There’s no need to skip dessert when you follow these tips for healthier baking.
Everyone loves a sweet treat on occasion. But when you have diabetes, it’s not so easy to grab a cookie whenever your sweet tooth fires up—at least if you want to keep your blood sugar under control.
No one wants to give up all sweets. And the good news is you don’t have to, even if you have diabetes. With a few tweaks to your favorite recipes, you can have your cake, and eat it, too!
5 Diabetes-Friendly Baking Tips
- Sweeten without sugar. White table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and molasses raise blood sugar. To use less, sweeten naturally with bananas, unsweetened applesauce or dates. These also add fiber (which slows sugar absorption) and other nutrients. Sugar substitutes such as monk fruit, stevia and erythritol also provide the sweetness you crave with almost no impact on blood sugar. Don’t confuse these with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose or saccharin, which are best avoided. The taste or texture of recipes may change when switching up sweeteners so you may have to make some modifications.
- Use alternative flours. The carbs in white flour can send blood sugar soaring. Instead try whole wheat, almond or coconut flours. These contain more fiber and less carbs than white flour. However, some flours contain higher amounts of fat. You may have to add more liquid when using these flours and the taste or texture may be slightly different than what you’re used to. Start by substituting half the white flour in a recipe, until you get used to the change.
- Swap butter for healthier fats. Many baking recipes call for butter, which is high in saturated fat. People with diabetes are at an increased risk for heart disease, so limiting saturated fat is recommended. Try replacing butter with healthier oils, such as olive or avocado. Other options for getting rid of the butter in recipes include using pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, avocado or nut butters. These substitutions may change the texture of your recipe, so a bit of trial and error is needed.
- Add veggies for fiber and moisture. One way to up the nutrients in your baked goods is to add some shredded or chopped veggies. Zucchini, carrots, riced cauliflower and spinach are good ones to try. You’ll increase the fiber, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes. You’ll also add valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Additionally, veggies add moisture so you may be able to cut back on fat.
- Focus on taste. It’s easier to make recipes more diabetes-friendly when they taste great. Try using unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla or other extracts, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves or cardamom to add some pizzazz to your baked goods. If you need chocolate in your recipe, opt for dark chocolate or use mini chocolate chips so you can use less without it looking like less. By adding flavor, you may not even miss the sugar.
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Date Last Reviewed: January 12, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RD