Can we still have a sweet tooth?
October 28, 2011 10:05 AM   Subscribe

[recipe hunter for sugar free and splenda free sweets]: in search of recipes that are fun desserts but which contain no processed sugar or "artificial sweetners."

for a variety of reasons, we're trying to cut out processed sugar from our diets. we're not huge dessert folks but we like to have something fun to eat every so often. we love cooking and this has been a challenge for us. we do not eat splenda/other sugar substitutes. we're fans of maple syrup and honey, maybe agave nectar. most of my hunting online has found recipes that contain splenda/sugar substitutes.

any dessert recipes that you recommend? something lemony would be lovely.

we're already big fans of 101 cookbooks and have made some of her carrot recipes, which are yum.

thanks so much!
posted by anya32 to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
May I suggest an alternate approach?

I imagine that a lot of people may be taking ths same kid of approach; would you know if anyone's calculated any kind of a "how to substitite agave nectar for sugar in recipes" kind of formula? Because if such a thing exists, and it's simple as "use the same amount of agave nectar as you would sugar, but just halve the amount of oil" or whatever, then you can keep baking what you'd like. Here's a web site which suggests a way to swap out honey for sugar in recipes, as well (use 3/4 as much honey as sugar, and cut back on the liquid a bit or just add more flour).

Failing that, here's a recipe for baked pears using honey and raw brown sugar (which fits the "unprocessed" sugar requirements, I assume).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on October 28, 2011

I've posted it in recipe threads before, but I think this situation calls for it again: pumpkin banana walnut muffins!

When I make these, I just sort of eyeball everything, so I don't have exact measurements.
The recipe is really friendly to substitutions, so if you're not comfortable with brown sugar, you can up the honey/maple syrup content. Each time I make them they're a tiny bit different, but always fantastic.

-3 cups whole wheat flour
-1 cup dry oatmeal
-a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed
-4 tsp baking powder
-2 tsp baking soda
-4 eggs
-1 cup brown sugar
-about a cup of applesauce
-2 bananas
-at least 1 cup of pumpkin, maybe 2 (I use fresh because I generally make these in autumn, but canned is fine)
-salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves to taste
-a couple tablespoons of honey and maple syrup until it tastes right
-as many walnuts as you want (I use a lot)

You can put pretty much any pureed/well-shredded veg in there. Carrot and zucchini both bake really well. Spinach is good, too, but will turn them a really unappetizing green color.

You may need to adjust the amounts of things until it looks/tastes right. (Like I said, I really just sort of eyeball it.) Bake at 350 for about a half hour.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Take a nice, ripe peach, dunk in boiling water and peel. Blend up some raspberries. Place the peach in the center of a plate, poor the red stuff over it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:21 AM on October 28, 2011

Fruit and dairy are our go-to sources. They both have sugar in them, so we don't have to add any for it to be dessert. Berries and cream. Yogurt parfaits (but be sure to read the ingredients on the yogurt).

My favorite is wine-poached fruit. Easy, elegant, and no added sugar. (Though I don't actually know how wine is made; they might add sugar to it. If you're concerned, you can poach fruit in water or other liquids and it's still pretty great.)

We also like very, very dark chocolate. There is, granted, some added sugar there, but not very much.
posted by hishtafel at 10:59 AM on October 28, 2011

Check out Healthy Indulgences! It has a ton of dessert recipes for the low/no-carb sweets-lover. What's nice is that most of the recipes have several different sweetener options. There's even a comprehensive sweeteners chart/FAQ post.
posted by desertface at 11:00 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Here is a (accidentally vegan) banana bread that only has 1/2 cup of sugar, and you can swap it for 1/2 cup maple syrup & up your flour by 1/4 cup. It is very, very good and tastes a lot like the stuff my mom made growing up (which featured Crisco and more sugar). This recipe makes one very large loaf.

