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The keto diet may seem daunting to anyone who loves carbs and sweets. After all, dieting means being careful about what you eat. However, there are many ways to make dishes healthy. If you’re on the keto diet, you can swap regular sugar with keto-friendly alternatives like monk fruit or stevia to make healthier desserts.
Keto diet basics
The keto diet was first developed in 1921. Dr. Russel Wilder developed the eating plan for a more sustainable alternative to fasting for treating patients with epilepsy.
The ketogenic (keto) diet is an eating plan that’s “very high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates.”
Insulin is the fat-accumulating hormone, and following the keto diet helps keep your insulin low by keeping your blood sugar low.
Aside from helping suppress your insulin levels, this diet uses the fat you consume to fuel ketone production. Going keto somehow mimics what happens to your body when you fast.
Actual percentages may vary, but keto diets reduce the carbohydrates you consume to less than 50 grams a day.
Natural sweeteners for keto-approved desserts
If you want to make a keto-friendly dessert without going over your daily carb intake, try some of the natural sweeteners detailed below.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, which is a naturally occurring class of compounds that helps stimulate receptors on your tongue that detect sweetness.
Erythritol is 80 percent as sweet as sugar, but with only five percent of the calories. It doesn’t dissolve like traditional sugars, but you can use this alternative when baking and cooking. (Related: Keto dessert recipe: This delicious low-carb cheesecake will satisfy your sweet tooth.)
Note that erythritol has 4 g of carbs per teaspoon.
Monk fruit is derived from the fruit of the same name known scientifically as Siraitia grosvenorii, a gourd-like plant.
Monk fruit is grown in Southeast Asia and it’s 100 to 250 times sweeter than table sugar. Use monk fruit for any recipe that requires sugar, but start with a 1:2 ratio of monk fruit to sugar.
Noted that monk fruit is sometimes mixed with sugar (e.g., dextrose or maltodextrin). Always check product labels before purchasing monk fruit sweeteners.
Stevia is naturally derived from the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana). You can purchase stevia as either a powder or in a tincture form.
Nutritionists recommend using liquid stevia because it is less processed. Stevia is sweeter than table sugar and it contains no calories or carbohydrates, so use less when making desserts.
Note that stevia is used as a contraceptive in traditional medicine. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, consult your healthcare provider for a safer alternative. There are also reports that stevia may lower blood pressure, which may be dangerous if you’re taking blood pressure medications.
Keto lemon bars recipe
This recipe for keto lemon bars uses erythritol, one of the keto-approved sweeteners from the list above.
Ingredients for 8 servings:
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 3/4 cups almond flour, divided
- 1 cups powdered erythritol, divided
- 3 medium lemons
- 3 large eggs
- Combine the butter, a cup of almond flour, 1/4 cup erythritol and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Press the mixture evenly into an 8×8? parchment paper-lined baking dish, then bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
- Once the crust is done, let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Zest one of the lemons in a bowl. Add the juice from all three lemons, add the eggs, 3/4 cup erythritol, 3/4 cup almond flour and a pinch of salt. Combine to make the filling.
- Pour the filling onto the crust, then bake for 25 minutes.
- Serve the lemon bars with lemon slices and a sprinkle of erythritol.
Like with other superfoods, natural sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia should still be used sparingly. Just because they’re keto-approved doesn’t mean you should use too much when cooking.
Visit Ingredients.news to learn more about other keto-friendly ingredients for various dishes and desserts.