Archive of ‘Holiday and Seasonal’ category

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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Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and Lily’s No Sugar Added Chocolate Chips Review

With the holidays just around the corner, I’m sneaking in another pumpkin recipe. Speaking of which, if you haven’t fired up your crock pot to make the Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte Creamer, you’re missing out! I took the post down temporarily while working out the kinks (see how much I care about getting these tasty treats just right for you?) and dialed down the heat settings for the crock pot. The recipe is good-to-go. Thanks so much for the feedback, intrepid recipe testers!

Now, what would a cinnamon-spiked, creamy latte taste good with? Hmm… healthy-indulgences-pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bread-atkins-low-carb-diabetic-sugar-free-paleo-trim-healthy-mama-almond-flour-stevia-xylitol-gluten-free-7

^There’s an idea! :D

This moist, sweet, and slightly spicy pumpkin bread recipe will get you in the mood for pumpkin patches and hay rides! I strongly suspect that it would make a great gift baked in a pretty paper tray with a festive bow tied around it. Share the love with the sugar-free eaters in your life! 

I got the inspiration for this recipe from Danielle Walker over at Against All Grain. She adopts a grain-free, paleo approach due to her struggles with an autoimmune disease. Some of her main meals are lower in carbs, so I encourage you to browse her beautiful blog! 

To make this recipe sugar-free and diabetic-friendly, I replaced the maple syrup with a blend of erythritol, xylitol, and stevia. These are plant-derived sweeteners that have a minimal impact on blood sugar. If you’re unfamiliar with these ingredients, just click on their names to be taken to info pages that tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about ‘em. 

Because xylitol has grown in popularity as a suitable sweetener for diabetics, I wanted to discuss it further. You can use 100% xylitol to make this pumpkin bread, although I still recommend adding stevia to round out the sweetness. If you’re concerned about GMOs, this brand is made from GMO-free birch tree wood. 

If you’re just getting started with sugar-free baking, here’s a helpful hint for working with xylitol and erythritol. You can convert any recipes to suit your needs by substituting xylitol for erythritol and vice versa using the following conversion factor:

3/4 cup xylitol = 1 cup erythritol

Here’s a pinnable banner for your personal stash of baking tips!

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-Original work by Chasity H

Hope you are feeling a little less intimidated about taking the plunge with sugar-free sweeteners! ;)

One factor to consider in choosing between the xylitol and erythritol is that some people (like myself) are a bit sensitive to xylitol, so you might want to hold off on serving treats made with a lot of xylitol to unsuspecting guests! I tend to stick with erythritol while making desserts for company. Because erythritol is digested using a different pathway in the body (only 10% is fermented in the large intestine, with 90% passing quickly out of the body in the urine), it is the only sugar alcohol that is well tolerated by most people.

If you have pets, be sure to check out the warning I posted on the xylitol info page!

The batter is just as yummy as the finished product! Must resist temptation to dip a finger in while photographing…

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To keep the carbohydrates in the Sugar-Free Pumpkin Bread low, I used almond flour and gluten-free oat flour in place of the arrowroot called for in the original recipe. Oat flour shouldn’t impact your blood sugar levels to the same extent as arrowroot since it contains fewer carbohydrates, gram per gram, than refined starches. I prefer to use oat flour over pure starches like arrowroot and tapioca because of how it improves the taste and texture of sugar-free baked goods. Problems usually arise (cardboard-y cookies and dry-as-dirt brownies, anyone?) when you remove both the grains and the sugar from baked treats, which normally consist of plenty of white sugar and white flour. Makes sense, right? That’s why most grain-free recipes require sugar in the form of honey, maple syrup, or coconut palm sugar.

If you can tolerate grains (my tummy is happy with the gluten-free ones), I highly recommend you pick up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill oat flour and experiment with it in some of your baked goods. Even just adding 1/4 cup of oat flour to an almond flour dough will noticeably improve the texture. Play around with it and see for yourself! Then drop a comment over at the Facebook page or share your results on Instagram. My favorite part of blogging has been connecting with you and seeing what you’re cooking up! Be sure to #indulgehealthy and tag your food photos so I can take a peek. :D Both baking successes and failures are welcome! 

