Tasty Recipes to Kick Off Diabetes Awareness Month

Did you know that people who are unable to afford healthy foods to put on the table are at much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

The chronic stress of food insecurity and poverty releases a stress hormone (cortisol) that further increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Once a person living in poverty has diabetes, it is difficult to get back to being healthy again, because healthy food is a key part of diabetes treatment and is also more costly.

Some foods that are recommended to manage diabetes are fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and less processed, and these food are not within the budget reach of people living with food insecurity.

Beyond food, poverty also reduces access to physical activity programs, safe walkable neighbourhoods, and necessary medications, all needed to create better health for those living with diabetes.

The choices you make often depend on the choices you have and healthy food is expensive.

The Ottawa Food Bank recognizes the importance of healthy food:

  • Each year we set new targets for the amount of healthy food we distribute – this year, 47% of the food distributed was fresh
  • 100% of the food we provide through our two children’s programs, the Summer Lunch Program and our After4 Program is fresh and healthy and dietitian-approved. We believe in working preventatively to help support healthy eating patterns early.
  • We harvested 122,000lbs of food this year from the local Ottawa Food Bank farm. We believe in the health building potential of the foods we provide and aim to provide as much fresh vegetables and fruit as we are able. Our farm helps us do this.
  • This year our dietitian created Nutrition Guidelines to improve the quality of the food we distribute and to keep us accountable year over year.
  • The Ottawa Food Bank has been distributing grants to our partner agencies to increase their cold storage capacity so they can provide more fresh and healthy foods to their clients.
Below are tasty recipes!

Kindly note that soup recipes are not like baking recipes where the exact quantities are more critical to the end product. Experiment a little with soups, if you don’t have an ingredient that is okay, if you want to substitute an ingredient, try it. With spices and herbs, you can really make the soup your own by playing around with those. The one ingredient that is a must in all soup recipes in my house is onion followed closely by garlic. Beyond those, be the boss of your own soup.

Tasty Soups

We love the nutritious punch of this soup. It has loads of plant vitamin A (beta-carotene) which is what gives it the rich orange colour. It also has lots of fibre, potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients are great for supporting immune health, heart health and like all vegetables and fruits, helps keep your body healthy generally.


  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive/canola/sunflower) or any on hand
  • I onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2-3  stalks celery – optional
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 3 cups water OR 3 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • Herbs and spices (1-2 tsp dried herbs such as thyme/sage/oregano) or 1-3 teaspoons cumin/garam masala/curry powder
  •  A little  table salt and pepper to taste
  • (1/2-1 can coconut milk – optional)


  1. Peel and core the butternut squash. Nobody’s favourite job, so good to get done at the beginning. Remove the top and tail of the squash. Peel the squash with a peeler, cut it down the centre and remove the seeds. Cut and chop it into cubes. If you don’t have a peeler, top and tail the butternut squash, slice it into 3 rings and with the cut side on the cutting board, slice off the skin with a vegetable knife. Set aside
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add onion, celery if using and your herbs and/or spices. After a couple of minutes add the garlic. Stir until the onion is translucent. About 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped butternut squash, 3 cups of water or broth, and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat and let it gently simmer until the squash is tender – about 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat. Blend the soup using a hand blender or with a potato masher.
  5. Freeze any leftovers for another cold day.

This meal is packed full of fibre rich foods. Fibre is great at balancing blood sugar, keeps your gut in tip-top shape and supports a healthy heart.


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion  – chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic  – finely chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 1 bell pepper – any colour
  • 2 cans beans (chickpeas/black beans/kidney beans) – well rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (28oz, 796ml)
  • 2 cups water (or more if needed)
  • 2-3 teaspoons herbs oregano/basil/thyme/sage
  • A little table salt and ground pepper to taste
  • You can spice this up with a little chilli, paprika, curry powder, cumin, turmeric (with black pepper). Make it your own.


  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add onion, celery if using and your herbs and/or spices. After a couple of minutes add the garlic. Stir until the onion is translucent. About 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the bell pepper, beans, tomatoes, 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat and let it gently simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and enjoy it.
  4. Freeze any leftovers for another day.

To make this into a meal – add 1 cup barley, quinoa or brown rice. Cook for a little longer, say 30 minutes,  and add one and a half cups of water extra.

This soup comes courtesy of the Dietitians of Canada. Check out their website with some great diabetes-friendly recipes. This bowl of hearty goodness could be lunch or dinner. It freezes well for future meals on cold winter days.


  • 1lb of lean ground beef
  •  1 onion – chopped
  • 2 stalks celery – chopped
  • 1 green pepper
  • 28oz canned tomatoes (diced or whole)
  • 1 can kidney beans – rinsed
  • 1 can black beans – rinsed
  • 2 cups corn kernels (frozen or canned)
  • 2 tsps chilli powder
  • 1 tsp each of cumin, oregano, paprika and garlic powder (or add what you have in your cupboard)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups of water


  1. Brown the minced beef at low-medium heat. Drain off any fat.
  2. Add the onions, celery and green pepper. Cook until soft
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add extra water if the soup seems too thick.
  4. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add extra water as needed.
Resources at your disposal:

Unlockfood is created by dietitians.

Check out the healthy diabetes recipe booklets available for Caribbean, Chinese, South Asian and Latin American cuisines.

Enjoy our recipes below with the whole family. Diabetes-friendly recipes are generally heart-healthy, gut-friendly and support general good health and they can be enjoyed by anyone.

Diabetes Canada has a number of resources from wellness tips, recipes and contact information for your local office that offers regional support.

For more recipes click here.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Need food?

Use our look up tool to find the community food program in your neighbourhood.