Simple Seafood Starters You Can Enjoy on a Diabetic Diet

By Alan L. Rubin, Cait James

Appetizers are meant to stimulate your appetite and prepare you for the meal to come. But for a diabetic, they can also help you squeeze in a quick nutritious bite, helping to keep your blood glucose levels stable until the main event. Healthy appetizers are the best way to get you started on a great eating path for the evening.

Most people don’t get enough seafood in their diet. Rich in fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and so many other nutrients, seafood is an excellent part of any well-rounded diet. This delectable food is much lower in cholesterol than beef and chicken and has so many varied flavors and textures that you can’t get bored with it.

Always clean your shrimp properly before cooking them. If you buy your shrimp in a grocery store, the head will most likely be removed. But the shrimp may or may not be deveined, which means the dark “vein” that runs down the back of the shrimp’s tail may still be present. Because this veinlike object is actually the shrimp’s intestinal track, you should remove it before cooking the shrimp.

[Credit: Illustration by Elizabeth Kurtzman]
Credit: Illustration by Elizabeth Kurtzman

At your grocery or kitchen supply store (anywhere kitchen gadgets are sold), pick up a tool called a shrimp deveiner and run it along the back end of the shrimp. It cracks the shell and removes the vein in one easy step. Then rinse the shrimp in cool water.

Shrimp Quesadillas

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1⁄3 cup low-fat sugar-free plain yogurt

2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Nonstick cooking spray

4 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas

1 pound canned baby shrimp, cooked

2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

  1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and tomatoes. Set aside.

  2. Coat a large skillet with the cooking spray. Place the skillet over medium heat until hot. Add one tortilla to the pan.

    Top the tortilla with half of the shrimp, 1 teaspoon of the chopped cilantro, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Place a second tortilla on top of the mixture. Cook the quesadilla until the cheese begins to melt and the bottom tortilla becomes golden brown. Flip the quesadilla over and continue to cook until the cheese is fully melted and the tortillas are lightly browned. Remove from skillet and place on a cutting board.

  3. Repeat Step 2 with the remaining tortillas, shrimp, cilantro, and cheese.

  4. Slice each quesadilla into 6 pieces. Place 3 pieces and one-fourth of the tomato mixture on each of 4 plates.

Per serving: Kcalories 364 (From Fat 112); Fat 13g (Saturated 6g); Cholesterol 204mg; Sodium 1,653mg; Carbohydrate 33g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 29g.

Crab Puffs

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 6–7 minutes

Yield: 6 servings (4 pieces each)

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1⁄2 pound snow crabmeat

1 egg white

1⁄4 cup lowfat sour cream

1⁄4 cup lowfat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 small garlic clove, minced

3 English muffins, halved

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. In a small bowl, reserve 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, the chopped artichokes, crabmeat, egg white, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic.

  3. Place the English muffin halves on a baking pan and spread the crab mixture equally onto each muffin. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan cheese on top.

  4. Place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until the crab mixture holds its form.

  5. Remove the pan from the freezer and place the pan under the broiler for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the muffin topping is lightly browned and bubbly. Cut each muffin into quarters.

Per serving: Kcalories 180 (From Fat 47); Fat 5g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 41mg; Sodium 536mg; Carbohydrate 20g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 13g.

If you’re a fan of spicy food, feel free to bump up the horseradish in this recipe for a sinus-clearing experience.