Thanks to the readers who entered the contest for the Organic Zero erythritol packets! Andrea is the randomly generated winner. Here is why she eats sugar-free:
“I live sugar-free because my life depends on it. Both of my parents died from diabetes complications and I do not want to go down the same path. We are so fortunate that there are now so many alternatives to sugar such as the product you are promoting. When I was growing up, there was just saccharin which did dnot taste very good. Thank you for your excellent information.”
And now for a surprise second winner! I ordered some vanilla beans on ebay, and have an extra bundle to give away. Rachel can have these vanilla beans if she would like them! The beans can be used as a sugar-free flavoring for baked goods, custard, ice cream, and to make vanilla extract. Here is why Rachel eats sugar-free:
I eat sugar-free because it’s what my body wants. How do I know this? Sugar and carbs were ruining my life. I had no idea why I constantly craved sugar and processed carbs, and my obsession quickly turned into an eating disorder. I had no control over my cravings…my body wanted more and more and I became a slave to it. I’d binge on sugary, carb-loaded foods and then feel horrible about it and go to great lengths to undo my binges (which I will not describe in detail here). I also suffered from wild mood swings, irritability and fatigue, all of which everyone (including my doctors!) attributed to PMDD.
But I knew it was more than that. All of the treatments I tried for PMDD symptoms had failed. Eventually, completely exhausted, and my body ravaged from my bingeing cycles, I began to do desperate research into blood sugar and its effects on the body. I was shocked to find out that SO many of the symptoms I suffered from, especially the constant sugar and carb cravings, could be due to extremely unstable blood sugar levels!
I immediately stopped eating all sugar and carbs, and have never felt better. I almost never suffer from cravings anymore, I have stopped my destructive bingeing cycles, and am no longer controlled by food. My emotions and moods have leveled, and I have an energy I never knew existed…one that occurs naturally, not feuled by carbs!
I’m not really writing this for your contest, but mostly to tell you that your blog has been a godsend for new sugar- and carb-free eaters like me. I was beginning to accept that I would never be able to enjoy some of my favorite foods again, but your recipes have given me the ability to do that, while still staying within the confines of my diet and without hurting my body.
Thank you so much! I don’t know where you find the time to cook and blog like you do, but I pray that you never stop.
Check out of the rest of the comments from readers about why they eat sugar-free. I really enjoyed reading all of your stories, and seeing how this way of eating is helping people with so many health issues.
Do you crave fresh fruit in this summer heat?
I do, and tend to satisfy that desire with stevia-sweetened lemonade instead of “Nature’s Candy.” Some days though, you just gotta indulge in those natural sugars, so here’s how to on your low carb sugar-free lifestyle. Pair the fruit with fat! It dilutes the sugar carbs, making you satisfied with a smaller portion. It also stops your blood sugar from fluctuating wildly and making you hungry an hour after your fruit snack. Besides, fat makes everything tastes better, especially if it comes in the form of organic heavy cream. It’s a divine combination of flavors that inspired countless songs and many different types of desserts.
This strawberry mousse will be the first dessert in a series of easy, quick low carb desserts that require minimal effort, yet will still impress that surprise company coming over for dinner! Besides, who wants to make a big mess in a hot kitchen in this weather? This naturally gluten-free, egg-free mousse can also be made dairy-free with the use of full fat coconut milk! It can be made sugar-free using a combination of stevia and powdered erythritol, but any zero calorie sweetener would work well here. I tried this dessert with Splenda as well, because I have decided to include a measurement for it alongside my preferred natural sweeteners from now on. Although I don’t prefer the taste and chemical nature of Splenda for personal use, it is used by so many diabetics and other carb watchers who need to eat a low insulin producing diet to live. Most importantly, there little empirical evidence showing adverse side effects from its use. If by creating an option for sweetening with Splenda in my recipes, I can broaden the appeal of these healthful low carb treats, I am willing to do so. Keep in mind that combining sugar-free sweeteners yields the best taste, and allows you to use less of them overall. Use the sweetening option that works for your lifestyle, beliefs, budgetary constraints, and health concerns.
This mousse might work with honey as well, but I didn’t try making it like that since I am attempting to limit consumption of all forms of sugar. I’d start with a 2-3 tablespoons of honey, cooked with the strawberries, if you’d like to go this route.
