Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Special Diets >
Jun 24, 2012 07:04 PM

Low carb sweets that don't use chemical fake sweeteners

Looking for ideas to make lower carb sweets, desserts, coffee flavoring syrup etc. Neither of us can tolerate fake sweeteners like Nutrasweet. Are there recipes that tolerate less sugar or a 50/50 with sugar and stevia?

Most of the low carb or "healthy eating" website recipes depend on using chemical sugar substitutes.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hello! I'm in the same boat of no artificial/alternative sweetners other than stevia. I also have quite the sweet tooth, so I've been scrounging around for recipes to fill that hole in my life </3

    Moving away from the spongey cakey goods, I thought about pie! Apple pie, since apples work well with low-glycemic business too.

    For the crust, it wouldn't be the traditional double crust if you want to go lowlow carb, but I'm intrigued by this almond crust that may or may not fall apart upon serving.

    Best of luck! I'm looking forward to seeing more creative ideas to fit this bill.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sprue

      I've used a similar crushed walnut pie shell and it holds together well -- at least for the cream-based pies I've used. Since my husband can't eat salt, this crust has opened up a whole new world of desserts for us!

      1. re: Teddybear

        I have made nut crust with good results before. I can't eat wheat gluten. Feeding the two of us between various allergies and now the doc telling the hubby to lower his blood sugar is um, interesting. The apple pie recipe looks promising.

        1. re: blackpointyboots

          You both realize that apple pie isn't sugar free and not low carb, right? It's loaded with sugar, just not added sugar, perhaps. I'm a diet controlled diabetic, cannot eat any apples or fruit pies, but can make wonderful low carb desserts, including no sugar added fruit cobblers with almond meal and chopped nut crusts. Instead of ginger snap crust for my low carb cheesecake, I use almond flour with melted butter til it sticks together, added ground ginger and some sweetener, press into the bottom and sides of a pan. Worked great for low carb key lime pie, too.

          1. re: mcf

            I'm sorry :/ I thought the post was referring to "no chemical sweeteners" which seemed to fit the bill.

            I'm flailing in my own restricted diet pool, so please excuse my misinformation. I'm pre-diabetic and on low glycemic. Doc said green apples are okay for me. I'm not on low carb, so I totally accept screwing that one up.

            Where are the carbs in the recipes I posted if you use nuts to make the crust (got the recipe from a low-carb site) and add no sweetener? I just want to learn D:

            I also read about apples from my doc and various sites


            1. re: Sprue

              Spruet, he medical literature is full of full blown diabetic retina, kidney and nerve diabetic damage during "pre" diabetes. So good for you for wanting to get up to speed and reverse the blood glucose tide.

              The apple pie recipe is all carbs, pretty much, except for the butter. Check out this web site for learning about diet and diabetes:, and bg levels where damage begins and how it can be avoided.

              Use this information to find the carbs in all your ingredients, I have the free downloaded database on my computer desk top and use it often but you can search it online, too:

              Each medium apple has 25-32 grams of carbs, for example. Vegetables, fruits, juices, spices, nuts to varying degrees, all have carbs , and that's before you get to the starch, with wheat being the single worst blood sugar spiker of all among grains.

              Use the testing flyer on that diabetes web site for great instructions that'll keep you healthy til you wear out your parts in old age.

              Rhubarb is very low carb and high fiber and makes a great dessert with a nut and almond flour topping, you can add a handful of berries, too. GREAT warm with heavy cream floated on top.

    2. Most of them rely on sugar alcohols, which occur naturally in produce, though they can be manfufactured. They are lower carb due to being partially or completely indigestible and can have a laxative effect in great quantities. Xylitol is the most like natural sugar but is only 40% less caloric/digestible. If you can stand stevia, you can blend them half and half to lower the total sugar load. Works GREAT in cheesecakes, custards, flourless chocolate desserts, and in cakes and cookies, too. Eryhtritol is supposed to be completely zero calorie/indigestible, but has an obnoxious cooling effect when used in dairy or creamy things or in too high quantity.

      I can't stand artificial sweeteners including Splenda, but I don't get the bad taste and mouth feel from liquid sucralose if I blend it half and half with xylitol. Liquid sucralose is zero calories. If you don't want to use artificial on principal, that won't help you, but if your objection is to bad taste or other effects, blending is always better than using one non sugar sweetener. There's also Sweet Perfection, and if you don't get horrible gas from inulin, that's a good natural option for you.

