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.


Balancing food choices is the key to diabetic meal plans

Delicious Ideas for Your Diabetes Meal Plan

This post was written as a guest blog for You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, 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.

People who have diabetes do not have different nutritional needs than those who do not have the disease. There also is no one diabetes diet or diabetic diet meal plan they must follow. Instead, what individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes do have is a greater motivation to eat well to manage their illness. And when they do that they are also lowering their risk factors for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for all Americans.

A valuable tool that can help you get on the right track is ChooseMyPlate. It provides all of the practical information you need to build a healthier diet based on the Dietary Guidelines, from shopping lists and safe food storage tips to healthier holiday choices and eating for vegetarians.

Looking for Meal-Time Inspiration

Numerous websites, books and other sources share information about diabetic diet meal plans, but that doesn’t mean you have to find one and stick with it. Living with diabetes means knowing how to adapt any menu or recipe to meet your personal needs. Working with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetes Educator is the first step to understanding how to do that.

Once you know how to manage diabetes you’ll be able to find inspiration everywhere, from award-winning cookbooks to your favorite cooking show on TV. Sometimes all you need to do is make a simple substitution in a recipe so it will “add up right” for you, like using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, instead of sugar.

The best news of all is that your good example can be followed by the rest of your family to improve their diets, too. As I’ve often said, one of the best ways to prevent diabetes is to eat as if you already had it.

Living with diabetes is not about whether or not you can have sugar or how many carbs are in a bagel. It’s about a lifestyle that includes making the right food and beverage choices, not smoking, getting regular exercise, adequate sleep and more.

So if you’re still wondering, “Is There a Diabetic Diet?” check out this blog post about diabetic diet by fellow blogger and dietitian Hope Warshaw. You’ll find advice that’s good for us all.

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.


Preventing heart disease tastes great!

Every Day Heart Health in February and Beyond

This is a sponsored post developed for The Coca-Cola Company, but all content is my own.

It’s February again, and that means it’s American Heart Month. With all of the health information out there, it can be hard to figure out how to work heart healthy choices into your daily routine. By keeping a few simple tips in mind for foods, beverages and overall health, you can make small changes this month that will benefit your heart all year round.

A balanced healthy eating plan that is low in saturated fat and sodium and full of fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, fish, high-fiber whole grain breads and cereals will help improve heart health. Select from this wide variety of meal options and make heart-healthy choices all day long.

Heart-Healthy Ways to Start Your Day

Simple swaps like full fat dairy for lower fat milk, yogurt and cheese will help start your day on a heart-healthy note. A few more examples to kick your day off right include:

  • Smoothie made with frozen fruit, fat-free milk and flax seed or wheat germ.
  • Ready-to-eat high-fiber whole grain cereal or cooked oats prepared with fat-free milk, raisins or other dried fruit.
  • Parfait layered with cut-up fruit, low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and low-fat crunchy granola.
  • Corn meal pancakes or whole grain waffles topped with fruit and a dollop of fat-free ricotta cheese.
  • Whole wheat wrap spread with natural peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese with sliced pears or chopped peaches.
  • Corn tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Lunch Time Meal Solutions

Base your mid-day meal with vegetables, then add low-fat dairy and whole grains for a balanced plate.

  • Roasted vegetable salad with turkey, fresh spinach and light vinaigrette, plus a whole wheat roll with mashed avocado.
  • Easy vegetable soup made with low-sodium tomato juice, frozen mixed vegetables and canned beans, plus whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese and spicy mustard.
  • Lean beef slider with caramelized onion on potato roll, plus Napa cabbage slaw tossed in reduced-fat mayonnaise and a baked apple topped with low-fat Greek yogurt and toasted walnuts.

Eating Right into the Night

Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish and certain cuts of beef and flavor them with fresh or dried herbs and spices for a satisfying meal lower in fat and sodium, and healthier for your heart.

  • Stir-fried sirloin steak strips and portabella mushrooms over quick-cooking brown rice, plus garlicky green beans and cucumber salad with dill for sides.
  • Black bean veggie burger on multigrain bread with sliced red onion, plus roasted half acorn squash filled with chopped apple, honey and cinnamon and broccoli and bulghur pilaf sides.
  • Sautéed shrimp and cherry tomatoes over orzo with crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese and grilled zucchini basted in olive oil, plus kiwi and strawberry slices over arugula with balsamic vinaigrette.

Sensible Snacks for Any Time of Day

Reducing calories and smart snacking can go hand in hand, just watch your portion sizes.

  • Air-popped popcorn, roasted and seasoned chickpeas, melon cubes, unsalted nuts, citrus sections, dried dates or figs, steamed edamame, bowl of berries, banana chunks dipped in light yogurt, nut butter on whole grain crackers or frozen seedless grapes.
  • Select portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal that won’t break the calorie bank, helping you manage your weight for better heart health.

Know Your Numbers

Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the risk for heart disease, and this requires knowing how many calories you eat each day. But aside from weight and calories, it’s important to know all the factors that contribute to heart health. Be sure to talk to your doctor about lipid levels (cholesterol and triglyceride), blood pressure, fasting glucose (blood sugar), Body Mass Index and weight circumference numbers, and discuss any changes to your routine that can improve your heart health this February and beyond.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist with a focus on the societal forces continually shaping eating behavior and food trends. Her 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, authoring two popular diet books (The Wedding Dress Diet and Fighting the Freshman Fifteen) and numerous articles on diet and health and her high-traffic blog, TheEverydayRD. Today she is multimedia spokesperson and consultant to global food and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.