Makes 5 servings
8 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled and sliced
1/4 cup erythritol, powdered, plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
1/2 cup Splenda plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract (or 1/4 cup more Splenda)
2-3 tablespoons honey plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon zest from an organic lemon
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup organic heavy cream
Sprinkle the gelatin over the tablespoon of water in a small bowl, and set aside to soften. Puree the strawberries with the zest, the juice, and the salt. Heat the puree in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring together the strawberries and sweetener just until hot. Add gelatin and stir until melted. Let mixture cool. Beat the cream to soft peaks, and beat in vanilla and stevia. Gently fold strawberry mixture into cream. Pour into serving cups and chill for two hours.
For a stiff, pipeable mousse (like you see in the photos), follow these directions after soaking the gelatin:
Place the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a saucepan over medium low heat, and add the sweetener (erythritol, Splenda, or honey–don’t add the stevia yet) and water and cook, breaking up with your spatula. Stir around the pan gently until the sweetener has dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the strawberries have slightly thickened. Add the gelatin to the pan, and stir until it is completely melted. Puree in a blender (I used my Magic Bullet) or food processor. Let cool to room temperature. Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks with a hand mixer, and beat in vanilla and stevia. Once the strawberries are cooled, carefully fold the whipped cream into the fruit puree. Pipe mixture into serving bowls, and chill for at least an hour. I used an 8″ Wilton piping bag with the largest tip I could find at Michael’s craft store. The tip was $1.99 and the piping bag was $1.99.
~6.2g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe using ½ cup Splenda w/stevia
~4g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe using erythritol/stevia
Calling all chocolate lovers! You will think you’ve died and gone to heaven with this one. After testing out a few batches of Super Simple Biscuits, I had a lot of leftover egg yolks. Eight of them went into a traditional custard-based ice cream. To use up the rest, I googled “egg yolk dessert recipes” and found these yummy sounding ideas at GourmetSleuth. The Pots De Creme looked intriguing. Simple ingredients, check. Easy to de-carb, check. What really caught my eye was the variation using chocolate! After giving a test batch to my faithful friends slash recipe testers, it has become my most requested dessert. I promise that it only sounds intimidating with that fancy french name–preparation is a snap. This is one of the easiest and most delicious sugar-free, gluten-free desserts, ever. Step one for being the Hostess with the Mostest: Buy some adorable ramekins and serve up personal portions of this rich chocolate custard. Step two: Watch your guests’ eyes roll back in their heads and silently congratulate yourself!
Cut the intensity of the dark chocolate with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. You can make this dessert dairy-free by replacing the heavy cream with full fat coconut milk. To flavor the custard, use whatever flavoring you think pairs well with chocolate. I used pure almond extract for the pots de creme pictured here. Peppermint and orange would also be delicious. Top with a sprig of mint or a curl of orange zest for an elegant touch. I grated some leftover chocolate and sprinkled it over the custard. C’est magnifique!
Chocolate Pots De Creme
Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe
Makes 3 servings
1 cup organic heavy cream OR coconut milk
**2 ounces 85% percent cacao dark chocolate (I like Lindt and Green & Black’s), chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use whatever flavor you like) OR espresso powder
3 large organic egg yolks
5 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt
**Cut the chocolate bar into thirds and use of two of them. Just eyeball it.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 3 ramekins in a large roasting pan. Combine cream, chocolate, and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk every few minutes until chocolate melts. Stir to blend cream and chocolate completely. Do NOT overheat! You don’t want it to bubble up.
Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or magic bullet. Whisk erythritol and stevia into egg yolks until mixture is smooth. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Stir the mixture until totally smooth and divide between the 3 ramekins. Optional step: Use a toothpick to pop the little bubbles that form on the surface of the custards. Heat a measuring cup full of water for a couple of minutes in the microwave, and pour water in the roasting pan until it reaches about an inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes. The centers of the custards should still be very jiggly. Remove ramekins from water bath (wear potholders!). Let the custards cool to room temperature. Store them in the fridge covered with a paper towel and foil for at least 2 hours. I’d recommend making these before you go to bed so you don’t get antsy and sneak a taste before they’re ready!
