Diabetes-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Skip the starchy sides and sugar-bomb desserts and opt for these nutrient-rich, high-fiber dishes.

A fork cutting into a slice of cake
A fork cutting into a slice of cake

Thanksgiving can be a dietary minefield for people with diabetes.

That’s because a host of traditional dishes — including classic stuffing, maple-drizzled sweet potatoes, skillet cornbread, and pumpkin pie —are laden with sodium, fat, and refined carbohydrates, making it a challenge to manage blood glucose levels and weight.

The good news for those at the table who have diabetes: there are plenty of just-as-delicious recipes that make it easy to savor Thanksgiving while sticking to a special diet. The recipes below appear in the book, A Taste of Wellbeing: Favorite Recipes from the Registered Dietitians and Chefs of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and are simple and healthy dishes to prepare throughout the holiday season. 

Yield: 2 servings

1 small raw pumpkin (about 3–4 pounds)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1¼ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed with fine mesh strainer
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Dash of salt
Black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Remove stem from pumpkin, cut pumpkin in half, and scoop out seeds. Brush grapeseed oil onto the inside of pumpkin and place cut side down onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in oven for about 35–40 minutes until pumpkin flesh is soft and tender.
3. While the pumpkin is in the oven, combine quinoa and vegetable broth in saucepan at high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes until quinoa is soft and broth is absorbed. Remove pot from heat.
4. Once pumpkin is fully cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool. Scoop out flesh into a bowl and mash well.
5. Add 1 cup of mashed pumpkin to quinoa and stir.
6. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and continue to stir to combine.
7. Serve immediately with additional sprinkle of Parmesan on each serving.

Yield: 12 servings (1 loaf, 12 slices per loaf)

1¼ cups ripe, mashed bananas
1 large egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease 8”x4” loaf pan using nonstick cooking spray.
3. In medium bowl, mix together banana, egg, applesauce, sugar, and brown sugar until well combined.
4. In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add dry ingredients into wet, stirring until combined. Spoon batter into loaf pan.
6. Bake for about 50 minutes or until lightly golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into middle of bread.

Yield: 4 servings

1 pound fresh collard greens, de-stemmed and cut into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 strips turkey bacon
1/8 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (may add more to taste)
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar (may add more to taste)
Ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat large soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil.
2. Cut turkey bacon strips in half and sauté in soup pot until lightly browned. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent.
3. Add 1/2 cup water and let ingredients boil for 5 minutes.
4. Slowly add in collard greens in batches and let simmer, stirring occasionally to allow all leaves to start to wilt, about 20 minutes.
5. Add sugar, red pepper flakes, and vinegar. Stir.
6. Simmer for another 20–25 minutes or until all leaves are wilted and tender.
7. Remove bacon pieces and discard.
8. Serve and enjoy!

For more delicious, healthy recipes, visit nyp.org/nutrition.

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