Saturday, November 5, 2011

Low Carb Holiday Goodies

When the holidays roll around, you can expect the sweets to be everywhere. Most every candy you used to enjoy before you went on a low carb diet is off limits. But, aren't there any options? Although you won't be able to help yourself to every goodie that you're offered, there are some things you can make to enjoy a bite of something sweet. Let's take a look at how even holiday treats can be made more diet friendly.

Artificial Sweeteners and Sugars

Many cookies and candy recipes for low carb diets will contain artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. The newest one you'll see is Stevia, but you'll still see recipes that use other sweeteners as well. You may or may not want to use these sweeteners, but this is an option you should investigate.

Another option is to reduce the sugar called for in the recipe. Don't forget; corn syrup is a sugar, so you have to take this into consideration. This can work sometimes, depending on the recipe, and is one of those try-it-first before you serve it deals. If you enjoy all the sweets around the holidays, go ahead and spend some time deciding if this is worth your trouble.

Tweaking Other Ingredients

If you're going to enjoy a couple sweet goodies during the holidays, you can't get too crazy about the carbs. You can't totally escape the carbs in a cookie or candy. You can, however, choose a few less carb-loaded ingredients and learn to make new goodies.

Just about any time you see a cookie or candy that calls for wheat flour, you can substitute almond flour. Will it be exactly the same? Maybe not. Will it be tasty? Probably. If you are limited to a few sweet goodies, you'll appreciate what you get. So, go ahead and make a batch of lemon bars or cookies and see what happens.

Some nuts have lower carb counts than others. Believe it or not, pecans are lower in carbs than peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and even macadamia nuts, but cashews are the greatest offender. When choosing which nut to use in your cookies or candy, you may want to take that into consideration.

A Word About Chocolate

It is true that dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate is lower in carbs than milk chocolate. But, you can cut carbs also by reducing the amount of chocolate chips in a recipe as well as the size of the cookie or candy. You can also lower the total carbs in the chocolate by adding cream in as you melt it, creating a ganache. This will not harden as well, but it may be perfect for certain treats.

My main issue with trying to avoid chocolate entirely, especially during the holidays, is we are way too concerned. Consider this; you want to make chocolate covered nuts. You choose pecans, which have a net carb count (that's carbs less fiber) of about 5 grams for a cup of chopped pecans. Then if you melt chocolate, even milk chocolate to mix in, you'll need only about a tablespoon or so which is about 8 grams of carbs. So, even if you ate that entire cup of chocolate covered nuts, you would be eating about 13 grams of carbs. For a decadent candy, 13 grams is not a disaster to your diet.

My point is, if you choose to enjoy a bite or two of chocolate, even chocolate covered nuts, you are going to feel satisfied and happy, rather than deprived. And, we all know that when our diet leaves us feeling deprived, we end up diving head first into a bag of mini candy bars, chips, or a loaf of bread. Choose your sweet carbs carefully and enjoy a bite or two this holiday season.

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