When our grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I figured I needed a selection of “Baking Recipes for Diabetics”. Our daughter explained to us, Type 1 Diabetics don’t necessarily require a specific diet, they just need to have easy access to complete nutrition information on each recipe to calculate carbs eaten to ensure accurate dosing of insulin.
With our grandson, we don’t always go for sugar-free or low carb recipes but there are times it makes sense for us to use low carb recipes, usually for desserts.
Alex just loves mashed potatoes and gravy and usually wants more but he still wants dessert (don’t we all) but this puts his carb count for that meal through the roof.
When I know I am making mashed potatoes and gravy I will tend to make a low carb dessert. Then our grandson can have as much mashed potatoes and gravy as he wants and still have his dessert without requiring an insane amount of insulin.
When it comes to meals for a Type 1 Diabetic it is all about balance.
I find having a low carb dessert when having a high carb meal tends to keep things a little more balanced and of course I always have complete nutrition information to help ensure accurate insulin dosage.
Sometimes I use recipes from either “Company’s Coming diabetic cooking” or “The Ultimate Diabetic Cookbook” or I choose to adapt old family favorite recipes.
Just because a child has Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t mean they shouldn’t or can’t have delicious baked sweets from time to time.
We don’t make desserts every day, we tend to keep them for a Sunday dinner or a special occasion such as a holiday or family member’s birthday.
As the family matriarch, it tends to be me who prepares the food for the family gatherings.
Since our grandson’s diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes, I am always looking to help make balancing his carbohydrate intake with his insulin injections a little easier.
I came across this handy recipe nutrition analyzer. You just type in the ingredients of your recipe and it gives you a printable, complete nutrition label. It sure makes the carb counting for our grandson a lot easier.
Before finding this great tool I had to read the labels of the individual ingredients and manually calculate the carbs for each recipe.
Commonly, recipes found within a Diabetic cookbook give complete nutrition information. I had to calculate it on recipes I altered myself.
This was very time-consuming and I always needed my daughter to calculate it herself to double-check my numbers. We definitely didn’t want to give Alex too much or not enough insulin because of human error risking serious complications.
When I am trying to convert a recipe to a low carb version, I typically start by substituting the sugar for a lower carb option. Occasionally I will make the effort to try to convert the flour to a lower carb version. This usually results in a fair bit of trial and error. It is certainly easier to find recipes that call for lower carb flour. I will share some of those recipes at a later date.
Let’s take a look at those flour and sugar substitutions now.
I have found that Gluten-free flour blends such as Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour are not a low carb option. Unless you have Celiac’s disease and require a gluten-free option I would not use this for changing a recipe to low carb.
There are several low-carb options and they all react differently so let’s take a closer look at our options.
Almond Flour – is finer and lighter in color than an almond meal because it is ground finer and is made from almonds without their skins and they need to be blanched first. It is also significantly more expensive. I prefer sifting it after measuring and this creates a texture more similar to wheat flour.
Almond Meal – Almond meal will be too heavy for most baking. It is coarser and less expensive than almond flour. I find I don’t use almond meal when baking. There are so many other options available.
Coconut Flour – In my experience, the biggest difference between coconut flour and wheat flour is how dry the coconut flour is. When baking with coconut flour you need more liquid and eggs than with regular flour. When you first start using coconut flour it may take a bit of trial and error but the results will be well worth the effort. You can not swap coconut flour 1:1 with almond flour or wheat flour, you will use significantly less coconut flour. My favorite coconut flour is Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour. I use coconut flour a lot and my grandson asks for coconut flour pancakes (I shared that recipe in a previous article) any time he came for a sleepover before COVID-19 locked us down.
Golden Flax Meal – Flax meal is produced by simply grinding Flax seeds into flour. It can work well in low carb recipes however it is a heavier flour. You want to use Golden Flax Meal not regular flax meal as the regular can have quite a gummy texture when baked. To me, that’s a fail. Some people use Flax eggs in vegan recipes or the case of egg allergies.
Hazelnut Flour or Meal – is made by grinding hazelnuts with the skin still intact which is why it is more of a meal consistency than flour. It has a rich, nutty flavor and is denser in texture than almond flour. this option is high in unsaturated fat and is a good source of both fiber and protein. Hazelnut flour can be a great substitute for almond flour. It tends to be the priciest of all the options.
Sunflower Seed Flour – is made by grinding sunflower seeds into a powder and can be a great option if allergic to nuts. It can be made at home in a blender and it can be substituted 1:1 for almond flour. Has a rather strong sunflower seed flavor so you may want to try different brands to see which you prefer. It tends to turn green when baked so not as attractive but this doesn’t affect the taste.
Sesame Seed Flour – is created by grinding sesame seeds and has quite a strong flavor so may want to mask this with other flavors. This can also be made at home in the blender. I don’t use this option.
There are several options when using a sugar substitute. I have tried several and which I use tends to depend on what I have on hand at the moment as my baking is not always planned ahead of time.
Raw Honey – you need to decrease the other wet ingredients or increase the dry ingredients if using honey. A vegan alternative to honey is Agave syrup. I don’t use it 1:1 as it turns out too sweet.
Swerve Granular Sweetener – can be used 1:1 to replace sugar. Tends to have a cooling aftertaste that we dislike. Can get the granular sugar type or an icing sugar version that is perfect for cupcake frosting.