If you’d prefer not to use almond flour in this recipe, you can use 3/4 cup cashew butter in place of it. It’s pretty pricy (I make my own in the Vitamix using these nuts!), and will increase the carb count of your pumpkin bread, but cashew butter creates a lovely fine crumb. The texture of the bread from the silky smooth nut butter is glorious! 

 The ingredients in this bread make it suitable for Dr. Davis’ Wheat Belly Plan and the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) diet, both of which allow oat flour and sugar-free sweeteners. I’m including this tidbit of information after hearing from followers of both diet plans ask about these recipes.

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If you look at the different photos I took of this bread, you’ll see that there are chocolate chips in one, and chocolate chunks in the others. What’s the deal with that?

It’s funny you ask. I gotta be real with y’all and explain a bit about the Lily’s No Sugar Added Chocolate Chips you see in the top photo. The company sent them to me–free of charge–in a chocolate sampler package. Unlike most sugar-free packaged chocolate products, which are sweetened with maltitol, Lily’s chocolate chips are sweetened with erythritol and stevia. They’re also dairy-free. The company definitely get a thumbs up for using natural sweeteners that don’t cause a spike in blood sugar! 

To be perfectly honest, the taste of the chocolate chips doesn’t wow me, but you might appreciate it more if you’re completely avoiding sugar. 

The third ingredient on the the label, after “Unsweetened Chocolate” and “Erythritol”, is “Inulin.”

*classic horror movie scream*

TMI Alert: Every product I’ve tried containing this soluble fiber derived from the chicory root plant has made my intestines… er, protest. Loudly. It ain’t pretty! Inulin is a prebiotic, which means that it feeds bacteria in the lower intestine that produce, you guessed it, gas. I was in denial about it at first, but I noticed the trend after trying coconut nectar and coconut sugar, which are both chock full of inulin. Since a quick Google search for “coconut sugar and gas” doesn’t yield any relevant results, I’m wondering if it’s just me having this issue, or what?  Both of these coconut-derived sweetness give me tummy disturbances. Perhaps your gut won’t be as unhappy with the inulin fiber in Lily’s chocolate products, but I wanted to give you a heads up. This post is sure shaping up to involve some lovely frank talk, eh? :D

In the second batch of pumpkin bread, I used a chopped up Lindt 70% bar. It doesn’t look quite so pretty baked on top of the loaf, but the yum factor (and the happy tummy factor) makes up for it!

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The Lindt bar does contain real sugar (12 grams per 4 squares, or 30 grams per bar), so keep that in mind if you’re on a diabetic eating plan. If you can’t have any sugar at all, this Pumpkin Bread is still delish without the added chocolate! I plan on pouring it the batter into a spiral bundt mold to make a holiday pumpkin spice cake that looks as good as it tastes!

Finally, one last bit of important news: The metric measurements some of you asked for are here! Both the standard and the metric weights for ingredients are posted below. For best results, weigh your ingredients using a handy dandy kitchen scale. The rest of the conversions are coming to the Healthy Indulgences Cookbook first, and the blog second, post by post. Bon appetit! 

Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Serves 16
This sugar-free pumpkin bread tastes so much like the real deal that it’ll blow your mind! It’s moist and lightly sweetened with a hint of spiciness from the cinnamon and cloves. Add chocolate chips for extra decadence, or fill muffin cups and dollop with a cream cheese filling for a breakfast fit for any pumpkin lovers in the house!


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Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
50 min

