Gestational diabetes can be a daunting diagnosis for many when it comes to navigating dietary restrictions. Thankfully, indulging in a sweet treat doesn’t have to be off-limits with these gestational diabetes dessert tips.

With the right ingredients and cooking techniques, you can prepare desserts that are not only safe for gestational diabetes but also delicious and nutritious. This blog will guide you through making blood sugar-friendly gestational diabetes desserts.

Protein Powders

Adding protein powder to your baked goods can help balance your blood sugars and give you vital proteins needed for prenatal nutrition. When choosing protein powders, make sure to select powders with simple ingredients that are protein-only. My favorite is Designer Egg by Designer Wellness, Vega, and unflavored Vital Proteins.  

Cooking with protein powders can be tricky. Below are the secrets to adding protein powder to your recipes.

  • Decrease cooking temperature and cooking time to prevent browning the crust too early.
  • Use protein powder in place of 3% of your flour.
  • Increase liquid (oil, applesauce, milk, water) to help keep the finished goodies moist.

Flours for Gestational Diabetes Desserts

  1. Instead of white flour, try coconut flour.
    • Coconut flour is an excellent heavy, thick flour with a moist, sweet, buttery flavor in baking. It is perfect for digestion, balancing blood sugars,  and helps constipation.
    • It’s denser than other flours to help you feel fuller faster. When using coconut flour, you will need more eggs and more liquids to help it fluff up, as the coconut flour absorbs a lot.
  2. Instead of whole wheat flour, try oat flour.
    • Oat flour is just ground-up oatmeal. Oat flour makes incredibly moist cookies and adds a nice dose of B vitamins and fiber. Oat flour is excellent for postpartum since oats are known to help increase breast milk.
    • For those who are highly sensitive to all carbs, even high fiber, Oat flour may not be the best alternative. You could use it with other gestational diabetes dessert flour recommendations or prep desserts for postpartum with it. When replacing wheat flour with oats, use a 1:1 ratio with oat flour. 
  3.  Swap flour for almond flour
    • Almond flour is one of the most popular low-carb and gestational diabetes dessert flour alternatives for a good reason. Almond flour balances your blood sugars with its loads of fiber, protein, and fat.  Bonus: it provides healthy fats needed to build your baby’s healthy brain, which contains 60% fat.
    • When using almond flour, make sure to add extra liquid to prevent it from being dry. You can replace flour in a recipe at a 1:1 ratio with almond flour.
  4. Swap flour for black beans
    • Black beans are an excellent substitute for flour in brownies. You can use it in brownies in a 1:1 ratio with flour. Beans have fiber and protein, increasing the likelihood you will be satisfied much quicker than the regular version.

FATS for Brain Healthy Desserts

  1. Instead of shortenings and butter, try avocados.
    • Avocados add a creamy fatty goodness to desserts that boost your healthy fat and fiber intake. Avocado helps blood sugars, adds gut-healthy fiber, and helps prevent constipation.
    •  Try replacing oil in brownies with avocados. It also works in cookies, making them softer and moist. Try my two favorite gestational diabetes desserts for chocolate lovers: Fudgey Avocado Brownies and Salted Avocado Pudding.
  2. Chia seeds and Flaxseeds
    • Avocado is not the only healthy fat you can swap into your recipes; chia seeds and flax seeds are other great ways to boost your fiber and healthy fats in your recipes to promote good blood sugars and vital, healthy fats needed for optimal prenatal nutrition.
  3. Conversions for brain healthy fat alternatives
    • 1 cup avocado = 1 cup butter or ½ cup avocado + ½ cup butter = 1 cup butter
      • Works well in brownies and chocolate cookies
    • TBSP flax seed meal +1TBSP water 1TBSP butter
      • Works well in muffins, cakes, cookies, or anything with a nutty flavor
    • 2-3 TBSP chia seeds +1 cup water (let sit for 15 minutes) = 1 cup Butter
      • Works well in muffins, cakes, and bread
      • Adds fiber, protein, omega-3s, and potassium

SUGAR for healthier desserts

Many patients ask me what the best sweeteners are for gestational diabetes desserts. Honestly, it’s hard to answer. Artificial sweeteners, for some, can cause stomach issues, among other things, with long-term use. For others, they experience zero side effects from artificial sweeteners besides being able to enjoy their favorite dessert gestational diabetes style. 

On the other hand, sugars like coconut sugar or reducing the portion of natural sugar might be tolerated by many women. While others even look at sugar and their blood sugar goals up.  Below are three alternatives that add sweetness without rising blood sugar.

  1. Protein Powder
    • Protein powders are an easy way to add sweetness to your dessert. To do this, use two scoops of chocolate or vanilla protein powder instead of ¼ cup of sugar in the recipe. This technique will help boost your recipe’s protein and nutrient profile and make each goodie more satisfying.
  2. Pure Vanilla Extract
    • Pure vanilla extract has a natural sweetness to it. To help vanilla add a little more sweetness to your dessert, swap ½ teaspoon for every two tablespoons of sugar in your recipe. Adding more vanilla to your recipe. This technique works great  for cookies, cakes, sweet breads, and brownies, 
  3. Allulose
    • Allulose is a newer type of sugar on the shelves. It is derived from figs and resembles fructose but doesn’t have the same impact on blood sugar levels (#). Allulose provides .4 calories per gram, while regular sugar provides four calories per gram. You can swap 1 1/3 cups of allulose for  1 cup of regular sugar.

My Favorite Gestational Diabetes Dessert Recipes

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

chocolate avocado pudding

Pink Mini Cheese Cake

pink mini cheese cakes three on a plate with mint leaves

Fudgey Avocado Brownies

dessert gestational diabetes brownies

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookie Dough

chocolate chip chickpea cookie dough in a bowl with a spatula

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Pumpkin Donut Holes on a white plate. There are 10 displayed on this plate

Gestational Diabetes Desserts at the Grocery Store

Lately, thanks to the keto craze, there are more blood sugar-friendly dessert options at the grocery. While I do not recommend a keto diet for gestational diabetes, the low-carb desserts, for many women, are good options. 

  1. Yasso Bars- Yasoo is a favorite dessert for gestational diabetes. Particularly, the mint and chip flavor tends to be the best tolerated. I’ve had many patients enjoy this as their nighttime snack to help control their fasting blood sugars. 
  2. Rebel Ice Cream– Rebel brand tends to be my patient’s favorite for taste and flavor. 
  3. Freeze your favorite protein drink. I will freeze my OWYN protein drinks in popsicle molds and enjoy my protein shake that way.
  4. KIND Frozen Bars– You heard that right. KIND isn’t just a snack bar brand anymore. KIND now has ice cream bars. For many people, the nuts in this bar are enough to keep their blood sugar balanced with the ice cream. 
  5. Enlightened Brand– Enlightened uses allulose to sweeten their yogurt bark, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and ice cream bars. Many women find this brand highly enjoyable and blood sugar-friendly, even at night. 

Bottom Line

Having gestational diabetes is not the end all to your sweet tooth and several months of torture. Try these swaps, tricks, recipes, and products above to test what works best for you and your unique needs on your gestational diabetes journey. 

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Ginger Cochran is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Care Specialist, Certified Wellness Coach, Certified Exercise Physiologist, and owner of Nutritious Ginger, an integrative and functional nutrition practice focusing on full body self-care and nourishment. Ginger’s primary specialty is women’s health, with a special emphasis on gestational diabetes, weight management, infertility, digestive wellness, and overall health + happiness.
Ginger serves on the board of director for the Nutrition Care Manual by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.