Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy food. By making a few changes to your recipes, you can make them healthier and more in-line with what is now recommended for all Australians who are interested in healthy eating.
For example, use ingredients and recipes that:
- are lower in fat, particularly saturated fat
- are based on breads, cereals (preferably wholegrain), vegetables (including legumes) and fruits
- contain only a moderate amount of added sugar
- contain lower salt ingredients (always use salt sparingly)
To help you follow these guidelines, try some of the hints below.
Read more in our fact sheet Hints for healthy cooking.
Butter, margarine, oil & dressings
- In cooking, use small amounts of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats such as olive, canola and sunflower oils instead of butter.
- Use low fat cooking methods such as steaming, stir-frying, grilling or microwaving.
- When baking or using a non-stick pan, try using a cooking spray oil.
- When frying or sautéing, use small amounts of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.
- As an alternative to butter, try spreading bread with a thin layer of avocado, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, hummus or low-fat mayonnaise.
- On salads, try using an oil-free dressing or make your own using olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
- Try low-fat yoghurt instead of cream.
- For desserts, use a mixture of reduced fat ricotta cheese and natural low-fat yoghurt. For flavour add lemon, strawberry or vanilla essence, or add fresh fruit/pulp, cocoa or coffee.
- Try evaporated skim milk that is chilled and whipped.
- For savoury creamy sauces, use low-fat evaporated milk, buttermilk, low-fat natural yoghurt or skim milk thickened with cornflour. Add seasonings to flavour.
- Try reduced-fat sour cream, low-fat yoghurt, buttermilk or reduced-fat ricotta cheese as an alternative.
- Use a fat-reduced coconut milk.
- Mix together 1 metric cup low-fat milk or evaporated skim milk with 2 teaspoons corn-starch, 1 teaspoon coconut essence and a little sugar to taste.
- Try low-fat yoghurt mixed with a little coconut essence or desiccated coconut (do not boil).
- Use low-fat milk, fat modified milk or skim milk. UHT milk is good to keep on hand as it has a long shelf life.
- Add low-fat hot chocolate to low-fat or skim milk.
- Try using low-fat fresh or UHT soy drink.
- Try low-fat beverages on breakfast cereal, as a drink, in soups, in custard or in cooking.
- Make fruit smoothies using a low-fat soy beverage and/or soy yoghurts or try some of the ready-made flavoured soy beverages.
- Try using reduced-fat ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese.
- Use small amounts of reduced-fat block cheeses or use a smaller amount of a stronger flavoured cheese (e.g. parmesan).
- Sprinkle grated cheese, as you will use less.
- For sandwiches, use the reduced fat sliced cheeses.
- For a baked cheese topping, use half the cheese mixed with oats, breadcrumbs or wheat germ.
- Instead of using cream cheese, try light cream cheese or reduced-fat ricotta cheese (with a dash of vanilla essence for sweet dishes).
Yoghurt, ice cream & custard
- Use low-fat or ‘diet’ flavoured yoghurts or add fruit to low-fat/skim natural yoghurt.
- Try reduced fat frozen desserts.
- Make custard using custard powder and low-fat/skim milk or try low-fat UHT or fresh low-fat custard.
- Choose low fat ice creams.
- Try a reduced-fat soy-based ice confection or yoghurt.
Meat, chicken, fish & eggs
- Choose lean meat/mince and skinless chicken/poultry and trim all visible fat before cooking.
- Use approximately 100 g (palm size) of raw meat or chicken per person for the main meal of the day.
- Limit added fats when cooking meat, chicken and fish by using low fat cooking methods such as grilling, barbecuing and stir-frying. Add flavour by using herbs, spices, tomato-based sauces and marinades.
- Cook meat-based casseroles in advance, cool and skim fat off with spoon.
- Use lean sandwich meats such as lean ham, chicken and turkey breast.
- Try to eat fish (fresh, frozen or canned in brine/spring water) at least 2-3 times each week.
- Try baking fish in the oven wrapped in foil. Add lemon juice and herbs like parsley for flavour and to keep moist.
- Boil eggs or if poaching/scrambling eggs, use a non-stick pan. Make scrambled eggs/omelettes with reduced-fat milk.
