Recipes for vegetarian and diabetic diets have much in common

Recipes for Vegetarians with Diabetes

This blog was originally written for You can read that post here.

Maybe you’ve been a vegetarian for as long as you can remember, and then developed type 2 diabetes as an adult. Or maybe you received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes as a child and decided during your teen years to become a vegetarian. Either way, if this describes you or someone you know, you may be wondering if it is possible to combine a vegetarian diet with one to manage diabetes.

The simple answer is yes, vegetarian meal plans and diabetes diets are compatible and both can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

The goal for any diet is to meet your personal nutritional requirements, but there are endless ways to do that based on what is available, affordable and acceptable to you. Vegetarians who only eat pizza and French fries are not making the best choices possible to meet their needs. People with diabetes who never eat fruit or whole grains aren’t either.

 Vegetarian Meal Plans and Diabetes

The first step to combining a vegetarian diet with a diabetes diet is to make a list of the foods from each food group that you like and will eat and that you can easily purchase and prepare. The biggest difference for a vegetarian (compared to someone who is not a vegetarian) will be in the Protein Foods Group. A vegetarian’s list will include plant-based protein sources such as beans, peas, lentils, soy-based meat substitutes, nuts, nut butters and seeds instead of beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish. Eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt may be additional sources of protein for vegetarians who choose to include those foods.

Choices from each of the other food groups – Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Dairy and Oils – are the same for vegetarians, “meat eaters” and people with diabetes. The focus for all of them should be getting the best quality and variety of foods in the diet as possible and eating them in the right frequency and serving size. That may mean having two canned peach halves packed in natural juices when fresh peaches are not in season, mixing a cup of spiralized zucchini squash with a cup of spaghetti to reduce the carbohydrate content of a meal, or adding a bag of frozen edamame (soybeans) to a can of vegetable soup to boost the protein in each serving.

If you’re wondering how much honey, molasses and other added sugars a vegetarian diet for diabetes can contain, the answer is the same as for any other healthy person – less than 12 teaspoons a day for a 2000 calorie diet. That recommendation is based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans which state added sugars should be less than 10% of total calories whether you eat meat or not!

Reducing added sugars in the diet is important for everyone since many of the foods and drinks added sugars are found in can displace other foods that provide essential nutrients. The calories from those sugars can also contribute to weight gain. This is just as true for people who don’t have diabetes as those who do. Using low-calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products, can help reduce added sugars in the diet without giving up the sweet taste that makes so many foods and beverages more enjoyable.

To show you some options possible when combining a diabetic diet with a vegetarian diet, I have put together some meal plan ideas below using “Diabetes Friendly” recipes found in the SPLENDA® Brand recipe files. Of course, it is not necessary to only use recipes specifically designed for diabetes, or, for that matter, only those developed for vegetarians. Just about any recipe can be tweaked to make it work for both purposes. Please note if you have diabetes, it is important to check with your healthcare provider to determine your personal meal plan and adjust these recipes, meal combinations and portion sizes accordingly.

*For the purposes here the vegetarian dishes here may include dairy, eggs and fish.





I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.


Cooking with mushrooms can stretch your meat budget and mushroom dishes boost taste, texture and health benefits

Cooking with Mushrooms Adds Nutrition, Saves Money!


If you love the savory taste of umami, also known as the “fifth taste,” then you won’t need any other reason for cooking with mushrooms. I know I’m of those people who thinks mushrooms can make just about anything taste better. Whether simply sautéed or incorporated into other foods, mushrooms are a treat to the palate.

For those who are more inclined towards the sweet, salty, sour or bitter taste of foods, mushroom dishes are a great way to stretch your meat budget without giving up the chewy texture of meat. Incorporating mushrooms into your favorite recipes or replacing other ingredients with them can add moisture, increase the volume, reduce the calories and improve the nutritional value.

Cooking With Mushrooms

You can use fresh or reconstituted dried mushrooms to extend ground meats, such as beef, veal, chicken, turkey or pork. Just chop the mushrooms to match the size of the cooked meat and add them to replace 25%-50% of the meat called for in your meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, chili, and tacos.

If you make your own filling for ravioli, cannelloni, dumplings, or pierogi, finely minced mushrooms can be used along with meat or instead of it. Same for stuffed cabbage and peppers.

By adding minced mushrooms to your turkey stuffing you can lower the calories by 430 with every cup of dry bread crumbs you replace with them, and increase the moisture of the stuffing.

