ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Can a person with diabetes really eat desserts? Most people think that once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you have to give up anything sweet, and that desserts become a thing of your past.
It becomes a challenge to replace higher carbohydrate foods in your diet with lower carbohydrate foods that still serve the same function and still satisfy your tastebuds.
What is actually true for most people with diabetes is that can still eat many of the same types of foods; they just need to rethink the way they eat. Desserts can be a part of it, but all carbohydrates can be an issue that has to be kept in mind.
There are ways of still eating sweet-tasting desserts if you look at what parts of a dessert is the carbohydrate culprit. If you try making some changes to your “old” recipes, you can still enjoy a people-sized portion of a really great dessert. For the most part it is the sugars and flour you use.
I won’t tell you what sugar alternative to use (there are a lot of possibilities out there). There are manufactured products (i.e., Sweet and Low and Equal), products derived from altered sugars (i.e., Splenda, sucralose), and all-natural products (stevia products and agave syrup). It is up to each of us to choose the product that we are most comfortable using for taste and personal peace of mind.
Then there is flour. True, whole wheat flour has fewer (4 grams per cup) carbohydrates than white flour; but it is by no means a low-carbohydrate food. What I have learned to do is to use toasted ground nuts to replace about a third of the flour in my baking. Not only does the carbohydrate count of the dessert drop, but using nuts adds flavor and texture to your cakes and crusts. For those of you with nut allergies, toasted ground pumpkin and sunflower seeds work equally as well.
Not all desserts are baked, or even cooked. A perfect example is the Vanilla Almond Crème below. This very simple crème is a great light dessert by itself or as a filling for ricotta crème gateau or napoleons where the layers are made with a flavored nut merangue.
Making desserts that keep carbohydrates in mind is no more difficult than what you did in the past; and no less delicious. It is a challenge everybody with diabetes might want to take up.
Chef Ward Alper retired to Albuquerque after being a professional chef in Boston and New York City. He blogs as “The Decadent Diabetic: Taking Back My Life and Table,” thedecadentdiabetic.com.
LOWER CARBOHYDRATE POPPY SEED CAKE
Net carbohydrates: 12 grams per slice
2/3 cup flour (you can replace up to ¼ the amount with whole wheat flour)
½ cup toasted almonds, cooled
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (or use ground ginger)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding
4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar alternative
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup golden sherry (you may substitute low-carbohydrate orange juice)
2 tablespoons sour cream (low fat is OK, but not fat-free)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, combine nuts, salt and 1/3 cup flour. Pulse until the nuts are totally pulverized. Add remaining 1/3 cup of flour, and cardamom. Pulse until combined. Add instant pudding. I often do this a day ahead.
Easiest if you have a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
Cream butter and sugar alternative until light and fluffy. Slowly add the oil and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Alternately add the dry ingredients and the eggs, starting with the dry. Add vanilla and sherry.
Whisk on high speed for 4 minutes.
Add the baking soda and vinegar to sour cream and stir into the batter.
Stir in the poppy seeds.
Spoon into a well-sprayed or buttered 6-8 cup Bundt pan, and bake for 26-28 (in this high altitude) minutes or until tester comes out dry from the center.
VANILLA ALMOND CRÃˆME
MUST be made in a food processor or it will be grainy.
Makes 4 servings
12 grams net carbohydrates per serving
¾ cup sugar alternative of choice
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
30-ounce container ricotta cheese
Flavoring choices (choose one):
2 tablespoons Trop 50
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoon Amaretto Liquor
Toasted, sliced almonds for topping (optional)
Lightly sweetened raspberries or strawberries (3-5 per plating) (optional)
Place sugar alternative of choice in the bowl of a food processor. Cut vanilla bean open and scrape seeds into the sugar alternative. Run the processor to make vanilla sugar. (If using vanilla extract you can skip this step).
Add the ricotta cheese and process for two minutes. Scrape down the sides and process for 1-2 minutes more. Add the flavoring of your choice and process until blended.
Spoon the mixture into 6-8 ounce white ramekins (for the kids) or Martini or wine glasses. Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours or more.
Top with very lightly sweetened raspberries or strawberries soaked in 1 tablespoon of Trop 50 or other low-carbohydrate orange juice.