RECIPE: why do diabetic desserts have all that sugar?

kennebunkerAugust 12, 2005

My DH was diagnosed with diabetes about4-5 years ago. It's funny how a man who never had much of a yen for sweets for most of his life suddenly started asking for dessert when he was supposed to stay away from sugar.

I found over and over that diabetic dessert recipies usually cut the fat and left the sugar in. Low carb recipies took out the sugar and used a lot of fat, or sugar free jello. DH let me know pretty fast that a man can take just so much mousse and jello.

I wound up having to make up my own recipies, some things have worked well,

A few tips for any who are trying to adapt cake recipies to low sugar or sugar free.

I read a comparison of sugar substitutes when used in baking. SUGAR TWIN won in taste tests when used in baking cakes, even when the same people hated the taste of it in their drinks.

When baking a cake, I found that usually throwing in an extra beaten egg white to the recipe makes the cake lighter in texture. When you cut the sugar and substitute artificial sweetners, the cakes tend to get hard and heavy.

I've also learned that if you use even just 1 or 2 tbl of sugar when beating eggs or egg whites it makes a HUGE difference in texture, much more like a REAL cake.

I've also tried the half and half mixing of Splenda and sugar a couple of times and it turned out ok, but DH always nags there any sugar in this?

By the way, he's been well within normal healthy numbers for the past 3 years.

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My dessert of choice is Nestles Double Fudge frozen pop made with Splenda. I am eating one as I type.

I don't understand most foods that are labeled for diabetics. I can't manage my blood sugar with more than 15 carbs at a meal unless the fiber content is super high. Is your husband managing with just diet and exercise or does he take pills or shots?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 5:01PM
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Just diet and exercise, no pills. He eats low carb as much as he can.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 11:21PM
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Sugar, as long as you count it for the total amount of carbohydrates is acceptable to use (in small amounts) for many diabetics. And moderation is always best with any high-glycemic food/ingredient. Sugar raises blood sugar as much as white flour, and most diabetics don't quit consuming white flour and there are many better alternatives to white flour.

I've used a low-glycemic, diabetic-friendly sweetener called Agave Nectar for many years now and use it in all my baking. This sweetener is natural and looks and tastes like a mild honey. I avoid chemical, no-calorie, sweeteners. I had a friend nearly die from unknowingly eating ice cream containing Splenda, and another friends grown twin daughters had vision problems from eating Nutrisweet.

Here's a little snack cake recipe I make for diabetic friends/family that they all love. It's the old dump-cake recipe with ingredients that are diabetic-friendly.

Wacky Cake
1-1/2 c. soft white whole wheat flour (I mill my own flour, but you can use whole wheat pastry flour found at most health food stores.)
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. cocoa powder (omit if you want a plain cake)
1 T. vinegar
2 t. vanilla
5 T. butter, melted
2/3 c. agave nectar
1/3 c. cold water

Mix ingredients in an 8" square pan in this order:

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Make 3 holes evenly spaced apart in dry ingredients. In first hole, put vinegar, in second hole, the vanilla and third hole, melted butter. Then pour agave nectar and water over all. Mix, using a dinner fork (be sure no dry ingredients remain in corners.

Bake in a 325°F preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.

For spice cake - omit cocoa and add 1/2 t. Penzey's Cake Spice or a combination of cinnamon and/or nutmeg. You could also add walnuts, pecans, unsweetened coconut, a small amount of mini-chocolate chips... Lots of ways to make this cake different each time it's made.

Please note - cut the cake into 16 pieces and a serving is one piece.


The next time I make this cake I'm going to use 1/2 c. coconut flour because it is very low-carb and high-fiber which makes it an excellent flour for diabetics. It is my opinion that most people with blood glucose concerns don't take advantage of lots of ingredients that would make their food much lower on the glycemic index.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 9:02AM
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I will have to try that one Grainlady! Thanx for the recipe!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 2:28PM
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I was just diagnosed pre-diabetic, and went to a nutrionist for the 'diabetic' diet. Previous to this, I'd done well on Atkins.

Interestingly, the diet had something like 250 carbs/day!!! On Atkins, I had been doing well at 30 carbs/day, but no more than 70 carbs/day. I finally talked the nutritionist into cutting the carbs...she would only give in to 125 carbs/day.

