17 Smarter Dessert Recipes That Are Great for Everyone, Including People with Diabetes
It's a common misconception that people with diabetes can't eat dessert. No matter if you have Type 1, a chronic condition in which the body produces little to no insulin, or Type 2, a chronic condition in which the body resists the effects of insulin or doesn't produce enough, diabetics can eat anything they want, so long as they do so in moderation. This is key since carbohydrates, like starches and sugars, are the main contributor to glucose response, so it's important to be mindful about what you're consuming.
That being said, it's important to understand what diabetes really is in order to manage it properly. "Diabetes is a result of inadequate insulin and is not caused by too much sugar," says Amanda Kirpitch, nutrition and diabetes educator and owner and founder of Nutrition Perspective. "Diabetes-friendly foods are choices that taste good and [provide nutrition] without the frustration that comes with an unexpected glucose response." All types of foods can be incorporated into diets for people with diabetes. "Combining carbohydrates with protein and fat, as well as choosing higher fiber carbohydrate sources, can produce a more modest rise in glucose that is easier to match to the body's natural insulin or medications," says Kirptich. She suggests adding nut butters or higher fat dairy to balance out a quicker rising refined carbohydrate choice, or simply go with more natural sugars that are easier on the body—like in our Dark Chocolate Walnut Date Bar found in the slides ahead.
A delicious, easy-to-make recipe that's also easy on the body's glucose response is Dark Chocolate Dipped Cherries, pictured here. Dr. Ileana Vargas, MD, MS assistant professor of pediatrics pediatric endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Columbia University Medical Center, recommends this sweet treat and others like it. "Dark chocolate covered berries and nuts [are a great choice] for both [types of diabetes] because the nuts have Omega 3's…the dark chocolate has antioxidants and the berries are lower glycemic types of foods. They have more fiber, so they're friendly for both [types of diabetes]," she says.
When in doubt, a go-to way to have better blood sugars and still eat what you want is to monitor your portion sizes. Both Dr. Vargas and Kirpitch recommend splitting a dessert with a friend. That way you can still eat what it is you're really craving, but you're limiting the carbohydrate intake. Ahead, find desserts that feature a more diabetes-friendly approach thanks to a combination of fiber, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutritious components.
Chocolate-Soy Panna Cotta
The intense flavor of chocolate pairs perfectly with this soy-based Panna Cotta for a silky sweet treat.
Lighter Chocolate Cinnamon Pudding
Kirpitch says the fat in the chocolate may balance out the milk in this delicious dessert, lessening a rise in glucose that many people with diabetes experience.
No-Bake Ricotta Blueberry Cheesecake
This no-bake cheesecake for a crowd is full of fats that help slow down the absorption of the sugar, helping you maintain better numbers. However, portion size is important—smaller is better.
Five Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kirpitch calls out the almond butter, which is used in place of both flour and butter, in this recipe as a diabetes-friendly ingredient since it provides more protein. "Using whole grains where possible will also help with increasing the fiber and nutrition content without sacrificing taste," explains Kirpitch.
Berries with Buttermilk and Honey
Berries have some of the lowest carbohydrate counts of all fruit and taste delicious when paired with buttermilk and a light drizzle of honey. You can even swap the buttermilk for your favorite nut milk for an even lower carb dessert, recommends Kirpitch.
Blueberry Ricotta Tart
Dr. Vargas likes this option. Full of vitamin-rich blueberries and protein-packed almonds, this tart is as tasty as it is easy on your blood sugars, making it great for diabetics and even better for your taste buds.
Lemon Cream with Blackberries
With only 15 minutes of prep time and five ingredients, this sweet treat is a go-to dessert that any diabetic is sure to enjoy.
Packed with healthy fats from macadamia nuts, these desserts have nutrient-rich components like wheat germ and eggs to help mitigate any blood sugar spikes.
Dark Chocolate Walnut Date Bar
This dessert gets its sweetness from dates while the walnuts add better for you fats to the mix. It's a delicious option for anyone, including those with diabetes who are looking to watch their blood sugars.
Lemon Basil Custard Pie with Red Berries
A taste of lemon custard is always a good idea. The fat in the custard makes this dessert easier on the blood sugars.
Big Batch Triple Chocolate Brownie Bars
Make these chocolatey bars for the chocolate lover in your life. There's plenty to go around thanks to our recipe that yields 54. Eggs, nuts, and three types of chocolate come together for a low-glycemic index dessert.
Peanut Butter Cup Tart
The higher fat content in this sweet treat offsets the sugar making it a diabetes friendly recipe. And, it's nothing short of decadent.
Light Cherry Cheesecake
Who doesn't love cheesecake? The recipe calls for less than one cup of sugar, only two tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and a slew of lower fat dairy products for one deceivingly better-for-you treat.
Roasted Cherries with Tofu "Panna Cotta"
A package of silken tofu is the perfect dupe to the classic panna cotta. This recipe calls for fresh cherries and raspberries and only three tablespoons of fresh honey.
Chocolate Birch Bark
With only two ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time, this chocolate-filled sweet is just the thing whether you're diabetic or not.
Frozen Yogurt Pops
This satisfying treat is the perfect summer sweet, and it's also great for diabetics. Dr. Vargas suggests swapping the jam for a sugar-free iteration or fresh berries for a lower carbohydrate, protein-packed dessert.