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Diabetes Health Center

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7 Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cooking

Who says that having diabetes means you can’t still whip up delicious, homemade food? When you know the basics of meal planning, you can make almost any recipe work.

So don’t throw out your cookbooks or toss your favorite recipes. Instead, take some tips about how to cook wisely.

Editor's Note: Food Pyramid Replaced

In June 2011, the USDA replaced the food pyramid with a new plate icon.

1. Cook with liquid fats in place of solid fats.

Solid fats often include saturated fats, which you should limit, or trans fats, which you should avoid totally.

If a recipe calls for solid fat like butter, lard, or hydrogenated shortening, try trans-fat free margarine, spreads, or shortening instead. Check the label to see whether the product will work for cooking or baking.

Many liquid fats -- oils such as canola, corn, olive, and grape seed -- can be healthy when used in moderate amounts. Some oils have stronger flavors that may affect the taste. So experiment to find which oils work best with which recipes.

2. Switch to low-fat dairy.

Many dairy products used in cooking and baking are high in fat. You can lower the fat content without compromising taste.

Instead of whole milk or half-and-half, pour 1% or skim milk, condensed skim milk, or nonfat half-and-half. Instead of sour cream, try low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt, buttermilk, or even low-fat cottage cheese (you may need to blend it first to make it smooth.)

To make a sauce that calls for cream or whole milk, use cornstarch and skim milk.

3. Use less fat altogether.

For many dishes, you can use 25% to 33% less fat than what the recipe says. Another tip: Substitute applesauce or mashed bananas for some or all of the fat in baked goods.

Or, if you’re whipping up a treat that calls for chocolate or chocolate chips, try cocoa powder, or use mini-chocolate chips and use fewer of them.

When cooking up a soup or stew, skim off the fat that floats to the surface while it’s on the stove. Or, place the pot in the refrigerator. When the fat has hardened at the top, it's easy to skim off.

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