Featured Recipes

Recipe: Soft Gingersnaps (aka Healthy Ginger Molasses Cookies) – Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Low Sugar

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It’s almost Christmas!

If you, like us, are still scrambling to make treats for your holiday dessert tray, give these sweet and spicy cookies a try. No one will know they’re a healthier alternative to the white flour, white sugar-laden treats that abound this time of year. 

Made from high protein almond and cashew flour, these lightly sweetened soft ginger cookies will remind you of those classic crinkles you’ve been eating for years. And with only a few tablespoons of sugar in the entire batch, they won’t send your insulin levels soaring. Leave a tray out for Santa by the chimney, and he won’t be disappointed. 

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These soft and chewy morsels also make great last minute gifts. Just dress them in a glamorous box and savor your budget-friendly decisions. I picked up the silver filigreed boxes and wrapping paper at Dollar Tree, believe it or not. They’re a one stop shop for gift wrap and holiday party supplies. As a newly minted medical student (!), it was especially important to find budget-friendly gifts this year. 

Much more will be said about medical school in another post. Let’s just say I was never so glad to have winter break! It’s been whirlwind since August, but the sleepless nights and countless cups of coffee will hopefully be worth it when I’m a physician who can help patients address their health conditions and live better lives. Feeling so blessed to have the opportunity to pursue my passions. It’s the best Christmas gift of all. 

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Recipe Notes

I used a small amount of real sugar in combination with sugar-free sweeteners to decrease the amount of carbohydrates while preserving that familiar molasses cookie flavor. You can, however, adjust the recipe to leave out the sugar-free sweeteners if you prefer. Truvia, a blend of the natural sweeteners stevia and erythritol with a little added coconut sugar perfectly sweetens the cookies without leaving an aftertaste. In this recipe, I used the Target version of Truvia (look for the red and white container in the baking aisle) which is a bit cheaper than the brand name. You can also make your own Truvia-like sweetener at home following my recipe posted here.

Substitutions

To make these cookies paleo, leave out the Truvia and oat flour, and add in 2 Tablespoons arrowstarch + 1/3 cup coconut sugar. I adapted this recipe from an incredible paleo cookbook by the immensely talented Julie Hulet, so pick up My Paleo Patisserie if you’re looking for recipe inspiration. 

To make these cookies dairy-free, use non-hydrogenated organic palm shortening in place of the unsalted butter. 

Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Sugar, Low Carb)

Serves 15
These nutrient-dense cookies are packed with almond flour, oat flour, and coconut flour! This flour blend creates a soft and chewy gluten-free cookie that even your non g-free friends will enjoy.


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Ingredients
  1. 100 grams (1 cup) blanched almond flour
  2. 130 gram (1 cup) cashew flour** (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  3. 12 grams (2 Tablespoons) coconut flour (I used Arrowhead Mills brand)
  4. 20 grams (1/4 cup) oat flour
  5. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 2 teaspoons ginger
  8. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  10. 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  11. 3 Tablespoons Truvia*** OR stevia blend OR coconut sugar
  12. 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar
  13. 1/4 cup unsalted butter OR nonhydrogenated palm shortening
  14. 1 large egg
  15. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  16. 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  17. 2 tablespoons molasses
  18. 2 tablespoons cane sugar, for rolling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add butter, coconut sugar and Truvia to a mixing bowl.
  3. Beat with an electric mixer 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly add in dry ingredients, and beat in until a dough comes together.
  5. Chill dough for 1/2 hour.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator, and shape into 1.5″ balls with your hands. Toss each dough ball around a small bowl filled with the 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  7. Place dough balls 2″ apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Flatten each dough ball with the bottom of a glass to 1/2″ thickness.
  9. Bake 13-14 minutes, and let cookies cool for a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
  10. Store in baggies or tupperware. Cookies should keep for a week unrefrigerated. Freeze cookies if you’d like them to be extra chewy!
Notes
  1. **You can replace the cashew flour with more blanched almond flour if you like. The cashew flour greatly enhances the taste, though. Get it at Trader Joe’s or online.
  2. ***Grind up Truvia into a fine powder using a clean coffee grinder or Magic Bullet if you would like to ensure that the cookies don’t taste gritty.
Nutrition Facts
  1. Per cookie (1/15 batch): 120 Calories; 8g Fat ; 4g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

 

 

Healthy Vanilla Coconut Cake (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free) + A Tribute to My Beautiful Mom

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This is the story of a very special cake. 

