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The below  is designed to provide a balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals while following the basic principles of a diabetic meal plan. Every person who has diabetes has his or her own individual energy and nutrient needs, so please consult your health care professional to make sure our suggestions will work for you. The menu is designed for young adults through seniors. It is not designed for children or people who need close medical management of diabetes.

Since carbohydrates are the nutrients that diabetics need to monitor the closest, the exchange lists are designed to help maintain the proper amount of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three major nutrients found in the foods we eat, but carbohydrates have the greatest effect on our blood sugar. Since controlling blood sugar is the number one goal of diabetes management, controlling your intake of carbohydrates can help you achieve that goal. This doesn’t mean that carbohydrates should be eliminated; rather, it becomes important for you to plan your meals and snacks so they provide a consistent amount of carbohydrates. And that brings us back to the Exchange Lists.

The Exchange Lists include foods from the following food groups: Starches, Fruit, Milk, Vegetables, Proteins, Fats, and Free Foods. Carbohydrates are primarily found in Starches, Fruit, and Milk. One serving (or exchange) of a Starch, Fruit, or Milk will provide 15 grams of carbohydrate (the amount of protein and fat in each carbohydrate exchange will vary, depending on the food). Monitoring serving sizes in this way is also referred to as “carbohydrate counting.”

For example, your breakfast meal may allow three servings of carbohydrate, or 45 grams of carbohydrate. The three servings can be distributed among different foods-maybe two Starches and one Fruit. A snack may allow two servings of carbohydrate, or 30 grams. In this case, one Milk and one Starch would work well. Just remember that Starches, Fruits, and Milk provide carbohydrates, and one serving of carbohydrate provides 15 grams.

Vegetables, proteins, and fats usually provide few carbohydrates but are good sources of other important nutrients, namely vitamins and minerals. In general, vegetables contain only a few grams of carbohydrate (5 grams per serving) and can be used more liberally in the diabetic diet. In some cases they are not included in carbohydrate counting. We have not counted them in these menus. However, your health professional may recommend that you include the carbohydrate count of these vegetables in your meal planning. Also, if you eat very large quantities of these vegetables (several cups), they should be counted as a carbohydrate serving. Starchy vegetables-corn, peas, lima beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash must be counted as a carbohydrate serving. They are considered starches and contain 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Proteins and fats are an important part of any diet, and actually work well with carbohydrates to help stabilize blood sugar. One protein exchange equals one ounce of “meat.” One fat exchange equals five grams of fat.

Exchanges and their Equivalents

Each exchange provides the following:

1 Starch (bread) exchange=80 calories;
15 grams carbohydrate
(ex: 1 slice bread, 1/2 English muffin or bagel,
1/2 cup hot cooked cereal, 1 tortilla,
1/3 cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup cooked pasta,
1/2 cup starchy vegetable)
1 Fruit exchange=60 calories;
15 grams carbohydrate
(ex: 1 small piece fresh fruit, 1/2 cup water- or
1/2 cup hot cooked cereal, 1 tortilla,
2 tablespoons dried fruit, 1/2 cup fruit juice)
1 Milk exchange=120 calories;
12 grams carbohydrate
(ex: 8 ounces soymilk)
1 Vegetable exchange=25 calories;
5 grams carbohydrate
(ex: 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw, 1/2 cup vegetable juice)
1 Protein exchange=75 calories;
0 grams carbohydrate
(ex: 1/2 cup tofu, 1/2 cup cooked beans*,
2 Tablespoons nut butters, 2 ounces meat substitutes)
*Because of the carbohydrate content in beans,
1/2 cup must also be considered 1 starch.
1 Fat exchange=45 calories;
0 grams carbohydrate
(ex: 1 Tablespoon regular salad dressing,
2 Tablespoons reduced-fat salad dressing,
1-1/2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise)

Nutritionally, the daily menus in this article break down to approximately 1800 calories per day, 50% from carbohydrate, 20% from protein, and 30% from fat.