- For gravy, drain juices from pan, allow fat to separate and remove before thickening
Biscuits, cakes & pastries
- When baking cakes or biscuits, use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated margarine instead of butter.
- Look for recipes that are lower in fat.
- Use fat-reduced or skim milk in recipes.
- For icing, try using ricotta cheese blended with fruit and add a touch of icing sugar.
- Make fruit-based muffins, scones and slices.
- Experiment with fruit puree or egg whites to bind cakes and use less margarine/oil.
- When using flour, try a mixture of wholemeal and white flour or add a little oat bran. You may need to add a little extra liquid to keep the recipe moist.
- When baking, try substituting 1/2 cup of white flour with soy or wholemeal flour.
- If making a biscuit crumb base, use a biscuit that is higher in fibre and line the base of the tin only.
- Use filo pastry and brush with a little egg white, fruit juice or low-fat milk instead of oil.
- For a pie base, instead of using pastry, try cooked rice mixed with egg white or mashed potato. Use spray oil to coat the dish to prevent sticking.
- When making pies, make pastry for the top of the pie only.
- Choose multigrain breads.
- To add variety, try different types of breads (e.g. pita bread, Lebanese flat bread, grain rolls, baguettes, sourdough, rye bread, crumpets, pumpernickel and fruit loaf).
- Avoid croissants as they are high in fat.
- Choose Dongara, or Basmati white or brown rice.
- Use egg or wheat noodles as an alternative to rice when making stir-fry.
- Include a variety of pastas like spaghetti, macaroni, fettuccine and penne. Try wholemeal varieties. Top with tomato-based sauces rather than creamy style sauces.
- Try using couscous as an alternative to rice or pasta.
- Have natural rather than toasted muesli as it is lower in fat.
- Try to add tinned, pre-cooked or dry legumes into more meals.
- Add a can of three or four-bean mix to salads or make a bean salad as a side dish.
- Use lentils in casseroles and soups.
- In mince dishes, try substituting half the mince with cooked lentils, kidney beans, soy beans, etc.
- For a quick snack, try baked beans on toast.
- As a meat alternative, try making curries based on legumes and vegetables.
- Try using tofu/tempeh in soups and stir-frys or try products made of soy protein (e.g. soy burgers/patties).
- Choose small amounts of unsalted nuts.
- Try toasting raw nuts in the oven or in a non-stick pan. This intensifies the flavour.
- Add small amounts of nuts and seeds to salads, stir-frys and sauces or in baked goods such as muffins and cakes.
- For healthier chips, make your own wedges by cutting potatoes into chunky pieces (leave the skin on), spraying with cooking oil and bake in the oven. Add herbs, spices or vinegar for flavour. When making roast vegetables, try partially cooking in the microwave, then spray with cooking oil and bake until crisp.
- Instead of adding butter or sour cream to cooked vegetables, try a blend of cottage cheese, skim milk and lemon juice, low-fat natural yoghurt or reduced-fat ricotta cheese.
- Small amounts of sugar can be added to recipes. Look at the overall quantity of sugar in relation to how many serves (e.g. 1/2 cup of sugar in a recipe that serves 10 should have very little effect on blood glucose levels).
- When baking cakes or muffins, try using fruit or fruit juice to sweeten.
- Alternative sweeteners can be used instead of sugar.
- Remember that it is generally better to add some types of alternative sweeteners to food after cooking. This is because some sweeteners turn bitter when cooked. Others lose sweetness when heated.
- When shopping, look for products that are ‘salt reduced’ or have ‘no added salt’.
- Avoid putting salt on the table.
- Reduce or omit salt in cooking.
- Sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, chicken salt, etc. are not suitable substitutes for salt.
- Instead of using salt to flavour foods try using spices such as pepper, garlic, chilli, mustard, curry, paprika and cardamom.
- Add herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, coriander, mint, sage, thyme, tarragon and marjoram.
- For extra flavour add lemon juice, onions, ginger, shallots, vinegar, wine or salt reduced stock.
- Marinate foods using tomato-based sauces, Asian sauces or pastes.