Can I have a snack? What choices do I have? When should I eat it? These are some typical questions people with diabetes ask their certified diabetes educator. 

There are many factors that determine if a snack is necessary or just desired.  Ask your diabetes educator if you are on a medication that needs a snack. Some types of insulin taken in the morning and at dinner require you to have snacks. This is also true for a few of the medications available for type 2 diabetes. If you are on a medication that lowers your blood glucose, it is advisable to test your blood sugar before driving or operating heavy machinery.  You may also need a snack before, during and after exercise. Please ask your educator if you need a snack and what that snack should be. Ask how many grams of carbohydrates you need and at what time.

People with diabetes may just desire a snack from time to time.  For people taking rapid acting insulin, you may have permission from your medical team to count the carbohydrates in any snack and give yourself a bolus dose of insulin before enjoying your food. For other people not needing a snack but desiring one, it is not unusual to hear educators telling their patients keep the carbohydrates down in the snack to no more than 15-20 grams. Ask your educator if this is something you can do.  If so, here are some ideas you can use. I am giving you seven of my family’s favorite snacks. I hope you enjoy them. Please let us know what your favorite snacks are as well.  We love to share ideas here at!

7 Snacks with 15-20 Grams of Carbs:

1. Graham Cracker, Peanut Butter and Banana (1 serving)

- 1 large rectangular Graham Cracker broken into two equal squares
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sugar peanut butter
- 1 ½ inch slice of banana

On one of the squares of Graham Cracker spread the peanut butter and add the banana. Cover with the other Graham Cracker square. Yum!

Diabetes Exchanges:
Carbohydrate: 1
Fat: 1

2. Garbanzo Bean Salad (2 servings)

- ½ cup garbanzo beans cooked from dried beans without salt*
- 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise-
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 2  teaspoons pickle relish
- 1 medium raw tomato sliced in wedges
- 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce

*Cooking beans from scratch reduces the salt or sodium significantly. This also saves money as dried beans are very economical. When cooking more dried beans than needed, put them in freezer bags and freeze to use in your next recipe. 

Mix cooked garbanzo beans with mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish. Divide lettuce and place on two plates. Add ½ of your bean salad to each plate and garnish with tomato wedges. Note: you can substitute vegan mayonnaise and make this vegan. This recipe is also gluten free.

Diabetes Exchanges:
Carbohydrate:  1
Vegetable:  ½
Fat:  ½

3. Ice Cream Cone with Light Ice Cream (1 serving)

- 1 cake or wafer ice cream cone (4 gram weight)
- ½ cup light ice cream other than chocolate

Scoop ice cream into cone and enjoy!

Diabetes exchanges:
Carbohydrate: 1
Fat: 1

4. Fresh Salsa with Corn, Black Beans and Chips (serves 10)

- 4 large red tomatoes (chopped)
-1 cup onions (chopped
-1 cup cilantro raw (chopped)
- juice from one lime
- ½ cup of white sweet canned corn no salt added
- ½ cup black beans boiled with no salt* (when using beans that are made from dried, the sodium or salt is decreased significantly)

Mix all ingredients together. Chilling in the refrigerator for at least an hour will blend the flavors. Since there are many different kinds of chips available we encourage you to use your favorite. One tenth of this recipe will yield 8 grams of carbohydrate. If you stay under 20 grams of carbohydrate you can eat a serving of chips with up to 12 grams.

Diabetes Exchanges for Salsa (chips are not included in the analysis):
Carbohydrate: 1/2

5. Spring Roll (1 serving)

- 1 medium paper rice wrapper (8 5/8 diameter)
(bowl of hot water for softening the wrapper)
- 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce
- 0.12 cups raw Napa cabbage (shredded)
- 0.12 cups grated carrots
- 0.12 cups raw cucumber (prepared in sticks)
- 0.12 cup raw bean sprouts
- 1 small 3-inch raw green onion (chopped)
- 3 boiled medium shrimp (peeled)
- 1 teaspoon Hoisin sauce (96mg of sodium in the sauce, so do not use more than stated)

Wash all vegetables and prepare as directed. Have a firm surface like a cutting board to work on. Soften the rice wrapper in the hot water and then quickly place on your cutting board. Put the vegetables on top of the rice wrapper in a fashion that you will be able to roll the wrapper around them. Fold up the ends of the wrapper. The Hoisin sauce is used as a dip.  Enjoy! 

This recipe is a favorite for children to make. Adults need to dip the wrapper for children so they do not get burned.

Diabetes Exchanges:
Carbohydrate: 1
Very Lean Meat: 1/2

6. Mini Taco (1 serving)

- 5-inch diameter baked taco shell
- 2 tablespoons pinto beans (made from dried no salt added)
- 1/8 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese
- ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 inner leaf romaine lettuce chopped
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Heat beans and bake taco shell. Place beans in shell followed by other ingredients. The analysis includes the pepper sauce but if you like your taco mild, leave it out.

Diabetes Exchanges:
Carbohydrate: 1
Lean Meat: 1
Fat: 1/2

7. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple
(1 serving)

- ½ cup low-fat, low sodium cottage cheese
- ½ cup peeled chopped raw fresh pineapple
- 5 reduced-fat Wheat Thins

Mix together the cottage cheese and pineapple. Enjoy with five reduced-fat Wheat Thins

Diabetes Exchanges:
Carbohydrate: 1
Fruit: ½
Very Lean Meat: 2

If these snacks can be part of your meal plan, I hope you enjoy them! Please do not forget to send us your favorite snacks; we would love to hear from you!

And for more free diabetes-friendly snack ideas, visit the Recipe Center!