Why I started baking low-carb and sugar-free is a long and complicated story, which I won’t reproduce in full here.
When friends and family used to complain about dieting, I’d roll my eyes and think that something good for you couldn’t be that hard. But there was always that little voice in the back of my head saying: you could never give it up! No more mint chocolate chip ice cream? No cookie dough? No more hot chocolate?! No way!
I even started saying it out loud: I could never give up sugar. This was in response to the books my parents started reading about low-carbing and fructose. The one about fructose, The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That Is Making You Fat And Sick, even advocated drastically scaling back fruit intake to avoid fructose. Apparently, apples can be bad for you. Who knew? But, in a fit of fate and synchronicity, the Universe commanded that I do just that. It was nutritionist-sanctioned and unrelated to weight or diabetes, but I had to cut out sugar and carbohydrates, walk the straight-and-narrow and try not to fall off the wagon. I use these metaphors because for me, giving up sugar was pretty hard and gave me new respect for anyone who’s ever tried to give up something they love that they know is bad for them. It made me cranky, irritable, downright irascible—I got emotional at the drop of a hat (or cookie crumb, or chocolate chip, as the case may be), I lost weight (which wasn’t desirable), I felt nauseous and light-headed and I drove my parents and my boyfriend crazy (okay I still do that, only now it isn’t sugar related J).
It turns out that sugar was not my problem. Or at least, it most likely wasn’t my problem, and I may never know exactly what the issue is/was. But during that time I learned a lot about nutrition and was introduced to new foods, cooking and baking. I started reading Vegetarian Times, and the big one—I started eating a lot of nuts.
I started eating pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts (now I’m going to have that scene from Best in Show stuck in my head—Pea-nut. hazel nut. cashew nut. macadamia nut. Harlan Pepper, if you don’t stop naming nuts…) and I became familiar with a lot of gluten-free recipes using almond flour. I am still very impressed with how healthy one can make a baked good. But this information was pretty hard to come by, and often contradictory and confusing. I had to dig around, mostly in baking blogs, to find what I was looking for. That’s also because I didn’t want to drop $100 on recipe books, but there really aren’t enough out there that are both low-carb and sugar-free. So what I did find, I found on the blogosphere, and I am so glad I did.
There are soooo many great baking blogs out there… I’ve learned a lot in just a few months. Not just baking blogs, but gluten-free blogs, low-carb blogs, sugar-free blogs, paleo blogs and vegan/veg blogs. I am so grateful for finding such a burgeoning community. And I never would have known of its existence if it weren’t for my food issues. Silver lining. So, even though I am standing on the shoulders of giants, I’d like to add a few things to the sugar-free low-carb baking realm. And I’m sure I’ll find that someone has already thought of most of them. J Taking inspiration from all of these places, you may find here mostly recipes for Truvia/erythritol-sweetened baked goods often made with almond/coconut flour, but also reviews of products (I am currently in love with TJ’s!) as well as restaurant/dish reviews and other things food-related.
So this is may space for keeping track of what I’ve tried, and what does and doesn’t work, and for sharing things I’ve learned and find useful. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it!
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”
–Sir Isaac Newton
Now just as a quick teaser, here’s an idea of what many of my breakfasts consist of. It’s kinda like granola…without the granola. And though it isn’t baked, I consider it low-carb and sugar-free. What I do is, take two of nature’s tastiest nuts—the pecan and the cashew—and throw ‘em in a bowl with some Truvia, cinnamon and Trader Joe’s unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I generally do it to taste, so it comes out a little different every time, but here’s a very basic recipe:
Cinni Minni “Cereal”
– 1/4 cup raw cashews
– 1/4 cup raw pecans
– 1-2 tsps cinnamon, to taste
– 1 tsp Truvia, to taste
– light splash of almond milk, just enough to barely coat the nut mixture
I won’t guarantee that these flavors are the most fabulous combination ever and that people literally flock to me for the recipe. However, I will tell you that I find the combo quite tasty, it’s lower in sugar and carbohydrates than regular cereal, it’s crunchy and never gets soggy, and it’s higher in proteins and good fats. It also tends to keep me personally satiated longer than oatmeal. And it’s EASY! I also think it would be tasty with any sweetener of choice, like coconut palm sugar, agave, splenda, xylitol, etc. If you try it, please let me know what you think!