What’s best to eat when you have diabetes?

What’s best to eat when you have diabetes?

November is National Diabetes Month. I had the chance to discuss diabetes prevention today on channel 9 (WCPO) news. I feel like I bring a lot of pantry and fridge samples to segments but want to give people an idea of what to eat!

Diabetes runs in my family and I myself, have pre-diabetes. My diet is not perfect, but I do try to do the right thing like walking most days of the week and limiting sweets. I try not to eat after dinner and play pickleball for stress relief!

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may hear conflicting information on what to eat, especially after your diagnosis. All too often, people with diabetes think they need to avoid carbohydrates and other favorite foods in their diet. In reality, when you have diabetes, you should be able to eat anything you’d like, but in smaller amounts.

The quantity and frequency of your foods, even healthy foods, matters. This review aims to give you specific, realistic tips on what foods to include when you have diabetes to help you create an eating plan that’s right for you.

Can I eat breads or cereals when I have diabetes?

You can still manage your blood sugar effectively if you’re eating bread, toast, a bun, or a wrap. There are several varieties of nutritious bread for individuals with diabetes. Go for those labeled 100% whole grain (or whole wheat), sprouted grain, high in fiber, or sourdough. If bread is labeled “multi-grain,” read the ingredients for whole grains used and check the fiber content (look for a few grams of fiber per slice.)

Several bread brands are available on the market that are lower in calories and carbs. Some varieties like cloud bread or cauliflower-based bread are examples. In addition, you can find “thin” or “skinny” bagels, bread, or sandwich thins, which also tend to have fewer calories and carbs. Look for whole-grain bread, wraps, and buns that contain at least two grams of fiber or more per serving. The amount of fiber is listed in the “Nutrition Facts” section of the food label.

Cereals such as rolled oats, shredded wheat, bran flakes and other high-fiber, low-sugar cereals are encouraged, in moderate amounts. Add ground flaxseed, chia seeds, chopped nuts or even protein powder. This helps manage blood sugar and appetite. You can add a few raisins or dried cranberries but keep the serving small as dried fruit is higher in sugar than fresh. A teaspoon will do it.

Am I supposed to avoid fruit when I have diabetes?

No! One other myth that individuals with diabetes may hear is that fruit is off-limits and bad for your blood sugar. Not true! Fruit provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients beneficial for blood sugar management and overall health. Fruit juice, fruit cocktail, and canned or frozen fruit packed in syrup or sugar may raise blood sugar.

Choose whole fruit in place of juice for more fiber and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that aid in disease prevention). Choose fresh or frozen fruit packed without added sugar. Include lots of colorful vegetables when possible. These are low in calories and carbohydrates but a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fresh or frozen are welcome!

Of all the fruits, berries, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, have the lowest sugar content. Kiwi, citrus fruit, melon, apples, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, and nectarines can also be included in your diet, though serving sizes may vary depending on the type of fruit consumed. Dried fruit such as apricots, dates, mangoes, raisins, or prunes have more concentrated sugar, so serving sizes are smaller. Think of these like candy instead of fruit.

What kind of snacks can I eat when I have diabetes?

When deciding what kinds of snacks to eat when you have diabetes, consider your food preferences and what you enjoy eating. Eating foods that contain fiber and protein may help keep blood sugar levels in check. For example, pair an apple with string cheese or whole-grain crackers with peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg.

Including snacks that are lower in carbs between meals is best to help prevent elevated blood sugar levels before meals. Items such as veggies with hummus or yogurt-based dip, low-fat string cheese, nuts or seeds, or turkey jerky are lower in carbs to help manage blood sugar spikes.

Other snacks could include sugar snap peas or pepper strips with avocado or yogurt dip, grape tomatoes, light cheese chunks, or almonds with a high fiber, low sugar cold cereal (such as shredded wheat or bran Chex). Edamame (green soybeans), nuts, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds are other tasty snacks for individuals with diabetes that have fewer carbs, fat, and sodium than chips.

What are some healthy meal choices for diabetes?

When it comes to managing your blood sugar, health is in your hands! Making meals at home allows you to take control of the ingredients to manage your blood sugar better. Unwanted ingredients such as added sugar, salt, or excess fat can be limited when creating meals at home. Eating at home helps with portion control and food costs, too.

