Following a diabetic-friendly diet doesn't mean giving up all of your favorite foods. With a little extra attention to ingredients, you can serve delicious appetizers that won't leave any of your family members or guests feeling deprived.
Take a tip from grandma with an "old school" treat by spreading peanut butter on celery stalks. Garnish the serving tray with the celery leaves. For an appetizer with an Italian flair, make zucchini Carpaccio with thinly sliced squash, a little salt and pepper, some lemon juice and olive oil, along with a few pine nuts and shaved Parmesan cheese. Arrange the slices in overlapping rings for a visually appealing presentation. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs. A simple before-dinner idea is to fill tender endive leaves with any of the same toppings you might use on bruschetta or pizza, including fresh chopped tomatoes and basil leaves, a sauteed mushroom mix or an herbed goat cheese spread.
Soups and Salads
Turn a simple soup into a glamorous treat by serving gazpacho shooters. Puree tomatoes with garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce, your favorite herbs and ice then pour it into cocktail or wine glasses and splash in a little olive oil. You can also add cucumbers, buttermilk and herbs of your choice to the blender to make a creamy cold soup appetizer that takes advantage of fresh seasonal produce. For salads, make them yummier with a "semi-homemade" blue cheese dressing. Mix crumbled blue cheese with a light bottled ranch dressing and pour it over a mix of spring greens, shredded broccoli and strawberries. Alternatively, give your salad a Latin bite when you mix equal parts of light bottled ranch dressing and salsa. Add jicama and red onions to the greens and top the salad with a few roasted pumpkin seeds.
Serve a mix of roasted eggplant, olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned with Moroccan spices, including cumin, cilantro and garlic, with toasted pita wedges. Surprise your guests with a squash dip in place of guacamole. Puree roasted yellow summer squash, roasted garlic with some thyme, toasted nuts and grated Parmesan. Serve the dip with crackers or veggies. You can also combine fresh herbs and cottage cheese in the blender and pulse them until smooth. Serve the dip with crudites, toast triangles or crackers for a treat that will have your guests or family members thinking you've served a sour cream dip.
Make a summer treat with watermelon cubes and prosciutto. Alternate the fruit and meat on skewers and drizzle them lightly with balsamic vinegar. Or you can treat your guests to mini vegetarian pizzas made with pitas, tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, squash, broccoli and cauliflower. Top the pizzas with a little low-fat mozzarella and broil just long enough to melt the cheese. And if you have a bumper crop of summer squash, slice it lengthwise in strips and grill them. Spread herbed cheese on the tender strips, roll them into spirals and secure them with toothpick handles.