Daily Menu Pattern

Each daily menu follows the pattern below. If followed closely, the meal plan provides about 1800 calories per day. The amount of carbohydrate (CHO) at each meal has been calculated:

Breakfast: 385 cal
1 fruit 15 grams CHO
2 starch 30 grams CHO
1 fat  
1 milk 15 grams CHO
Morning Snack: 140 cal
1 starch 15 grams CHO
1 fruit 15 grams CHO
Lunch: 420 cal
2 starch 30 grams CHO
2 fat  
1 vegetable  
1 protein  
1 milk 15 grams CHO
Afternoon Snack: 155 cal
1 starch 15 grams CHO
1 protein  
Dinner: 560 cal
2 protein  
1 fat  
1 vegetable  
2 starch 30 grams CHO
1 fruit 15 grams CHO
1 milk 15 grams CHO
Evening Snack: 155 cal
1 starch 15 grams CHO
1 protein  

This may sound like a lot of information. Begin to use the menus and you will become proficient in figuring out how many exchanges you are eating. Once you know the exchanges, you can easily figure out the calories and amount of fat you are eating every day.

How to Use the Menus

These menus were planned with a great deal of variety. We realize that it may not be practical for you to include such a wide assortment of foods at all times, due to preparation time, busy schedules, seasonal limitations on fresh vegetables, and other reasons.

Keeping in mind that a varied diet is necessary for good nutrition, you may repeat some of your favorite days and exclude several of your least favorite days. You can also use menu days out of sequence, depending on your shopping and cooking schedule. However, be sure to use a whole day of menus, as each day has been balanced for good nutrition, calories, vitamins, and other considerations.

What to do with the inevitable leftovers? If you have a whole snack or entrée left over, refrigerate it properly, and skip a day before eating it. Even better, freeze it so you can eat it again when you’re ready for it. It’s not a good idea to eat the same foods several days in a row, as you’ll miss out on the good nutrition inherent in a varied diet.

You will probably need to invest in a small portion scale and a set of measuring cups and spoons. After a while, you will become adept at correct portion sizes. Remember, the amount of food you eat is just as important as the type of food.

The menus were designed to require less preparation on working days (Monday through Friday) and for lunches. It’s probably a good idea to prepare work or school day lunches and snacks the night before so you can grab them and go. You might want to invest in some insulated carrying bags and cups so you can transport your food safely.

Saturdays and Sundays were designed with a little more food preparation. Use these days whenever your “off” days occur so you’ll have time to prepare your meal and enjoy.

You’ll notice that the menus are designed as six small meals a day. Eating in this way better stabilizes your blood sugar, providing a steady influx of energy and helping you feel well.

You may find that you can purchase some of the meals and snacks, rather than packing them. That’s fine; just watch portion sizes, and “extras,” such as oil added to popped corn, protein powder added to smoothies, and other hidden calories.

If you need to eat fewer calories than the menus offer, first reduce the starch (pasta, potatoes, popcorn, etc.) exchanges. One serving of starch, equivalent to one slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked pasta, is about 80 calories. However, before you change your dietary pattern, be certain to consult your dietitian or health care professional. A dietary change may require a change in medication or monitoring.

These menus are moderate in fat. If you require an adjustment in the fat levels, consult with your health care professional. If you follow the menus exactly and make no non-vegan substitutions, then there will be no cholesterol in your diet. To reduce saturated fats, read food labels. Palm oil, coconut oil, tropical oils, and hydrogenated vegetable fat are sources of saturated fat and should be avoided, if possible.

 The numbers beside the recipe title in the menu is the page where the recipe can be found, and the recipes are cross-referenced to the day where they are called for. There is a designation on the menus as to how much of each recipe is considered a portion. Don’t assume that the recipe always makes the portion size called for in the menu. For example, the recipe for Corn and Potato Chowder makes three servings. The menu lists:

1 serving Corn and Potato Chowder

Therefore, divide the chowder into three equal portions and freeze the rest, or make only one-third of the recipe. The amount listed in the daily menu will keep you on the correct daily exchange pattern.