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 A cake meticulously tested and frosted with care for the woman who encouraged my creative endeavors from day one. From the moment I could hold a paintbrush to the instant I started my blog back in 2008, she told me that I was talented and more importantly, that if I tried my best, that was enough. Without her support, I might never have grown confident enough to share my recipes and photos with the world.

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This cake is a token of my appreciation for the woman who lifted me up with her boundless love, generosity, and unshakeable belief in my abilities. In college, I went through a trying period of personal growth and transformation. Without Mom to talk me through it, it would have been far more difficult to see the light rays peeking through the storm cloud.

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Fast, Easy Immersion Blender Mayo Method + a Healthy Mayo Recipe (Sugar-Free, Soy-Free, Paleo!)

healthy-indulgences-soy-free-fast-easy-paleo-mayonnaise-immersion-blender-recipe-smallerDid you know that store bought mayo is usually made with highly processed, inflammatory seed oils? Soybean and canola are the worst offenders. These oils are processed using high heat methods and solvents that may damage the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the oil, causing rancidity. And if there’s one food additive you want to avoid, it’s rancid oil! My homemade mayo uses extra light olive oil, which is very mild tasting, and more importantly, chock full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats that are less prone to heat damage.  Watch out for labels that proclaim a mayo is made with olive oil, because if you look closely, the ingredients list will show soybean or canola oil as the first ingredient. Moral of the story: If you want mayo made with healthy oil, you have to make it yourself. 

If you’ve never made homemade mayonnaise before, you should try it at least once. I guarantee once you see how easy (and fast!) it is to make America’s favorite condiment right in your own kitchen, you’ll never want to go back to the store bought kind. To see it being made in action, feast your eyes on my first ever Youtube tutorial! I hope you’ll find it just as fun to watch as I had making it. What do you think? Would you like to see more of these instructional videos? 

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Sugar-Free Broccoli Bacon Salad (Low Carb, Diabetic-Friendly, Gluten-Free) + A New Cookbook! 

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Coming up on 6 years of sugar-free, whole foods centered eating, I find myself making fewer elaborate treats and more simple dishes. If you’ve ever been to any church potlucks, you’re probably familiar with Broccoli Salad. This seemingly humble cold salad–chock full of crunchy broccoli florets, smoky crumbled bacon, sweet cherry tomatoes, and sharp cheddar coated in a tangy dressing–has moved into the starring role of my lunch rotation.  What is so appealing about this nutrient-packed side dish, in addition to the contrasting flavors (sweet n’ salty, tangy n’ creamy), is the ease of preparation. The biggest hurdle I face when it comes to eating veggies is the demanding prep work. This no-cook salad quashes that excuse. If you have a knife, a bowl, and a few spare minutes, you can make this dish!   

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Happy Easter! Healthier Carrot Cake Recipe Update (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free)

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Happy Easter, y’all! Here in the Healthy Indulgences household, we’re serving up my Sugar-Free Carrot Cake with our holiday dinner.

Here’s my updated version of the old Sugar-Free Healthy Indulgences Carrot Cake (check out the photos! Pretty big difference between now and 4 years ago, huh? :D), with a couple of tweaks to make it even more delicious. It’s still gluten-free, sugar-free, and diabetic-friendly, at just 8 carbs per piece! It can also be made nut-free and dairy-free with a couple of modifications (see below!). 

The measurements listed work well with the wonderful non bitter pure stevia powder found at TJ’s. Have you hopped on the Trader Joe’s stevia train yet? I’m hooked! Hoping to see a larger bottle for sale in the future, ’cause $9.99 per oz is a bit steep for prolific bakers like yours truly. If you, too, are burning through stevia and would like to write to TJ’s about selling their pure, lactose-free in bulk, you can email them here. Once you’ve sounded off, don’t forget to come back for this fabulous cake recipe! 😀

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Exclusive Recipe: Healthy Chocolate Mousse made in a Blender (Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free)

This recipe is exclusive to mailing list subscribers. Go to the sidebar on the right to sign up! I only mail once once per week. 

