Diabetes-friendly recipes

A couple are making diabetes-friendly recipes in the kitchen

People living with diabetes understand that a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and eating well, are essential to effective diabetes management.

When it comes to healthy eating, flavour and variety don’t need to be sacrificed! Healthy eating with diabetes will help you manage blood sugar levels, blood pressure and promote healthy levels of cholesterol.

We’ve rounded up some easy-to-make and delicious diabetes-friendly recipes. Karen Blekaitis, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator in the Endocrinology Clinic at Toronto General Hospital shares some surprising health benefits that can be found in these recipes.

Chipotle tahini bowls

This chipotle tahini power bowl makes a perfect and hearty lunch. Build with your favourite seasonal vegetables and a healthy grain base. Top with the homemade tahini and enjoy!

“Substituting higher glycemic starches for lower glycemic choices has been shown to significantly improve blood sugar control for those with diabetes. Consider using quinoa, barley or farro in your meal planning more often.” – Karen

Yields: 6


Chipotle tahini

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1–2 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Build the bowls

  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Soft-boiled eggs
  • Sautéed or massaged kale
  • Quinoa (can substitute for barley, farro or other whole grains)
  • Avocado


  • Blend all sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Season to taste.
  • Cook and prepare your bowl ingredients. Combine kale, roasted sweet potato, avocado, quinoa and soft boiled egg.
  • Drizzle chipotle tahini over top and enjoy!

Barley and lentil salad with kale, apples, almonds and feta

This filling and flavourful salad is packed with protein and fresh ingredients. Enjoy this salad for lunch or as a side for dinner.

“Regularly including dietary pulses such as lentils can help lower blood sugars and improve blood LDL cholesterol levels. The addition of a healthy portion of nuts to a balanced diet can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” – Karen

Yields: 14


  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1/2 cup pearl or pot barley
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or crushed
  • 2 – 3 cups finely chopped kale or spinach, tough stems discarded
  • 1 tart apple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 finely chopped red onion


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp white wine or rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp grainy mustard (try Maille’s wholegrain mustard or President Choice’s whole grain Dijon mustard)
  • 1 tsp honey or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • In a large saucepan, combine water, lentils, barley and garlic. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, discarding the garlic and set aside to cool completely.
  • In a bowl, combine lentils and barley with kale, apple, feta and red onion
  • Make vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper.
  • Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine

Nut-free chocolate chip oat bars

These oat bars are made with simple and wholesome ingredients. They make a delicious breakfast when on-the-go or a nice afternoon snack.

“Foods high in soluble fibre, such as oats, can help improve after-meal blood sugar readings and cholesterol levels. Substituting unsweetened apple sauce in baked good recipes for some of the fat and sugar, makes it a very healthy treat!” – Karen

Yields: 16


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Leave enough extra to drape the edges over slightly so you can lift the bars out when they’re done. (Or you can spray or grease the pan generously instead).
  • Mix dry ingredients (oats through cinnamon) in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, honey, vanilla and mix well.
  • Add wet to dry ingredients and stir until combined
  • Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned around edges and set in the middle
  • Gently lift bars out of pan and set on cooling rack
  • Once cool, slice into squares

UHN’s Diabetes program continues advance diabetes care, research and education – both in Canada and around the world. Learn more.

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