Take a look at the eight days’ worth of menus designed. Let your health care professional take a look at them to see if they need to be personalized for you. Also, take some time to look at the ingredients and the recipes, make shopping lists, and schedule meal preparation.

It takes a lot of effort to live well with diabetes. Controlling this disease is certainly a lot of work, but living a long, healthy life will be worth it!



Breakfast: 1/2 cup melon slices
2 slices Corny French Toast with
1/4 cup chopped peaches or apricots
4 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 1/2 cup fresh grapes
6 assorted lowfat crackers
Sparkling water

Lunch: 1 cup mushroom barley soup with
2 ounces smoked seitan
1/2 cup green and wax bean salad with
2 teaspoons sesame seeds and
2 Tablespoons reduced-fat salad dressing
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: 1/2 cup sugar-free chocolate pudding
(You may create this at home with a sugar-free mix
like Sorbee or Estee and any nondairy milk.)

Dinner: 1 cup Lentil Chili with
1/4 cup prepared Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
over 1/3 cup white rice
1/2 cup steamed or roasted carrots
1/2 cup fresh pineapple slices

Evening Snack: 1/2 cup pretzels
8 ounces enriched soymilk


Breakfast: 1/3 cup cranberry juice or
cranberry juice cocktail
3/4 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/2 banana and
1 teaspoon vegan margarine
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 3 cups lowfat popped popcorn with
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup orange juice

Lunch: 6″ pita stuffed with 2 ounces fake meat
(equivalent to 2 ADA meat exchanges),
lettuce, radishes, and cucumbers
1 cup shredded cabbage with
1-1/2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: Fruit smoothie made with
8 ounces soymilk, 2 ounces silken tofu, and
1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries, blended together
3 ginger snaps

Dinner: Baked eggplant (1/2 cup) with
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup black beans with 1/3 cup brown rice
One medium baked apple

Evening Snack: 2 Tablespoons peanut butter on 6 crackers


Breakfast: 1/2 cup orange slices
2 slices whole wheat toast
with 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 5 vanilla wafers
1/2 cup apricot nectar

Lunch: 1-1/2 cups spinach and romaine salad with
1 Tablespoon sliced berries, 6 almonds,
and fat-free salad dressing
Bean enchilada (Fold 1/2 cup beans
into 1 tortilla and top with salsa.)
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack:1/2 cup soy ice cream

Dinner: 1/2 cup steamed broccoli with
1/4 cup red peppers
1 cup steamed, baked, roasted, or microwaved
potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and
2 Tablespoons vegan sour cream
1 tofu hot dog or 1 ounce vegan deli slices

Evening Snack: 3 graham crackers with
2 Tablespoons nut butter
8 ounces enriched soymilk


Breakfast: 1/2 cup apricot nectar
Breakfast pizza: 2 English muffin halves with
1 teaspoon vegan margarine and
1-1/2 ounces soy cheese
1/2 cup salsa
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 1/2 cup fat-free tortilla or pita chips
1/2 cup carrot juice

Lunch: 1 cup vegetable bean soup
1/4 bagel with 2 teaspoons soy cream cheese
1/4 bagel with 1 Tablespoon nut butter
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: Creamy tomato smoothie
made with 1 cup tomato juice and
1/2 cup silken tofu

Dinner:6-ounce grilled portobello “steak”
1/2 cup braised swiss chard
1/2 cup baked or steamed sweet potato with
2 Tablespoons canned pineapple chunks
1/2 cup baked tofu

Evening Snack: 1 medium pear or apple
8 ounces enriched soymilk


Breakfast: 1/4 cup cranberry-apple juice with
1 cup hot whole grain cereal, topped with
1/4 cup peaches and 1 teaspoon vegan margarine
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 1/2 cup vegetable juice (like V-8)
1 cup croutons or crackers

Lunch:Veggie Wrap:
One 7-8″ tortilla with 1/2 cup grilled vegetables,
1-1/2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise,
1-1/2 ounces vegan cheese, and
6 strips soy bacon
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: 1/2 cup baked veggie chips with
1/2 cup nonfat refried beans mixed with salsa