Chocolate Mousse is like the little black dress (or suit jacket) of desserts. It can be gussied up with chocolate curls, or poured into glasses and enjoyed unpretentiously. 

Because of the richness of this timeless, elegant dessert, it can easily be made low carb and diabetic-friendly without sacrificing the luxurious texture and piquant cocoa flavoring of traditional mousse. The lack of sugar and the health benefits of chocolate and coconut oil make this dessert a nourishing treat.

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Did you know that you can use expeller-pressed (refined) coconut oil and still reap similar health benefits to what you would get with the extra virgin, coconut-flavored kind? Most of the studies done on coconut oil were actually performed with refined coconut oil, not with extra virgin. I recommend using expeller-pressed coconut oil in this mousse so its essence doesn’t overwhelm the rich chocolate flavor. After trying 2 brands of expeller-pressed CO, my vote goes to Jarrow Formulas, which is extracted with no harsh chemical solvents. The Spectrum brand which is widely available in grocery stores has an off taste. Of course, you can use unrefined Extra Virgin CO if you prefer. It’ll taste a bit like a Mounds bar, which definitely isn’t a bad thing!

You can almost always find a glass or two of this mousse in my fridge. Just like with my Fluffy, Grain-Free Waffles, I make a big batch on Sunday and nosh on it all week. You can grab a glass of wine mousse, sink down into the sofa, and feel extra classy eating gourmet dessert while watching Netflix in your PJ’s. Alternatively, the mousse can be dressed up with fancy curls for unexpected company. Be forewarned: Serve this mousse to unsuspecting guests, and they might want to hang around for awhile!  

Recipe Notes

This updated version of my Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse is egg-free, dairy-free, and hassle-free. You melt the chocolate, soften the gelatin, and blend everything into a luscious vortex of molten bliss. Pour the mix into glasses, and chill in the fridge. Wait (impatiently). Whip some heavy cream (ideal) or remove your can of Reddi-wip (reality) from the fridge. Garnish mousse. Eat!

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Gelatin is the secret ingredient. Its thickening power takes the place of eggs used in a traditional mousse, giving it a velvety, dense texture and creamy mouthfeel. Because I make this recipe so often, I purchased grassfed beef gelatin since the food source of the cattle influences the nutrient quality of the collagen used to make gelatin. However, Knox gelatin from the grocery store works equally well. You could probably easily make this mousse vegan with agar agar powder, as this blogger did with a fruit-flavored mousse. If you play around with it, please leave a comment below sharing your results.

This recipe contains no added sugar and as it is written. Most of the people who provide me with feedback concerning the recipes you see on the blog seem to tolerate erythritol and stevia just fine, but what works for others might not work for you. Feel free to use other sweeteners they’re more agreeable to you. Raw honey is a delicious paleo substitute for the erythritol, although it substantially increases the grams of sugar per serving (see recipe notes). This recipe is incredibly flexible – you really can’t mess this up! 

Well, that’s not entirely true. You can mess it up if you don’t treat the gelatin with the respect that this venerable yet slightly finicky natural thickener deserves. A few months ago, I endeavored to make a batch of this mousse while talking on the phone (mistake number 1). During what I thought was an automated muscle memory sort of progression through the recipe steps, I dumped the gelatin powder into the warmed mixture of chocolate and coconut cream (second mistake). The translucent mass immediately formed an unappetizing clump, but I soldiered on, not wanting to waste precious ingredients. Ever the optimist, I threw the mixture into a blender and let it run at maximum speed for a minute or two. Sadly, that spark of creativity went unrewarded, as I distinctly remember later that day, tasting the chewy, hard lumps between mouthfuls of creamy chocolate. The silver lining is that by sharing this story I’ve brought you one step closer to achieving flawless results!

Unlike my old mousse recipe, there are no raw eggs in the mix. That means you can serve it to your elderly and pregnant friends with gusto! The sugar-free movement will spread quietly and deliciously, one dinner party at a time. Vive la revolution!

To get the full recipe, sign up for the newsletter in the box on the sidebar of the main page. It’ll be delivered to your inbox as an attachment shortly thereafter.

This post contains affiliate links. When you make purchases through them, I receive a small commission. Thank you kindly for helping to support my blogging endeavors.

