Having a party and want to make it diabetic-friendly? As a host, get-togethers often revolve around food. And if you, or someone you love has been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel as though you have to give up your favorite dishes all together. Not so! There's no need to completely change your menu, just how you prepare it.
With a healthy meal plan and a few simple adjustments to the menu, anyone, even those with diabetes, can enjoy a delicious and fun party.
Of course, because more than 8 percent of the American population has been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to understand that there is no magical diabetes diet. Portion control, moderate sugar and low fat are not just guidelines for diabetics to keep in mind, but for everyone's health, as it really is the healthiest way to eat.
These six simple tips and tweaks to your party menu will transform you into a winning host, with everyone enjoying a healthier meal without tasting the difference!
Whether it's a pre-dinner snack or something that's served for the entire event, appetizers are an important staple on your party menu. Chips and dip are a popular choice -- and they guarantee that your guests will dive in. So why no load them up with healthy ingredients instead of high fat ingredients and greasy chips? Having diabetes puts you at risk for developing heart disease, so it is important to eat foods that are heart healthy, as well.
To lower your intake of unhealthy saturated and trans fats make sure you choose low-fat dairy ingredients, such as reduced-fat cream cheese and nonfat milk. Do not be afraid to load up your dish with extra veggies. Love tomatoes? Add them to your dip. Or throw in extra spinach beyond what the recipe calls for. Not only are you adding nutrition, but you spread out your dip, feeding more of your crowd on fewer calories.
And what is a dip without the chips? Try making your own by baking high fiber whole-wheat pitas, cut into triangles, to boost nutrition and reduce added fat. Better yet, cut squares out of colorful bell peppers and cucumber rounds to use for extra nutritious low-carb "chips."
A fast and easy way to ease up on overdoing it at a party is by using smaller plates. This will help your guests, especially those with diabetes, practice portion control, whether they realize it or not. Our plates, at home and at restaurants, have increased in size since the 50s and 60s, making our "normal" portions larger along with our waists. There is no need to be a member of the Clean Plate Club.
In an average day, Americans consume almost 200 calories a day from sweetened beverages and alcoholic drinks, and at a party that number may be even more. Give your guests another option from the sugary sodas and drink mixers. Club soda, seltzer and sparkling mineral water have no sugar or calories, making them alternatives for sweetened sodas and tonic water. Also, keep pitchers of water and low-calorie tea and lemonade on hand. Have fun with your beverage options by adding healthy fruit such as lemons, berries or chopped peaches and watermelon.
Desserts are often the most anticipated part of the meal, yet those with diabetes think that they have to stay away. With so many sugar substitutions around these days, you will have no problem making simple ingredient switches to your favorite desserts so that everyone at the party can enjoy. Sugar-free pudding mixes are easy to find in the supermarket and come in a variety of flavors. From chocolate to cheesecake and pistachio to banana cream, the abundance of flavor options will offer you a wide range of desserts, making it easy to lower the sugar and carbohydrates. A simple yet luscious dessert that feeds a crowd is to layer fat-free angel food cake, whipped topping, sugar-free pudding and your favorite berries for a spectacular low-fat, low sugar bite of decadence -- you are sure to get rave reviews! And don't forget to use your nonfat milk and reduced-fat cream cheese, as they are perfectly fine to bake with -- and you will decrease the amount of unhealthy fats while keeping all of the flavor.
With a few easy substitutes, such as adding veggies to dips, using sugar-free instant pudding and incorporating nonfat products, you can deliciously feed a crowd while pleasing those with diabetes at the same time.
Holly B. Clegg, author of the trim&TERRIFIC® cookbook series and specialized diabetic and cancer cookbooks, has been writing about the relationship between food and health for two decades. Check out Holly's latest book, "Too Hot in the Kitchen," on Red Room, where you can read her blog.
Follow Holly B. Clegg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hollyclegg