Dinner: 8 ounces baked tofu with
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup steamed spinach and onions
1 dinner roll spread with 1 teaspoon vegan margarine
1/2 cup grapes

Evening Snack: 3 cups lowfat popcorn with
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
8 ounces enriched soymilk


Breakfast: 1/2 cup cold whole grain cereal with
1/2 cup sliced banana
1 slice toast with 1 teaspoon vegan margarine
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 1 medium fresh apple or pear
2 breadsticks

Lunch: 2 veggie burgers on 1/2 whole wheat bun
layered with lettuce, tomato, and shredded carrots
Cucumber sticks
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: 1/2 cup sugar-free vanilla pudding
(You may create this at home with a sugar-free mix
like Sorbee or Estee and any nondairy milk.)
with 2 Tablespoons pistachios or pecans

Dinner: 1 cup pasta with mushroom sauce
(Use 1/2 cup soymilk, 1/4 cup minced mushrooms,
and 1 teaspoon garlic. Heat and add 2 chunks tofu.)
1/2 cup braised kale or chard
1 cup berries
4 ounces enriched soymilk

Evening Snack: 2 Tablespoons nut butter with
3 ginger snaps


Breakfast: 1 cup melon or mango slices
Breakfast soft tacos: 2 tortillas with
2 teaspoons vegan margarine
and 1/2 cup salsa
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 1/2 cup pineapple slices
1/4 cup fat-free granola

Lunch: 1 cup scrambled tofu with chopped veggies
1/2 English muffin
1 medium corn-on-the-cob with
1 teaspoon vegan margarine
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: 1/2 cup red bean chili with
2 ounces tofu

Dinner: 1 serving Corn and Potato Chowder with
1/2 cup tofu added
1/2 cup tomato wedges

Evening Snack: 1/2 cup soy ice cream with
2 Tablespoons granola


Breakfast: 1/2 cup red grapefruit sections, broiled,
or 1/2 fresh grapefruit
1 Cinnamon, Apple, and Raisin Pancake
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Morning Snack: 1 small baked apple with
3 teaspoons granola

Lunch: 1 cup steamed broccoli,
red pepper, and cauliflower with
1/2 cup black beans and 1/4 cup prepared
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) over
1/3 cup rice or barley
1/2 cup spinach salad with 1/4 cup raspberries
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Afternoon Snack: Waldorf salad (3/4 cup chopped apples,
1/4 cup celery, 1 Tablespoon walnuts,
1-1/2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise)

Dinner: 2 slices veggie pizza
Chopped romaine lettuce with fat-free dressing
1 cup sliced kiwi and raspberries

Evening Snack: 1/2 cup pretzels
8 ounces enriched soymilk

Free Foods

Some items are so low in calories and fat that they are considered “free.” You may add these to your meal preparations as you like. Here is a list of some foods that are considered “free”:

  • Fat-free and sodium-free broth(Use this as a cooking liquid for vegetables and grains, or chop some fresh veggies into broth and use as a fast no-calorie snack.)
  • Sparkling water and seltzers(With a squeeze of lemon or lime, these make a good “hydration” break.)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder(Add 1 Tablespoon to pudding mixes, hot cereals, or soymilk.)
  • Unsweetened fresh or frozen cranberries and rhubarb(These are very sour-chop and use sparingly in fat-free salad dressings, cook with rice, barley, or couscous, or add to fresh salads.)
  • Mustard, horseradish, ketchup (1 Tablespoon), vinegar
  • Unsweetened pickled vegetables, including okra, cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, etc. (Although there is no limit on these, if you are on a sodium restriction, try to have no more than a couple Tablespoons of these per day.)
  • Fat-free, low-calorie salad dressing
  • 1 cup raw vegetables:cabbage, celery, cucumber, green onion, garlic, hot peppers and chilies, mushrooms, radishes, summer squash (You can make a great “extra” salad or relish by combining a mixture of these veggies with some vinegar or nonfat salad dressing.)
  • Greens: up to 4 cups of fresh endive, radicchio, chicory, head lettuces, romaine, spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, and beet greens per day.