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
50 min

Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup (7.1 oz, 200g) nut butter*
  2. 3/4 cup natural sweetener blend**
  3. 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) sea salt
  4. 2 Tablespoons (1.0 oz, 28g) unsalted butter OR organic shortening, room temperature
  5. 3 large eggs, room temperature
  6. 1 teaspoon (5mL) vanilla extract
  7. 1/3 cup (1.2 oz, 34g) sifted coconut flour
  8. 3/4 cup (2.0 oz, 56g) sifted oat flour
  9. 4 teaspoons (20 mL) cinnamon
  10. 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) nutmeg
  11. 1 teaspoon (5.0 mL) ground cloves
  12. 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) baking soda
  13. 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) baking powder
  14. 1/2 cup (3.8 oz,110g) canned pumpkin
  15. 1 teaspoon (5 mL) apple cider vinegar
Optional
  1. 3/4 cup sugar-free chocolate chips or 8 squares Lindt 70% chocolate bar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease two 3″ by 6″ loaf pans with shortening or coconut oil cooking spray.
  3. Place cut squares of parchment in bottoms of pans, and sift oat flour over bottom and sides of pans to prevent sticking.
  4. Grind erythritol and xylitol (if using) in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet until they are the texture of powdered sugar.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter or shortening, cashew butter, xylitol, erythritol, stevia, and sea salt. With a hand mixer, beat ingredients together starting at low speed, then move to high speed setting, for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in vanilla, then add the eggs, 1 at a time until a smooth batter forms.
  7. Add dry ingredients, mixing until a smooth dough forms.
  8. Beat in pumpkin and vinegar until thoroughly incorporated.
  9. Stir in chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, reserving two tablespoons for sprinkling.
  10. To prevent batter from overflowing, remove two muffin’s worth of it and bake separately. I like to pour extra batter into two silicone muffin cups. If you are not using chocolate chips, you can bake all the batter in the two pans.
  11. Pour batter into loaf pans, smooth it out, then sprinkle the loaves with chocolate.
  12. Set loaves and muffin cups on a cookie sheet and slide into oven. Bake for 40 minutes, checking for browning at the 40 minute mark. Tent loaves with tin foil if they are browning too much, and bake for 10 more minutes.
  13. Remove pans to a wire rack and cool loaves for one hour. To cleanly remove loaf from pan, cut around edges before inverting on to a plate.
Notes
  1. *I prefer to use cashew butter, but other nut butters should work just as well. Using nut butter in place of almond flour will give your pumpkin bread a lovely, fine crumb.
  2. **You can also use the following blend of natural sweeteners, which I prefer for this recipe. This blend contains some xylitol to boost the sweetness–
  3. 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Trader Joe’s Pure Stevia Powder
  4. 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 100g) erythritol
  5. 1/4 cup (2.0 oz, 52g) xylitol
  6. You can read more about how to combine sweeteners to create the best tasting sugar-free treats in the Healthy Indulgences Cookbook.
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

Paleo Pecan Pie with a Secret Ingredient (Low Sugar, Gluten-Free)

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Before I wax poetic about Thanksgiving, let’s all take a moment to watch the greatest Thanksgiving commercial of all time, starring the two salt shakers pictured above. My life as a Florida resident was enriched every holiday season by the sentimental holiday ads from Publix grocery store. 

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Secret Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe (Sugar-Free and Better Than Starbucks!)

What’s the secret to making a healthy, diabetic-friendly version of Starbucks’ infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte at home? 
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It involves real pumpkin, fresh spices, and a crock pot! You’re gonna brew up a batch of your own PSL flavored coffee creamer, so that you can have this nourishing and delicious treat every morning on the go! A few glugs of this sweet nectar of the gods (it’s that good!) will transform your coffee into something magical…

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

DId you know that the Starbucks version doesn’t contain any actual pumpkin?! 

The best part about making PSL lattes at home is that you can control the sugar and type of milk used. The recipe below is sugar-free and dairy-free! It’s made from a blend of creamy cashew milk and coconut milk, which creates an amazingly rich, silky smooth “cream” that lightens coffee just like dairy cream!

To keep this treat diabetic-friendly, I sweeten it with natural, calorie-free sweeteners called stevia and erythritol. You could use xylitol as well (3/4 cup xylitol = 1 cup erythritol), or mix erythritol and xylitol together for an even better sugar-free sweetening option. Keep in mind that xylitol will cause your blood sugar to rise, whereas erythritol and stevia will not. I like adding 2 Tablespoons of xylitol to the recipe below for an extra boost of sweetness. (*whispers* Find out why you need to combine sugar-free sweeteners in the Healthy Indulgences E-Cookbook!)