~5g net carbs per huge serving
After making many batches of my ice cream bars, I got sick of the peanut butter flavor and wanted something more creamy and spoonable for my fix. More traditional. Ice cream is still my first love in terms of treats. Nothing can replace the milky cold sweetness of it, and during summer time the feelings of longing are the strongest. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I caved to the craving and stopped at a DQ for a blizzard. And if you have this quick and dirty ice cream sitting in your freezer, you won’t have to think twice about it. It’s thick and creamy, just like you remember. And the best part? No fancy machinery required!
This sugar-free, all natural ice cream made with luxuriously thick ricotta cheese will give you 50% of your RDA of calcium per half cup serving, and contains 4 measly carbs. Use your favorite minimally processed cocoa powder for an antioxidant boost. I’ll admit to using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for that Wendy’s frosty chocolate flavoring, but the non-Dutched stuff is best for the preservation of nutrients.
Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes two servings
1 cup ricotta cheese (part skim or whole milk)
1 fresh organic egg yolk (Egg Beaters if you’re afraid of salmonella)
Tiny splash of pure vanilla extract
Sweeteners, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-2-3 tablespoons erythritol (get it here and here) or xylitol
-Pure stevia extract (NuNaturals is the best!)
Pinch of xanthan/guar gum (optional, for a creamier texture)
Jamocha Almond Flavoring:
2-3 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
85% cacao chocolate, grated
Mint Chocolate Chip Variation:
a few drops of pure peppermint extract
85% cacao chocolate, grated
Blend ricotta, egg yolk, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, sweeteners, xanthan gum, and other flavorings together in a blender or food processor until totally smooth. Stir in nuts and chocolate shavings if desired. Pour into plastic tub with a lid and freeze for an hour, stirring well every 20 minutes to break up the ice so it freezes properly. Serve as soon as it’s frozen enough to be scoopable. If you decide not to eat it immediately, let it sit out for 10 minutes when you remove it from the freezer before serving.
~5g net carbs per serving!
Hard Shell Topping
Makes two servings
1 square Lindt 85% cacao bar (I’m loving Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie lately)
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or non-hydrogenated palm shortening
1/2 teaspoon heavy cream or coconut milk
sweeteners, to taste (I use NuNaturals stevia)
Nuke chocolate and coconut oil together, stirring at 20 seconds intervals until smooth. Stir in cream and sweeteners, tasting and adjusting if necessary.
Give it a try! If you have a flavor idea, let me know about it and we can work on re-creating it.
After much tweaking and experimentation, here’s a vanilla version of my Easy Ice Cream Bars. The texture isn’t as smooth as it is with the peanut butter, so you should let ‘em sit out for a moment before taking a bite. The yogurt brings a pleasant tang to the party.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the miraculous calorie-free naturally occurring sweetener: Erythritol! Erythritol is totally safe and has no aftertaste or unpleasant side effects like the other sugar alcohols. It has 70% of the sweetening power of sugar, with many of the properties that sugar imparts in baking (structure, mouthfeel, etc.) The one caveat: the “cooling” effect you can taste when erythritol re-crystallizes. It’s the weirdest sensation. You have to figure out a way to make the majority of erythritol present in the recipe stay dissolved so you can avoid that effect. I’m still tinkering around with it in recipes, but it’s slow-going because erythritol is precious stuff and I’m on a student budget. Z-sweet is the brand available locally. You pay a premium for buying it in stores, but it is worth the cost if you’re looking for a product not produced with genetically modified corn. I’ve been ordering 5 lb bags of erythritol online lately because I go through it so quickly. The best price I’ve found for it is at iherb.com, and online supplement retailer. No, erythritol is not something that cavemen would’ve consumed while foraging for food, but it does not wreak havoc on your body like sugar does. My justification for using it is that it was impossible to consume concentrated amounts of any form of sugar while living off the land, making erythritol the more “natural” way of eating than using, say, honey or maple syrup. We were not able to eat any refined sweeteners or copious amounts of fruit on a regular basis before the advent of agriculture, so it makes sense that our bodies are not designed to handle the 300+ carb per day diet that is standard now. Did you know that bears are the only animal in the wild showing signs of tooth decay?
