Summertime and the livin' is easy! What says summertime better than a backyard cookout? And don't be worried about inviting your diabetic relatives or friends. Here is a complete menu for you that is diabetic friendly. The food is delicious, no need to prepare diabetic and non-diabetic food. In fact, no one will guess you planned your meal around diabetic needs.

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Let's start with an appetizer so folks can 'graze' while you do grill duty. How about some Garlic Olive Cheese Dip with an assortment of whole wheat or other whole grain crackers and some baked tortilla chips? Sound good? Here is the recipe:

GARLIC OLIVE CHEESE DIP

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 
20 pimento-stuffed Spanish olives, finely chopped 
5 peeled garlic cloves put through a garlic press

Mix all three ingredients together. Let set for at least an hour to let flavors blend before serving. Serve with party crackers or with chips. Refrigerate leftovers, if there are any!

Chicken is an excellent choice for the grill. It's quick, easy, and healthy. It also packs a big protein punch which allows your diabetic friends and relatives to also enjoy the carbs you will serve. For something different try chicken with black bean salsa. The black beans make it a good diabetic choice and the salsa is refreshing.

CHICKEN WITH BLACK BEAN SALSA

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained 
1/2 small red onion, chopped 
1 plum tomato, chopped 
1 garlic clove, minced 
2 tbsp lime juice 
1/4 tsp salt, optional 
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

RUB: 1 tbsp brown sugar 
1 tsp hot pepper sauce 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp salt (optional) 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

To make salsa: In a large bowl, combine the beans, pineapple, onion, tomato, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until serving.

To make chicken: Combine the sugar, hot pepper sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Rub mixture over both sides of chicken.

To grill chicken: Coat grill with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. Grill chicken over medium heat until cooked thoroughly, about 4 to 7 minutes each side.

Serve chicken with salsa.

A good diabetic recipe as 1 serving of 1 breast half with 3/4 cup salsa has 31 g carbs but 29 g protein.

Cole slaw is always good on a hot summer day. This creamy cole slaw with be a perfect compliment to the chicken and to the beans and pineapple in the salsa. This dish needs to chill for at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Perfect for a cookout as it can be made ahead.

CREAMY COLE SLAW

1 1/2 cups low-fat mayonnaise 
1/3 cup SPLENDA granular 
3 tbsp finely chopped sweet onion (optional) 
2 tsp lemon juice 
1 tbsp white wine vinegar 
1/4 tsp celery seed 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp black pepper 
8 cups shredded cabbage or slaw mix 
1/2 cup shredded carrots


Blend mayonnaise, Splenda, onion (if using), lemon juice, vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add cabbage and carrots. Stir well to cover all the cabbage. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

FRESH VEGGIE TRAY

A fresh veggie tray is always a nice addition. Use seasonal summer vegetables such as sliced cucumbers, tomatoes wedges, baby carrots, green onions, and broccoli crowns for a tasty, colorful presentation.

Ah, last but not least, don't forget dessert! This may not sound diabetic friendly but how about Brownie Sundaes? That's right, brownie sundaes. The way you make them, they will be diabetic friendly and delicious too. Let's start with this brownie recipe:

BROWNIES

3/4 cups cocoa powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
2/3 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 cup boiling water 
2 cups Equal Sugar Lite 
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute 
1 1/3 cups flour 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In large mixing bowl, stir cocoa and baking soda together. Blend 1/3 of the oil into cocoa mixture. Add boiling water and stir until it thickens. Stir in Equal, eggs and remaining oil. Stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla extract and salt. Blend together completely adding in nuts. Pour in a 9x13-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool and cut into 24 pieces.

To make BROWNIE SUNDAES: Place a brownie on dessert plate. Top with a scoop of no-sugar-added or sugar free vanilla ice cream. Heat some sugar-free (I love the Russell Stover brand) chocolate sauce in the microwave 15-30 seconds and pour over ice cream. Top with finely crushed salt-free peanuts, optional.

Ice down some cold drinks in a large cooler, remember to include sugar-free drinks or make some lemonade using the following recipes.

OLD-FASHIONED-STYLE SUGAR-FREE LEMONADE

2/3 cup water 
1/2 cup Splenda granular 
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons) 
4 to 6 cups cold water to taste

In a large glass measuring cup, combine 2/3 cup water and the Splenda. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes on high. Using caution, remove from microwave and stir the mixture to see if Splenda is completely dissolved. If not, return to microwave and heat an additional 45-60 seconds. Fill a pretty, large pitcher with ice. Pour lemon juice over the ice. Add the Splenda mixture and stir well. Add 4 cups (1-qt) of cold water. Stir well to blend. Taste and add additional water to suit your taste.

BLACKBERRY TWIST LEMONADE

2 cups fresh blackberries or unsweetened frozen blackberries, thawed 
1 cup fresh lemon juice 
1 cup Granulated Splenda 
4 cups cold water

Put berries, lemon juice, and Splenda into blender. Process mixture until smooth, scraping down sides. Press mixture through a sieve into a pitcher. Discard solids remaining in the sieve. Stir in water. Serve over ice.

Yield: 7 servings with 4 grams sugar each

There you have it! An easy menu for a backyard cookout that is suitable for your diabetic family and friends but also tasty for all guests.