A diabetes-friendly diet doesn’t mean eating just steamed vegetables and broiled fish all the time. Following the guidelines from the American Diabetes Association to manage your blood sugar means eating lots of the right kinds of foods in moderate amounts—healthy carbs such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products…good fats like avocados, nuts and canola, olive and peanut oils…and fish as well as moderate amounts of chicken and beef. In fact, eating this way is healthy for almost everyone—it helps to reduce risk for cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.

Bottom Line Personal asked cookbook author Linda Gassenheimer for her favorite diabetes-friendly meals that can be made in just minutes. Each meal below makes two servings.

Bronzed Chicken Breasts Over Red, Green and Brown Rice

Bronzed Chicken Breasts

  • 2 Tablespoons Cajun or blackened spice seasoning mix
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 3⁄4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Mix the Cajun or blackened seasoning and flour together. Spoon one tablespoon of the spice mixture onto one side of each chicken breast cutlet, pressing it into the flesh.

Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over high heat and add the canola oil. When the skillet is very hot—you can tell the skillet is ready when a few drops of water sizzle—add the chicken breasts, seasoned side down. Spread the remaining one tablespoon of the spice mixture on the top side of each cutlet.

Cook until the underside is bronze in color, two to three minutes. Cook the second side three to four minutes or until cooked through. A meat thermometer should read 165°F. Keeping your skillet hot will make the coating of this bronzed chicken golden and caramelized.

Per serving: 260 calories, 9 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 37 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugars, 615 mg sodium.

Red, Green and Brown Rice

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup no-added-salt tomato juice
  • 1½ cups brown rice (microwavable)
  • 2 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water and tomato juice to a boil in a medium-size saucepan over high heat.

Microwave the rice according to the package instructions. Add the rice and spinach to the tomato juice.

Mix well until the spinach begins to wilt. Add oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 209 calories, 4 g fat, <1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugars, 33 mg sodium.

Mediterranean Steak with Minted Couscous

You can make this sautéed steak flavored with the bounty of the Mediterranean—olives, walnuts and capers—in just 15 minutes.

Mediterranean Steak

  • ½ pound beef tenderloin steak, (3⁄4-inch thick)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (about1⁄8 teaspoon)
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped walnut pieces
  • 8 sliced pimento stuffed green olives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove any visible fat from the steak, and sprinkle it with cayenne pepper.

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the skillet with olive oil spray, and add the steak. Brown the steak for one minute. Flip it over, and brown the other side for one minute.

Sprinkle walnuts and olives over the steak and into the skillet.

Lower heat to medium, and cook two minutes for medium rare. A meat thermometer should read 135°F. Cook a thicker steak two minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 227 calories, 116 calories from fat, 12.9 g total fat (3.4 g saturated fat, 5.5 g monounsaturated fat), 72 mg cholesterol, 246 mg sodium, 1.4 g carbohydrate, 0.7 g dietary fiber, 0.1 g sugars, 25.8 g protein.

Minted Couscous

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat. Add couscous and tomatoes. Cover with a lid and let stand five minutes. When ready, fluff up with a fork. Add mint and salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 179 calories, 4 calories from fat, 0.5 g total fat, (0.1 g saturated fat, 0.1 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 9 mg sodium, 37.0 g carbohydrate, 3.3 g dietary fiber, 2.4 g sugars, 63 g protein.

To serve, place couscous on two dinner plates, slice the steak and place on top. Spoon pan juice over the steak.

Mushroom Pesto Pasta with Pimento Pepper Salad

Add some meaty sauteéd portobello mushrooms to a healthy store-bought pesto sauce to make this flavorful pasta dish in the time it takes to boil pasta.

Mushroom Pesto Pasta

  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ pound portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • ¼ cup reduced-fat prepared pesto sauce (such as Buitoni Reduced Fat Pesto with Basil)
  • 1 Tablespoon pine nuts
  • ¼ pound fresh linguine (or dried linguine if fresh is unavailable)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring three to four quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.

Heat one-half tablespoon of olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the mushrooms for five minutes. Remove them from skillet and chop. Place the mushrooms in a bowl, and add pesto sauce and pine nuts. Mix well.

Cook the linguine in the boiling water for three minutes or until it’s cooked but still firm. (If dried linguine is used, follow package directions for how long to cook until firm—usually about eight minutes.) Drain and toss with the pesto sauce and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 441 calories, 145 calories from fat, 16.2 g total fat (3.0 g saturated fat, 9.4 g monounsaturated fat), 8 mg cholesterol, 227 mg sodium, 50.0 g carbohydrate, 3.7 g dietary fiber, 4.0 g sugars, 14.1 g protein.

Pimento Pepper Salad

  • 4 cups washed, ready-to-eat Italian-style salad
  • 1 cup canned drained sliced sweet pimento
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange salad leaves on two dinner plates. In a small bowl, mix the pimento, olive oil and vinegar together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over lettuce.

Per serving: 83 calories, 46 calories from fat, 5.1 g total fat (0.7 g saturated fat, 3.3 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 23 mg sodium, 8.9 g carbohydrate, 38 g dietary fiber, 4.5 g sugars, 2.2 g protein.

Tasty Way to Fry an Egg

Have you tried a “mayonegg”? Instead of frying your egg sunny side up in butter, use mayonnaise.

Melt a few teaspoons of mayonnaise in a nonstick pan. When the mayo starts to sizzle, crack an egg into the pan and cook as you would with butter. Result: A tasty fried egg browned on the edges and bottom, with a thin, crisp edge around the white.

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