Be sure to include fresh foods in their whole form to obtain adequate fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in your diet that are necessary for the best health. Use whole-grain bread and other grains, including brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, farro, and other high fiber grains. Make homemade chicken nuggets instead of processed ones to limit the fat and sodium in your meals. Have baked or mashed potatoes in place of French fries.

Limit red meat and especially processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, sausage, etc.). Both have been linked with higher rates of diabetes. Protein sources such as fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, plain yogurt, and low-fat cheese are welcome. Baking, broiling, or grilling are healthier cooking methods than deep frying. Keep in mind that breading will add unnecessary carbohydrates to your meals! Beans, peas, and lentils provide protein, carbs, and fiber in your diet. Because they’re a carbohydrate source, treat them as a “grain” in your diet when meal planning. Typically, a half cup of cooked beans or lentils is a serving.

What types of fat should I eat?

There’s nothing wrong with fat. It’s tasty and helps you feel satisfied! However, large portions can make managing blood sugars and weight challenging. Try smaller amounts when eating or cooking with fats (one tablespoon is a service).

In general, choosing plant-based liquid fats like natural peanut butter, nuts, seeds, olive, canola, and avocado oil is beneficial for cholesterol management over animal fats like lard and butter. Choose mustard, hummus, or guacamole for condiments and vinegar-based dressings for salads to help keep your fat portions and calories in check.

The Plate method is a simple, effective way to plan meals. Make half of your plate vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or leafy greens, one quarter of it a starchy food like potatoes, rice, pasta, and one quarter of it lean protein like chicken, fish or lean pork, or beef. The Plate Method ensures a balance of nutrients in your diet to help manage blood sugar.

To wrap it up:

  • Eat foods you enjoy in moderation.
  • Choose whole-grain bread, cereals, and other grains when possible.
  • Include lots of vegetables and lower-sugar fruit in your diet.
  • Snack on foods low in calories and carbohydrates but provide fiber and protein.
  • Make meals at home to control ingredients and portion sizes.
  • Pick lean, plant-based proteins when possible.
  • Choose low-fat cooking methods when preparing meals.
  • Use the plate method to plan balanced meals.

For more information on diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of diabetes, go to the American Diabetes Association website: American Diabetes Association | Research, Education, Advocacy


Chipotle Lentil Chili with Pumpkin

Chipotle Lentil Chili with Pumpkin

Although Halloween is behind us and pumpkin spice latte might be seen as a bit played right now, pumpkin itself is still quite popular, especially with Thanksgiving on the horizon.

If you think pumpkin puree is just for pie, think again! Personally, I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie (it’s likely a texture thing), but I do enjoy using pumpkin in other dishes. Have you ever used it in chili or stew?

Why Pumpkin?

Pumpkin has got a lot of nutrition prowess. It’s a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene in addition to being a source of potassium vitamin C and fiber. Canned pumpkin is versatile, accessible, and affordable for most. I’ve never cooked a pumpkin to make pumpkin puree and honestly, don’t see this in my future. If that’s your jam, more power to you! Canned pumpkin is packed in BPA-free cans, so no need to worry about that.

Lentils offer up plenty of fiber, protein, and iron- the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. When lentils are paired with a food high in vitamin C (such as peppers, tomatoes, or hey- pumpkin), your body absorbs more iron. Bonus! They also cook up much faster than other dried beans or legumes.

I made this simple pumpkin chili in my instant pot the other night, but it could also be prepared on the stove. With a handful of ingredients, I had dinner done in roughly 20 minutes! I used chipotle chili powder which gave the chili a smoky taste. Traditional chili powder or extra cumin could be used if chipotle’s not your thing.

If you want to keep the recipe vegan, use vegetable broth. Low-sodium broth would reduce the sodium content of the soup. This is a perfect dish for a tailgate party, book club, or simple dinner with friends or family.  If it’s too spicy, add a dash of plain Greek or plant-based yogurt to cool it off. I hope you like it!