To make this paleo, simply swap out the sugar-free sweeteners for maple syrup or coconut sugar. 3/4 cup of maple syrup should sufficiently sweeten the creamer.You’ll want the Pumpkin Spice Creamer to be quite sweet since it’s a concentrated mix that gets diluted by coffee, so keep that in mind if you’re adding your own sweeteners. 

So, how can we make a PSL coffee creamer that tastes like pumpkin without any chunkiness from the pumpkin puree? I’ll show you how!

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Almond Flour Biscuits + Pumpkin Apple Butter (aka Fall In a Jar!)

These paleo biscuits will rock your world.

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 Slathered with Pumpkin Apple Butter, which tastes like a cross between pumpkin pie and apple pie, these biscuits will satisfy the fiercest of carb cravings.

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Sugar-Free Pumpkin Apple Butter make your house smell the best it’s ever smelled, getting you in the mood for pumpkin spice lattes and color changing leaves and knit scarves and all of the other seasonal accoutrements taking over storefronts and Pinterest.

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An Easter GIVEAWAY + Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg Candies (a.k.a. “Better-than-Reese’s” Eggs!) for a Healthier Holiday

My name is Lauren, and I’m a Reese’s peanut butter egg-a-holic.

Paleo Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs

Earlier this month, I received a request from a reader, Deb, to create a healthier version of the highly addictive, seasonal candy that is the Reese’s egg. Knowing there are many low carb eaters out there who face the temptation to hoard these candies every Easter, I was determined to create a healthier alternative. It would be  dairy-free, soy-free, and paleo for my primal peeps and allergen-averse readers.

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Homemade Chocolate Candy Bark and my Kindle E-Book!

Boy oh boy, it’s good to be back in the kitchen! Back with a little something special for the holidays, of course. It’s sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate candy bark! Isn’t it purdy, lounging on a gold doily?

Sugar-Free,

G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s, baby!

Doilies are works of art, aren’t they? I see them as small, papery miracles. They make any food visually appealing. They make you feel like you have some sort of “eye” for decorating. They come in classic white, or SHINY!!! I’m a firm believer in their ability to make everything better. 

This festive candy is made with a smooth and sweet chocolate base that contains no milk, but all of the richness of traditional milk chocolate bark. This candy bark is one for your Christmas cookbook.

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Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies for a Healthy Christmas Treat (+ a GIVEAWAY!)

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed, and the winner has been contacted. Thanks for playing, everyone!

At the request of a reader, I wanted to share with you my sugar-free, gluten-free Healthier Sugar Cookies. That sounds like an oxymoron, right? Stay with me here. These cookies smell and taste just as good as the cut out cookies I’ve made every year since I was little using grandma’s recipe. The aroma of sweet cookie dough (i.e. buttery vanilla-y goodness!) filled the kitchen as I gingerly rolled out the dough.

Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Carb) for the holidays

I used my grandmother’s antique cookie cutters to cut the familiar shapes that remind me of so many past Christmases. The dough I worked with was sugar-free, but the steps for making the cookies, and the accompanying feelings of nostalgia were the same.

Healthy Chocolate Whoopie Pies are here! Sugar-free, gluten-free, and finger-lickin’ good.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Healthy Indulgences readers! School’s out and baking season is here. After a semester of new beginnings during which I moved back home to Florida and started my post-baccalaureate coursework, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and go on a baking spree. I’m trading in my calculator for my camera and ditching the library for the kitchen these next few weeks, bringing you holiday sweets and a couple of GIVEAWAYS!

Update: The lemon curd post and Gary Taubes summaries are on hold until the new year. We have many seasonal goodies to make over! Stay tuned…
To kickstart the baking bonanza, here are some sugar-free, gluten-free Healthy Whoopie Pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Gluten-Free Low Carb Whoopie Pies!

They’re all the rage, and perfect for an easy, kid-friendly holiday dessert. My version of these cakey cookie sandwiches with a sweet buttercream filling tastes every bit as good as the traditional dessert chock full of flour, sugar, and shortening! Made with ground almonds, a little oat flour, pure unsweetened cocoa powder, and natural sweeteners, you can feel good about indulging in these treats after your holiday feast. Actually, they’re wonderful any time of the year. In fact, you should make these right now. You need fuel to get through all that gift-wrapping and baking, right?!

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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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