I feel MUCH better with the lower carbs. I still watch my fat intake, and choose lean meats. I get great low carb/low sugar recipes from the link below. Low carb is not for everyone, and some low carbers eat a lot of check the recipes! But overall, I find a great deal of low-carb healthy recipes there.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 10:31AM
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It should be noted that the writer of the anti-agave website referenced above is a raw-foodist who is opposed to ALL sweeteners other than raw fruit and occasional use of small amounts of raw honey. It is true that some agave nectars are thinned with corn syrup or other sweeteners (e.g., maltitol) -- particularly beware of the Madhava brand -- but you can buy genuinely organic, low-heat-processed agave nectar which has been proven to have a low glycemic value. It is a far healthier substitute for sugar than either Equal (which causes tumors in rats and has been banned in many countries) or Splenda, which was originally developed as an ant poison by a British chemist (google it if you don't believe me). Splenda is a chlorocarbon like DDT and Lindane. True organic agave nectar (e.g. Volcanic Agave or Blue Agave) is an excellent substitute for sugar and the only one my family uses.

Grainlady, thanks for the cake recipe -- I substituted organic coconut oil for the butter (family members with dairy allergies) and it was excellent! I have been looking for coconut flour, so I will try that variation as well.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 3:29PM
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Great info, thks! Found yr info while searching for a recipe. My husband was just diagnosed w type 2, and i was hoping to find a diabetes-friendly recipe for Italian Love Cake. Prob a tall order but thought i'd try. Thks again. Wasnt sure i'd find good baking info but you've given me hope!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:45PM
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It is not the sugar at fault (insulin production). Fat & sugar igestion does not have much effect on insulin production. Carbohydrates DO!!! The grains and starches (potatoes) are the culprits. Find a diet book on Low Glacemic Index (Low GI) & you will be amazed. It also works well & I found myself actually eating more, o.k. smaller portions but more often per day. The idea is to keep insulin production at a constant level through the day,not taxing the system by wolfing down 1 large meal.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 3:03AM
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Your fat intake is only relevant if you are having sugar and fat together. In the absence of sugar or starch, your pancreas doesn't even know you've had fat. It doesn't register. Fats are very good for you as long as they haven't been artificially manipulated in some way, such as blended to make canola or hydrogenated in some way.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 1:45AM
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Sugar is a carbohydrate, last I checked...

Furthermore, beware of the commercially prepared sugar-free products. Most of them contain Sorbitol which is sugar alcohol (but doesn't contain alcohol). It is a carb and a different kind of sugar but still, it is sugar. Everything that ends with -ol is sugar alcohol and a big no-no for the diabetics.

Another thing is, lactose-free milk. This thing is good for the lactose-intolerant folks. The process of getting rid of lactose is adding a special enzyme to the regular milk, so that the lactose (milk sugar) is converted into 2 simple sugars, one of them is glucose. Meaning that it's best for the diabetics to avoid lactose-free milk altogether.

Someone has posted about a diet with 250 carbs a day for the diabetic; to me it sounds a bit extreme. My carbs a day are as follows: up to 4 carbs a meal and up to 2 carbs a snack. 3 meals and 3 snacks = 18 carbs, give or take. I was told I can have an occasional candy. So far so good.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2015 at 12:52PM
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@Ann_in_Houston: while it's true that your pancreas doesn't know that you had fat, however your liver and your gallbladder know, I can assure you of that. I would say fats are good when consumed in moderate amounts but by no means you should indulge. You will have sugar and fat together at one point or another.

Furthermore, Wikipedia says that canola oil is low in saturated fat and contains omega fatty acids in a ratio of 2:1. If consumed, it will lower low-density lipoprotein and overall cholesterol levels. I don't see how this is bad.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2015 at 1:00PM
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- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

- 1 teaspoon baking soda

- 2 cups wheat brean cereal

- 1 cup buttermilk

- 1/4 cup margarine, melted

- 1 egg, slightly beaten

- 1/4 cup raisins

- Liquid sugar substitute of your choice to equal 1/4 cup sugar

- Cooking spray

1. Combine flour & soda in a medium bowl; add bran cereal.

2. Combine buttermilk, margarine, sugar substitute, and egg; add to dry ingredients; stir until moistened. Fold in raisins.

3. Spoon batter into muffin pans coated with cooking spray. Fill them 2/3 full.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 min or until slightly browned

Yield: 1 dozen muffins. Serving Size: 1 muffin. Carbs: 14g or 1 carb per serving size.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2015 at 1:17PM
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