However, my family, especially the kids, have always appreciated a good dessert and I would usually finish off any leftovers – in the name of saving waste obviously!
I did worry about finding low carb desserts my family could eat and enjoy alongside me. After all, was it possible for a really great dessert to exist that was low in carbs and calories?
While I tended to lean towards savoury things when I was eating or snacking, I did have fairly regular cravings for something sugary.
Most people would think that craving sugary foods is bad, but according to The University of California at Los Angeles it is actually perfectly natural for an individual to crave sweet food. How you deal with the cravings is important, as not everything sweet is necessarily bad for you.
Some low-carb desserts, chocolates and candies that contain sugar substitutes can also act as a laxative, says The University of Missouri.
What to Avoid
One of the very first things I learned when I decided to introduce low carb eating into my life, is that most of the “easy” good tasting foods were often the worse.
For example, grabbing a snack from the vending machine at work or buttering up two bagels for breakfast before the school run was easy.
Yet these types of foods are full of refined carbs, which actually provide a temporary boost to energy levels but will soon leave you feeling hungry. While a lot of low carb desserts start with low carb ingredients, you do have to be careful that the carbs they do contain are good ones.
You need to avoid starchy, sugary desserts that contain sugar substitutes that may help push the calorie count up.
While a low carb diet provides numerous health benefits, if your calorie intake remains higher than the calories your body burns off – you won’t lose weight.
The choice is a little slim when it comes to store-bought desserts suitable for a low carb diet. This is because as a rule, commercial desserts are packed full of sugar and simple carbs. This means you may enjoy the sweet taste but the simple carbs involved mean it won’t leave you feeling satisfied for long and the high-sugar content will leave you needing more exercise to burn off the treat.
There is no need to worry though, a low carb diet doesn’t mean you can no longer indulge in sweet treats or tasty desserts.
In fact, if you are clever about it you can find low carb desserts that actually taste better than the naughty but nice versions you are used too.
Low Carb Dessert Recipe Ideas
Taken from my own stash of low carb dessert recipes, the few examples below give you a good idea of what you can eat when you fancy something sweet. As you become more familiar with carbohydrates and the different foods you can eat, you will be able to come up with your own low carb dessert ideas.
Now a fruit smoothie may sound basic but it is ideal for curbing a sweet craving, without ruining your diet efforts. Most fruits are naturally sweet and provide your body with essential minerals and vitamins to boot.
Blending together a couple of handfuls of blueberries, with a low-in-sugar yogurt or a cup of unsweetened almond milk will make a gorgeous fruit smoothie you can add to any low carb menu.
This simple fruit smoothie contains only 10-grams of carbs, although you should read the label on your yogurt for an exact carb count.
Remember that some fruits are lower in carbs than others. Sticking to berries, such as blackberries and strawberries, is a good general rule to keep your smoothies low in carbs.
Cheesecake is most definitely one of the most popular low carb desserts you will find, especially if you make it yourself.
You can make a simple chocolate cheesecake using low-sugar substitutes, low-fat cream cheese, unsweetened cocoa powder, egg yolks and vanilla extract to taste.
The simple, yet tasty, cheesecake is proof that you can make a tasty low carb dessert that won’t ruin your diet but still packs a punch when it comes to taste.
I actually made mini cheesecakes, and kept them in the freezer until I needed them. They make a great mid-morning treat, although I wouldn’t recommend you eat one every day.
Yes! I said chocolate – for those of you who are missing chocolate, making mini chocolate meringues can feed your chocolate craving, while still fitting in with your low carb diet. Here is my recipe for mini chocolate meringues –
You will need – ¼ teaspoon of cream tartar
½ cup of low-carb sugar substitutes
Two egg whites
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Two Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
Low-in-sugar whipped topping
• Add the egg whites and cream of tartar together in a bowl and whisk.
• Add the vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar substitute, whisking until you have a well blended cocoa meringue.
• Place small servings of the meringue mixture onto a baking tray covered with a cookie sheet. You can make the servings as big as you like but ideally each one should be smaller than your average cookie.
• Bake at 250-degrees for approximately 30 minutes before removing from oven and allowing to cool for at least an hour.
• Top with low-in-sugar whipped topping (optional)
I must admit these are a huge favorite of my children, who do not even notice they are another one of “mom’s diet recipes”. I also cook a batch to take into work every now and again and I have always received nothing but compliments to their taste.
Beware of any commercial low carb dessert that states it is low carb on the packet. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, they have never provided a clear definition of what low carb is. This means, packaging that advertises low carbs could be potentially misleading.
Low Carb Dessert Snack Ideas
If you are following a low carb diet and are looking for something to replace the cookie obsession you formerly had, then I have the perfect recipe for you.
