Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Sugar Free Recipes for the Holidays

One thing I really enjoy about this time of the year is the baking. My mom and I spend quite some time together in the kitchen. Even my daughter Reyna enjoys partaking in this holiday tradition. There is usually a great deal of laughter, a little swearing, at least one bickering session over techniques, and a lot of bonding that goes on. Each year Mom and I sit down and pre-plan out what sweets and treats we will be making, and the cookies, candy and holiday bread start churning out of the kitchen shortly after thanksgiving is over. Most of the candy is shared with others, but that doesn't mean there isn’t a mountain of candies on the countertop at both of our homes. We make these sweet treats to enjoy and share but too much can be dangerous for our health. 

Cindy and Christen making Fruit Cake Cookies 
also known as Christmas Crack

You might not be aware, but my husband is diabetic as well as my mom. I am also working hard on maintaining my own healthy diet, as I am very close to being diabetic myself. I had weight loss surgery in 2018, and I need to keep a close watch on my carb and sugar intake. It is a real challenge when the winter months come around to stick to our diets because we all want warm fulfilling foods, and to top it off the sweet tooth really seems to come out too! In the past, Mom and I would just make lots of candies, and not be concerned with the amount of sugars we were consuming. As the years have gone on, and we are more self aware, we realized that some changes need to be made so that we can continue our baking traditions, but not kill ourselves and our family with all the excess sugars and carbs.
One thing I want to specify is that there is a wide spectrum of food, recipes and replacement sweeteners out there. You will want to watch things closely; just because something is sugar-free does not mean it is low in carbohydrates. I am not a health food expert or nutritionist by any means. Infact, I regularly depend on others' expertise to make sure that I am making healthy choices and selecting the right products. I have been learning some tricks though. It seems that this past year especially, Mom and I have been exploring various family recipes that we have enjoyed over the years, but with a twist. We will take one of the ingredients (like the sugar) and convert it to a sugar-free substitute, or exchange the flour for a lower-carb or no-carb option. We have even tried some keto recipes that were very similar to some of our all time favorites. 

There have been some successes and some major failures. My best advice I can give you at this time is to try it at home for casual dining first to ensure that it tastes good. Don’t volunteer to make someone’s birthday cake and then try to make a keto cake from an unfamiliar method without trying it first. Sometimes you will be blown away by the similarity, and other times gravely disappointed. For example, we made a keto dump cake while camping a couple of months ago, and it was a little disappointing. I was just glad that it was only our family eating it, and not something we had to take to a potluck!

The absolute best recipe conversion that we have done to date was an old favorite of mine since I was a kid called “Mexican Wedding Cookies”, also known as “Russian TeaCakes” and “Snowball Cookies”. I think I have seen them called “Danish Cookies” as well. Mom and I have made these cookies time and time again. They have a short ingredient list so the taste is very specific and consistent year over year. This is a simple recipe if you want to try something sugar free and are still on the fence about the taste of sugar free desserts. It's also a great way to bake and give someone the gift of a sugar free dessert, which would be totally awesome, because you can ask anyone who is restricted to sugar-free options and they will tell you that there is hardly ever anything sugar-free for dessert.

So bust out your apron, you will want it for this delicious sugar-free recipe below:

Be sure to listen in on the Podcast on Wednesday and we will be taking a deeper dive into sugar-free baking. If you would like a printable version of the recipe click here.

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