      1. I mostly use natural sweetners. I am open to artificial sweeteners on occasion and only if I only need a tablespoon or two.
        I like different sweeteners for different items and I use stevia, sugar alcohols and sweet perfection.

        I make my crusts from almond flour, I use carb quick for some pastries with stevia, artificial sugar free syrups for dessert drinks (frappuccino things), I make sorbets and ice creams with Xylitol (makes the cooling effect work to my advantage), sugar free whipped cream on anything makes it desert, sweet perfection makes sugar free cheesecake great and in low carb brownies (various recipes, just google) some made with black soy beans are actually really fudgy good.

        For easy, healthy, more "daily" (read "lazy") easy items using stevia though, I like (1) chia "tapioca" which is almond milk, sweetened with stevia and cinnamon and vanilla (or cocoa -whatever), then add chia seeds.
        (2) I keep various low carb coconut barks with almonds in the freezer. Both those items provide me with sweetness anytime that won't kick my pancreas, won't make me fat or rot my teeth! No problem grabbing a bite or two before bed. sometimes I just don't feel like creating a big deal desert.

        18 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          Here is a new coconut bark recipe I am trying tonight:

          No sugars or sweetness added. I will let you know how it works out :)

            1. re: mcf

              Whoops! I forgot to come back.
              I made them and they were very good. Much better than typical (plain) coconut bark. However, I didn't thing the coconut base was sweet enough so I added some stevia ( I can never just follow a darn recipe). I added some cocoa nibs to the top as well. I think dried cherries or cranberries would also be good on top with the dried coconut.

              The almond butter gives this a very nut butter mouth feel and flavor. Almost reminds me of peanut butter. I ate them with chai tea one night for dessert and the next with some brandy. I will certainly make this again. I wonder if the brand of coconut butter makes a difference with the sweetness level. I don't like my desserts very sweet, but they need to be sweet enough to taste like a dessert -and this one was not without the addition of stevia.

              1. re: sedimental

                Oh, it *IS* an exceptionally beautiful presentation as well as being very good. I would not hesitate to serve it to guests.

                1. re: sedimental

                  It does look really pretty in all the photos... thanks for reporting back!

                2. re: sedimental

                  Okay, I just saw this now. This looks mouth watering. Seriously.

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    Yes. My go to favorites are coconut barks, blackberry pies with almond flour crusts and whipped cream...and low carb brownies with chocolate granache. Easy,healthy and really great for that late night...I want a sweet moment.

                    1. re: sedimental

                      When I have a late night need for something dessertish, I melt some 73-85% dark chocolate in a little bit of heavy cream in the microwave... stir it up, and wah lah! Instant ganache. I always have both the cream and chocolate in the house.

                      When it comes to pie, it's either rhubarb with some berries, low carb key lime, or cheesecake, all with almond crusts.

                      1. re: mcf

                        Yup. That is exactly how I make the ganache for my LC brownies. I always keep LC brownies and muffins in the freezer. That way, I only pull out a serving at a time. I can make a nice ganache in a minute.

                        I love almond crusts for sweet and savory pies.

                        mcf, do you use stevia in your key lime pie or something else?

                        1. re: sedimental

                          I don't use stevia. Tried it years ago, maybe there's something better tasting now. I very rarely makes sweets, so one bottle of liquid sucralose lasts for years and years, but I get a bad taste and mouth feel from it, so I blend it either 50.50 with granular xylitol or make a blend of sucralose/erythritol, xylitol/isomalt. I only use erythritol in non creamy stuff, though, it has that awful cooling effect and leaves grit on the surface of cheesecake, anyway. I use erythritol alone, though, in some crumb baking, and in cranberry sauce or rhubarb/fruit cobblers because it's zero calorie and no off sensations that way.

                          so you make key lime? if so, have you used gelatin? So far, I've used heavy cream or coconut milk with eggs to firm it. Have to try unflavored gelatin for more consistently bound results.

                          1. re: mcf

                            No, LOL, I don't ..that is why I was asking you :)

                            I might try one this weekend and see what I can come up with. I have a few recipes to modify. I will report back if I do.

                            I have made lemon curd sugar free (with stevia only) and it was fantastic. I still have some jars in my freezer and have used them for a quick lemon tart with a pre - baked almond flour crust. Yum.

                            I use only NuNatural stevia now- and it has no aftertaste to me. Try that kind, if you are looking for a sugar free, zero calorie sweetener. However- it has no bulk so I only use it in low sugar recipes to begin with (like maybe key lime pie!?!). It might have an aftertaste if used in cup measures (like most other natural sweeteners do). I don't like things that sweet anymore.

