Archive of ‘Sugar-Free’ category

Healthy Carrot Cake with decadent Cream Cheese Frosting

Why have I made carrot cake over ten times in the past three days? To come up with a Healthy Carrot Cake that’s low in carbohydrates and gluten-free for you! This fragrant and flavorful cake is also dairy-free and nut-free, if you omit the classic add in of chopped walnuts. I promise you won’t miss the raisins in this nourishing carrot cake that’s not just healthy “because it has vegetables in it!” 😉 The other bad stuff–those culprits named Sugar and Flour–are conspicuously left out of this recipe. All of that grating was totally worth it.

There is a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses–which is technically a sugar–in this recipe. It’s a thick, dark iron-rich syrup made from the sugarcane plant. This molasses is potent stuff, and contributes a rich flavor and coloring to the cake. You can leave molasses out to be completely sugar-free, but I think it’s worth the 4 grams of carbs.

You can bake the cake into a traditional rectangular loaf, or snack-sized mini muffins. Get creative and have fun with your sugar-free frosting! It pipes well, using a zip top bag with the corner snipped off.
Healthy Carrot Cake - Low Carb and Gluten-Free

A bit of food coloring can transform your homemade low carb treats into festive, eye-catching confections worthy of special occasions. Check the food coloring label for hidden sugar before you buy. I made the mistake of not checking the label of the Wilton gel coloring I used here, and saw it contained corn syrup, much to my dismay! That pesky Sugar manages to sneak in everywhere, doesn’t it? McCormick food colors, found in most grocery stores, are sugar-free. I’ve tried a couple of organic dyes, and unfortunately neither of them yielded satisfactory results. You need so little coloring for an entire batch of frosting that I’m not too worried about the health effects. If you have any recommendations for natural food dye, let us know in the comments, please.

The frosting is absolutely delicious any color you make it. It’s a new and improved Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting, with a special low carb ingredient that might be familiar to the Asian and Indian readers of this blog… 

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Spring Weather Means Coconut Cream Pie (take 2)!

I realize I’ve done a few pies in the past few posts, and I’m letting you know there are definitely other treats on the agenda coming up. I’m just really loving cold and creamy low carb pies for this warm weather we’re having here in NC!

There is another coconut cream pie recipe posted here, which I made back in December. This one is a little different since it is free of any starch thickeners. It’s better tasting and lower in carbohydrates, which is good news for diabetic and primal readers. Now, I realize dairy is in no way primal, but it is a food group that I consume quite frequently since my Northern European ancestors conferred upon me the ability to handle it pretty well! You might try making this pie with coconut cream, but whipping it to a fluffy and light consistency has proven difficult since it is more stiff than regular cream.

The multiple steps make this recipe sound complicated, but it’s really just a bit of a drawn out process. I recommend doing little tasks (blog surfing, laundry folding, etc.) during the intervals between the steps. I promise you that the labor will be well worth it. 

I’m not ashamed to admit this slice was gone within minutes of the photo being taken!
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This pie is one of my top three favorite desserts of all time. It was gobbled up within a couple of days by my family when I made it as a Christmas treat! It’s got just the right balance of sweetness and richness, with a delicate, light filling and a hint of coconut flavor to tantalize your tastebuds.
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Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Here’s a sweet treat for you peanut butter lovers out there! If you are allergic to everyone’s favorite legumes, try substituting in smooth almond butter for a nutty flavor.

Try sprinkling chopped peanuts on top (instead of the sliced almonds pictured here). I improvised with what I had on hand.

Healthier Peanut Butter Pie (Sugar-Free, Low Carb)

Scrumptious Sugar-Free Key Lime Pie

School’s out for the summer, and I’m back in the kitchen. So happy to have a break from coursework, and time to create another low carb recipe! Here in Florida, the summer heat has me craving cool, creamy desserts and icy treats to enjoy. Enter a sugar-free version of the official dessert of the state of Florida: Key Lime Pie!

This is not your momma’s key lime pie…

…or at least if my mother made key lime pie (she grew up in North Dakota), it wouldn’t be like this! There are no egg yolks or sweetened condensed milk to be found in this version. With all of the tart, sweet flavor and none of the sugar, this low carb key lime pie will remind you of the slices you’ve enjoyed in Florida seafood restaurants. The pie has a slightly different texture than the original, though, with its airy, almost mousse-like filling. I can promise you that you won’t miss the sweetened condensed milk after tasting this pie. 

