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    Fire Up the BBQ: Diabetes-Friendly Recipes to Feed a Crowd



    Enjoying a meal outdoors with friends and family is one of summer's greatest pleasures.



    If you often find that watching your blood sugar while navigating backyard barbecues and potlucks can be tough, then you're in luck. These quick, delicious, diabetes-friendly recipes can serve you well all summer long. They're low in carbs, big on flavor, and perfect for sharing with friends and family.


    Each recipe serves eight, but feel free to double or triple them if you're cooking for an even bigger crowd.


    Spicy Summer Gazpacho


    Work more produce onto your plate—or into your bowl—with this cool, refreshing soup. It can also be served in wine glasses or cute cups for easy utensil-free entertaining.


    In a food processor or blender, combine 1 pound of chopped ripe tomatoes, 1 cored and chopped yellow bell pepper, 1 chopped cucumber, half a red onion, and 1 garlic clove. Pulse briefly until vegetables are finely diced. Add 1 quart of low-sodium vegetable juice, a few dashes of hot sauce, the juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse one or two additional times to combine, transfer to a pitcher, and chill.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    84 calories, 4 g fat (1 g sat), 12 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 2 g protein, 137 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol


    Diabetic Exchanges:

    2.5 vegetable


    Summer Pasta Salad


    Thanks to a healthy dose of colorful veggies, this satisfying pasta dish is filled with flavor and light in carbs.


    Cook ½ pound of penne pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, whisk together ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey mustard, ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil, and ¼ teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drain the pasta and toss with vinaigrette, 4 cups of baby arugula, 2 pints of halved grape tomatoes, and 1 cup of halved, trimmed sugar snap peas.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    197 calories, 8 g fat (1 g sat), 27 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugars, 5 g protein, 89 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol


    Diabetic Exchanges:

    1.5 fat, 1.5 starch, 1 vegetable


    Black Bean and Corn Stuffed Zucchini


    This tasty plant-based side dish is guaranteed to please everyone at the table. Prep it ahead of time and pop it in the oven right before your guests arrive.


    Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut 4 zucchinis in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. In a large pan, saute 1 large, chopped red onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Add 1 cup of fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels, a 15-ounce can of rinsed, drained black beans, ½ cup of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese, and ¼ teaspoon each of kosher salt, black pepper, and ground cumin. Stir well and spoon equal amounts of the mixture into each zucchini half. Arrange the zucchinis in a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and top the zucchinis with ¼ cup chopped of fresh cilantro.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    121 calories, 4 g fat (1 g sat), 17 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 6 g protein, 285 mg sodium, 4 mg cholesterol


    Diabetic Exchanges:

    5 fat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable, .5 lean meat


    Lettuce-Wrapped Turkey Burgers


    For a healthier burger, swap in lettuce wraps for the usual bun. You'll trim calories and carbs and add a satisfying crunch.


    In a large bowl, combine 2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey, 1 diced Vidalia onion, and a 4-ounce can of diced green chilies. Combine the mixture well and form 8 patties. Grill the burgers over high heat for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, and then remove them from heat. Serve each burger in a large lettuce leaf with 1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    188 calories, 8 g fat (2 g sat), 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 25 g protein, 305 mg sodium, 50 mg cholesterol


    Diabetic Exchanges:

    1 vegetable, 3.5 lean meat, .5 other carbs


    Grilled Pineapple Skewers


    Grilled fruit is a sweet, gooey, healthy alternative to pie, and yogurt dipping sauce adds protein and calcium.


    Cut 1 peeled and cored pineapple into 1-inch chunks. Divide the pineapple into 8 equal portions and thread on skewers. Spray each skewer with olive oil cooking spray and grill over high heat for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the skewers from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Serve each skewer with 2 tablespoons of low-fat vanilla yogurt.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    89 calories, 1 g fat (0 g sat), 20 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 2 g protein, 26 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol


    Diabetic Exchanges:

    1 fruit, .5 other carbs


    Now that you've got the recipes, it's time to fire up the barbecue! With these quick, easy diabetes-friendly recipes, warm weather entertaining is a breeze.


    By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN




    USDA Food Composition Databases, Standard Reference

    These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.