What are some healthy meals for vegetarians with diabetes?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Check the video feed on my Sharecare profile or my YouTube channel. I feature vegetarian meals consistently on my website, and you'll find many prepared on video with nutrition info provided. Hats off to the fabulous registered dietitians who have loaned us the recipes I selected as "diabetes-friendly."

Ms. Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

A healthy meal for a vegetarian with diabetes is very similar to a healthy diet for someone who eats meat. The key difference being that the protein choices are plant-based and milk/dairy based versus chicken, fish, meat, eggs, etc. It is important to recognize that plant based proteins such as beans, lentils, legumes count as carbs and protein so will need to make adjustments accordingly to the rest of your meal choices to keep your blood sugar under control. Seeing a dietitian specializing in vegetarian and diabetic diets can help you stay on track.

A few examples:

  • brown rice with stir-fry veggies + tofu
  • whole grain bread + low fat cheese + veggies sandwich
  • wholegrain pasta + marinara sauce with cheese
  • veggie burger on a whole grain bun + salad

The following are healthy meal ideas for lacto-vegetarians (eat dairy but no eggs):

  • Broccoli cheese soup—Serve with a whole-grain roll and dip it in your soup. Add a side salad made with fresh greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and low-fat dressing.
  • Bean burrito—Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with fat-free refried beans, salsa and low-fat cheese.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich—Add tomatoes to your sandwich before grilling or dip in tomato soup. (Try sticking to vegetable broth-based soups instead of cream-based.)
  • Cheese-stuffed ravioli—There are many kinds of pre-made raviolis in the store. Serve with a small amount of marinara sauce.
  • Falafel pita—Fill a small whole-wheat pita with a few pieces of falafel, yogurt-based sauce (tzatziki sauce), cucumbers and tomatoes.
  • Veggie quesadilla—Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with grilled peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and low-fat shredded cheese. Eat with pico de gallo and a small amount of reduced-fat sour cream or guacamole.
  • Veggie burger or black bean burger—Make these from scratch if you can find a recipe or buy them pre-made from the store. Cook your burger on the grill. Then top with a slice of low-fat cheese, a few slices of avocado, tomato, lettuce and onion on a whole-wheat roll. It's easy to make this a vegan meal by just taking out the cheese!
  • Pizza—Make or order plain cheese or add vegetable toppings.
  • Whole wheat pasta with pesto sauce—Cook and add your favorite veggies on top of this dish or try eating with a green side salad and low-fat dressing.
  • Yogurt parfait—Make with low-fat vanilla yogurt, fresh berries and chopped nuts.

The following are healthy meal ideas for lacto-ovo vegetarians (eat both dairy and eggs):

  • Vegetarian omelet—Make with lightly sauteed spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions or other veggies of your choice and some melted cheese on top.
  • Vegetable lasagna—Make with low-fat ricotta cheese. You can pack this dish with lots of vegetables like squash, mushrooms, onions, peppers and broccoli. Top with marinara sauce. (Note that most lasagna recipes include eggs. Also, there are some vegan lasagna recipes that use tofu in place of ricotta cheese.)
  • Eggplant parmesan—Serve with marinara sauce and a small amount of whole-grain pasta. (Note that most eggplant parmesan recipes include eggs.)
  • Egg salad sandwich—Make with light mayo and serve on whole wheat toast.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.