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Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes…

At last, I am posting the recipe that goes with the photo you see below! Apologies for the delay. Am enjoying the last days of Spring Break. The Floridian in me is pretty excited about it (hint: it’s a well-loved pie!), too.

Regarding comments, I’m sorry to say I cannot keep up with them for the time being. I am merely a student, with my top priorities being school work and other activities on campus. Please do not hesitate to email me. Go ahead and shoot me another one if I miss your first email! I will be creating a separate email account shortly just to respond to blog comments and questions, since they are currently mixed in with my school/work/personal emails. Thank you for your understanding.


At any rate, I hope you will give these easy, tasty cheesecakes a try. You can add what ever berry you like, or perhaps get creative and drop other goodies into the unbaked filling (low carb chocolate chips? sugar-free cookie chunks?!). The gluten-free nut crust could be tweaked with finely ground dried coconut flakes and perhaps a bit of buckwheat flour to make it nut-free for those allergic, but I will leave the experimentation up to you this time!


By the way, these cheesecakes were an entry for a contest sponsored by a sugar-free retailer that occurred ages ago. I have since tested the recipe multiple times, and the results have been met with “winning” ratings by my testers, although these tasty bites did not garner accolades in the official contest. The official contest winners were, incidentally, not low carb dishes. Doesn’t the low-glycemic crowd need love too? 😉

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Healthier Grain-Free Chocolate Zucchini (or Apple) Bread

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini (or Apple) Bread

Just returned, completely rejuvenated, from a trip to a see friends and relatives up north. Minnesota and North Dakota are some of my favorite places on Earth. I feel revitalized from being immersed in this uplifting, highly social culture for two weeks. Let me explain: In Fargo, North Dakota and elsewear, the human connection, the sense of community, is strong in the smallish Midwestern towns. How refreshing!

 

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Sugar-Free Premium Chocolate Ice Cream

chocolate ice cream1

Sugar-free chocolate ice cream.

This is the real deal.

I busted out my little Cuisinart and produced an ice cream worthy to share with you guys. With a little bit of inspiration from All Recipes (love this site!), we now have a viable alternative to storebought low carb ice cream that’s gluten-free and made with fresh ingredients. No sorbitol or maltitol, yuck.

The best part about this ice cream is that it’s scoopable right from the freezer. The secret ingredients that make this possible are the heavy cream (as opposed to using part milk or half and half) and the tiny bit of brandy that lowers the freezing point. Now you won’t have to wait around to dig into your healthy indulgence on a hot summer day!

Furthermore, this creamy custard ice cream doesn’t require any cooking time. Because the ice cream contains raw egg yolks, use only fresh organic eggs. I honestly use conventional storebought eggs every time I make desserts, and have never gotten sick, but you might want to take this precaution if you have a compromised immune system. Additionally, you can find pasteurized eggs in some supermarkets that have already been heat treated for safe culinary use.

If you haven’t tried using fresh vanilla beans in your cooking, you might want to give them a try. I ordered them off of ebay for a very reasonable price, and have been using them in low carb custards and pastries ever since. The aromatic floral nature of the tahitian beans and bean pods adds a layer of complexity and richness you can’t get from a bottle. Plus, the pod scrapings add those pretty dark flecks to the ice cream base. Order some today, and you won’t be disappointed.

Still working on a dairy-free ice cream. Stay tuned.

These photos reflect the heat in my sunny Florida kitchen. Hopefully my frustration with the shoot doesn’t come through… 🙂
Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

Premium Sugar-Free Chocolate Ice Cream
This low carb, gluten-free treat is so rich and creamy you won’t miss the sugar!


