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Cooking for a Diabetic This Holiday Season? Here's How to Prepare a Meal Everyone Will Love

By Carolyn Heneghan October 27, 2015 Posted in: Family Health , Article

For someone with diabetes, traditional holiday meals offer up a temptation to stray from important meal planning. If you're cooking for a diabetic this holiday season, you'll want to switch up a few dishes to ensure that your loved one can have a delicious meal while staying healthy.

Most people with diabetes need to eat consistent meals each day, so don't be surprised if your guest takes a small sampling from a few dishes instead of the huge helpings other guests may splurge on. Talk to your guests ahead of time so you know their favorite dish will be something that fits within your diabetic guest's diet. Your loved ones will appreciate the gesture, and everyone can enjoy the food.

The Debate Over Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

You may decide to make a diabetic-friendly holiday dish by substituting refined sugar and natural sweeteners (stevia, honey, or maple syrup) with artificial sweeteners (saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame). However, experts debate the safety of these artificial sweeteners: Research shows possible links between artificial sweeteners and increased blood sugar, according to the American Heart Association.

The American Diabetes Association reports that completely avoiding sugar is not the answer. Instead, focus on the total number of carbohydrates, which affects blood sugar more than any individual type of carb. For many people, about 45 to 60 grams of carbs in one meal is just right.

The Main Dish

Holiday meals generally have a main dish of beef, ham, or turkey that is prepared with non-diabetic-friendly ingredients in the coating, gravy, or stuffing. If you're cooking for a diabetic, try preparing a turkey using EatingWell's recipe for lemon-garlic roast turkey and white-wine gravy, which uses a zesty lemon-garlic rub instead of the basted sodium solution found in many grocery stores' prepared turkeys. If you'd rather serve beef or ham, Diabetic Gourmet Magazine offers diabetic-friendly recipes: beef tenderloin with cranberry balsamic sauce and baked ham with sweet 'n' sour plum sauce.

Scrumptious Sides

Diabetic Living suggests a side dish of cranberry cucumber salad that uses healthy vegetables containing plenty of antioxidants, and Diabetic Gourmet Magazine has a recipe for cornbread and dried-fruit dressing that will add a little pizzazz to your diabetic holiday meal. For even more healthy veggies, try Diabetic Living's skillet-browned broccoli with pan-toasted garlic.

Delectable Desserts

No-bake pumpkin tarts from The Detoxinista get in the spirit of the season while using walnuts and shredded coconut for the crust instead of high-carb flours. If your family and friends crave a traditional pie, this apple pie recipe from Paleo Living Magazine uses honey as a natural sweetener, so keep slices small. Another idea is to skip the sweets altogether, as The Kitchn suggests, and instead provide a decadent cheese plate.

Don't fret if you are cooking for a diabetic this holiday season. Diabetic-friendly recipes abound for all three courses, and you can still keep your family and friends healthy.

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