The flavor of soups, stews, ragouts, and curry dishes can be enriched with mushrooms, without overpowering the signature flavor. This is a great way to use the mushroom stems that may not have been needed for other purposes. Just chop them up and add them to the pot with the other vegetables.

One of my favorite ways of using raw mushrooms is to stretch my chicken, turkey or egg salad. Chopped cremini (a.k.a. baby bella) mushrooms blend in perfectly with chicken and turkey salad while white button mushrooms are best for the egg salad.

Mushroom Nutrition

The top three nutritional attributes of mushrooms are that they are very low in calories and have no fat or sodium. Since calories, fat and sodium are three things nearly every adult and most children need to eat less of to reduce the risks of obesity, heart disease and stroke, mushrooms are a addition to the diet.

One cup of sliced raw white mushrooms equals 2/3 cup when cooked. They contain:

  • 15 calories
  • 2 g Carbohydrate
  • 2 g Protein
  • 1 g Fiber
  • 10% or more of the Daily Value for Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, and Copper

All mushrooms contain some Vitamin D, but growers can increase the levels by exposing them to ultraviolet light. Check the package to see if yours have this advantage.

Mushroom Varieties Chart & Nutritional Information


A Simple Guide: Making Sense of Soy Foods:

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.


If you didn’t grow up eating soy foods, then you’re probably a bit overwhelmed by the many soy products now available in stores and on restaurant menus. Getting more soy in the diet has health benefits, especially when soy products replace animal products, so it’s worth learning how soybeans can be converted into milk, butter, cheese and meat substitutes, plus so much more. Use this Simple Guide to add more soy to your diet and check the Soyfoods Association of North America for more information.


Soybeans – Available as tan or black dry beans sold in bags, bulk, canned or frozen. Provides protein similar to meat sources plus bio-active compounds associated with relieving menopausal symptoms and lowering the risk of certain cancers.


Edamame – Immature green soybeans in the pod and frequently served boiled or steamed. They are sold in and out of the pod fresh and frozen and shelled as canned green soybeans. The flavor is more mild than mature soybeans with a higher sugar content.



Roasted Soy Nuts – Available oil roasted or dry roasted and plain, salted or flavored. Enjoyed as a convenient snack and used to make soy nut butter. Same nutritional value as whole soybeans depending on how they are processed and seasoned.


Non-Peanut Butters

Soy Nut Butter – Made by grinding whole roasted soybeans, the result resembles peanut butter in taste, texture and nutritional value. It’s a popular alternative for those with peanut allergies.



Tofu – Also known as soybean curd, tofu has a soft cheese-like consistency and many uses as a substitute for meat or cheese. Made by soaking and grinding soybeans in water, then mixing the slurry with a coagulant and heating it to make curds, which are then pressed to form blocks. The firmness of the tofu depends on how much water is removed. Contains high quality protein and iron and depending on the coagulant used, may be a good source of calcium.



Miso – This paste is made by fermenting soybeans (plus rice or barley) with salt and a fungus to flavor soups, marinades, dressings and more. The color ranges from golden to dark brown. It’s high in phytonutrients and beneficial bacteria and enzymes.


Tempeh – A “cake” made from cooked soybeans with a texture that ranges from firm to chewy to tender and a flavor that can be mushroomy or yeasty. It can be prepared by any dry or moist heat cooking method after slicing or cubing into the desired size and shape. It’s an excellent source of fiber and protein, plus a good source of folic acid, potassium and iron.


Soy Milk – This product is often used by people seeking a lactose-free alternative to cow’s milk. It’s made by soaking and cooking whole ground soybeans then filtering the liquid or by hydrating full-fat soy flour or soy protein solids. Sweeteners and flavors may be added to the base along with nutrient fortification to replicate cow’s milk.



Soy Flour – It’s made from ground soybeans and available in high and low fat content suited for different uses. Soy flour is the base used to make some soy milks and textured vegetable protein products. It’s a good source of high quality protein and isoflavones.



Textured Vegetable Protein or Textured Soy Protein – Also referred to as TVP or TSP, it’s made from soy flour, soy concentrate or soy protein isolate. It can be formulated to have the shape, flavor and texture of meat products and is used to make most of the meat-free patties, burgers and crumbles on the market today. TSP is 50% protein and very low in sodium when unflavored, with no cholesterol.