                            I also mix sweetners for baking and Sweet Perfection is my "go to" for general use but it is soooo expensive. Luckily, I don't crave sweets much at all so I don't worry about it. But- right now I have a 10 year old here for the weekend and I think she would like a few sweetish items, so I might play around with a few desserts.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              I guess it's time to experiment again, I'll try that brand. Key lime definitely doesn't need the bulking and moisturizing properties that I love xylitol for. The reason I cut xylitol with sucralose drops is that it's only 40% lower carb than sugar.

                              Lemon curd sounds great! I don't like things very sweet, either. In chocolate recipes, I sub high cocoa% chocolates for semi or bittersweet. If I need more sweetening, I add some zero calorie sucralose.

                              I cannot use Sweet Perfection, LOL... the resulting gastric pain and noise could level us and the house. It's a great and healthy sweetener for those who tolerate it, though. I can't tolerate jerusalem artichokes, either, and I love the taste. Not the after effects, though.

                              Sweets are a very rare thing here, too. Neither of us has a sweet tooth much any more, and Tom used to need a dessert every night. Big ones, too.

              2. re: sedimental

                Hi, don't think I've been here for very long time!
                We hardly ever use any thing BUT artificial sweeteners . Didn't like stevia, & the few recipes I have call for granulated Splenda. DH (type 2 diabetes) has quite a few allergies : most nuts (almonds), several fruits, and cucumbers are almost deadly.
                But we both have horrible sweet & starch cravings ( I''m just working losing some of the weight I gained back (cushing's syndrome) so I'm not quite in the same boat. Last year I found a little cookbook on amazon that as given us some sweetness-- "baked brownies'" that are quite yummy, chocolate layer cake and especially "anytime fudge brownies" that are ALL very good, along with some slightly odd micro muffins, and some even odder things ( haven't tried any of the savory dishes yet.
                ANYWAY: the basic ingredients for all are : unsweetened cocoa (NOT Dutch style), Splenda , milled flaxseed, and unflavored SOY PROTEIN POWDER- preferably trader joe's! Many recipes call for SF- FF instant pudding mix. Whoops , forgot the egg whites, and the "anytime brownies" call for FF SHREDDED MOZZARELLA ! Those are by far the best (also, the suggestion of replacing water with coffee really does make a difference! The "anytimes" w/ the cheese are unbelievable! Those are made in 9 x 13 pan, make 20 servings, & run 109 cals, 20g protein ,4 carbs, 3g fiber. I usually make the others, which are 9 good sized brownies (8x8 pan), for 74 cals, 12g protein , less than ONE carb-- once you get used to the consistency (which isn't that bad) they've been a life saver (oddly, the amount of fiber isn't listed.
                So now that I've made a short story long, we've been a little concerned that his blood sugar is starting to climb a bit. He's lost most of his excess pounds, and was even able to cheat a good bit and keep it down. Last I night I told him he's getting the FIBER that he needs, then 2 hours later (sorry, TMI) he's so plugged up he could hardly move.
                So I'm trying to find some alternate things (bran muffins, etc) that can fit in good taste and texture with the no carb thing. ANY ideas would be much appreciated!!
                Sorry for the long post, as mentioned above, I didn't even realize I had an account here!
                OH-- and I finally broke down and bought one of those air fryers. Any thoughts on how to use it to make eggplant or squash "noodles" for lasagna?
                Thanks again, sorry if I posted in the wrong topic!!
                - buns

                1. re: bionicbunny

                  Due to the popularity of the "paleo" diet there are lots of paleo baking recipes available via google, a few worth looking at:



                  1. re: bionicbunny

                    not sure what your husband has recently been eating, but i do NOT tolerate flax well at all. it backs me up something fierce. it's possible he's eating too much of it.

                    for lasagne, you can slice the eggplant and squash on a mandolin and make very thin slices. salt them and let sit about 10 minutes to drain out some of the moisture. i don't know what you need an air-fryer for?

                2. You might want to look at the clafouti thread I started.

                  Also, cookbooks for the primal/paleo crowd will have lots of ideas.

                  1. just as a side note.. i do not like any of the stevia products out there. i can, however, tolerate whole dried stevia leaf. i use it sometimes to sweeten tea, putting it with the herbs/tea as it steeps. it really does have a pleasant taste (not chemical-ly at all) and is usually available around here in the bulk section at the natural foods store.