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Diabetic Recipes: Healthy Holiday Fare


Recipes and images courtesy of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and Diabetic Living/Eating Well magazine.

‘Tis the season of holiday cheer! But travel, office parties, big meals and sweet treats galore can make it challenging to manage your diabetes. This year, don’t miss out on any of that holiday fun. Here are five healthier versions of your favorite seasonal recipes, along with tips to help you enjoy any party without wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels. 

Spinach-Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Serving size: 1 Tbsp, Servings per recipe: 36


  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt      
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise dressing or salad dressing  
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese       
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 red and/or yellow sweet peppers, seeded and cut into strips, or desired dippers


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together mozzarella cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise dressing, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the flour and the Dijon mustard.

2. Stir in the spinach, roasted red peppers and 2 tablespoons of the green onions. Spread the cheese vegetable mixture evenly into a 1-quart ovenproof shallow dish or a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

3. Bake the dip, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are bubbly and the mixture is heated through. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons green onions. Serve with red and/or yellow sweet pepper strips. Makes 2 1/4 cups.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: Calories: 21, Total Fat: 2 g (0 g sat. fat), Cholesterol: 3 mg, Sodium: 47 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 1 g.


Crispy Potato Latkes

Servings per recipe: 12 Latkes


  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, (about 2), shredded
  • 1 medium white onion, shredded
  • 2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 pieces whole-wheat matzo, (6-by-6-inch), broken into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 3 Tbsp peanut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil, divided


1. Toss shredded potato, onion, shallots and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer to a sieve set over a large bowl; let drain for about 15 minutes. Squeeze the potato mixture, a handful at a time, over the bowl to release excess moisture (don’t oversqueeze — some moisture should remain). Transfer the squeezed potato mixture to another large bowl. Carefully pour off the liquid, leaving a pasty white sediment — potato starch — in the bottom of the bowl. Add the starch to the potato mixture. Stir in egg.

2. Put matzo pieces in a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin into coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs and pepper over the potato mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until the matzo is softened, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir the potato mixture. Cook 4 latkes per batch: place 1/4 cup potato mixture in a little of the oil and press with the back of a spatula to flatten into a 3 1/2-inch cake. Cook until crispy and golden, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet. Continue with 2 more batches, using 1 tablespoon oil per batch and reducing the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: Calories: 100, Fat: 4 g (1 g sat, 2 g mono), Cholesterol: 18 mg, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Added Sugars: 0 g, Protein: 2 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sodium: 204 mg, Potassium: 278 mg.

DIABETIC EXCHANGES: 1 starch, 1 fat 


Traditional Herbed Roast Turkey

Serving size: 4 ounces, Servings per recipe: 24


  • 1 12-14 pound turkey
  • 1 Tbsp snipped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp snipped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon regular salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 small onions, quartered (12 oz total)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 3 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs, fresh sage leaves, pomegranate wedges, tiny apples or pears, and/or kumquats (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove neck and giblets from turkey, reserving neck bone. Rinse the inside of the turkey; pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, stir together snipped or dried rosemary, thyme, snipped or dried sage, salt and pepper. Season inside of body cavity with half of the herb mixture. Pull neck skin to the back; fasten with a skewer. Tuck the ends of the drumsticks under the band of skin across the tail. If there is no band of skin, tie the drumsticks securely to the tail with 100 percent cotton kitchen string. Twist wing tips under the back.

2. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Arrange onions, carrots, celery, and neck bone around turkey in roasting pan. Pour the water into the pan. Brush turkey with oil. Sprinkle turkey with remaining herb mixture. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into the center of an inside thigh muscle; the thermometer should not touch bone. Cover turkey loosely with foil.

3. Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours more or until the thermometer registers 180°F. About 45 minutes before end of roasting, remove foil and cut band of skin or string between drumsticks so thighs cook evenly. When turkey is done, the juices should run clear and the drumsticks should move easily in their sockets.

4. Remove turkey from oven. Transfer to a serving platter (reserve mixture in pan for gravy). Cover; let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. If desired, garnish platter with rosemary sprigs, sage leaves, pomegranate wedges, tiny apples or pears and/or kumquats. 

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: Calories: 229, Protein: 38 g, Total Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 2 gm), Cholesterol: 137 mg, Sodium: 155 mg

DIABETIC EXCHANGES: Very Lean Meat(d.e): 5, Fat(d.e): 1


Gingerbread Cookies

Servings per recipe: 36 (3-inch) cookies


  • 1/4 cup butter, softened   
  • 1/4 cup 50% to 70% vegetable oil spread
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar*
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup full-flavor molasses
  • 1/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour


1. In a large bowl, combine butter and vegetable oil spread; beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Beat until well mixed, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in molasses and egg. (Mixture will look curdled.) Add all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, beating just until combined. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill the dough for 2 to 3 hours or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2- to 3-inch gingerbread person cookie cutter, cut out shapes; reroll scraps as necessary. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until edges are firm and centers are set. Cool on cookie sheets on wire racks for 1 minute. Transfer to wire racks; cool.

*Test Kitchen Tip: We do not recommend using brown sugar substitutes for this recipe

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: Calories: 73, Protein: 1 g, Carbohydrate: 12 g, Total Fat: 2 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g), Cholesterol; 3 mg, Sodium: 73 mg

DIABETIC EXCHANGES: Other Carb(d.e): 1

Pumpkin-Maple Pie

Servings per recipe: 8


  • 1 recipe Lower-Fat Oil Pastry (see below)
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup maple-flavored syrup
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 packets heat-stable sugar substitute
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Lower-Fat Oil Pastry

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 3 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
  • 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)


1. For pastry, in a medium bowl stir together flour and salt. Combine milk and oil; add all at once to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until dough forms. If necessary, add 1 to 2 teaspoons additional milk. Shape the dough into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface flatten pastry. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Wrap pastry circle around the rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pan, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Crimp the edge as desired. Do not prick pastry.

2. For the filling, in a medium bowl combine the pumpkin, maple-flavored syrup, flour, sugar substitute and pumpkin pie spice; add egg product. Beat lightly with a rotary beater or fork until just combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and vanilla; mix well.

3. Place pastry-lined pie plate on oven rack. Carefully pour filling into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375°F oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. If desired, top with dessert topping and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: Calories: 216, Protein: 8 g, Carbohydrate: 32 g, Total Fat: 6 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g), Cholesterol: 1 mg, Dietary Fiber: 2 gm

DIABETIC EXCHANGES: Milk(d.e): 1, Starch(d.e): 2, Fat(d.e): 1


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