Who says that desserts for diabetes don’t exist? Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too! Just make them healthier and in the right portions to keep your blood sugars well controlled while satisfying your sweet tooth. Try these desserts for diabetes – they are chockful of flavour and absolutely delicious. You can find our . Our recipes are dietitian approved for diabetes (yes, despite tasting sweet, it can still be healthy!), full of nutritious goodness and bursting with flavour!
Easy or Ready-Made Desserts
But of course, one of the best desserts for diabetes is:
A piece of fruit is only 60 calories (compared to most desserts which contain at least 200 calories). Fruits have plenty of fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins. These are really beneficial for preventing cancer, heart disease and other diabetes complications like retinopathy, as well as boosting your immune system. Fruits do contain sugar and can raise your blood sugar levels, but the fibre in fruits can help to stabilise the spike and helps prevent digestive issues such as constipation. Even though fruits are natural, it is best to practice portion control. It’s recommended to eat 2 fruit servings every day, but try to separate them into different times to let your body process the natural fruit sugars or monitor your blood sugars to make sure it’s within range. Make a delicious fresh fruit salad in summer and serve with plain yoghurt as an added protein bonus.
Tip: Berries, limes, lemons, grapefruits, kiwi fruits and guavas are some of the lowest in sugar out of all the fruit so load up your fruit salad with these.
Any Other Ideas for Quick Desserts for Diabetes?
Most dessert recipes out there tend to be quite heavy in carbohydrates or fat, despite being ‘sugar-free’. What are some other great ‘dessert’ (sweet snack) ideas that are natural, wholesome and best of all don’t require much preparation work?
- Dried fruits (freeze-dried fruits are very crunchy and yummy!)
Just for a bit of variety, although this is still second best to fresh fruit. Make sure you choose dried fruit without sugar added. You may find that eating the whole piece of fruit (not dried), may feel more satisfying and help you feel full. E.g. by eating a whole piece of apple or apricot or plum, because the volume is bigger, you may feel fuller, which means you may eat less in general.
- Milk or no-sugar added soymilk
Full-cream milk contains 150 calories per cup, while skim milk is just 80 calories. It’s almost half the calories! So switching to skim milk will definitely help towards maintaining your weight.
Always choose no-sugar added soymilk; the regular soymilk has over 3 teaspoons of sugar while a no sugar version has less than 1 teaspoon.
- Yoghurt (preferably low-fat with no sugar added)
Yoghurt is not only a great source of calcium and protein but also probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that may help with a healthy gut and also blood sugar control.
- Nut spreads, peanut butter or no-sugar added jam on toast or wholemeal crackers
Try to choose nut spreads that are as natural as possible; go for those without added fats or sugars.
- A cup of plain, air-popped popcorn (you could add a teensy amount of honey or cinnamon to sweeten it slightly!)
Did you know that a cup of plain air-popped popcorn contains just 5g carbs and 30 calories? Try not to add in too much flavourings to keep those calories controlled.
- ½ cup high-fibre cereal (e.g. natural muesli) + milk
Examples of high-fibre cereal include muesli / bran flakes / Special K / Weet-Bix / Nestum
- Snack bars based on natural ingredients
For example, a nakd bar or SoyJoy (probably not as healthy as the other non-processed desserts here, but still an option!)
- 1-2 squares of dark chocolate (not every day though :P). Or a handful of cacao nibs. There are “no-sugar added” chocolates available in Candy Empire or other specialty shops (however, be aware it still contains carbohydrate and calories so portion control remains important!). Some brands include Chocoelf, Guylian, Diablo and Chocgoji).
Here is the great news about chocolate; it may actually be one of the better choices when it comes to desserts for diabetes. Chocolate is filled with a healthy dose of antioxidants as well as flavanols that can help improve your use of insulin and regulate your blood glucose. Of course, we aren’t talking about any old chocolate – the darker the better. Dark chocolate is filled with more of the good stuff and a lot less sugar than milk chocolate. It might take getting used to the more bitter taste of the dark chocolate but the benefit is that less sugar means the dark chocolate is less addictive.
- Sugar-free Jello
These are not easy to find, but may be available at more posh supermarkets or Value shops. They can be a nice thing to munch on when you’re getting sweet tooth cravings yet watching your waistline.
- Homemade Chinese almond paste, red bean soup, sweet potato ginger soup, bubor cha cha
Using no added sugars, make your own healthier version of your favourite Chinese desserts.
Chinese almond paste: add in powdered almond (no sugar added) with milk and egg whites.
Red bean soup: dried red beans with gingko nuts and sweetened with a bit of low-fat evaporated milk and stevia if you like.
Sweet potato ginger soup: simply boil ginger with sweet potato and enjoy the natural sweetness from the sweet potato.
Bubor cha cha: Chuck chopped yam, sweet potatoes, black eyed beans, sago and pandan into a pot. Add in some trim coconut milk and stevia towards the end.
Cooking Healthy Desserts
If you’ve got a bit of a cooking flair, why not try these great diabetes-friendly desserts recipes for yourself (and the rest of the family as well)!
Unfortunately, traditional ice cream is loaded with sugar and just one cup of vanilla ice cream can contain up to 30g of carbohydrates (that’s around 6 teaspoons sugar!). The best way to have ice cream is to make your own. The above recipe is just one example, another is to simply freeze chunks of mango, banana or berries ahead of time and then blend the frozen fruit with plain Greek yoghurt to make your own delicious, healthy yoghurt with a healthy serving of protein from the yoghurt.