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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup honey OR natural sugar-free sweetener* (see recommendations below)
  2. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 3 fresh egg yolks, beaten
  4. 2 2/3 cups organic heavy cream
  5. 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
  6. 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
  7. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract OR 2 vanilla beans, split
  8. 1 tablespoon brandy OR other spirits (to keep it soft and scoopable)
*To make this ice cream sugar-free, use one of the following sweeteners
  1. 1/2 cup Truvia OR 1/2 cup xylitol OR 1/2 + 2 Tablespoons cup erythritol
Instructions
  1. Melt granulated sweetener in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and add vanilla bean scrapings and bean pods (if using). Let the sweetener melt into a liquid. Whisk in cocoa powder, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and vanilla bean pieces. Stir until sweetener dissolves, with no grainy chunks visible. Remove saucepan from heat. In a large bowl, beat yolks with electric mixer until light in color. Add the rest of the heavy cream a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cocoa mixture into yolk mixture, and beat well. Whisk in stevia, xanthan gum and vanilla extract, if using. Taste, and add more stevia, if necessary. Chill ice cream base in refrigerator for a minimum of four hours, covered in plastic wrap.
  2. Turn on your ice cream maker and strain the base through a fine mesh sieve into your machine to remove the vanilla bean pieces. While the ice cream is freezing, make up the sugar-free chocolate chips. Freeze ice cream for a few hours to make it firm and scoopable.
Nutrition Facts
  1. ~1,378 calories, 17.4g net carbs per batch (no chocolate chips, using erythritol)
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

Sugar-Free Chocolate Ice Cream Chips

Makes enough chips for one batch of ice cream

Ingredients:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I like Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup xylitol OR 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon erythritol, powdered
1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
2 tablespoons coconut oil OR nonhydrogenated shortening

Preparation:
Powder sweetener finely in a coffee grinder. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in microwave for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Stir again until smooth, and add xylitol and stevia. Fold mixture together with a spatula until a silky smooth consistency is reached. It may take you a minute to work the chocolate mixture around the bowl and smooth out all the chunks of xylitol. Scrape melted chocolate bit by bit into ice cream maker a few minutes before the ice cream stiffens completely. Alternatively, pour on to a sheet pan lined with foil. Freeze for 10 minutes, then peel chocolate slab off of foil. Chop into tiny chunks, working quickly before it melts. Fold chips into finished ice cream.

~12g net carbs for the whole batch of chips
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What is your favorite kind of ice cream? Any good storebought sugar-free or dairy-free brands? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Low Carb Vanilla Ice Cream w/Hot Fudge Sauce–No Ice Cream Maker Required!

Just a quick note about comments and emails–I have been traveling, and don’t always have a moment to respond to everything as of late. If you have an urgent question about a recipe, please shoot me an email (or two!). Keep in mind that I’m just a college student. Thanks so much for your feedback! I read all of it and take it to heart to improve the content here.

blackberry semifreddo2

It’s ice cream season in Florida!

I’ve blogged about this frozen treat before, but couldn’t resist trying a couple of recipes that seemed pretty easy, with readily available ingredients. Best of all, they don’t require an ice cream maker, but still yield deliciously creamy, airy results. Furthermore, they’re company worthy, making summer entertaining easy on your low carb plan.

Coming up for you are more ice cream recipes, now that I’m back home with my little Cuisinart ice cream maker. Stay tuned for a scoopable dairy-free ice cream, coming up next post.

Do you know what a semifreddo is? I had never heard of it until stumbling upon this Italian frozen dessert at a food blog. Semifreddo is italian for “half cold,” which aptly describes the nature of this icy gluten-free dessert. You whip together cream, separated eggs, sweetener and flavoring, then spread it in a loaf pan or mold. Freeze, slice, and enjoy. It’s that simple! All you need is a hand mixer and a few mixing bowls, along with a bit of patience for the whipping and freezing time required.

I topped off the vanilla bean version with a homemade sugar-free hot fudge sauce. It’s lick-off-the-spoon worthy. You can make up a small batch if you feel it’ll be dangerous to have hanging around.

Seasonal blackberries were used in the making of the deep purple semifreddo. I blended ’em up, strained them, and used them in the custard as well as the fresh sauce drizzled over the top. The sauce helps to cover the cracks I made from using plastic wrap to line the mold. Note to self–don’t line the mold next time. Just grease it with butter, and run the mold under hot water if you want your pretty pan design to show on the finished dessert. I used a jello mold for the blackberry flavor, which you can see created the rounded, fluted shape. How cool is the bright purple coloring from the blackberries? You just know something that naturally vibrant has to be healthy!

