Plus, it doubles as an appetizer, too. If your heart is set on serving gravy, try this diabetes-friendly Creamy Gravy recipe.
3. DIY the Cranberry Sauce
Canned cranberry sauce can have 23 grams of added refined sugar per ¼-cup serving! So, make your own. (It’s actually very simple.)
Or, alter a recipe you already know and love. If the recipe calls for 12 ounces of cranberries, one cup of sugar, and one cup of water, instead use one cup of orange juice plus three to four tablespoons of date or maple syrup—or one cup of orange juice plus ¼ cup water and zero-calorie sweetener (like monk fruit or stevia) to taste.
Bottles of olive oil filled with herbs4. Bottle Up a Butter Swap
As a prettier, healthier, and more flavorful alternative to butter for bread rolls, biscuits, and beyond, create an herbed oil. This simple but flavor-packed oil will become a staple at every holiday meal.
5. Pair Non-Starchy and Starchy Vegetables
Potatoes are one of the most popular starchy holiday veggies. Pairing them with non-starchy vegetables that aren’t as carb-rich is a healthier way to enjoy them. Here’s a quick guide:
  • Mashed potatoes: Mash together equal parts cooked potatoes and roasted cauliflower. Try our Easy Half-Mashed Potatoes with Cauliflower recipe.
  • Scalloped potatoes: Bake with one pound of chopped fresh broccoli florets in place of one pound of the potatoes.
  • Roasted potatoes: Roast with large cubes of green and red bell peppers in place of half of the cubed potatoes.
  • Twice-baked: Thaw and squeeze-dry frozen spinach or kale, then stir desired amount into the mashed potato filling that’s spooned into potato shells. You could also try something different like Twice Baked Butternut Squash.
  • Potato salad: To a classic recipe, stir in a handful of finely diced fennel bulb, a few handfuls of fresh baby arugula, and some chopped fennel fronds.
  • Latkes: Try making zucchini latkes (pancakes) or try these Broccoli Onion Latkes.
6. Make Personal-Sized Casseroles and Stuffing
Rather than making significant tweaks to select holiday dishes that you indulge in once a year, stick to the classic recipe but portion them to fit your meal plan! Prepare your green bean or sweet potato casseroles as normal, then portion and bake them in individual six-ounce ramekins. They’ll be ready sooner, curb over-sized helpings, and make everyone feel special.
7. Eat Desserts & Sweet Sips Mindfully
Mug of diabetes-friendly hot chocolateTry these tips to make holiday-classic sweet eats and drinks more diabetes-friendly:
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, like this Whole Wheat Fresh Gingerbread.
  • Use unsweetened plant-based milk instead of whole milk in hot cocoa, like this Almond Joy Hot Chocolate.
  • Choose a smart portion size, like a sliver of pumpkin pie or an espresso cup of eggnog.
  • Most importantly, slowly savor every holiday-inspired bite and sip.
Cheers! From the Diabetes Food Hub team and all of us at the American Diabetes Association®, we wish you happy and healthy holidays!

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