 

 

Healthy Mint “Shamrock” Milkshake Recipe! (Sugar-Free)

Every March as St. Patty’s Day approaches, the Shamrock Shake attracts throngs of hungry diners to the Golden Arches. In all its corn-syrup filled glory, a small McDonald’s Shamrock Shake packs a whopping 86 grams of carbohydrates (73g of sugar) and 530 calories!

Fortunately, I was able to come up with a Healthy Indulgences version that clocks in at 8 grams of carbohydrates, no sugar, and 420 calories worth of protein and nourishing fats. It’s basically a meal in the form of a thick, creamy, sweet milkshake. What could be better than that?

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Weekday Waffles (Low Carb, Grain-Free, Diabetic-Friendly)

These fluffy, gluten-free, nutrient-packed waffles will get you excited about breakfast again. 

Biting into the lightly sweet, bread-like interiors, you’d think these golden brown Eggo knock offs were made from white flour. Not true! Coconut flour, cashews, and a little bit of arrowroot starch (the powdered form of a root vegetable) blend up to create a batter that makes these waffles equals part delicious and nourishing. 

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Although they look fancy and time-consuming to make, these homemade waffles are as simple as tossing the ingredients in a blender and whirling them into a smooth batter. It takes me all of 10 minutes to prep the batter, and another five for the cooking. We use and love a waffle iron similar to this one. It not only cooks up a crispy waffle, but it makes a mean cauli-hash brown… but that’s a recipe for another post! 

The name Weekday Waffles comes from the superb freeze-ability of these toothsome treats. You can make up a big batch on Sunday for a quick breakfast during bleary-eyed weekday mornings. It’s comforting, nutritious fast food. 

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Which Brand of Stevia is Best (Not Bitter)? The Stevia Story and Ultimate Taste Test Comparison

Last year, I sent out an email to everyone who had purchased the cookbook to see which stevia extract was the best-tasting, least bitter product out of the vast array that’s currently on the market. You guys kept sending in emails with suggestions for different brands of stevia to try, so I went out and bought them all! There are 11 different stevia extracts, not including 4 kinds of liquid stevia and 12 types of stevia packets, taunting me from the cupboard right now. I feel like a crazy cat lady, only with bottles of white powder in place of fluffy, adorable balls of fur. 

Why did I undertake this expensive and time-consuming experiment? Because I didn’t want you guys to deal with the frustrating experience of buying and trying a multitude of stevias in hopes of finding one that wasn’t bitter. Quitting sugar is one of the most difficult yet transformative journeys to undertake, and the right sugar-free sweetener can make or break that experience

You might still be wondering what all the fuss is about stevia. Why go to all the trouble of finding a good stevia as opposed to just using another sugar-free sweetener? Here’s your answer: Stevia is an invaluable sweetener for anyone who is trying to cut back on their sugar intake. Here are four reasons why I still love stevia after 7 years of sugar-free baking:

1. It’s safe* and diabetic-friendly, with no harmful side effects. With zero calories and carbohydrates, it’s one of the two natural sweeteners (the other being erythritol) that has no impact on blood glucose levels.

2. It’s exceptionally sweet, which makes it cost-effective. A little bit goes a long way.

3. It plays well with other sweeteners. Stevia never tastes quite right when you use it by itself to sweeten baked goods. However, when you combine it with erythritol or xylitol, it’s magical!

4. It tastes better than artificial sweetenersif you buy the right brand!

*There are stories floating around the internet that those with ragweed allergies could be sensitive to stevia. This claim has not been substantiated in the scientific literature. 

There are so many stevia brands out there, all making wild claims about tasting “just like sugar,” when in fact all stevia extracts are not created equal! I still remember that fateful date when I drove to the nearest health food store and excitedly purchased my first bottle of stevia powder, only to get home and find out it tasted like licorice-flavored failure. I felt defeated and discouraged. If the friendly folks over at the Low Carb Friends forum hadn’t clued me in to NuNaturals being the best stevia brand, I might have gone right back to a steady diet of Dr. Pepper and Pop Tarts. With the old, wonderful NuNaturals stevia extract, we were able to create decadent sugar-free substitutes for our old favorite treats, ranging from a frozen coffee drink that tasted like the Starbucks kind to a sugar-free chocolate cake that rivalled Duncan Hines.

And then 2013 happened. 