And to finish up, here are a few cool posts for your weekend low carb cooking:

How to Render Bacon Fat @ Mark’s Daily Apple
Flax Meal Bread @ Elana’s Pantry
Bacon Wrapped Steaks @ Flour Arrangements

Tastes just like a hot fudge sundae!
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Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream (Semifreddo style)

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split (optional)

Sweetening options:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons erythritol, powdered, or 1/2 cup xylitol, powdered plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
OR
3/4 cup Splenda

4 fresh, organic eggs (whites and yolks separated)
2 cups organic heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:
In first bowl, beat sugar and egg yolks until mixture is a light creamy yellow, then beat in vanilla extract and bean scrapings. In second bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. In third bowl, beat egg whites, add a pinch of salt, and then keep beating until you have stiff peaks. Fold together cream and egg yolk mixture gently. Then fold in egg whites thoroughly, but with as few strokes as possible to keep the airiness. Spread into loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, or a metal mold. Freeze, covered loosely in plastic wrap, for at least 4 hours. Scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Alternatively, run water over the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, unmold, and slice.

~15.5g net carbs for the whole recipe using erythritol and stevia
~31.5g net carbs for the whole recipe using Splenda

vanilla semifreddo1

This hot fudge sauce will not work will Splenda as the primary sweetener. No matter how much you add, the unsweetened chocolate will still taste better. You must add erythritol or xylitol for the best flavor.

Sugar-Free Hot Fudge Sauce
Adapted from a recipe at AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I like Ghirardelli)
2 teaspoons unsalted organic butter
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
6 tablespoons xylitol, powdered, OR 7 tablespoons erythritol, powdered
Pinch NuNaturals pure stevia extract
4-6 teaspoons water

Preparation:
Powder xylitol or erythritol in coffee grinder with pinch of sea salt. Chop chocolate finely. Melt together unsweetened chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth. I make my own double boiler by placing my steel bowl over simmering water in a small saucepan. Stir in cream and sweetener mixture, and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla and water. Add more water to thin it out if necessary. Taste and adjust sweetness with a bit more stevia or powdered erythritol, as necessary. Keep in mind that the sauce will firm up over ice cream. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, and reheat and whisk well to use.

~10g net carbs for the whole batch

Those little white flecks are bits of cream not mixed in well. Still tastes fabulous!
blackberry semifreddo3

Sugar-Free Blackberry Ice Cream (Semifreddo Style)
Adapted from a recipe at epicurious.com

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients:
12 ounces blackberries (2 heaping cups)

Sweetening options:
1/3 cup erythritol, powdered OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered plus 1/8 tsp NuNaturals pure stevia extract
OR
1/2 cup Splenda

1 cup organic heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
5 large egg yolks

Preparation:
Line loaf pan with plastic wrap, if using. Powder erythritol or xylitol in coffee grinder. Purée berries with 1/4 cup cream and salt in a blender until smooth. Pour through a mesh sieve to remove seeds, if desired. Add yolks to a metal bowl and stir in erythritol or xylitol (or Splenda). Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with mixer until pale, thick, and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan and set in a large ice bath, stirring it around a few times as it cools. When yolks are cool to the touch, fold in berry puree.

Beat cold heavy cream (with 1/8 teaspoon stevia, if using), in other large bowl, using cleaned beaters. Whip until cream reaches soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into berry mixture gently but thoroughly. Don’t worry if you see a few streaks of white. Scrape mixture into pan or decorate metal mold and freeze, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until firm, at least 5 hours. Run warm water over the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, then invert semifreddo onto a plate. Alternatively, just use an ice cream scoop to serve from the loaf pan. Let semifreddo defrost for a few minutes for easier scooping.

~5.2g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe, using erythritol and stevia
~7.6g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe, using Splenda granular

blackberry semifreddo2


Fresh Blackberry Sauce

5 ounces (1 cup) blackberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon xylitol, erythritol, or Splenda
Tiny pinch NuNaturals pure stevia extract (optional)

Blend blackberries, lemon juice, and sweetener until pureed. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds.

~6.5g net carbs for the whole batch

Easy Sugar-Free Strawberry Mousse–a Low Carb Summer Treat!

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:

“Lauren,

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.

Rachel”

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.

Healthy Strawberry Mousse

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.

Healthy Sugar-Free Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse
Adapted from this recipe at Sugar & Everything Nice

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients:

8 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled and sliced

Sweetener options:
1/4 cup erythritol, powdered, plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
OR
1/2 cup Splenda plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract (or 1/4 cup more Splenda)
OR
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

Preparation:
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

mousse bite

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