Mix and Match Dinners

Menu combinations to help keep meals interesting

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

What's for Dinner? This is the question many families ask every night. When you have diabetes, the question is the same, but it's even more important to make sure it's a healthy dinner. Keeping dinner simple can be just as healthy as a gourmet meal. Here are some ideas for mix and match dinners.

Choose a food from each of the groups below and you'll have a delicious dinner that won't spike your blood sugar. Most of these combinations will provide about 30 grams carbohydrate per meal.

1. Lean protein. Protein should be a component of every healthy dinner, especially since it doesn't raise blood glucose levels and can help fill you up. Aim for a 3-4 ounce portion size.

  • Turkey burger
  • Lean pork chop
  • Baked fish (salmon, tilapia, etc)
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • 4 turkey meatballs
  • Pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup tuna, chicken or egg salad
  • Breaded and baked chicken tenders (will count for some carbs too)
  • Lean ground beef or turkey (for tacos, sloppy joes or chili)
  • Grilled shrimp
  • Ham (reduced-sodium recommended)
  • Roasted turkey
  • Non-meat items such as: cottage cheese, egg, peanut butter, tofu

2. Eat your veggies. Veggies should make up half of your dinner plate, so mix it up and try different veggies. These veggies are low in carbs and won't raise your blood sugar too much.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Celery
  • Radish
  • Salad with mixed greens
  • Tomato and cumber salad

3. Include some healthy carbohydrates. Keep your meals balanced by adding some healthy carbs. The portion sizes below will provide about 30 grams carb or less per serving.

  • 1 baked sweet potato (7 ounce with skin)
  • 1 cup black, pinto, garbanzo, black-eyed peas, great northern beans
  • 2-3 low-carb tortillas (read labels and check grams carb)
  • 1 tortilla and ½ cup beans (black or pinto)
  • 2/3 cup cooked quinoa, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta
  • 1 whole-wheat hamburger bun
  • 1 cup fresh fruit with 4 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups bean or broth-based soup (reduced-sodium recommended)
  • 4 ounces baked sweet potato fries

4. Add some healthy fats. These fats can be added to your dinners as desired. They are good for your heart and do not raise blood sugar levels. Keep your portion sizes under control as they are high in calories.

  • Olive oil (1/2 -1 tablespoon)
  • Salad dressing (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Avocado slices (1/4 avocado)
  • Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans (1-2 tablespoons)

Puttng It All Together

Here are some examples of mix and match dinners composed of these options: Pork tenderloin, asparagus, and 1 baked sweet potato with pecans

  • Baked tilapia with zucchini (recipe below) and 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • Turkey burger on whole-wheat bun served with roasted broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil.
  • 2 cups black bean soup, large side salad with mixed greens and salad dressing
  • Turkey tacos with 2 low-carb tortillas and 1/2 cup black beans, tomato, and cucumber salad
  • Grilled shrimp with broccoli served over 2/3 cup pasta with a large kale and spinach salad with salad dressing
  • Grilled chicken breast, 4 ounces of sweet potato fries, and sautéed spinach with garlic
  • Large salad with grilled chicken breast and salad dressing, served with 1 cup fresh fruit, 4 ounces Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons almonds

Try this recipe for Lemon Herb Tilapia with Zucchini — gluten free and just 5g of carbs per serving!

Read Lara's bio here.

Read more of Lara Rondinelli's columns.

NOTE: This information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: September 27, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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