Splenda Granular Sweetener – can be used 1:1 when replacing sugar. Can’t even tell the difference when eating the baking. The downfall is that it is not a natural product but I do use it frequently when out of natural products.
Splenda Brown Sugar Blend – can be used 1:1 to replace brown sugar. While not a natural product I love it anyways. makes fabulous cookies.
Stevia – comes in granular sugar or liquid, don’t use 1:1 as it is considerably sweeter than sugar. Either form works well just adjust other ingredients accordingly.
My Cookie Recipes
I have found that replacing the sugar in my recipes with a 1:1 substitute it significantly lowers the carbohydrates enough for our purposes with our diabetic grandson. I don’t always alter family favorites, it depends on whether the main meal is high carb or not.
Here is a family favorite I have altered by using Splenda rather than sugar. By swapping out the sugar this recipe went from 17.9 grams to 6.4 grams of net carbs per cookie. I usually get 42 cookies from this recipe.
Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup white sugar 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar 1 tsp salt
2 eggs 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir with a fork so all ingredients are mixed.
- In a large bowl, combine sugars and butter. Mix until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Add 1 cup of dry ingredients at a time to the mixture until all is incorporated. Mix in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
My Cake Recipe
Who doesn’t love a slice of cake for dessert? I started making this one in the fall to use up some of the apples and boy was it a hit. This recipe went from 75.9 grams to 28.5 grams net carbs just by substituting the sugar. With this recipe, our grandson would typically have a half serving.
Mom’s Apple Cake
2 cups white sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 pound butter 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs 2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour(sifted) 1 cup walnuts (chopped)
1 1/2 tsp salt 3 cups sliced apples(Macintosh or another firm apple)
1/2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter and flour one 10 inch tube pan.
- Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Set aside.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to wet ingredients and mix well
- Stir in vanilla, walnuts, and apples. Mix well and pour into prepared pan, This is a very thick batter.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Slide knife along outer edges to release the bottom of the tube pan. Slide knife along the bottom of the tube pan and inner tube to release cake. (serves 10)
When trying to convert to a lower-carb version of a family recipe I usually start by swapping out the sugar for a 0 carb substitute.
Then I plug the recipe into the recipe nutrition analyzer to determine the number of net carbs.
If I decide to cut the net carbs further I will either try to substitute the flour or look for a lower carb version of that recipe to make it easier and less time-consuming.
In the fall when we have an abundance of apples I will typically freeze some already sliced in 3 cup packages so I can bake an Apple Cake anytime throughout the winter.
Go ahead and give these recipes a try either as written or use regular sugar rather than Splenda in a 1:1 ratio. I hope you enjoy these recipes.
Thanks for dropping by, please leave your comments or questions below.
8 thoughts on “Baking Recipes for Diabetics”
Thank you for this wonderful article with some extremely useful information. My friends son, who I often look after, and one of my daughters best friends, are both Type 1 diabetics. I try to read up and get myself as much knowledge as possible for when they come to our house. Usually their parents will calculate all of their carbs etc, but it’s great to get some background knowledge. I love the recipes too, I might try them out as soon as isolation is over, and they can come back round again. I will also check out the meal plan. Thanks for a great website, full of wonderful and essential information.
Thanks for commenting Sara. I am so glad I was able to offer useful information to help you with your friends sons and your daughters friend. Our daughter and Son-in-law have the bulk of our grandsons care. We usually take him at times to give his parents a much needed break. We are anxiously awaiting the end of this isolation so we can have him over again. No doubt they will really need a break by then. Thanks again.
I really enjoyed your post. My son is type 1 he was diagnosed 2.5 years ago. It’s tricky working out the right foods to begin with. But overtime it gets easier. Thanks for sharing
Thanks for the encouragement Russ. We are still in our first year but already it has become almost second nature. I have found that it is much easier now than in the first few months. Best of luck to you and your son.
I can only imagine how helpful is this post for someone who has diabetes. Being on a special diet can sometimes be hard. I like how you made a list of flour substitutes. I will be making those coconut pancakes soon. Avoiding sugar could be helpful for everyone in my opinion. Natural honey is a great substitute and it is much healthier. Thanks for sharing your recipes.
All the best
Thanks for the great comment Srdjan. Reducing our sugar intake in favour of natural substitutes is definitely better for all of us. Keep in mind when using honey or maple syrup to substitute sugar you will need to adjust the flour(add a little more). Also we really enjoy the coconut pancakes with whipped cream and fresh berries rather than syrup. Enjoy the recipe.
This is a great article. Who knew that a couple of simple substitutions could make such a big different. Two questions: Do you think Bob’s Red Mill is the best source for the flours? And what is a flax egg? I thought flax was a grain?
Thanks for dropping by Cynthia. Here in Atlantic Canada I tend to use Bob’s Red Mill flours because they are easily available and I have had good results with them. Once the restrictions of isolating are removed I will head into the city and try a few other brands. A flax egg is an egg substitute that is created by mixing 1 Tbsp Flax-seed with 3 Tbsp water and let sit 15 minutes prior to using in recipe. Using a flax egg substitute in paleo baking is common because it is a seed rather than a grain. Yes it is controversial and some would disagree. One could also use Chia seeds instead. Thanks for the comment and take care.