Your Diabetes-Friendly Pantry (Continued)


To replace high carb pasta, rice, instant noodles, breakfast cereals, and fake potatoes, stock up on whole grains. Good choices for the pantry include:

  • Steel-cut or old-fashioned oats (not instant): Great for a hot breakfast or snack. Can also be used in place of breadcrumbs.
  • Oat bran: Nature's cure for constipation and a natural way to help lower cholesterol. Eat it as a breakfast cereal, sprinkle it on other cereals or veggies, use in place of breadcrumbs.
  • Wheat germ: Rich in vitamin E, magnesium (many people with diabetes lack this mineral) and fiber, wheat germ adds a nutty flavor to breakfast cereal, yogurt, casseroles, and veggies. Store away from direct sunlight.
  • Quinoa: Easy to cook, packed with protein, stands in well for rice. Great in salads.
  • Pearl Barley: Barley has the lowest effect on blood sugar of any grain. It has a nice chewy texture. Pearl barley is the most common type in grocery stores, but hull-less barely is even better for you.
  • Bulgur: A form of cracked wheat, bulgur is a staple of Middle Eastern cooking.

Tip: Barley, bulgur, and quinoa all cook in 30 minutes or less.


If you have a variety of canned beans in the pantry, you can whip up a healthy salad, chili, casserole, curry, or soup quickly. Good beans include:

  • garbanzos (also called chickpeas)
  • red kidney beans
  • pinto beans (great for chili)
  • white beans
  • black beans

Dried lentils and split green or yellow peas cook quickly and are great in soups or casseroles.

Tips: To reduce the salt in canned beans and help reduce gas from eating them, empty the can into a strainer. Rinse the beans with running cold water. Dried beans cost less than canned, but are not as easy to use. Except for lentils and split peas, you'll need to plan ahead to soak them anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight before using.

Seeds and nuts

Nuts, nut butters, and seeds make great low carb snacks. They are high in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and goods fats. Toss some nuts or seeds into a salad or greens to add crunch and nutrition. Nuts to keep on hand include:

  • almonds
  • hazelnuts
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pistachios
  • walnuts

Good seed choices are sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Tip: Choose unsalted versions, or make a mix of unsalted nuts and lightly salted nuts. Avoid nut butters with added sugar. Nuts and seeds are good for you, but they're high in calories, so be aware of portion sizes. A standard nut portion is 1 ounce, about 20 nuts, or about 2 tablespoons of nut butter.

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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
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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