Alas, the delicious NuNaturals stevia we all knew and loved was no more. In 2013, the manufacturer stopped producing the extract, so the company switched to a different formulation of stevia. After a few loyal readers alerted me to the change with emails and comments, I set out on a quest to find the next best stevia product.

Scroll down for the results of the Ultimate Stevia Taste Test!

The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test 

 I searched Iherb.com, Amazon, and small natural foods companies for months to find all of the best-selling stevia products currently on the market. The following are the results of comparing the stevia extracts, side by side, in a series of blind taste tests. 

The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test: First Round Elimination

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Not shown: NuNaturals, KAL Natural, Mood & Mind Stevia Powder

The following stevias were immediately removed from the testing line up. They were either bitter in flavor or very dilute in their level of sweetness:

KAL Natural Stevia Extract (too bitter)

KAL Pure Organic Stevia Extract (too bitter)

Mood & Mind Stevia Powder (too weak)

NOW BetterStevia Organic Stevia Extract Powder (too weak)

NuNaturals NuStevia Pure Extract, 2014 formula (too weak)

Stevita Simply-Stevia (too bitter)

SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Extract (too bitter)

The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test: The Final Four 

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From left: JAJA Stevioside, Whole Foods 365 stevia powder, Stevia Select stevia, Trader Joe’s stevia powder

The stevia extracts pictured above made it to round 2. 

JAJA Stevioside Powder

Trader Joe’s Pure Organic Stevia Powder

Whole Foods 365 Stevia Powder (not available for purchase online)

Stevia Select Stevia Powder

These four stevias are all good tasting, but there are slight differences in flavor profile. Trader Joe’s Stevia and 365 stevia are very similar in flavor and level of sweetness, with the TJ’s stevia having the edge over 365 brand flavor-wise. Stevia Select and JAJA Stevioside are stronger than TJ’s, but they are slightly more bitter. You can use any of these in the old Healthy Indulgences recipes, but you’ll need to use double or triple the amount of the following stevias to achieve the proper level of sweetness. 

The Ultimate Stevia Taste Test: The Winner!

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Trader Joe’s Pure Organic Stevia

This is it! This is the stevia you should stock in your pantry. Trader Joe’s stevia has a clean sweetness and no lingering aftertaste. You can buy it here, or you can purchase it at your local Trader Joe’s store for $9.99/oz. Just be sure to get the 1 oz bottle. The larger bottle of TJ’s stevia contains lactose (sugar!) as a bulking agent. 

If you’d like to use TJ’s stevia in older Healthy Indulgences recipes (pre-2014) and the recipes in the cookbook, use twice the amount of stevia called for. 

Untried Stevias

Here are the stevias I decided not to purchase based on the lack of reviews and/or the high percentage of unfavorable reviews (3-, 2-, and 1-star):

BulkSupplements Pure Stevia Powder (14% unfavorable reviews) 

California Gold Nutrition, Certified Organic Stevia (not enough reviews)

Frontier Natural Products Organic Stevia Powder (51% unfavorable reviews)

Hard Rhino Pure Stevia 90% Steviosides Extract Bulk Powder (not enough reviews)

Superior Source Sweet ‘N Natural Stevia Pure Nutritional Supplements Powder (not enough reviews)

Trim Healthy Mama Stevia (no reviews from a third party site)

Zenulife Health Global (not enough reviews)

Have you tried any of the above listed stevias, or a stevia that’s not mentioned here? If so, let us know what you think of it! 

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing products through the links, you can help support the site! I purchased these products myself and was not compensated for any of these product reviews. All opinions are my own.

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake for a Sweet Thanksgiving!

There’s less than week until Thanksgiving!

You know what that means… it’s baking season! Holiday indulgences will be everywhere, tempting you to gobble sugary treats until you’re more stuffed than the turkey (or turducken) on the table.

This recipe might just be your sweet salvation.

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This No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake has the familiar flavors of fall for those pumpkin pie lovers at the Thanksgiving table,  but is blissfully sugar-free! And it’s so good that I actually prefer it to pumpkin pie (but not to Sugar-Free Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cakenothing tops that glorious creation!). The fluffy, mousse-like texture of the No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake filling rests atop a sweet and cinnamon-y, “cookie” crumb crust, making for an irresistible flavor combination.

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