1 Tbsp. canola or corn oil

½ white or yellow onion, diced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. chipotle pepper

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. paprika

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup red lentils

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. Set the Instant pot to sautee and add the oil. Allow to heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sautee for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the chipotle pepper, cumin and paprika and stir to coat the vegetables.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine.
  5. Close the lid of the Instant pot and reset the pot to “soup or stew”.
  6. All the lentils to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro (optional)

On a stovetop:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium soup pot.
  2. Sautee the onions, peppers and garlic until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the chipotle pepper, cumin, and paprika and stir to coat the vegetables.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine
  5. Allow the stew to simmer on low for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 190 calories, 2.1 gm fat, 9.5 gm protein, 29 gm carb, 5.6 gm fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 550 gm sodium

Fall Special- Free shipping til 10-31!

Fall Special- Free shipping til 10-31!

I feel like I blinked and summer changed to fall. I have to admit, it is my favorite thyme of the year! From apples to squash, I love fall produce and the anticipation of Halloween. I’m also a big fan of Oktoberfest as my husband and I got married that weekend and celebrate Cincinnati’s festival it every year.

This Oktoberfest season, I was invited to Sonder Brewing for their Oktoberfest It was a cool fall day filled with brew hahas, a “root beer run” for the kids and official stein holding competition. While it may not have been Munich, it was still lots of fun. Munich is on the bucket list, by the way.

I couldn’t help but make a special tee shirt for the event! It’s difficult to pun about beer, but I came up with Twist n’ stout. It was a hit for Oktoberfest! You can find them locally in Cincinnati at Morsel & Nosh or purchase one online. Available in short or long sleeves!

If you buy online, buy as little or as much as you like with free shipping til the end of October. No code needed! As always, part of proceeds go towards programs that help fight food insecurity such as La Soupe Cincinnati and About Us | Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and Social Center

Message me for size, color or other queries. I can add designs to other items as requested. Still freely shipped this month.

Be well and enjoy this fun season.

Lisa (AKA Nutrigirl)

PS Follow me on IG Lisa Cicciarello Andrews (@nutrigirl) • Instagram photos and videos

Tropical Pineapple Habanero Oats

Tropical Pineapple Habanero Oats

Mid to late September makes me a little wistful as summer ends, but ‘eggcited’ that fall is right around the corner. I love the end of the year produce, including tomatoes, melon and squash, but look forward to apples, pears and more leafy greens. I’m also OK with using pantry staples to create simple meals.

Oatmeal is one of my favorite foods. I like overnight oats, but really prefer the taste, texture and warmth of hot oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent grain to include in your diet. In addition to being a good source of soluble fiber (which helps lower bad cholesterol) and manage blood sugar), rolled oats have been found to help reduce appetite. They’re also a source of B vitamins, and inexpensive and versatile to use.

If you’re thinking that “old fashioned oats” take too long to cook, think again. You can whip up rolled oats in the microwave in 2 minutes. If you can spare one minute on instant oats, you can certainly spend 2 minutes on rolled oats. While they may have roughly the same fiber and calorie content, rolled oats are less processed, have zero sodium and no added sugar. Those little packs of instant oats pack 3 teaspoons of sugar and up to 200 mg of sodium per pack. Hard pass!

I made the recipe below with 3 ingredients including a little something spicy. My gal pal Barbie Hahn created this overnight sensation she dubs, “That dam jam”. Like me, Barbie is a foodie and enjoys simple, delicious ingredients. Her jam is no exception. She will tell you, “It’s nothing special”, but it really is! Barbie is the quintessential host. She creates beautiful trays of goodies and charcuterie and serves her delicious pineapple jam with cream cheese as a sweet and savory spread.

Her “sweet with a little heat” jam became so popular as a holiday and housewarming gift, her friends and family urged her to launch it commercially. It’s a really versatile jam that can be used in appetizers, main dishes with meat or hey- why not breakfast?

I combined rolled oats, unsweetened coconut and “That Dam Jam” for breakfast this morning. So. Dam. Easy! I hope you enjoy it as the weather changes from summer to fall in the next few days. Feel free to adjust the recipe to make more for a crowd.

You can find That Dam Jam at several markets around Cincinnati and Kentucky: SHOP LOCAL | That Dam Jam

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup water

1 teaspoon unsweetened coconut flakes

1 Tablespoon That Dam Jam (pineapple habanero)


  1. Place the rolled oats, water and unsweetened coconut in a microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe lid and cook the oats for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the oats from the microwave and stir in That Dam Jam.
  4. Allow to cool for a minute, then enjoy with gusto!

