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Karen Chapman Novakofski

Professor of Nutrition

Marilyn Csernus

Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness


February-March 2018

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In This Issue

Diabetes - The Medical Perspective

Conquering the Grocery Aisles

Grocery shopping can be a chore. It can even be overwhelming at times. Browsing food labels while shopping can add time to your shopping trip, but will pay off in the end.

Before heading out to the grocery store, take stock of what you already have on hand. Look in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Think about what dishes you can make with the items you already have on hand. It might help to browse some recipe books or websites. Check any recipes you plan to use to make sure you have all needed ingredients. The next step is to think about the week ahead. Plan meals around food items you already have. Think about your plans and schedule for the upcoming week. Use the store ads and coupons to make a grocery list.

Having a game plan before leaving home can save time and money. To prevent impulse buying, do not shop when you are hungry. Everything in the grocery store will look tempting. You might end up with items that are not the healthiest choices or best buys.

Take the time to store your food properly. Use the First In First Out principle to avoid wasting food. Pull the older items to the front of the panty or refrigerator and add the new purchases behind what is already there. This will assure that older items will be used first. Keep an eye on highly perishable foods. Use them before they are overly ripe or expired. It is better to wash produce right before using it. The added moisture from the water will cause a decline in the quality of produce.

An estimated 1200 calories/person/day are wasted every day in the U.S. It effects our overall economy by affecting farmers, business owners, consumers and the climate. We can all take small steps each day to cut down on food waste by:

  1. Buying only what we can use before going bad.
  2. Freeze or donate extra food to a food pantry.
  3. Re-purpose leftover foods. Use extra chicken for soup, salad or a casserole.
  4. Ask for a to-go container at the restaurant.
  5. Serve smaller portions.

Diabetes and Food

Pack your grocery cart with fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables without added sodium. Fresh fruits are a great buy when in season. Canned fruit packed in its on juice, or frozen fruit packed without added sugar are also good choices

Focus on the grams of “total carbohydrate” rather than the grams of sugar on food labels. The updated nutrition facts label will include a line for “added sugar.” You may be already seeing some of these labels on grocery store shelves. This update to the food label helps avoid purchasing foods with “added sugar.” The grams of total carbohydrate has the most impact on blood glucose levels.

Whole grain bread, pasta, rice and cereal are good sources of healthy carbohydrates. Good sources of fiber have 2.5-3 grams of fiber per serving. A high source of fiber provides 5 grams of fiber per serving. Try for 25-30 grams of fiber daily from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Shop for heart-healthy fats. Olive, canola and other vegetable oils are healthy fat choices. If you are watching your weight, be aware that fat has twice the calories of carbohydrate and protein. All calories count.

Round out your grocery cart with lean protein sources. Fish is a good source of protein as long as it is not fried. Poultry without the skin, beans, tofu, lean meat and eggs are other good sources. Remember the low fat or non-fat dairy.

Be mindful of foods and drinks with added sugar and fat. These items generally have little to no nutritional value, but are high in calories, unhealthy carbohydrate and fat.

A little careful planning before your trip to the grocery store will result in a healthy, well-stocked kitchen allowing for easier diabetes meal planning.

Recipes to Try

Crunchy Chicken Casserole†

6 servings per recipe


  • 3 cups chopped (3 medium chicken breast) , cooked
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup 2% fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 10 ounce can Healthy Request (lower sodium, lower fat) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 – 6 ounce carton plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine first nine ingredients and mix well.
  3. Spray 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and add chicken mixture.
  4. Combine bread crumbs and sliced almonds in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over chicken mixture.
  5. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until heated throughout. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Facts per serving
Calories 209
Fat 6.5 grams
Protein 27 grams
Calories from fat 60
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Cholesterol 62 mg
Fiber  2 grams
Sodium 342 mg
This and other recipes available at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/intro.cfm

Beet and Orange Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese†

4 servings per recipe


  • 4 cups mixed baby lettuce
  • 1 - 15 ounce can sliced beets
  • 1 small fresh orange, peeled, divided into segments and cut in half
  • 2 ounces low fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup walnuts, roasted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry blush vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Splenda
  • 1 tablespoon non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 ° Fahrenheit. Place walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake about 8 minutes.
  2. Arrange lettuce onto 4 serving plates.
  3. Next layer beets, orange segments and feta and walnuts.
  4. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake or whisk together until ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Drizzle dressing evenly over salad.
Nutrition Facts per serving
Calories 200
Fat 14 grams
Protein 6 grams
Calories from fat 14
Carbohydrate 15 grams
Cholesterol 4 mg
Fiber 3 gram
Sodium 323 mg
This and other recipes available at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/intro.cfm

Sample Menu


Whole grain cereal ¾ cup
Whole grain cereal ¾ cup
Whole wheat toast 1 slice
Soft tub margarine 1 teaspoon
Scrambled egg 2
Fresh grapes 15
Skim milk 1 cup
Nutrition Facts
Calories 560
Carbohydrates 60 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 4


Vegetable and hamburger skillet† 1 serving
Tossed green salad 1
Low fat Ranch salad dressing 2 tablespoons
Lite vanilla pudding ½ cup
Mandarin orange 2 small
Skim milk 1 cup
Nutrition Facts
Calories 692
Carbohydrates 69 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 4.5 Choices


Crunchy Chicken Casserole† 1 serving
Beet and orange salad with walnuts and feta† 1 serving
Whole grain crackers 6 crackers
Blueberry non-fat Greek Yogurt 6 ounces
Skim milk 1 cup
Nutrition Facts
Calories 716
Carbohydrates 75 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 5 Choices


Calories 1968
Carbohydrates 204 Grams
Carbohydrate Choices 13.5 Choices

†Recipes from Recipes for Diabetes at extension.illinois.edu/diabetesrecipes/ or this newsletter

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