I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 37 years old. At first, I didn’t know much about diabetes, but I knew right away that my eating habits would have to change. From day one, I knew that I would have to become more aware of what I was eating in order to help keep my blood sugars in a healthy range.
I slowly learned that a lot of the foods I was eating weren’t as healthy as I thought. In fact, they were laden with calories and carbs that would make managing my blood sugars more challenging. So I decided to take a look at some of my favorite comfort foods and turn them into low-carb versions that still taste good and don’t wreak havoc on my blood sugars.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Who doesn’t love a bowl of pasta smothered in meat sauce and cheese? But even a modest bowl, let’s say 2 cups of pasta, will cost you around 85 grams carbs (and over 400 calories too). It’s almost unbelievable how much healthier the same dish is when using zucchini noodles as a replacement for the carb-heavy pasta. You will shave off over 300 calories and it contains around only 5g net carbs. I don’t miss pasta at all with this low-carb, low-calorie yet satiating swap!
And if you’ve had issues with watery zucchini noodles, check out this superb problem-solving guide from Wholesome Yum: How to Make Zucchini Noodles.
Not into zucchini noodles? There are other lower-carb pasta alternatives. Here’s our official rundown of the best options: 6 Great Low-Carb Pastas (and 1 to avoid!)
Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Doused with gravy, this meal soothes the soul. It’s hard to believe that with just a few small swaps, this meal can become a protein-rich, low-carb, and high-fiber meal.
Classic meatloaf has two carby ingredients. First, instead of using milk, opt for chicken or beef broth or some heavy cream. Second, you need to replace the breadcrumbs. There are many different theories on the best replacement. Some recipes use breadcrumbs from low-carb bread, some use extra veggies, some use low-carb grains, and some just don’t replace them at all. I like this meatloaf recipe from Low Carb Yum that uses crushed pork rinds!
Mashed potatoes? That’s a no-brainer. Mashed cauliflower is one of the best low-carb alternatives ever invented.
Finally, most gravy is made with a flour roux which can cost you some carbs. You could just go light on the flour, which will result in a thinner gravy, or opt for xantham gum. It contains zero carbs.
Macaroni and Cheese
There is a reason that all children love this meal and adults don’t mind making it. It’s easy and quick to make and it satisfies every time.
Unfortunately, a single serving of Kraft macaroni and cheese has 49g carbs, and who stops at just one? It’s hardly justifiable to serve to yourself, or to your child with diabetes, on a regular basis. Thankfully there is a lot of low-carb pasta on the market now so making this diabetes-friendly is not just possible, it’s a snap! Replace the pasta with options, like the elbow pasta from Great Low Carb Bread Co., which has only 5g net carbs per serving.
Chicken and Waffles
Apparently, this soul food trend started back in the 1930s when late-night partiers would head to the diner for some grub, and they would get fresh waffles with fried chicken leftover from the night before. Since then it’s been a very popular dish in the south and served in many restaurants worldwide. This can easily be made low-carb, even keto, whereas if you ordered this at a restaurant you are looking at over 100 grams of carbs!
I bread my chicken with almond flour, parmesan cheese, and egg before frying. Some recipes use crushed pork rinds instead of bread crumbs. I also love making this in my Cuisinart air fryer, an even healthier way to make your food crispy because you don’t need excessive oil.
The low-carb community has about a million low-carb waffle recipes. My favorite is Carolyn Ketchum’s Almond Flour Yogurt Waffles. I make a double batch and freeze them!
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie is another favorite of mine, especially in the winter months. This dish can be laden in carbs with its delicious flaky crust. I found this low-carb recipe by Peace, Love and Low Carb to have the simplest way to quickly transform this into a blood sugar-friendly dish.
With simplicity in mind, use rotisserie chicken to save both time and money. If you choose to make this truly keto, swap out the carrots and peas with lower-carb vegetables like cauliflower or zucchini. To recreate the buttery, crispy crust, use the Fathead recipe mentioned in the recipe: it contains almond flour, mozzarella cheese, egg, cream cheese, and spices, and it tastes great too.
All of these dishes give me a sense of calm, which is something we could all use since we are managing our condition 24/7. Now you can enjoy these hearty dishes and take comfort in knowing that they won’t spike your blood sugar and cause you more stress. Relax and enjoy!
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