You see, I found that while I wasn’t that much of a dessert lover, this was only in the case when a dessert followed a main meal. I did love chomping down on cookies and other sweet treats during an average day and it was these kind of treats I missed when I switched to a low carb diet.
You will need – One small packet of sugar-free, raspberry jello
1 ½ cups of boiled water
Two Tablespoons of low-fat butter
¼ low-in-fat sugar substitute
¾ of a cup of cream cheese, cut up in pieces
1 ½ of frozen raspberries
One cup of pecan nuts
Tip – Once you have been following a low carb diet for a couple of weeks, you will have your own favorite low carb ingredients, such as low-in-fat sugar substitutes.
• Dissolve the gello in the boiling water
• Add the pecan nuts, sweetener and butter together into a food processor and mix until you have a paste-like mixture.
• Using a square 9 by 9 inch pan, press the nutty mixture into the bottom of it.
• Bake in a 350-degree oven for around seven minutes or until mixture turns a soft golden brown.
• Once your gello mixture has cooled down, to the point you can pick it up comfortably, add the nuts to it and blend together.
• Add the berries to the mixture and then pour over your baked pecan nut crust carefully.
• Place in the refrigerator to cool for around 30 minutes to allow everything to thicken and set.
• Take out of refrigerator and cut into nine even squares before serving.
This low carb dessert recipe really is a tasty alternative to cookies and only has two-grams of carbohydrates in each square. Although the squares are filling, I struggle to eat one, I wouldn’t suggest eating more than one in a day as they do contain around 170 calories – which is at the higher end of my 100-200 calorie allowance for snacks a day.
Chocolate low carb dessert ideas
If you are looking for low carb desserts that don’t include fruit and which mimic, as closely as you can get, the desserts you were used to before dieting then you really can’t go wrong with a chocolate cheesecake – low carb of course.
You will need – Three packets of room temperature cream cheese
1 ½ cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups of sour cream
1 1/3 cups of sugar substitute
Two tablespoons of melted butter
One cup of almond meal
• Combine the melted butter with the almond meal until crust-like, then press into the bottom of a nine-inch by nine-inch pan.
• Bake for eight minutes until you can smell almond and the base is golden brown in color.
• Add the cream cheese, lemon juice, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, sour cream and sugar substitute into a bowl and beat until your mixture is fluffy.
• Pour your cheesecake mixture over the crust and place in the oven.
• Cook at 200-degrees for ninety minutes, checking often after the hour mark.
• Remove from oven when cheesecake is firm but springy and allow to cool for an hour.
• Cut into approximately sixteen pieces before serving with fruit and low-in-fat whipped cream.
This is an absolutely gorgeous low carb dessert, with each slice containing just 1.5 grams of carbohydrates. The calorie count is on the higher side, at 175 calories per slice but the taste is well worth it and as long as you don’t eat it for every meal, every day, there is no reason why you cannot make this a regular addition to your low carb diet.
Low Carb Desserts and Eating Out
When it came to low carb desserts, I found the greatest challenge to be knowing what to eat when I ate out, either at a high-end or chain restaurant. I mean, while I often skipped dessert completely it is always nice to know what your options are should your craving for something sweet strike while you are eating out. Here are a few tips I have for low carb desserts and dining out;
• Menu Planning – Most restaurants have a copy of their menu online, meaning you can check out what is on offer before you go. If there is no menu on the Internet, don’t be worried about calling the restaurant and asking what, if any, low carb desserts they have on offer.
• Don’t be too hard on yourself – If you are relatively new to a low carb diet, then you can be forgiven for not knowing exactly what constitutes a low carb dessert. Getting to grips with what foods offer you the best nutritionally, while still tasting good and fitting in with your diet will take time. If you find when you get home that your dessert choice was completely wrong – consider it a lesson learned.
• Don’t worry about asking – An increase in health awareness, as well as changing dietary needs means many restaurants do cater for specific diets. Do not be worried about asking your waiter if there are any specific low carb dessert options on the menu. Alternatively, you can search for a restaurant that does offer low carb options, both desserts and main meals are often specially catered for in larger restaurants.
• Avoid – If you are in the dark about what to order, you are most likely to strike low carb dessert gold if you order something with a fruit content, such as cheesecake. Avoid sugary or deep fried desserts and you cannot really go wrong. If you don’t want to risk it, have a sneaky spoonful of a friend’s or family member’s dessert to dissipate that sweet craving.
Switching to a low carb diet does require a lifestyle change but it doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of the things you love to eat.
If you are a real dessert fan, there are plenty of things you can do to adapt some of your favorite recipes so they can become low carb desserts. And remember, when you do have that completely natural sweet craving, give in to it sensibly. If you constantly deprive yourself of the things you love to eat, you are more likely to end up binging on the wrong types of food.
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