6-7 very ripe medium bananas (1.75 lbs peeled) (I will peel & freeze ripe bananas or freeze ripe bananas in the peel, allow to thaw on the counter and slice open the banana and smoosh into bowl. It will be very smooshy.)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup (increase flour by 1/4 c if using maple)
3 cups all purpose flour (can use whole wheat pastry flour, King Arthur's whole wheat white flour, or a combination thereof)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
toasted walnuts or pecans, 1/2-1 cup, optional (toast on the stovetop in a shallow pan over medium heat, tossing the nuts frequently, until the nuts sizzle a bit and become fragrant)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a large bread pan with cooking spray (I used 12x4.5x3). Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, combine bananas, sugar, oil and vanilla. Whip the wet ingredients until banana is liquefied. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix briefly with the hand mixer just to combine. Add the nuts if using and continue mixing by gently folding the dry into the wet and scraping the bottom - do not overmix. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake on the center rack for approximately 1 hour until a toothpick or tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took more like 80 minutes because my bananas were still cold when I started. I tented the pan with foil towards the end - last 15 minutes or so - so the top didn't burn. You could tent a little earlier and it might help the middle get done or don't use cold bananas!)
posted by sararah at 11:08 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Google searches involving "no refined sugar" work better for me than phrases like "sugar-free". Google searches for maple and honey things are hard because recipes may use some for flavor and the rest white sugar, but agave is taking root as a sugar substitute rather than a flavoring, so searches for "agave cake" or "agave scones" or whatever you're in the mood for can work.

Make Holiday Desserts Without Refined Sugars

Personally, I can't recommend Maple Custard enough - it's delicious!
posted by aimedwander at 11:57 AM on October 28, 2011

Baked bananas (stick them in foil with butter and honey and put in the oven for 20 minutes or so).

Baked apples (similar to bananas, but core them and put some dried fruit or something in there).

Stew some dried fruit in Earl Grey tea, add honey and optionally booze and nuts. Serve with sour cream.

Yoghurt / creme fraiche / sour cream with nuts / fruits / honey. For the "extra special" version, layer the ingredients up in glasses to look a bit like a trifle. If you have stale ends left of any of the above cake recipes, put some of that in the bottom of the glass soaked in booze or fruit juice and you will have a pretty decent trifle knockoff. At the other end of the spectrum, I just eat plain yoghurt with walnut pieces and don't feel the need to add anything sweet.
posted by emilyw at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2011

The National Honey Board has recipes available. Here are there desserts and their baked goods. Using honey instead of sugar is totally doable. Enjoy!
posted by onhazier at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2011

This recipe for one-ingredient frozen banana "ice cream" is popular with a lot of my friends. I could see a slightly altered version that adds lemon juice, zest, and honey working out well. This apple-lemon dessert would also probably work well with honey or maple sugar instead of white sugar.

I would also look in vegan cookbooks for ideas, although many of them exclude honey. A lot of them focus on avoiding industrially-produced sweeteners and sweeteners that use animal-derived products for refining.

Be advised that differences between sweeteners lie mainly in the type of processing, because concentrated sugars in almost any form are processed by definition. If you have diabetes, switching from white sugar and HFCS to maple syrup and honey probably won't help at all without a total reduction in sugar from all sources. If you are trying to avoid industrially-produced sweeteners or adulterated products for environmental reasons, you may want to avoid (almost?) all agave nectar and conventionally-available honeys, especially imported honeys. If you're trying to avoid high-fructose sweeteners specifically, agave nectar and honey both have higher fructose-glucose ratios than high-fructose corn syrup.

Not trying to dissuade you from your goal, since obviously reducing added sugars in your diet is a good idea for most people. Just a heads-up.
posted by hat at 3:17 PM on October 28, 2011

Oh, also, homemade Lärabars. Here are lemon ones.
posted by hat at 3:22 PM on October 28, 2011

Fudge babies are yum and don't even have honey/maple syrup in them (although some have chocolate). You do need a food processor, though.
posted by fresh bouquets every day at 4:55 PM on October 28, 2011

Baklava is made with honey.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:36 PM on October 28, 2011

There's a sugar-free cheesecake recipe on Yummly which looks a lot like an old favourite recipe from the Pritikin Program. The Pritikin recipe consistently turned out nice, so chances are this cake will as well.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:57 PM on October 28, 2011

paleoplanhas some good recipes for desserts that do not use sugar, but instead use raw honey. i've made a few and they are actually pretty good. can't tell they're not made with flour and butter and sugar.

there's also coconut and almond ice cream, which while a little expensive, is a nice treat.
posted by sio42 at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2011

Another source of sweet that isn't processed sugar is maple syrup. There are recipes which rely on it for sweetening, if you look around.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:08 PM on October 29, 2011

wow, these are great ideas! thank you so much!
posted by anya32 at 12:03 PM on October 31, 2011

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