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The Mediterranean Pantry for Diabetics

Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes

You've likely already heard about the Mediterranean Diet, considered by many physicians and nutritionists as the healthiest diet in the world. Not surprisingly it's quite similar to a diabetic diet:  it features fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, breads, fish, and small amount of very lean meats.

This is the way that we both cook, and we've done so since the early 1990s when Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote her best selling cook, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. She also wrote The Essential Mediterranean. Unfortunately the second book does not have nutritional information, but the first one does and you can easily figure out the exchanges or just count the carbohydrates.

To follow the Mediterranean Diet, it helps to have a few staples in your pantry.  Actually, everything on here is good to have in a "diabetic pantry."  If you keep these staples on hand, it'll be easier to cook well and make delicious diabetic recipes.

Here's what you'll find in a Mediterranean Diet pantry:

Vinegar

  • balsamic vinegar
  • fruit-infused vinegar
  • herb-infused vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • white wine vinegar
  • sherry vinegar
  • malt vinegar
  • rice wine vinegar
  • cider vinegar

Cooking Sprays

Oils

  • canola oil
  • olive oil
  • safflower oil
  • sesame oil

Grains

  • stone-ground yellow and white cornmeal
  • couscous
  • kasha
  • millet
  • rolled oats
  • instant polenta
  • quinoa
  • white rice
  • basmati rice
  • brown rice
  • quick-cooking rice
  • wild rice

Dried Beans and Legumes

  • black beans
  • cannellini beans
  • chickpeas
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • white beans
  • brown lentils
  • red lentils

Pasta

  • angel hair
  • bow ties (farfalle)
  • lasagna
  • linguine
  • penne
  • rotini
  • spaghetti
  • ziti

Baking Needs

  • unbleached all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • cream of tartar
  • cocoa powder
  • salt and kosher salt
  • vanilla extract
  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • spoon-for-spoon sugar substitutes.

Canned and Packaged Goods

  • no-salt-added tomato paste
  • no-salt-added canned tomatoes
  • canned pumpkin
  • unsweetened fruit juices
  • fat-free no-salt-added chicken and vegetable broth
  • cannellini
  • garbanzo (chickpeas) beans
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • white beans
  • black beans
  • no-sugar-added fruit spread
  • no-sugar added dried fruits
  • evaporated skim milk
  • powdered buttermilk
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • hot pepper sauces
  • regular and coarse ground Dijon mustard
  • dry red and white wine for cooking
  • cognac for cooking
  • dry sherry for cooking
  • rum for cooking
  • sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed)
  • capers
  • dried chiles
  • dried mushrooms

Dried Herbs and Spices

  • ground allspice
  • basil
  • bay leaves
  • dill
  • caraway seed
  • celery seed
  • chili powder
  • ground cinnamon
  • cloves
  • coriander
  • ground cumin
  • curry powder
  • fennel seed
  • ground ginger
  • marjoram
  • dry mustard
  • paprika
  • peppercorns
  • poppy seeds
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • saffron
  • sesame seeds
  • thyme

In the Freezer

  • frozen no-sugar-added fruits and berries
  • phyllo dough
  • bread dough
  • frozen vegetables
  • multi-grain breads and rolls
  • pita bread

In the Refrigerator

  • part-skim Parmesan cheese
  • fat-free mozzarella cheese
  • fat-free ricotta cheese
  • fat-free cream cheese
  • reduced-fat tub margarine
  • fat-free sour cream
  • fresh ginger
  • lemons
  • limes
  • oranges
  • other fresh fruit in season
  • scallions
  • fresh herbs
  • salad ingredients
  • fresh vegetables in season
  • tomato paste in a tube
  • anchovy paste in a tube
  • egg substitute
  • eggs
  • skim milk

Miscellaneous

  • Garlic
  • shallots
  • white onions
  • yellow onions
  • sweet onions
  • red onions
  • red potatoes
  • Russet potatoes
  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • sweet potatoes

To eat healthy with diabetes, keep these staples in your pantry.

Updated on: November 28, 2012
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