Following a suitable eating plan can help people living with diabetes manage their blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. When eating out or attending a dinner party, it may be difficult to identify appropriate foods. However, people with diabetes can still enjoy a wide variety of appetizers.

Diabetes refers to a group of conditions that impairs how the body processes blood sugar. Three of the most common types of diabetes include type 1, type 2, and gestational.

As people obtain sugar from their diet, some individuals may need to be mindful of the foods they are eating to help them manage their blood sugar levels and keep them within target ranges.

While it may be advisable for people to consume more of certain foods while limiting or avoiding others, people living with diabetes can still enjoy their favorite foods. However, they may need to eat smaller portions or enjoy them less often. As appetizers are typically smaller dishes, there are many different options available.

This article lists some suitable appetizer options for people living with diabetes.

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While managing diabetes may involve following eating plans and being more conscious of the food individuals consume, people living with diabetes can still enjoy a wide variety of foods. Some appetizers a person may want to consider can include:

Spiced chickpea soup with sourdough

This chickpea soup appetizer is a healthy option containing many different vegetables. The recipe involves slowly cooking and softening the vegetables before adding tomato puree, stock, and spices to get the desired flavor and consistency.

The recipe suggests using a meat stock, but a person can replace it with a vegan or vegetarian option if they wish. A 50-gram (g) serving contains 28 g of carbohydrates. Therefore, if people wish to add sourdough, they might want to opt for a smaller slice of bread.

Patatas bravas

This popular Spanish dish, often served as tapas, refers to potato pieces in a spicy tomato sauce. Prepare the sauce by frying onions and garlic, then add paprika, tomatoes, and stock. Simmer, then blend the sauce. For the potatoes, boil until tender, drain and toss in oil, then cook under a hot grill to crisp.

Fresh black bean salsa

A healthier alternative to shop-bought salsa, this fresh black bean salsa is a versatile recipe that people can serve with totopos or dipping vegetables. Rinse, drain, dice, mince, or chop the vegetables, then mix together in a medium bowl.

When serving this salsa with totopos, people with diabetes should limit their portion size to 1–2 ounces of the chips.

Dijon and horseradish deviled eggs

This low carb snack or appetizer includes zesty Dijon mustard and horseradish to provide extra flavor. It also replaces most of the mayonnaise with plain yogurt for a lighter alternative. First, boil the eggs and discard the shells, then halve the eggs and remove the yolk. Next, mix the egg yolk with the other ingredients and add the mixture to the egg whites. Finish with a light sprinkling of paprika.

Bruschetta stuffed zucchini boats

As it is advisable for people with diabetes to include nonstarchy vegetables into their eating plan, this alternative take can provide a quick and tasty way to do this. To prepare, trim and discard the zucchini ends, then cut in half. Next, scoop out the middle section, then quickly blanch the zucchini before placing it on a baking sheet. Finally, mix and heat the reserved zucchini and bruschetta, add to the zucchini, sprinkle cheese, then broil the stuffed zucchini boats until golden.

Yakitori chicken

This yakitori chicken appetizer offers a high protein option. To prepare the marinade, mix and gently heat soy sauce, sugar, honey, rice wine, and water. Allow to cool and reserve a separate, small portion for later. Use the larger portion of the sauce to marinate the chicken for roughly 30 minutes. Next, heat the grill and thread the chicken onto the skewers. Grill for 2 minutes before turning while brushing the chicken with the remaining portion of marinade for extra flavor. Return to the grill until golden and cooked through.

Boneless barbecue “wings”

Using chicken breast meat with a crunchy baked coating is a healthier alternative to traditional chicken wings. Dip the chicken into the dry and wet mixtures to provide an even coating. Arrange a single layer on a baking sheet and add to the oven to cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the coating is crisp. Meanwhile, prepare the barbecue sauce and either coat the chicken or use it as a dip. People should opt for a barbecue sauce lower in sugar and sodium.

Chicken nachos

For a sharing dish, people can consider chicken nachos. Heat an oven, lay cut tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet, then cook until golden and crispy. Add to a baking dish, then top the chips with refried beans, shredded chicken, and reduced-fat cheese. Place back into the oven and cook until the cheese melts. Top the nachos with salsa, avocado, and yogurt. People can serve the nachos on a platter or divide them into separate servings.

Spicy duck topped poppadoms

This duck poppadom dish provides an impressive but simple appetizer. Prepare the duck breasts by marinating them with Chinese 5 spice powder. Fry the duck in a frying pan until crisp and golden. Chop and shred the cucumber, coriander, and spring onions, before adding onto each poppadom. Spoon on a little mango chutney, then finish by topping each poppadom with a piece of duck.

Crab stuffed shrimp

This seafood option provides a tasty and presentable offering for an appetizer. Heat the oven while mixing crab, green onions, mayonnaise, lemon zest, and peppers in a small bowl. Next, butterfly the shrimp by cutting down the center of the shrimp, just deep enough to flatten it. Divide the crab mixture evenly between the shrimp, then dip into breadcrumbs. Return to the oven and bake until the shrimp are no longer translucent.

Research notes that each individual’s body responds differently to certain foods and eating plans. As such, there is no single plan that works for everyone. People can work with a registered dietitian to help create a suitable eating plan that caters to them and their treatment goals.

For people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes that the keys to healthier eating include:

  • eating fruits and vegetables
  • consuming lean protein
  • choosing foods with less added sugar
  • avoiding trans fats
  • eating fewer processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods

In addition to following an eating plan, people can also eat at regular times, track their food, and control their portions using the plate method. Other strategies to help control blood glucose can include:

While some people living with diabetes may need to follow eating plans to help manage the condition, many smaller, appetizer options are available when dining out.

Typically, it is advisable to choose options containing vegetables and lean proteins. People may also want to avoid appetizers that contain added sugar, trans fats, or processed foods.