The Best Tips for Making Desserts Healthy for Diabetics

Baking is comforting and natural when nesting for a new addition. Unfortunately, most treats contribute to high blood sugar and sometimes a little (unnecessarily) guilt. Adding extra protein, healthy fat, and fiber to your favorite treats while cutting back on sugar can help you enjoy your favorite comfort and nesting foods without the blood sugar highs, and guilt. 

By Ginger Cochran, MS, RDN, CDCES, CEP

Baking is comforting and natural when nesting for a new addition. Unfortunately, most treats contribute to high blood sugar and sometimes a little (unnecessarily) guilt. Adding extra protein, healthy fat, and fiber to your favorite treats while cutting back on sugar can help you enjoy your favorite comfort and nesting foods without the blood sugar highs, and guilt. 

TIPS FOR ADDING PROTEIN POWDER

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 choose powder with simple ingredients that are protein only. My favorite is Designer Egg by Designer Wellness and unflavored Vital Proteins.  Below are the secrets to adding protein powder to your recipes.

  • Decrease cooking temperature and cooking time slightly 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 goodie moist.

FLOUR SWAPS for Healthier 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 and eases constipation, and it’s denser than other flours to help you feel fuller faster in your sweet treat. It’s low-carb and gluten-free, so it’s great for diabetics and the gluten-sensitive crowd. 
  • Note: With coconut flour, you will need more eggs to help it fluff up, and more liquids as the coconut flour absorb 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 one of my favorite gluten-free flour because it has a mild flavor, has more fiber, and is lower in calories than other gluten-free flour. Many gluten-free flours have an extra 50 calories per ¼ cup, making them higher in calories the regular wheat flour.
  • Try it in your favorite banana bread recipe. It’s like having bananas and cinnamon in oatmeal!
  • When replacing whole wheat flour, use a 1:1 ratio with oat flour.

3. Swap flour for almond flour

  • Almond flour balances your blood sugars with its loads of fiber, protein, and fat, and it provides healthy fats that are needed to build your baby’s healthy brain, which contains 60% fat.
  • Add extra liquid when using almond flour.
  • When replacing flour, use a 1:1 ratio with almond flour.
  • Swap flour for black beans

3. Swap flour for black beans

  • Use it as a substitution in brownies 1:1 ratio with flour.
  • This will have fiber and protein, increasing the likelihood you will be satisfied much quicker than the regular version.

FATS for Healthier Desserts

1. Instead of shortenings and butter, try avocados.

  • Not only does it add gut-healthy fiber, but it also cuts the calorie content by half in specific recipes.
  • Try replacing oil in brownies with avocados. It also works in cookies, making them softer and moist.

2. Conversions

  • 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

1. 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. Vanilla has a natural sweetness to it. Cut your added sugar by adding more vanilla to your recipe. 

  • Works well in cookies, cakes, sweet bread, brownies
  • Vanilla extract ½ tsp = 2 Tbsp Sugar

3. Try allulose instead of sugar.

  • Allulose is a type of sugar that 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

MISC TIPS

1 Prevent mindless eating while baking.

  • While baking, have a plate of veggies with hummus or plain Greek yogurt seasoned with a ranch packet for dipping. This will keep the mindless nibbles on something healthier.

2. For rice crispy treats, try

  • Brown rice cereal or puffed millet with flax meal = 1 cup rice crispy cereal

3. Swap out peanut butter for powdered peanut butter. This will cut your calories by 80%

  • 1 cup PB2 = 1 cup Natural Peanut Butter

3. Cut sugar by using cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips

  • 1cup cacao nibs = 1 cup chocolate chips
    • Works well in cookies, cakes, and loaves of bread

HEALTHIER PIE CRUST

1. Try a date and nut crust instead

  • 1 ½ cups pitted dates, coarsely chopped and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, 1 ½ cups chopped pecans1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon powdered ginger, Pinch of salt
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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.

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