Smiling older man receives box delivered to his door

Daily Meals Delivered At Home

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


Everyone reading this has probably relied on take-out services at one time or another to get a meal that is quick and convenient. Once purchased, you can eat take-out in the car, at your desk, on a park bench or at your own dining room table. No cooking or clean up required.

Many of us have also relied on the prepared food options available to us in any grocery store for a meal in a hurry. If you’ve ever purchased a rotisserie chicken then you know what I’m talking about.

Now there is a way to get all of your daily meals without ever having to leave the house: Home delivered meals.

Meals delivered at home provide a solution for anyone who can’t shop and cook. They cater to everyone from new mothers to widowed senior citizens. Nearly all of them offer weight loss plans, while some feature meals for diabetics, Kosher food or vegetarian diets. Some can even provide meals that combine all three!

All you have to do is place your order and pay for it online or by telephone and the meals start showing up at your front door.

I visited several of the company websites to see how they worked and received samples of their meals. Here are the highlights from my investigation.

Review of Daily Meal Services Delivered to Your Home

Healthy Chef Creations 866-575-2433 Organic gourmet meals delivered fresh daily.

Features: Based on Mediterranean Diet Plan using 96% certified organic ingredients, free-range meats and wild-caught fish.

Meal Plans: Weight Loss, Healthy Mommy, Healthy Senior

Customization: Can order 1, 2 or 3 meals/day for 5 or 7 days/week. Menu changes weekly and meals come in small, regular or large sizes. Can accommodate food allergies and intolerances.

Chef’s Diet 800-946-1047 Provides 3 meals and 2 snacks a day delivered fresh daily.

Features: Meals are based on a 40/30/30 distribution of protein, carbohydrate and fat

Meal Plans: Kosher, Vegiquarian, Heart Healthy, Diabetic/Sugar Free, Kids

Customization: Unable to guarantee restrictions for food allergies and food preferences.

Magic Kitchen 877-516-2442 Frozen prepared meals delivered weekly, biweekly or monthly

Features: Provides entrees, side dishes and desserts for one to four people.

Meal Plans: Senior, Portion Controlled, Low Sodium, Diabetic-friendly, Renal Dialysis, Dialysis-friendly

Customization: Can order Meal Bundles, Family Size, Complete Meals for One, or just main course, side dishes, soups, desserts.

BistroMD 866-401-3438 Healthy meals for weight loss delivered frozen weekly.

Features: Plan was created by physician, registered dietitian and chef using locally sourced ingredients.

Meal Plans: Men’s and Women’s plans provide 1100-1400 calories/day and can be ordered for 5 or 7 days/week.

Customization: Over 200 unique entrees with seasonal menu changes; can accommodate personal ingredient preferences.

Other Aspects of Home Delivered Meals

  • Meals arrive in an insulated cooler or a box packed with dry ice.
  • Food must be put in the refrigerator or freezer immediately to maintain quality.
  • If receiving a week or more of frozen meals at one time you must be able to pick up the full box and store all the food in your freezer.
  • Instructions for reheating in a microwave oven are provided.
  • Fresh fruit and salads are not offered on all plans so can be added by consumer.
  • Delivery is not available everywhere.
Eating breakfast doesn't take much time if you plan for it

Making Time for Breakfast

This blog was written for the Bell Institute for Heath and Nutrition. You can read the original post here.

The most common reason I hear from my clients for not eating breakfast is that they aren’t hungry in the morning. Upon further questioning, I usually find this applies on mornings when they have to be up early and out the door for school or work and eating breakfast on weekends and other days off is no problem.
When people say they aren’t hungry in the morning, what they are often feeling is anxiety about being late. Anyone rushing frantically to catch a bus or punch a time clock cannot fathom eating – let alone sitting down to a simple meal.
A solution to this issue is better planning. Here are some “time-tested” steps you can share that help make breakfast a regular part the day. Feel free to use these handy abbreviations to get the message across!
  • GTB = Go To Bed. The best way to avoid the morning rush is to wake up earlier, but that requires going to bed earlier to ensure enough sleep. Turn off the phone, TV, computer and lights at least 15 minutes sooner than usual to gradually work towards an earlier bedtime.
  • WUH = Wake Up Hungry. If you stop eating 10-12 hours before breakfast, you’ll wake up looking forward to that next meal. Make a point to brush and floss two hours before bedtime to prevent late-night eating and you’ll be sure to wake up with an appetite.
  • RTG = Ready To Go. When you organize everything you’ll need to take with you in the morning the night before, you won’t have a knot in your stomach trying to find things at the last minute. This includes the clothes you’ll wear, school assignments, sports equipment, special reports, and anything needed for those after-work errands.
  • PYM = Plan Your Meal. Check to see what’s available for breakfast and decide what you’re going to eat before you go to bed to avoid having to make a decision in the morning. If there’s some leftover pizza, wrap a slice in foil so it’s ready to slip into the toaster oven. Or, set the table with a bowl, spoon, juice glass and your favorite cereal so all you have to do is pour and eat to save precious time.
  • MIP = Make It Portable. Sometimes the best plan is to have something ready to take with you. Combining cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a plastic bag is easy to eat when in transit. Or, bring a granola bar, piece of fruit and a yogurt to eat when you arrive. Whatever travels well will do!