Diabetics need to alter their lifestyle and incorporate a healthy diabetes diet along with a consistent exercise regimen.
When it comes to diet, India is a large country with diverse cultures and cuisines native to every region. However, there are a few culinary items which are common throughout the country.
One of them is the quintessential Daal-chaawal or dal with rice. Normally, arhar or tuar (pigeon) dal is used as it is nutritious, healthy, and simple to make. No Indian diabetic food chart is complete without this staple food.
Recipe for Daal
- 1 cup Tuar(pigeon) dal
- Lemon-sized ball of tamarind
- Salt to taste
- Red chilli powder to taste
- A pinch of hing (asafetida)- adds flavor and improves digestion
- ½ tsp. turmeric(haldi)
- 1 tsp. Coriander(Dhania) powder
- 1 tsp. jeera for seasoning
Step 1: Soak dal for half an hour. Then boil it or pressure cook till soft
Step 2:Soak tamarind and extract juice. Add some water to this juice
Step 3:Boil the diluted tamarind water with salt, chilli powder, dhania powder, haldi, and add boiled dal to bring to the required consistency.
Step 4:Chopped vegetables like carrots, bottle gourd, drumsticks, onion, and tomatoes can be diced and added while the dal boils.
Step 5:In another pan heat a teaspoon of low-fat oil and add hing and jeera. When the jeera splutters or turns dark pour on to the dal.
PS: In South Indian homes, drumsticks, pumpkin, and carrots are also added to make it healthier, especially for people with diabetes type 1 or diabetes type 2. In Western India, dals are more diluted and vegetables native to that area are added as an option. Sometimes leftover or fresh rotis are added to make it a complete one-dish meal.
In the North, the consistency of Dal is thick and there no vegetables added. Kali dal (full urad) is the most popular variety eaten. Full and split Moong and full and split Urad dal are also used as alternatives. In the East, native vegetables are also used as an option. North or South, East or West, Daal is a healthy food for diabetics.
South Indian food recipe for people with diabetes
What was a staple food of South India is now eaten pan-India and in many places abroad – the very popular and healthy Idli and dosa. But, there are other dishes which are just as healthy and easy to prepare for people following a diabetic food chart like Upma, pongal.
Recipe for upma (top option on a diabetic food chart)
- 1 cup sooji (Bombay Rawa)
- Half onion, finely chopped, 1 green chilli finely chopped
- 3-4 curry leaves
- Chopped coriander leaves
- Lemon juice
- Vegetables like carrots, beans,peas, boiled potatoes diced (optional)
- A tsp. ghee or low-fat oil
- ½ tsp. mustard seeds
- ½ tsp. jeera (Cummin seeds)
Step 1:Dry roast the sooji till it changes slightly in color. Remove from fire and keep aside. In the same kadai, heat oil and add mustard seeds & jeera. As they start sputtering, add green chillies, curry leaves, chopped onions and fry till pale pink.
Step 2:Add 2 cups of water and boil. When the water boils, add roasted sooji and optional vegetables.
Step 3:Cook till done to the required consistency. Garnish with lemon juice and chopped coriander. Serve hot.
PS:Sooji/Rawa is coarsely ground wheat in which all nutrients are retained. As wheat is lower in calories than rice, sooji is a healthier option for cooking a sumptuous dish for one and all and especially for diabetes type 1, diabetes type 2 and gestational diabetes.
North Indian recipe for diabetics
Pancakes or Chillas as they are known in North India are a sumptuous and healthy breakfast, especially for diabetics. The healthiest of all are the moong dal (green gram) chillas. Here the dal has to be soaked. Soaking the dal ferments it making it healthy food for diabetics and is easy to digest.
1 cup green or split moong dal soaked for 3-4 hours
1 green chilli (optional)
1 sliver ginger
A pinch of hing
Crumbled paneer (optional)
Finely chopped onion (optional)
Salt to taste
Step1: Grind the dal with ginger, hing and green chilli to make a smooth batter. Add salt.
Step 2:Spread it on a heated skillet like a dosa. Add crumbled paneer and onions
Step 3:Add a little oil and fold the chilla. Cook both sides till done
Serve with any chutney like coriander, tomato, or coconut because unseasoned chutneys do not have many calories.
PS: Chillas can also be made with wheat flour, gram flour.
Recipes for diabetics in India
Apart from dal, rotis (Indian flat bread), chutneys and sprouted lentils are popular on the diabetic diet chart. Rotis made from multigrain atta are sumptuous and healthy. Avoid wheat flour or maida.
Lentils like green gram, black chickpeas, garbanzos (chola) should be soaked for a few hours and then tied in a wet cloth and left to sprout. Sprouted pulses are high in proteins and very low in calories, which make them the ideal option on a diabetes food chart. In summers, they start sprouting after a night. In winter, they take longer to sprout.
When well sprouted, wash the lentils and steam a little. Add salt, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber and lime juice. Sprouted pulses are a healthy and filling dish which can be accompanied by a soup or curd.
- 1 cup Garbanzos or chick peas
- 1 cup full moong
- 1 cup lobiya
- Chopped onions
- Chopped tomatoes (optional)
- Chopped cucumber (optional)
- Chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Lemon juice
Step 1:Soak all the dals together or separately for 3-4 hours
Step 2:Tie in a fine muslin wet cloth. Leave for 1 or 2 days depending on the weather
Step 3:Wash dry and lightly steam (optional). Add chopped vegetables and toss. Add salt and lemon juice.
Food for diabetics is normally designed by the dietitian or a nutritionist to comprise of a balanced menu of lentils and pulses, cereals and grains, fruits and greens, eggs and white meat, nuts and salads.
Diet and exercise are the two main factors which keep Diabetes type I, Diabetes type II and gestational diabetes in manageable limits. Eat healthy and stay healthy.