Thursday, October 27, 2011

Low Carb Holiday Desserts

Any dessert is a good dessert. However, most of the traditional desserts you've been making are probably loaded with carbs. This is one area where I recommend you invest in a few low carb ingredients so you can still make some of your favorite holiday desserts. However, there are a few ideas for desserts that may become new favorites. Let's take a look at how you can put a little variety into your holiday classic desserts without giving up on tradition entirely.

Pumpkin Pumpkin Everywhere

Whether you make your own pumpkin puree or choose canned, you are using probably one of the best examples of low carb ingredients for making holiday desserts that you can find. When you adjust the carbs taking into account the fiber you get, your net carbs drop considerably. The trick is to find recipes that don't use a lot of added carb-loaded ingredients.

Most of the carbs in pumpkin pie comes from the crust and sugar. Invest in almond flour to replace wheat flour in your crust and you've got a good start. Using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar will get you closer to the low carb level you desire. Of course, if you shy away from using artificial sweeteners, you can go the route many dessert fans are going now; reduce the sugar amount and increase the other seasonings. Many cooks have found that almost half the sugar can be eliminated in a pie filling without affecting the flavor.

If you want to eliminate the crust entirely, choose a pumpkin puree parfait or other lighter fare. Whip pumpkin puree with heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, and even a little cream cheese to thicken, then serve in pretty dessert bowls with a sprinkling of nutmeg and crunchy toppings of chopped pecans. Believe it or not, vanilla ice cream and the other ingredients are surprisingly low in carbs, and the vanilla ice cream adds enough sweetness to avoid adding more sugar.

Cranberries Move From Relish to Dessert

You can depart entirely from pumpkin if you want to try a traditional holiday flavor in a new way. Cranberries don't have to end up only in a relish or sauce. This tangy fruit is loaded with nutrients and makes an excellent dessert when you know how to use it.

Make a creamy cranberry pie or dessert similar to an Apple Brown Betty using cooked cranberries and ricotta cheese. You'll be well under your carb limit with both ingredients and as long as you use almond meal for the crust, you can enjoy without guilt. Part of the reason cranberries are low in carbs, is again the fiber is so high that the net carbs drop way down on the scale. Plus the additional nutritional benefits makes this one dessert ingredient that you can eat that would easily fit into the vegetable and fruit serving.

Pecan Possibilities

Perhaps a slice of traditional pecan pie is out of the question when it comes to your low carb diet. But why exactly? Again, it's the sugars and the crust. However, if you replace the wheat flour with almond flour and the sugar with artificial sweeteners, your pie may still be too high in carbs because of the corn syrup. How can you enjoy a rich pecan dessert on a low carb diet?

You don't have to pass on a pecan dessert because, surprisingly, pecans are very low carb. Again, you can thank the fiber content for pulling down the total carbs. Consider using chopped pecans as a crust for another dessert to get both your pecan fix and a low carb alternative to traditional crusts. Think crunchy crust made out of pecans instead of flour or even oatmeal. Now you're on to a whole new idea that is low carb but with all the crunchy, nutty goodness.

If you're still missing your pecan pie, consider making tarts in mini muffin tins using a simple crust recipe of almond flour, rolled out thin, then pressed into the muffin tin cups. Mix chopped pecans with eggs, vanilla, a touch of sugar or artificial flavoring and fill the tart shells. Remember, you probably don't need as much sugar as you think, and the vanilla extract will give you most of the flavor. Over-stuff the tarts with pecans so you get mostly pecans in these tiny dessert bites and you'll be under your carb limit.

And, when in doubt, a handful of toasted pecans with an egg white glaze and little sprinkling of sugar will satisfy your sweet tooth without going over the edge in carbs. Even served over a tiny bowl of vanilla ice cream, this favorite dessert nut won't have you destroying your low carb diet.

You don't have to be stuck to tradition for tradition's sake. Rethink the desserts you love and try some totally new ingredients, too. Soon you'll have a variety of desserts that will please everyone at your holiday table.

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