Even for diabetics disciplined about the food they eat, the holidays present a special challenge. Celebrating with loved ones means being surrounded by an excess of dishes not recommended for diabetics: fatty meats, desserts, tamales—in other words, foods high in fat and sugar—not to mention the alcohol in toast after toast. To survive the season:

Plan your week. If you know that you are going to a party one evening where you are planning to satisfy one of your temptations, assure yourself that the rest of the week will be healthy—full of greens and whole grains, for instance.

Have a taste. Don’t fall into “all or nothing” thinking when trying a festive dish, says Cathy Clark-Reyes, RD, LD/N, a nutritionist based in Miami. You can have a taste and satisfy your desire without eating the whole thing.

Have a glass of wine as a toast instead of a beer or spiked fruit punch.

Do some kind of exercise, even if it is walking with your neighbors in the morning or afternoon, suggests Randy Muñoz, president of the Latino Diabetes Association, in Montebello, California.

Bring a dish you can eat if your loved ones invite you to a meal or dinner where you think the food may not be appropriate.

If you cook, incorporate ingredients that lower the glycemic index of the dishes you prepare. Use whole grains instead of white flour and healthful oils instead of lard or animal fat.

The following dishes—suitable for diabetics and anyone trying to stay healthy—make tasty additions to any holiday table.

Roast Turkey With Orange Spice Rub
11 servings; 3 ounces per serving

Vegetable oil spray
1 tbsp grated orange peel or zest
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp Jamaican pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (can subsitute with 1⁄8 tsp ground clove)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
1⁄8  tsp cayenne
5 lbs turkey breast with skin and bone

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Spray vegetable oil on roasting pan.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients (except turkey) in a small bowl.
  3. Push down on the skin of the turkey breasts with point of finger, but do not remove skin. Spread the mixed ingredients over the breasts and underneath the skin to coat. Put the turkey in the roasting pan and place in oven.
  4. Roast the turkey uncovered for one hour and 45 minutes or until it reads 170° when thermometer is inserted at the thickest part of the breast. Be sure that the thermometer does not touch the bone.
  5. Let the turkey sit for 15 minutes. Discard the skin and all the visible fat before slicing and serving.

Per serving: 116 calories, 6 fat calories, 1 gram total fat, 69 milligrams cholesterol, 98 milligrams sodium, 0 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams sugar, 26 grams protein

Copyright © 2004 American Diabetes Association, From Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook  

Delicious Pork Loin
8 servings; 4 to 5 slices per serving

¼ cup honey
1⁄3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsps yellow mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 pork tenderloins with fat removed
(2 about lbs)

  1.  Combine the ingredients except the tenderloins in a resealable plastic bag. Add the tenderloins, close the bag and marinate in refrigerator for at least four hours or all night. Occasionally shake the bag.
  2. Heat a grill pan over a medium flame. Place the tenderloins in the pan and roast 7 to 9 minutes on each side until cooked through or a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest section reads 160°.
  3. Slice and serve.

Per serving: 154 calories, 38 fat calories, 4 grams fat, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 144 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 24 grams protein

Copyright © 2002 American Diabetes Association, Adapted from Comida Rápida y Fácil Para Personas con Diabetes

Glazed Carrots With Honey

4 servings; ½ cup per serving

1 lb baby carrots
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps honey
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp powdered ginger
¼ tsp salt

  1. Place the carrots in a medium pan. Add enough water to cover the carrots and put on high heat. Once boiling, reduce flame to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Drain water and place carrots in a separate bowl.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan at low heat. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Place carrots in pan with all ingredients and mix well until completely warm. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 131 calories, 53 fat calories, 6 grams fat, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 244 milligrams sodium, 20 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 15 grams sugar, 1 gram protein

Copyright © 2002 American Diabetes Association, From Comida Rápida y Fácil Para Personas con Diabetes

Bread Pudding
15 servings; 1 square per serving (2.5 x 3 inches or 6 x 7.5 cm)

2 cups evaporated skim milk
1 ½ cups water, divided
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup applesauce with no added sugar
¼ cup canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup raisins, dates or dried sliced fruit
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 loaf (12 ounces) french bread, water bread or cuban bread, cubed, or 12 cups of white bread, cubed

  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the bread) in a large bowl, then add the bread. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 325°. If you desire a uniform consistency, you can mix the ingredients in a food processor or liquid mixer. If the mixture is still too dry, add more water.
  3. Put bread mixture in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Per serving: 171 calories, 41 fat calories, 5 grams fat, 28 milligrams cholesterol, 226 milligrams sodium, 27 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 13 grams sugar, 6 grams protein

Copyright © 2002 American Diabetes Association, From Comida Rápida y Fácil Para Personas con Diabetes

Recipes reprinted with permission from The American Diabetes Association. To order these cookbooks, please call 800.232.6733 or visit store.diabetes.org