Disclaimer!: This is a general guide. There are important differences between individual diabetics. Diets as well as insulin therapy should be carefully monitored together with a diabetic health care team. Always refer to that specialist team for (ongoing) advice.
Opinions vary widely when it comes to the right foods. With a few tricks, certain dishes - including desserts - could be made more diabetes friendly through :
It's not that diabetics are prohibited to have ordinary table sugar. All carbohydrates raise blood sugar and they're all allowed within limits.
Health benefits come with a reduction of those carbs and when the absorbtion is delayed. However you do it, carbohydrates remain a life necessity, even for diabetics.
Having a dessert after a (healthy) meal would make it part of the whole and thus affect the individual in a "diluted" manner. That would be different if you had for example a few tablespoons of white sugar on an empty stomach.
Hence the need for diabetic dessert recipes with the focus on:
- Replacing sugar with the right artificial sweetener, blends or a natural alternative.
- Implementing air pockets where possible.
- Reducing flour/dough where possible.
- Reducing fat content.
- Reducing portion size.
As said, diabetics have health advantages when they reduce the intake of simple sugars and/or slow the absorbtion of it.
Processed foods are often brought to taste with simple carbs or what they call "added" sugars.
Natural food sugars, on the other hand, make a better alternative as they're integrated in whole foods.
You can find these in fruits, certain vegetables (like corn, potatoes, beans, etc...), some grains and dairy.
The other advantage is in their nutrient content.
Processed, added sugars are found as syrup, sucrose (refined sugar), dextrose, fructose on the packaging.
There are many names for them so keep an eye on the labels.
The Silent Killer
A 10-teaspoons-of-sugar meal.
Better medications gave way to less diet restrictions. But there's one danger looming.
We're more prone than ever to consume excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates. A lot of food products contain sugar because it tastes good and is cheap to manufacture.
The food industry does make ready-made meals easily accessible. This comfort comes at a price. About 75 to 80% of these processed foods contain too much sugar.
The result? We consume from 15 to 21 teaspoons of added sugar a day. As much as 62 to 88 grams. That way, glucose rises to health deteriorating levels.
What's already unhealthy for non-diabetics, imagine what it could do to those who are.
Types of Sweeteners
High calorie, high carbohydrate substitutes (like honey, agave, etc...) are no option here. These can be as detrimental to a diabetic's health as refined sugar.
Within the group of acceptable sweeteners for diabetic dessert recipes, not every alternative is suitable.
They come in many types. We are all having them from time to time in sodas, yogurts, cookies, etc...
Low calorie or low carb sweeteners can be divided into groups:
- Sugar alcohols: Erythritol, Xylitol, Sorbitol, Maltilol, Mannitol, Isomalt, Lactitol, Glycerol, HSH.
- Natural sweeteners (low carb, low calorie): Stevia, Luo Han Kuo, Yacon.
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, Cyclamate, Sucralose, Sacharrin, Neotame.
- Modified sugar: Tagatose
Only a few of them are good enough for baking.
With most, there are a few disadvantages. Due to the heat, you'd lose on sweetness, volume, texture, moistness and/or browning. Any combination is possible.
Cakes and other recipes heavily based on dough, require aiding ingredients to mimic the sugar effect. Agents like dry milk and baking powder can give more volume but you'd almost have to be a chemist to correctly use these.
Luckily there are companies producing blends and formulas of diabetic friendly sweeteners. To be used on a 1 to 1 ratio (same amount of regular sugar) or an adjusted amount.
You'll find instructions on how to use them on their website or packaging for different types of diabetic dessert recipes...
...to ensure a similar baking consistency to that of recipes with granulated sugar.