Your Diabetes-Friendly Pantry

Foods to keep on hand year-round

pantryBy Sheila Buff

Is it easy to find foods in your kitchen to make a quick, low carb dinner? Do you keep the makings of a diabetes-friendly breakfast on hand? Can you quickly find a fulfilling, low carb snack in your pantry? If you can, you're more likely to stick to your low carb eating plan — and enjoy it. If not, you're in luck. Use these lists as a guide to stocking your low carb, diabetes-friendly pantry.

Oils and Condiments

Use grapeseed oil to saut and fry. For low temperature cooking and salad dressings, choose extra virgin olive oil. Add a small amount of flavored oils such as toasted sesame, walnut, or avocado to salad dressings. Drizzle some over veggies and grains to add flavor and heart-healthy fat.

A variety of vinegars go along with your new oils. High-quality red or balsamic vinegar is great to add to salad dressing. White vinegar is good for making your own pickles. A splash of flavored vinegar brightens up the taste of steamed or sauted green veggies. Also, vinegar is known to help keep blood sugar from spiking.

Other condiments to have on hand include:

  • mustard
  • mayo (not a reduced-fat version)
  • hot sauce
  • soy sauce
  • low carb or unsweetened ketchup

All add taste and interest to your food without extra carbs. Keep some pickles, olives, sun-drided tomatoes, and tomato salsa on hand. They can add a bit of variety to snacks and sandwiches.

A good variety of spices add flavor to your food and lets you cut back on salt. Plus, spices have an array of health benefits. Good staples to have on hand include:

  • hot pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • chili powder
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • basil
  • cinnamon
  • parsley

Five spice powder is great if you like Asian flavors. Curry is good to have on hand for an Indian touch.

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Last Modified Date: January 15, 2014

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
  1. Chen, H., Z. Qu, L. Fu, P. Dong, and X. Zhang, X. 2009. Physicochemical Properties and Antioxidant Capacity of 3 Polysaccharides from Green Tea, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea. Journal of Food Science, 74: C469–C474. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01231.x
  2. Hosoda K., M.F. Wang, et al. 2003. Antihyperglycemic effect of oolong tea in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 26(6):1714-8.
  3. Venn B.J. and J.I. Mann JI. 2004. Cereal grains, legumes and diabetes. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 58:1443-1461.
  4. Villegas R., Y.T. Gao, G. Yang, H.L. Li, T.A. Elasy, W. Zheng, and X.O. Shu. 2008. Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 87(1):162-7.
  5. White A.M. and C.S. Johnston. 2007. Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 30(11):2814-5.

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by Brenda Bell
One of my ongoing dietary issues has been one of protein. Right after diagnosis, I ran a bit scared of all of the "excess protein kills the kidneys" lines and into the old-school health-foods' "you don't need as much protein as you think you do" train of thought. Combined with the calorie and sodium restrictions of my initial diabetes diet, a move away from animal-based proteins because of my cholesterol levels, and a medication which seemed to block nutrient...