One of the hardest parts of being on a low-carb diet like Atkins or keto is saying no to sweets and treats, especially when you're craving a little something toothsome to finish up a meal. Fortunately, with a little imagination you can come up with no-carb desserts that still hit the spot.
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Sugar Alternatives to Trifle With
Sugar-free sweeteners like aspartame, xylitol, erythritol and sucralose (or blends of these) may seem like the obvious ingredients for creating no-carb desserts. However, do check the labels, as when formulated for baking uses these will often be bulked out with carb-based fillers, e.g., maltodextrin, so you might not be creating a zero-carb pudding after all.
For example, the 8 tablespoons (12 grams/ 0.42 ounces) of granulated table top sucralose (Splenda brand) you might use in a pudding or cake in place of a cup of sugar still supplies 11 grams of carbohydrates — not a lot, but still worthy of taking into account if you are trying to eat very low carb.
Then there is the bigger issue that many desserts also contain other carb-based ingredients, including flour, dairy and fruits. To get around this and make truly low-carb desserts, higher fat ingredients can be key: cream cheese is one of these such ingredients.
Read more: Strict No-Carb, No-Sugar Diets
Bring on the Cheesecake!
According to the USDA, full-fat cream cheese has five grams of fat per tablespoon, but only 0.8 grams of carbohydrates. Using it along with other low-carb ingredients will only make a small dent in your daily carb allowance and can create the most delicious keto-friendly cheesecakes. (You'll need to swap the normal graham cracker base for one that's low in carbs like one made with almond flour, for example.)
If you're looking for some dinner party-worthy recipes, these on the Atkins website are all really good. Even simpler and quicker is to just make a mousse-like dessert by beating together 8 ounces of cream cheese with a spot of vanilla essence and half a cup of erythritol sweetener, then chilling until ready to serve.
Alternatively, whip up Italian mascarpone with sweetener to taste, adding a sugar-free flavoring — ground cinnamon or cocoa powder work well. Chill until ready to serve and enjoy.
Read more: Erythritol vs. Stevia vs. Xylitol
Keto Desserts to Buy
If you'd prefer to get your no-carb desserts or no-carb sweets from the grocery store rather than getting busy in the kitchen, there are a growing amount of keto desserts to buy.
Even in stores where there's a limited choice, you can almost always find sugar-free Jell-O gelatin cups, which are an excellent fall-back when you're seeking out virtually zero-carb puddings. There's good news for lovers of good-quality dark chocolate, because 90 percent cocoa chocolate has a reasonable 5 grams of carbohydrates in a serving of three squares (one ounce or 30 grams). That can be incorporated fairly easily in a low-carb diet.
Other great-tasting keto desserts to buy in-store or online are the new ice creams tubs sweetened with fibers and/or polyols. Not all are totally zero-carb pudding, but many can be fitted into your very low-carb diet with the correct portion control.
Also worth considering is a virtually carb-free cheeseboard in place of a sugary treat. As an added bonus, cheese after dinner can help prevent dental cavities, according to a May 2013 study in General Dentistry.
If you'd prefer to quell your sugar cravings without any carbs or calories at all, chewing on some minty sugar-free gum is another strategy that might just work. You cannot be piling carbs or calories in your mouth while you are chewing on gum, and that minty fresh-breath it gives may even mean you reject the idea of dessert altogether.
- USDA: "Basic Report: 19868, Sweeteners, Tabletop, Sucralose, Splenda Packets"
- USDA: "Basic Report: 01017, Cheese, Cream"
- Kraft Heinz: "Jell-O"
- General Dentistry: "In Vivo Dental Plaque pH After Consumption of Dairy Products"
- USDA: "Basic Report: 01270, Cheese, Cheddar, Sharp, Sliced"
- USDA: "Full Report (All Nutrients): 45340141, 90% Cocoa Swiss Dark Chocolate, UPC:"
- Atkins: "Low Carb Cheesecake Recipes for National Cheesecake Day"