Makes 1 serving. Nutrition facts per serving: 211 calories, 37 grams carbs, 4.8 grams fiber, 4.1 grams fat, 5.6 grams protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.4 mg sodium 

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The Battle of the Bread- Aunt Millie’s Versus Doh Joy

The Battle of the Bread- Aunt Millie’s Versus Doh Joy

Nutrigirl is no stranger to carb consciousness. In addition to being a dietitian who counsels clients with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and weight management, I also have to deal with a familial condition of pre-diabetes myself. My father had diabetes from the time he was 40 and my mother developed it later in life. I was not surprised to find out my glucose was elevated 5 years ago.

To be clear, carbs are not the “enemy”. Our diet needs carbs for adequate energy, fiber, and B vitamins. Carbohydrates (AKA carbs) are found naturally in all grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, beans, lentils, and dairy products.

Added sugars in soda, sports drinks, desserts, and candy are less healthy carbs we should limit in our diet. Excess intake is linked with higher rates of chronic disease including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Unless a protein is breaded, most meat, fish, pork, and poultry products have zero carbs.

Whether carbs come from natural sources or are added to foods as sweeteners, both will raise blood sugar. Carbs break down into glucose, which our bodies either use for energy, store as glycogen or change to fat if too much is consumed. Reducing carbs of all types has some health benefits.

Curbing Carbs

Cutting back on carbs is an effective way to manage and control blood sugar. Recent research shows that compared to traditional calorie-controlled diets, limiting carbs may aid in diabetes prevention and reversal. Reducing carbs in your diet is also associated with weight loss and potentially longevity.

Often, one of the first things a person with diabetes (or prediabetes) does is cut out bread. This is one of the saddest things to hear as a food lover! Yes, bread has carbs, but there are a handful on the market that have been formulated with less. Let’s take a look at a few new ones.

Aunt Millie’s

Aunt Millie’s out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana is no stranger in the bread aisle. Their company has been around for 120 years and features everything from bread to buns to rolls. Their latest line “Live Carb Smart” includes three varieties of breads as well as hamburger and hot dog buns. For the purpose of this review, I’ll focus on their white bread.

For starters, the loaf looks like regular bread. The slices are uniform in size with the heel of the bread being slightly smaller. Each slice contains 45 calories and just .5 grams of fat. The sodium content is low at just 115 mg per slice. The bread is fortified with vitamin D and contains 10% of the Daily Value, which is considered a “good” source of the nutrient.

The carb count is 12 grams per slice of which 6 are net carbs. The slices contain 6 grams of dietary fiber, which is subtracted out of the total carb count to yield the net carbs. Like other low-carb bread, it has no added sugar. The texture is soft and it tastes like regular bread! The bread toasted up nicely.

Doh Joy

Doh Joy is a new Cincinnati-based company. Its white bread is dubbed “keto-friendly” and would be appropriate for individuals with diabetes or others limiting the carbs in their diet. Like Aunt Millie’s, it has no added suga.and its base is made from modified wheat starch and wheat protein isolate.

The protein content is 5 grams per 40-calorie slice. Doh Joy boasts 30% more fiber than Aunt Millie’s: 9 grams per slice versus 6 grams. Their net carb count is also lower, 1 gram per slice instead of 6 with Aunt Millie’s. Doh Joy contained less potassium than Aunt Millie’s, making it a good choice for individuals on a low potassium diet, such as renal patients (kidney disease).

The taste and texture of Doh Joy are similar to Aunt Millie’s, but a little chewier. Both of the breads toasted up well and had a mild, “white bread” taste. Doh Joy contains 1.5 grams of fat per slice, compared to Aunt Millie’s .5 grams per serving. Doh Joy does not contain vitamin D.

The Bottom Slice

If you’re looking to reduce carbs in your diet, please don’t completely cut out bread. What fun is that? You certainly can’t make a sandwich or French toast without bread! If carbs are your concern, Doh Joy is lower than Aunt Millie’s with most of the other ingredients being close in comparison. It certainly gives Aunt Millie’s a run for the money.

I received samples of both breads for this comparison but was not paid for the review. To find either of the breads online, visit: Baking Memories From Our Family to Yours – Aunt Millie’s (auntmillies.com)

DohJoy Under 1 Net Carb Keto Friendly White Bread

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