Diabetes-friendly Recipes for Kids: Comfort Foods

Macaroni and Cheese, Chicken Nuggets, and Enchiladas

If your child has type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, you already know what his or her food preferences are—your child may happily eat whatever you make for dinner or he or she may be an extremely picky eater. Incorporating comfort foods that are diabetes-friendly can help boost your child's nutrition as well as help with managing diabetes.

Although children with diabetes must balance what they eat with the insulin they take, their food choices aren't limited. They can incorporate a variety of foods and flavors into their meal plan.

When a child has diabetes, it does impact the rest of your family, so it is important to have healthy food options in the house and for everyone to sit down at the table to eat meals together.

To get your child more involved with eating well, make food preparation and shopping a fun family project. Ask your child for suggestions for meals and try to follow through with them.

Macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and enchiladas, are some of the most popular kids' meals. From a health standpoint, however, these dishes are traditionally loaded with calories and fat. Below, we show you how to cut the fat and increase the nutritional value of these family favorites.

Down Home Macaroni and Cheese
(Recipe courtesy of Kraft Diabetic Choices)
Serves 6

What You Need

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fat free milk
  • 1/4 pound Velveeta Light (reduced fat pasteurized prepared cheese product), cut up
  • 1 8-ounce package Kraft Free Shredded Non-Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs

What You Do

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Blend in flour and salt; cook and stir 1 minute. Gradually add the milk; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add prepared cheese product and 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. Stir until melted. Stir in macaroni.
  2. Pour into a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter; toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle casserole with remaining 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and crumb mixture.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Nutritional Information per Serving

  • 320 calories (20% calories from fat)
  • 24 g protein
  • 7 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat)
  • 40 g carbohydrate
  • 2 g dietary fiber
  • 15 mg cholesterol
  • 880 mg sodium*
  • Diabetic exchanges: 2 lean protein, 2 1/2 carbohydrate (bread/starch)

*Not appropriate for a low-sodium diet.


Homemade Chicken Nuggets
(Recipe courtesy of Kraft Diabetic Choices)
Serves 6

What You Need

  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/3 to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 packet Shake 'N Bake Original Chicken Seasoned Coating Mix

What You Do

  1. Moisten chicken pieces with water. Shake off excess water.
  2. Shake 3 or 4 pieces at a time with coating mix. Discard any remaining coating mix. Place chicken pieces in a 15x10x1-inch pan.
  3. Bake at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with Kraft or Bull's-Eye Barbecue Sauce.

Nutritional Information per Serving

  • 160 calories (14% calories from fat)
  • 24 g protein
  • 2.5 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat)
  • 9 g carbohydrate
  • less than 1 g dietary fiber
  • 55 mg cholesterol
  • 350 mg sodium
  • Diabetic exchanges: 3 very lean protein, 1/2 carbohydrate (bread/starch)


Cheesy Enchiladas
(Recipe courtesy of Kraft Diabetic Choices
Serves 6

What You Need

  • 1 8-ounce package Philadelphia Fat-Free Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 8-ounce package Kraft Shredded Non-Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 6 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 cup Taco Bell Home Originals Thick 'N Chunky Salsa

What You Do

  1. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and the onions; mix until blended.
  2. Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Place seam side down in an 11x7-inch baking dish. Pour the salsa over the tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese; cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Nutritional Information per Serving

  • 210 calories (13% calories from fat)
  • 21 g protein
  • 3 g total fat (1 g saturated fat)
  • 24 g carbohydrate
  • 2 g dietary fiber
  • 10 mg cholesterol
  • 1,030 mg sodium*
  • Diabetic exchanges: 3 very lean protein, 1 1/2 carbohydrate (bread/starch)

*Not appropriate for a low-sodium diet.

Nutrition Guidelines for Kids with Diabetes
Below are the following nutrition guidelines as of 2000 for children age 3 and older based on the United States Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid.

  • 6 to 11 servings per day from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta food group
    1 serving = 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta, 1 ounce cold cereal, 1/2 bagel, or 1/2 English muffin
  • 3 to 5 servings per day from the vegetable group
    1 serving = 1/2 cup raw or cooked chopped vegetables or 1 cup raw leafy vegetables
  • 2 to 4 servings per day from the fruit group
    1 serving = 1 piece of medium-size fruit, 1/2 cup no sugar added canned fruit, or 1/2 cup no sugar added fruit juice
  • 2 to 3 servings per day from the milk group
    1 serving = 1 cup milk (check with your child's doctor whether this should be regular milk, 2% fat, 1% fat, or non-fat milk), 1 cup low-fat yogurt, or 1 1/2 to 2 ounces cheese
  • 2 to 3 servings of protein: meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
    1 serving = 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat, poultry, or fish; 1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils; 1 egg, or 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • fats, oils, and sweets to be eaten sparingly
    aim for a daily total intake of 30% or less total calories from fat, 10% or less of which may be saturated fat

Sugars, including honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, etc, should be restricted to 1 teaspoon sugar per serving and eaten only occasionally as they are often accompanied by fat and don't provide vitamins and minerals.

To find out more information about suggested servings sizes for kids with diabetes, talk to your child's registered dietitian. Monitoring what your child eats along with managing his or her blood glucose levels can help your child establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Updated on: February 19, 2013