Tip: If you are dying for some ice cream and are out of the house simply opt for a kiddie’s portion or a single scoop to satisfy your cravings.
Who says desserts are only for after dinner? Have these pancakes as a delicious anytime snack. Pancakes are traditionally made with white flour that will easily spike your blood glucose levels. Rectify this by swapping your white flour for wholegrain flour like oats when using your recipe. Your pancakes will now be filled with healthy fibre instead.
Next up choose toppings that are naturally lower in sugar:
- Ripe banana along with unsweetened peanut butter
- Apple sauce and cinnamon
- Greek yoghurt mixed with 1 teaspoon of hot chocolate powder to make a chocolate ‘mousse’
Tip: Stick to one pancake as your treat, the wholegrain flour makes these pancakes healthier but they still contain carbohydrates.
Indulgent winter bakes
If you’re living somewhere wintery and when it’s cold outside, only delicious, warm baked goods seem to hit the spot. Once again, keep your dessert choices healthy by sticking to fruit, this time oven baked fruit.
Simply follow any baked apple or pear recipe and swap out the sugar for heat-stable sweeteners like sucralose or other suitable sugar-free diabetic alternatives. Add some cinnamon, nutmeg and roasted walnuts for extra flavour.
Tip: Baked fruit is a fast, simple dessert for diabetes, especially if you are short on time as most recipes only take 15-20 minutes.
For some other great dietitian-approved healthier desserts for diabetes recipes, head over to this blog!
Desserts for Diabetes When Eating Out in Singapore
What if you’re eating out? In Singapore, there are certainly healthier dessert options around, let’s say they’re lesser of two evils. Here are some of them:
- No-sugar grass jelly (chin chow) with or without no-sugar soymilk
2. Tau huay (soybean pudding) (preferably with no sugar, but less syrup is ok once in a while)
3. Multigrain toast with peanut butter (you can get it at Toast Box)
6. One small coconut (a bit of a treat)
7. 1 cup unsweetened latte, cappuccino or unsweetened cocoa or chai tea with low-fat milk
8. Probably a bit less healthy, but still better than the usual sugary treats, are 1 piece kueh tutu….
8…. or 1 bowl of fuchook (beancurd sheet) and gingko nut soup.
What if you’re really craving that sugary or high-fat dessert? Here’s how to ‘healthify’ some desserts:
General Rules When Eating Out:
It turns out you can literally have your cake and eat it too! However, it is important to remember that even though these desserts are appropriate for those living with diabetes the rule about moderation still applies:
- Halve or even have a fraction of your dessert by sharing with your partner or order a couple of desserts for the table instead of having one all to yourself! Sharing is caring. 🙂 ?
- Enjoy your dessert intake just once a week, fortnight or month. You may find that it actually tastes better if you don’t have it very often; absence makes the heart grow fonder and the same applies to desserts too!
- If your dessert is carb-heavy, think ahead and plan your treats by cutting out some or all of the carbohydrates in your meal before the dessert so your total carbohydrate intake for the meal is about the same.
- Make modifications or requests to the dessert to healthify it.
Frozen yoghurt / coconut / ice cream
- Go for the smallest size. Yes even though it’s low fat, doesn’t make it low calories or low sugar!
- There are some healthier low or no-sugar froyos or ice creams around. For example, Cocowhip or SugaLight.
- Skip the waffles and sugary toppings/sauces. Granolas, cereals or dried fruits seem good until you realise there’s sugar added. Instead, go for fruit or plain nut toppings.
- Wholegrain cakes are the best if they’re available!
- If you want regular cakes, choose chiffon or angel cakes, without cream or frostings.
- Serve with fresh cut fruits or low-fat yoghurt.
Desserts at restaurants or buffets
- For the final course, why not forgo dessert and instead choose coffee or tea with a touch of non-nutritive sweetener, which can save hundreds of calories from added sugar, saturated fat and refined grains!
- Choose fruits or fruit-based desserts like poached pears, grilled banana, or stuffed dates.
- If you must go for ice cream, choose sorbet instead of normal ice cream for a lower fat and calorie lesser of the two evils.
- Choose dairy-based desserts like smoothies or yoghurt (with a request of less or no sugar added).
- Try banana split without ice cream and sauces – tastes great like a grilled banana with chocolate and nuts.
- If you’re looking for something heavier, select a more egg-based dessert like flourless chocolate torte or souffle instead of a full-blown cake.
- Ask if mini versions of desserts are available.
Sweet Chinese syrups / soups
- Take the ingredients only (e.g. beans, red glutinous rice, sweet potato) and leave behind most of the syrupy soup.
- Try to avoid extra sugar or fat from toppings (e.g. youtiao in tau suan or tang yuan in Chinese sweet soups).
Local ice desserts (e.g. ice kacang, ice jelly, chendol)
- Ask for no or less syrup / gula melaka / coconut milk.
- Leave behind some of the syrupy ice if it’s too sweet.
- Resist the temptation to add extra toppings (e.g. durian on ice kacang).
Desserts for Diabetes – Yay or Nay?
Living with diabetes does not automatically mean giving up your favourite desserts and sweet treats for good. It simply means thinking ahead and planning your treats so that you are able to enjoy them occasionally and without guilt.
Credit: Anthea de Villiers (Registered Dietitian, SA) helped co-author a few excerpts of text contained within the blog post.