The one I chomped into (shown on the left, obviously) is filled with a layer of mooshed up mascarpone brownie from a recipe I’m in the process of tweaking. Cookie dough would be pretty ridiculous in there, too.
Easy Ice Cream Bars (Vanilla version)
Makes 6 small rounds
2 oz heavy cream, preferably organic
2 oz cream cheese
3 Tablespoons of ricotta cheese or strained greek-style yogurt
2 Tablespoons of erythritol (or 1.5 Tablespoons xylitol)
A pinch of pure stevia extract powder (NuNaturals brand preferred)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
2 squares Lindt extra dark 85% chocolate bar (or Ghirardelli 86% chocolate bar)
A pinch of pure stevia extract powder (NuNaturals brand preferred)
Chopped nuts (optional)
Peanut Butter Coating:
4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil or non-hydrogenated shortening
A pinch of pure stevia extract powder (NuNaturals preferred)
Beat heavy cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Do not over beat or it will get clumpy, and turn to butter! Set whipped cream aside. Measure out granular erythritol or xylitol and powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, erythritol, sweetener, and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Test for sweetness. It should be a bit sweeter than you want the finished product. Using a spatula, fold cream cheese into the whipped cream until well combined. Shape ice cream rounds on a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze for 1 hour or until firm.
Melt coating ingredients in the microwave in 10 second intervals, until liquified. Stir until smooth and add sweetener, to taste. Remove rounds from freezer and dip into coatings, or top with a layer of mushed up brownie/cookie dough/etc before dipping. You may need to set the round on the paper and spoon the coating over bare spots. Sprinkle bars with nuts immediately after dipping in the coating, if desired. Chill for another few minutes until the coating hardens.
So stuffed from all of this experimenting in the kitchen! Goodness, healthy eating is so trying. I’ve gotta go dump these off on my friends asap. For some reason, I don’t think they’ll mind.
Okay, let’s start simple. No cooking required with this one!
Being a chick, chocolate makes everything better. No really, it does. This is why I try to incorporate it into as many meals as possible, and was perfectly content, in the throes of my sugar addiction, replacing real food with vending machine fare. There is something about chocolate that goes straight your head and makes problems magically disappear while you’re licking the melty stuff off the Snickers wrapper. Problem is, the after effects of processed candy can kill the mood. The good news is, dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants exceeding the levels found in red wine (<– not a good breakfast option). The nibs are raw, unprocessed cacao with. Additionally, the saturated fat in cocoa is found to boost good cholesterol levels. Scientific debate aside, it just tastes so darn good!
Paired all of that goodness with yogurt, which provides 15% of your RDA of calcium along with 14g of protein, not to mention the probiotic boost courtesy of the friendly bacterial strains that give yogurt its delectable tang. You wanna get sick less and possibly live longer? You wanna burn fat and keep your hip bones intact when you’re 80? Eat up! It’s kinda crazy how many health benefits are associated with this stuff. With only 11g net carbs, you won’t feel a bit of remorse indulging in what looks (and tastes… promise!) like dessert for breakfast.
from left: flavorganics sugar-free vanilla extract, scharffenberger unsweetened cocoa powder, hershey’s special dark cocoa powder, lindt 85% cacao extra dark chocolate bar, raw cacao nibs
Triple Chocolate Yogurt Parfait
1 7 oz container strained greek-style yogurt (I love FAGE total!)
1-2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 squares of 85% cacao extra dark chocolate (I like Lindt or Ghirardelli)
sweeteners, to taste
splash of pure vanilla extract
sugar-free whipped cream (optional)
grated chocolate (optional)
Stir cocoa powder into yogurt until thoroughly combined. Melt squares of dark chocolate until liquified in microwave, watching carefully to avoid burning. I like to do this in 10 seconds increments, stirring every time. When chocolate is melted, stir it quickly into a couple of spoonfuls of the yogurt. Add it back into the rest of the yogurt and combine until streaks of chocolate are no longer visibile. Add sweeteners and vanilla extract, tasting and adjusting accordingly. Layer with cacao nibs so you get some crunch with every bite, or just sprinkle the nibs over the top. Garnish with whipped cream and more grated chocolate (use a cheese grater or zester).
Note the spoon standing up in the yogurt. It really is that luxuriously thick!
~11g net carbs per massive sundae