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    Healthy Holiday Side Dishes for People with Diabetes



    Sharing healthy food with friends and family is one of the best ways to celebrate the holidays.

    If you love the holidays but not what they do to your blood sugar (or your waistline), there's good news: diabetes-friendly side dishes can help lighten things up! These side dishes for people with diabetes are big on flavor, lower in carbohydrates and calories, and perfect for the whole family.


    Each recipe serves four, so feel free to double or triple them if you'll be cooking for a crowd.


    Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes


    Spuds are still on the menu! Pairing them with cauliflower simply helps trim the carbs.


    Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. While the water is heating, peel and dice two russet potatoes. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes. With the potatoes still in the pot, add 3 cups of cauliflower florets and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and set aside. Gently warm ½ cup of 1% milk on low heat in your saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the drained veggie mix back into the pot. Add ¼ cup of reduced-fat sour cream, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper and mash everything together well. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:


    111 calories, 2 g fat (1 g sat), 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 5 g protein, 201 mg sodium, 7 mg cholesterol


    Cranberry Pear Sauce


    With zero added sugars, this sauce boasts a fraction of the carbs found in the typical cranberry sauce recipe.


    In a medium saucepan, combine 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, 1 peeled and diced Bosc pear, 1 tablespoon of orange zest, ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, and ½ cup of water. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cranberries burst. Remove from heat. If the mixture is too tart for your liking you can add a small amount of sweetener, such as Stevia or Splenda, and adjust to your preferred level of sweetness. Serve warm or refrigerate up to two days.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:


    106 calories, <1 g fat (<1 g sat), 22 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 12.5 g sugars, 1 g protein, 5 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol


    Brussels Sprouts With Toasted Walnuts


    Packed with potassium to help manage blood pressure and beneficial unsaturated fats, these crispy, roasted vegetables are as heart-healthy as they are delicious.


    Arrange 1 pound of halved, trimmed Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Season with ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt and ⅛ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Roast in a 450° F oven for 20 minutes. Remove roasted sprouts from the oven. Toast 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts in a skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden. Remove from heat and sprinkle over Brussels sprouts. Serve immediately.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:


    104 calories, 6 g fat (1 g sat), 11 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 4 g protein, 148 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol


    Pureed Butternut Squash


    This diabetes-friendly side dish delivers the same golden goodness as sweet potatoes with fewer carbohydrates.


    Arrange 1 pound of cubed butternut squash on a large baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon of canola oil and season with ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast in a 350° F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Transfer squash to a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and ¼ cup of orange juice. Puree until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:


    115 calories, 7 g fat (2 g sat), 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 1 g protein, 125 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol


    Sautéed Balsamic Swiss Chard


    Leafy greens like chard provide magnesium, a mineral that is important in many processes in the body, including regulating blood sugar levels.


    Remove ribs and stems from 3 bunches of Swiss chard. Roughly chop the chard into 1-inch pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add chard, ⅓ cup of low-sodium chicken broth, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and 1 large pinch ground black pepper. Sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat and top with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving:


    66 calories, 4 g fat (1 g sat), 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 3 g protein, 346 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol


    Go ahead and get cooking! With these side dishes for people with diabetes you can feel good about enjoying your favorite holiday foods all season long.

    By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN





    USDA, Food Composition Database


    U.S. National Library of Medicine, Potassium


    American Heart Association, Dietary Fats


    American Heart Association, How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure


    WebMD, Magnesium Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk


    National Institutes of Health, Magnesium

    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.