Let’s face it. Most everyone could use an upgrade when it comes to keeping healthier choices in the pantry. For someone with diabetes, it becomes less a matter of “things I will eventually do” and more a matter of “things I MUST do today to stay healthy”.
If you live alone or with one other, you job becomes a little easier than those dealing with diabetes and trying to run a family household. Many people are daunted by the task of trying to eat healthier when they have other family members to cook for. If at all possible, try to approach your task as a family rather than “my food” and “everyone else’s food”.
Your new eating habits will yield positive results for everyone in the family. If someone is diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, the entire family would benefit from a lifestyle change to help delay or hopefully prevent Type 2 diabetes in the rest of the family.
Pantry items are staples you need to have on hand to get delicious and nutritious meals prepared quickly. A well-stocked pantry will help you keep your meals interesting by providing plenty of flavor. Let’s check out some great additions to your pantry that, hopefully you and other members of your household will truly enjoy.
1. Herbs and spices
WAIT!! Before you say “we don’t eat herbs & spicy foods”, think about what comes to mind when you say herbs and spices. Could it be a dish you tried years ago that had wayyyy too much rosemary or cayenne pepper? Try to explore the vast array of seasonings available that your whole family will enjoy. You can find all types of herb mixes to satisfy any craving- Southwestern, Jerk, Italian, etc. Herbs and spices add no extra carbs to your meal and can really help you keep plenty of flavor in your meals. Cinnamon, in particular, has been shown to have great benefits concerning glucose level control. Be sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates of your supply to make sure you are getting maximum benefits.
2. Low sodium broth
Reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth can be substituted for water when cooking whole grains and can be used to cook vegetables such as turnip greens. Broth also makes a great starter for your soups and stews.
Specialty mustards are a great way to add a flavor boost to your meals with very few calories/carbs. Mustard varieties such as Dijon, creole, spicy brown,etc. can be added to sauces, sandwiches, salad dressings and many other foods. Mustard is a good source of selenium and manganese.
Beans are very high in fiber and make an excellent carb choice. You can add beans to your salads, soups, and are delicious when made into a dip. Beans (canned or dried) are a satisfying and convenient source of protein and rich in antioxidants, copper, folate and potassium. Beans are digested slowly and this may help keep glucose levels stable between meals.
5. Canned Salmon
Canned salmon is a great way to get more fish in your diet- with a lower level of mercury than other types. Canned salmon can be used in place of canned tuna in most recipes and is a great source of healthy fat, protein and calcium.
6. Flavored Vinegar
Sure, everyone knows vinegar has health benefits, but did you know it can make a flavorful addition to almost any dish? Vinegar has shown benefits related to blood pressure, lipid levels, and helping to minimize glucose level spikes. It’s easy to find a wide range of flavored and balsamic vinegars or you can make your own herb infused vinegar. Count pickled foods in under the vinegar “umbrella” as they contain vinegar also.
Studies have shown nuts may help lower glucose and lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Nuts can be roasted for a snack, ground and used as a coating for meats, salad topping, nut butters, etc. Remember to monitor your serving size as nuts are a concentrated source of calories. Here’s a list of 45 calorie nut servings:
- Almonds- 6 nuts
- Hazelnuts- 5 nuts
- Macadamia – 3 nuts
- Peanuts- 10 nuts
- Pecans- 4 halves
- Pine Nuts- 1 Tablespoon
- Pistachios- 12 nuts
- Walnuts-4 halves
Have you tried quinoa yet? It’s super easy to prepare and is a great source of protein, fiber and vitamins. Many people find they have less of a glucose spike after eating quinoa than other carbs. Try substituting quinoa for other carbs in your recipes- quinoa instead of pasta in your favorite pasta salad makes a nice, refreshing change. Be sure to check your glucose level to see how your body responds to this carb source. 1/2 cup cooked quinoa has about 20gm total carb.
Salsa is a versatile addition to your pantry staples. Try to find salsa with a lower sodium level if possible. Salsa can be enjoyed as a dip (of course), a topping for fish, chicken breasts and veggies. Combine salsa with your favorite grain (brown rice, quinoa,etc) for a tasty side dish. Once opened, store salsa in the refrigerator up to 1 month.
10. Healthy Fat Sources
Include olive oil and avocado oil in this group. Studies abound regarding the health benefits of olive oil. Be sure to measure your oil to keep calories under control. Olive oil with herbs added can be used in place of butter on bread and can also be used to make delicious salad dressings.