Try these keto-friendly confections during the holidays.
The holiday season means office and home parties, cookie exchanges and multiple opportunities to scarf “carbs galore,” says Pamela Nisevich Bede, a registered dietitian and keto diet expert with Abbott’s ZonePerfect brand. Abbott is a global health care company headquartered in Chicago.
The keto diet emphasizes consuming plenty of fats and moderate amounts of protein while cutting way down on carbs. The regimen allows for about 20 net carbs a day, depending on the specific version you follow. Fortunately, if you’re on the regimen, there are keto-friendly holiday desserts that can help you stay on your eating plan. “The good news is, they’re so tasty you can feel jolly sharing with others,” Nisevich Bede says.
Here are nine keto-friendly holiday desserts:
1. Keto cheesecake
Flour and sugar are the major culprits keeping regular cheesecake from keto status, says Nisevich Bede, who’s the author of “Sweat. Eat. Repeat,” which has a section on the keto diet. A couple of simple tweaks can make the popular dessert keto-friendly.
For the crust, use two-thirds almond flour and a third coconut flour instead of the conventional kind. As for other ingredients, be generous with melted butter, and instead of sugar, use a non-sugar substitute like monk fruit or stevia.
Use regular (not low-fat) cream cheese for the filling.
2. Chocolate-covered peanut butter balls
This familiar favorite is made keto-friendly by using generous amounts of nut butter, alternative sugars and sugar-free chocolate, Nisevich Bede says.
Combine peanut butter, coconut and almond flour, brown sugar substitute, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl, and stir until the concoction is smooth. Using a tablespoon, roll the “dough” into small balls and place a toothpick in the center of each one. Place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for about an hour, until they’re firm.
Just before removing them from the freezer, melt keto-friendly, sugar-free chocolate chips and butter in a small saucepan set over low heat. Use a double boiler if you have one. Remove the balls from the freezer and dip each one in melted chocolate; then place them on a cookie sheet to set.
3. Keto-friendly chocolate pudding
“This rich and creamy chocolate is an easy way to get your daily dose of avocado,” says Jessica Rosen, a certified holistic health coach based in Long Branch, New Jersey. She’s also co-founder of Raw Generation Juices. Avocados are low in carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats, which helps with ketosis — a metabolic state in which your body becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy.
Keto-friendly chocolate pudding is easy to make, Rosen says. Place one ripe avocado, some sugar substitute, a dash of cinnamon, a tablespoon of cocoa or carob powder and a pinch of vanilla extract into a blender. Then, simply blend the concoction until it’s creamy. You can serve with a handful of coconut or berries.
If you think you need to miss out on your favorite yuletide drink to stay on your keto regimen, think again.
The eggs, cream and milk that are typically part of eggnog are all keto-friendly choices, but many commercial varieties and traditional recipes call for plenty of sugar, Nisevich Bede says. You can easily make a tasty, homemade “KetoNog” by using alternative sweeteners instead of sugar.
5. Keto-friendly berry smoothies
Rosen suggests boosting your energy with a “keto-friendly, vegan smoothie that’s low in carbohydrates and full of healthy fats from both avocado and coconut.”
In moderation, berries are one of the few low-glycemic fruits acceptable on a keto diet. That’s good, because berries — including blueberries, blackberries and raspberries — contain exceptionally rich anti-inflammatory properties. Rosen suggests mixing a quarter-cup each of fresh or frozen berries, avocado and full-fat unsweetened coconut milk in a blender with a cup of water and a sugar substitute.
Pass on the store-bought candy offered at the office and instead whip up a plate of a low-carb version of chocolate haystacks, advises Maxine Smith, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.
You’ll need these ingredients:
— 6 ounces of 85% dark chocolate.
— 1 cup of chopped pecans.
— 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes.
Melt 6 ounces of dark chocolate or a stevia-sweetened chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Stir in 1 cup of chopped pecans and 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, then spoon out heaping tablespoon-size lumps onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill the candies in the fridge until they’re firm.
“Savor the candy as a holiday treat,” Smith says. “Too many could rack up the carbs.”
7. Creamy gelatin
“What’s a family gathering without a gelatin dessert?” Smith says.
If you’re on the keto regimen, sugar-free gelatin is a tasty holiday treat. There are a couple of different ways to make keto-friendly gelatin. One way is to follow the directions on a package of store-bought gelatin, but substitute the recipe’s one-third cup of cold water with whipping cream or coconut milk. These ingredients provide extra creaminess. Pour the concoction into a rectangular baking dish and put in the fridge until firm. Serve in small clear bowls or cups.
8. Christmas tree ‘ice cream’
Ice-cream Christmas trees are a holiday tradition in her home, Smith says. Swap out regular ice cream for a healthy and keto-alternative option with only a few ingredients:
— 2 avocados.
— 1 tablespoon of oil.
— ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk.
— ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract.
— A non-caloric sweetener, like stevia or monk fruit extract, equivalent to ¼ cup sugar.
Whip up the ingredients in a blender until smooth and put the mixture in a parchment-lined 8-inch-by-8 inch pan. Freeze until firm. Cut with a cookie cutter to make your favorite frosty treat.
9. Holiday balls
Too busy to cook with the hustle and bustle of the holidays? There’s always time for dessert with this fun and easy recipe, Smith says. Using a small melon baller, make small scoops out of cream cheese. Roll the balls in sugar-free strawberry gelatin. Stick in a colorful, sparkly toothpick to serve a festive treat.
To recap, here are nine keto-friendly holiday desserts:
— Keto cheesecake.
— Chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.
— Keto-friendly chocolate pudding.
— Keto-friendly berry smoothies.
— Creamy gelatin.
— Christmas tree ‘ice cream.’
— Holiday balls.
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Update 12/22/20: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.