The Recipes
Corny French Toast
Lentil Chili
Corn and Potato Chowder
Cinnamon, Apple, and Raisin Pancakes

Corny French Toast (First Sunday)
(Makes 3 slices)

Serve this cold sauce with grilled or roasted vegetables to conjure a seaside meal.

2 Tablespoons silken tofu
1/4 cup vanilla soy or rice milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cornflakes
3 slices whole wheat or raisin bread
Vegetable oil spray

In a bowl, combine tofu, milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon until smooth.

Crumble cornflakes. (You’re not looking for cornflake flour; crumble until each flake is broken in two or three pieces.) Spread flakes on a dinner plate.

Dip bread in the tofu mixture until both sides are coated. Place both sides of each slice of bread into the cornflakes. Press down slightly so they stick. Spray frying pan with vegetable oil and fry bread until each side is golden brown.

Serve with sliced bananas, fruit preserves, or syrup.

Note: If you don’t have vanilla-flavored soy or rice milk, use plain, and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon sweetener. Also, instead of frying, you can bake this recipe. Preheat oven to 375 degrees while you prepare the bread. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil and place the prepared bread on it. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden.

Total calories per 2-slice serving, using soymilk and whole wheat bread: 255
Protein: 10 grams Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 49 grams Calcium: 57 milligrams
Iron: 3 milligrams Sodium: 340 milligrams
Exchange: 2 slices = 3 starches

Lentil Chili (First Sunday)
(Makes 1 portion)

1/2 cup drained canned or cooked lentils
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients and stir to mix. Microwave, covered, for 4 minutes on high, or cook on stove in a small pot until heated through.

Total calories per serving: 153 Dietary Fiber: 10 grams
Total Fat as % of Daily Value: 2%
Protein: 11 grams Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Calcium: 45 milligrams
Iron: 4 milligrams Sodium: 300 milligrams

Corn and Potato Chowder (Saturday)
(Makes 3 servings)

Vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
1-1/4 cups frozen cut corn, thawed, or corn cut from 3 ears of corn
3 cups water
4 boiling potatoes, cubed
1 cup silken tofu
1 teaspoon dried dill
2 cups soymilk
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large pot, spray vegetable oil and heat. Add onions, garlic, parsley, and corn. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes.

For a very smooth texture, blend tofu in a blender or food processor prior to adding to soup. Stir in tofu, dill, soymilk, thyme, and pepper. Simmer chowder for 15 minutes or until very hot.

Total calories per serving: 309 Dietary Fiber: 8 grams
Total Fat as % of Daily Value: 10%
Protein: 15 grams Fat: 7 grams
Carbohydrates: 53 grams Calcium: 75 milligrams
Iron: 4 milligrams Sodium: 39 milligrams

Cinnamon, Apple, and Raisin Pancakes (Second Sunday)
(Makes about 4 six-inch pancakes)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegan dry sweetener
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup plain or vanilla soymilk
2 Tablespoons silken tofu
1 Tablespoon oil or melted margarine
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil spray
2 large green apples (about 1 cup), peeled, cored, and minced
1/2 cup raisins

Sift flour, sweetener, baking powder, and cinnamon and place in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix soymilk, tofu, oil or margarine, and vanilla together until well combined. Slowly mix dry and liquid ingredients together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Heat a large frying pan and spray with oil. Add apples and raisins, and sauté for 3 minutes or until apples begin to soften. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Respray pan and ladle batter into the pan by 1/2 cup measures. Top each with 2 Tablespoons of apple/raisin mixture. Cook until pancakes begin to bubble. Flip and cook until golden brown.

Note: This batter can be prepared the night before and left in the refrigerator overnight.

Total calories per pancake using plain soymilk: 393
Total Fat as % of Daily Value: 9% Dietary Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 15 grams Fat: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 76 grams Calcium: 175 milligrams
Iron: 4 milligrams Sodium: 256 milligrams