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purposes only. The information provided in this blog is not a substitute for medical care and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.*
Baking with diabetes can often feel like you are stuck choosing between indulging in the occasional sweet treat or sacrificing your blood sugar levels. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can enjoy desserts with diabetes while managing your blood sugars.
Whether you’ve been living with diabetes for years or have recently been diagnosed, this article will provide you with valuable insights and delicious recipes to help you find creative ways to satisfy your sweet tooth while remaining mindful of your blood sugar levels. Because after all, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as being able to have your cake and eat it, too!
What is diabetic-friendly baking?
Diabetes-friendly baking is an approach that prioritizes not only taste, but also blood sugar management. This approach to baking with diabetes involves:
Understanding how various ingredients impact blood sugar levels
Careful selection of ingredients or considering suitable substitutions
Being mindful of portion sizes
Strategically pairing foods for balanced nutrition
Adjusting diabetes medications, such as insulin, as needed
What is the best sweetener for diabetics to bake with?
The best sweetener for people with diabetes to bake with can vary depending on personal taste preferences, how each individual’s body responds to different sweeteners, and desired texture and flavor of baked goods.
Many people with diabetes (myself included!) find substituting sugar with low-and-no-calorie sweeteners (LNCS) to be a generally simple and successful method to reduce blood sugar spikes without sacrificing taste.
LNCS are regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and classified as either a food additive or Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). They are one of the most thoroughly researched ingredients in the world and are recognized as safe by numerous reputable international and government regulatory agencies (1, 2). LNCS have little to no impact on blood sugar levels making them great alternatives to sugar for people with diabetes. Some examples of LNCS include:
Sucralose is found in Splenda Original Sweeteners. It tastes and sweetens similar to sugar but doesn’t have an impact on blood sugar levels.
Stevia is made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It also does not have an effect on blood sugar levels.
Allulose is typically produced from corn for use as a sweetener that does not raise blood sugar levels.
TOP TIP: Use this conversion chart to turn your favorite recipes into a less added sugar version.
Best flour options for diabetes
When baking with diabetes, selecting the best flour option is an important factor in blood sugar management and achieving the desired taste and texture in your baked goods. Here are some important considerations when choosing a flour option:
Taste and texture: Different flours have unique textures and flavors, which can significantly affect the taste and consistency of your baked goods. Experiment with various flours to find the ones that best suit your personal taste preferences. For example, almond flour has a mild nutty flavor and grainy while coconut flour has a subtle coconut taste and gritty mouthfeel.
Nutrient content: Opt for flours that are higher in fiber and protein to help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Examples include: almond, coconut, oat, and whole wheat flour.
Blending flours: To achieve the best results in terms of both taste and texture, you can consider blending different flours. For instance, combining almond and oat flour can balance out their individual characteristics.
If you prefer baking with all purpose white flour, no worries! There are additional steps you can take to reduce blood sugar spikes when baking with diabetes such as using sugar substitutes, incorporating healthy fats, adding fiber-rich ingredients, being mindful of portions and eating your favorite dessert along with a balanced meal.
What dessert won’t spike my blood sugar?
It is important to monitor blood sugar levels and develop a personalized strategy for managing your specific blood sugar responses after eating dessert as individual responses can vary greatly among each person with diabetes.
When aiming to minimize blood sugar spikes from dessert, several factors should be considered:
Substitute with Splenda: Desserts made with a LNCS like Splenda allow you to indulge your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar levels(3).
Portion size: The quantity of dessert you consume can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels. Opting for a single piece of cake will have a milder impact on blood sugar levels compared to consuming three slices.
Dessert type: Prioritize dessert options that reduce added sugars while incorporating healthy fats, fiber and protein.
Food pairing: Pair your dessert with a balanced meal rather than as a standalone to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Insulin management: If you are using insulin therapy, modifying your insulin dosing strategy to align with your dessert consumption can be an effective approach to reducing blood sugar spikes.
By taking these factors into account and customizing your approach based on your specific needs and preferences, you can better navigate your blood sugar management when having desserts.
TOP TIP: Utilizing recipe blogs that include nutrition information can assist with accurate carbohydrate counting.
How can I satisfy my diabetic sweet tooth?
There are many dessert options that can satisfy your sweet tooth. For inspiration on diabetes-friendly cakes, muffins, cookies, and brownies recipes see below:
Diabetes-friendly Cake and Muffins
Zucchini Bread Muffins: These muffins offer diabetes-friendly due to the addition of fiber from 2 cups grated zucchini.
Spiced Butternut Squash Muffins: These muffins incorporate butternut squash, a low-glycemic vegetable rich in vitamins and fiber.
No Bake Berry Cheesecake Bars: These cheesecake bars utilize sucralose and the natural sweetness of berries to create a delicious, lower-sugar dessert option.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Cake: This cake snack incorporates healthy fats from peanut butter and sucralose to reduce the amount of added sugar.
Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins: These muffins include using bananas for natural sweetness and fiber alongside gluten free rolled oats.
Best Cookies for Diabetes
Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies: These cookies feature dried cranberries for tart sweetness and use of monk fruit to reduce the added sugar content.
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies: These cookies utilize stevia as a sugar substitute and incorporate greek yogurt for a protein boost.
5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies: By using peanut butter as a source of healthy fats and sweetening with stevia, these cookies maintain their deliciousness while being kind to your blood sugar levels.
Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies: These cookies use sucralose as a sugar substitute and oat-fashioned rolled oats to provide fiber, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Soft Gingersnap Cookies: To reduce the amount of added sugars, this recipe incorporates the natural sweetness of monk fruit alongside molasses.
Best Brownies for Diabetes
Sweet Potato Brownies: This brownie recipe incorporates sweet potatoes, a nutrient-rich low glycemic alternative to traditional brownie ingredients.
Brownie Batter Dip: This delightful dip uses black beans to introduce higher amounts of fiber for blood sugar management.
Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites: These brownie bites feature a number of blood sugar-friendly ingredients including avocado, stevia, almond flour and walnuts.
No one wants to give up all desserts and sweet treats. And the good news is that you don’t have to, even when managing diabetes. Whether your approach involves ingredient swaps or thoughtful food pairings, there are plenty of creative ways to continue to enjoy your favorite desserts while carefully considering their potential impact on your blood sugar levels.
Ashwell M, Gibson S, Bellisle F, et al. Expert consensus on low-calorie sweeteners: facts, research gaps and suggested actions. Nutr Res Rev. 2020;33(1):145-154. doi:10.1017/S0954422419000283
Roberts A. The safety and regulatory process for low calorie sweeteners in the United States. Physiol Behav. 2016;164(Pt B):439-444. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.02.039
Nichol AD, Holle MJ, An R. Glycemic impact of non-nutritive sweeteners: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72(6):796-804. doi:10.1038/s41430-018-0170-6