Whether you're controlling diabetes or cooking for someone who is, these meals make for great family dinners.

By Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD
November 15, 2019

Did you know there is no "magic" diet for diabetes? According to the American Diabetes Association, the best eating plan takes into account your body's needs while also emphasizing vegetables, fruits, lean meats, plant-based proteins, and heart-healthy fats. And since these the same foods everyone needs to stay healthy, there's no reason to feel like you need to cook separate meals.

We've pulled together 12 healthy dinner ideas for people living with diabetes, but each of these meals is delicious enough that the whole family will be excited to eat them.

RELATED: 10 Foods to Eat Every Week to Help Control Diabetes

Turkey Spaghetti Zoodles
Photo by bd.weld

1. Turkey Spaghetti Zoodles

Classic spaghetti gets a lower-carb spin by replacing pasta with zucchini noodles; using a jarred marinara keeps total prep for this one-dish meal to less than 30 minutes. The addition of baby spinach boosts magnesium so that one serving provides over 20 percent of the daily value. This is a good thing since magnesium is associated with reducing risk for type 2 diabetes. If desired, use the baby spinach for a side salad instead of adding to the spaghetti.

RELATED: 3-Day Diabetes Meal Plan: 1,800 Calories

Sheet Pan Salmon and Bell Pepper Dinner
Photo: barbara

2. Sheet Pan Salmon and Bell Pepper Dinner

The convenience of a sheet pan dinner is hard to beat, but this one's also a winner when it comes to taste and nutrition. Lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and a touch of maple syrup create a simple, flavorful glaze for a fish dinner with only 15 grams of net carbs. Even better, one serving contains over 100 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 60 percent of your daily Vitamin A, and is good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

RELATED: Real-Talk Answers to Your Adult Diabetes Questions

Spinach Whole Wheat Quesadillas
Photo: Yoly

3. Spinach Whole-Wheat Quesadillas

Who doesn't love a cheesy quesadilla? This skillet dinner comes together in 10 minutes and calls for just six ingredients, one of which is whole-wheat tortillas. Whole-grain products have more fiber than refined varieties, which helps to minimize the impact of carbs on blood sugar. This is key for those with diabetes, but also good for all ages when it comes to providing energy and satiety.

RELATED: Practical Steps to Prevent Diabetes

Jack's Old-Fashioned Beef and Vegetable Soup
Photo: sopenia

4. Jack's Old-Fashioned Beef and Vegetable Soup

Loaded with veggies and lean beef, this homemade soup is hard to beat on a cold day. What makes it unique is that it features several starch sources — black beans, split peas, potatoes, pasta, and rice — but in small amounts. This adds a variety of textures, nutrients and lots of fiber. Opt for brown rice and whole-grain macaroni for additional fiber.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Eating Healthy with Diabetes

Pork Stir Fry
Photo: mauigirl

5. Pork Stir Fry

Cruciferous vegetables are a family of low-carb veggies that are packed full of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants and phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory effects within the body. Both work to reduce inflammation within the body, which is believed to reduce the risk of diabetes complications. Enjoy this stir-fry by itself, or serve over brown rice or cauliflower rice.

RELATED: 12 Skin Care Tips for People With Diabetes

Quick Fish Tacos

6. Quick Fish Tacos

Dietary guidelines advise getting 2 to 3 servings of fish each week, and this is a delicious way to get more fish into your diet. The tacos feature pan-fried tilapia that's dressed with a green onion slaw and topped with a lime crema made with reduced-fat sour cream. Substitute another mild white fish or use shrimp if desired. Also, consider using whole-grain or corn tortillas for a little extra fiber.

RELATED: 10 Foods Diabetics Should Eat Daily

One Skillet Mexican Quinoa
Photo: fabeverydayblog

7. One-Skillet Mexican Quinoa

The hearty combination of black beans and quinoa means no one will miss the meat. Eating more plant-based meals is recommended for everyone, but may have extra benefit for those with diabetes since a 2012 study found that those with type 2 diabetes who incorporated beans or legumes on a daily basis had lower HghA1C levels, lower blood pressure, and lower triglycerides three months later.

RELATED: This Is What Happens When You Sit Around for 2 Weeks—Even If You're Young

Roasted Balsamic Chicken with Baby Tomatoes
Photo by Regina Pompeo

8. Roasted Balsamic Chicken with Baby Tomatoes

Marinate ahead, and then pop this dinner in the oven when you get home. Tomatoes are good sources of lycopene, a compound linked to reduced risks of cancer and heart disease. One study even suggests eating tomatoes daily may help to reduce blood pressure in those with type 2 diabetes. Adding cherry tomatoes towards the end of the cooking time gives them just enough time to roast and to soak up some flavor.

RELATED: Your Diabetes Holiday Survival Guide

Hamburger Steak with Onions and Gravy
Photo: Allrecipes

9. Hamburger Steak with Onions and Gravy

Comfort foods can be part of every healthy diet, and this recipe shows you how. Choosing lean ground beef and using minimal oil to cook the patties and onions allows you to use the same ingredients your grandmother might use while keeping the dish within healthy parameters. To reduce sodium, use a low-sodium beef broth and slightly less seasoned salt.

Shrimp Saute on Cauliflower Rice
Photo: Ashley Myers

10. Shrimp Saute on Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable with lots of versatility, including serving as a low-carb replacement for rice like it does here. The veggie also means one serving provides over 40 percent of daily potassium needs, which is a nutrient that plays a key role in keeping blood pressure in check. It's also easy to serve this dish over whole-grain pasta or brown rice instead of cauli-rice if desired.

Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup
Photo: C&K Creations

11. Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup

This soup has two ingredients that make it unique. First, the whole-grain barley is used in place of rice, which offers a slightly chewy texture. Then, toasted almonds are sprinkled on top to add crunch instead of croutons. This fun addition adds some healthy fats, as well as protein and fiber, to ordinary chicken soup. Keep prep simple by using cooked chicken from a skinless rotisserie chicken.

Mango Lime Fajita Skillet
Photo: Knorr

12. Mango Lime Fajita Skillet

Flank steak is a great option for people trying to control diabetes. Not only does it cook quick, but it's a lean cut that doesn't require much seasoning or tenderizing. A seasoned rice mix serves as the base for the skillet dinner, yet one serving has just under 30 grams net carbs. Fresh toppings like mango and cilantro add even more flavor, as well as healthy doses of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and folate.

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This article originally appeared on AllRecipes.com

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