November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Did you know that one in 11 Americans have diabetes or that someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. every 23 seconds?

We also know that 86 million Americans are at risk of developing diabetes. There is no better time than now to prepare yourself for the upcoming holidays and to learn healthy eating strategies for lifelong behavior change to prevent, delay or manage diabetes. Managing diabetes is about controlling blood sugar levels. One method of meal planning to control blood sugar levels involves counting carbohydrates. To better understand carbohydrate counting (aka: carb counting) one must learn what foods have carbohydrates and their portion sizes.

Foods that contain carbohydrates and recommended to be counted:

Dairy: milk and yogurt

Grains: bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, rice

Starchy vegetables: potatoes, corn, peas

Vegetable proteins: Beans (any variety), soy products

Dessert foods/beverages: Regular soda, juice drinks, cakes, cookies, candy

Fruit: Fresh, canned, frozen and juice-based

To figure out how much carbohydrates packaged foods contain, look to the food nutrition facts panel. First check serving size, followed by total carbohydrates. Foods that do not have a food label will require an estimation of how much carbohydrate is in it. When planning meals as a diabetic, 1 serving of a carbohydrate food equals about 15 grams.

A few food examples with approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates:

n one tennis ball of fresh fruit

n one slice of bread

n one-half cup cooked oatmeal

n one-quarter of a large baked sweet potato

n one cup milk (skim to whole)

n one-half cup cooked beans (black, kidney, etc.)

The amount of carbohydrates one needs will vary on the individual. A great place to start is 15 to 30 grams at snacks and 45 to 60 grams at meals. A person’s carbohydrate amount will depend on many factors; an individual’s activity level and prescribed medications will influence how many carbohydrates your body can handle to keep your blood glucose in a healthy range.

Animal-based proteins (chicken, eggs, fish, beef, etc.), healthy fats (nuts, seeds, oils, etc.), and non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.) have either no carbohydrates or contain little carbohydrate. These foods, especially non-starchy carbohydrates, should always be included on your food plates. However, it’s generally easier to not focus on including these foods in your carb counting.

Whether you are a diabetic needing more assistance to manage your blood sugar, pre-diabetic or have never had your glucose measured, your local Hy-Vee dietitian is available to help you better understand. Call to ask about a complimentary store tour or, if you haven’t had your glucose levels checked, ask to set up a biometric screening today. Try this recommended fall favorite recipe, Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash, and remember, we are just a phone call away!

Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4 (1/2 stuffed squash half).

All you need:

2 (8 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 (21/2 to 3 pound) spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

11/4 cups red enchilada sauce, divided

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 cup Hy-Vee shredded pepper Jack cheese

All you do:

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450 degrees.

Place chicken in a medium saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and gently simmer until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish and add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400-degree oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.

Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the large bowl. Place the shells on a broiler-safe pan. Stir 1 cup enchilada sauce, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the squash and chicken. Divide the mixture between the shells; top with the remaining 1/4 cup enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes. To serve, cut each shell in half.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 408 calories, 22g fat, 11g saturated fat, 136mg cholesterol, 426mg sodium, 20g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 7g sugars, 34g protein. Daily values: 22% vitamin A, 32% vitamin C, 28% calcium. Source: EatingWell, Inc.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice. These sources are intended for dietitian purposes only, as a way to help you answer customer questions.

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