A well-stocked pantry is important, but it won’t do the whole job of turning your kitchen into a diabetes-friendlier food zone. It is important to choose the right perishable foods to put into your refrigerator and freezer. Here are a few things I recommend always having at hand:
Nonfat plain Greek yogurt: Like balsamic vinegar, this is one of those ingredients I can’t stand to be without. Mix it with fresh or frozen fruit for a nutrient-packed breakfast or snack, or blend them into a smoothie. Stir it into sauces for added creaminess, and use it instead of sour cream or mayonnaise in dressings for fruit or vegetable salads.
Nonfat or 1% lowfat milk: Avoid 2%, whole, and half-and-half because they are much higher in saturated fat.
Strong-flavored cheeses like Parmesan, feta, blue, and sharp cheddar: Give your recipes a boost with just a small amount of these cheeses. My favorite ways to use are to sprinkle feta over whole grains and to grate Parmesan over chicken or green vegetables.
Reduced-fat cottage cheese: For a protein boost at breakfast, I mix cottage cheese with cinnamon and raisins, spread it on whole-grain raisin toast and pop it in the toaster oven until warm and fragrant. Try cottage cheese with tomatoes and basil for a low-carb snack, or mix it with your favorite peaches or berries for a sweet treat.
Tortillas: Use whole-grain flour or corn tortillas to make a quick wrap. Make sure to buy the small ones to help keep the carbs in check.
Whole-grain bread: Store loaves in the freezer and defrost one or two slices at a time. I recommend looking for labels that say 100% whole grain.
Hummus: It’s delicious in a wrap and even better as a dip for veggies.
Fresh and frozen vegetables for stir-frying, steaming, salads, and munching: At every meal, try to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms, so you’ll need to dedicate enough space in your kitchen to store them. Save yourself a few trips to grocery store by stocking up on frozen veggies.
Bagged, pre-washed lettuce or baby spinach: There is no faster way to kickstart making a nutrient-packed salad.
Fresh and frozen fruit: Many of my clients believe that fruit is bad for their blood glucose. Have no worries about fruit; just count its carbohydrate like you do that of any other food. And this is a good time remind you that measuring your blood sugar before a meal and again two hours later will help you see how that meal affects your blood glucose.
Fresh and frozen chicken: But remember to skip the skin! To save time the day of cooking, buy it skinless or remove the skin after purchasing and rewrap it.
Ground meat: Select meat that’s 93% lean or leaner for fast meals like tortilla soup, taco salads, and spaghetti with meat sauce. Don’t be duped by the health halo on ground turkey. It might be ground with skin, so read those labels, too.
Fresh and frozen fish: Choose salmon, tuna, trout, and halibut for their omega-3 fatty acids. I keep a bag of easy-peel shrimp in the freezer too. It defrosts quickly under running water and cooks up even faster.
Citrus fruit: Brighten up vegetables, soup, fish, and whole grains with freshly grated citrus zest or a squeeze of the juice.
Eggs or egg substitute: Of all the protein foods, eggs have perhaps the shortest cooking time, and they work well for all three meals.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE, is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week, contributing editor for Environmental Nutrition, and has written for many publications including EatingWell, Diabetic Living, Her Sports + Fitness, and LifeScript. Weisenberger is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience