The keto — short for ketogenic — diet is a popular option for those looking to better manage their blood sugar via the foods they eat.
Like other ways of eating, the keto diet does involve restricting certain things; in this case, high-carb foods are off the menu, which means traditional sugar- and flour-based desserts are dishes you’ll want to avoid. Fortunately, there are some delicious workarounds thanks to almond flour and sugar substitutes, two low-carb ingredients that won’t spike your blood sugar or take your body out of ketosis. With just a few modifications, your favorite treats aren’t off the table at all — and we’ll show you how to get started with some easy recipes.
What Is Almond Flour?
Typical flour is ground from grains like wheat, and it often undergoes a fair amount of processing to get it to the color and texture most of us are familiar with. Almond flour is made of 100% finely ground almonds that have been blanched in hot water and had their skins removed.
When you’re shopping for almond flour, you might also come across a product called “almond meal.” While this is also made from ground almonds, the nuts in almond meal haven’t had their skins removed. As a result, almond meal is coarser than almond flour and will give your baked goods a coarser texture, too. It’s best to stick with almond flour for most dessert recipes; almond meal can work well in denser breads and pastries like scones.
Almond flour is naturally gluten-free and is rich in:
- Vitamin E
- Monounsaturated fats
- Plant sterols
- Phenolic acids
Some studies have found that almonds could help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels. Their fat and fiber levels may also help keep you feeling fuller longer, which is one reason why eating nuts like almonds is associated with a lower risk of obesity.
Rich Layered Chocolate Cake
When you nibble on this decadent treat from Keto Summit, you won’t even realize you’re not eating “normal” chocolate cake while getting extra protein in the process. This is the perfect recipe when you’re in the mood for something indulgent — or when you need a dessert that’s impressive (and low carb) for a special occasion.
Remember that extra protein we mentioned? This recipe fortifies the cake with powdered whey protein to help you stay feeling full, and there’s coconut milk to keep the texture moist. This one does take a bit of extra time to prep — it’s a frosted layer cake, after all — but the results are certainly worth it.
Crunchy Cranberry-Almond Biscotti
Tea and coffee lovers will enjoy these delicious, keto-friendly cranberry almond flour biscotti from Low Carb Yum. They’re perfect for dipping and dunking or for eating as is. They’re also crunchy, delicious and completely gluten-free, low-carb and sugar-free.
In addition to the almond flour, these biscotti also use a bit of coconut flour. This helps thicken up the batter and hold it together better so the cookies develop a texture and crumb that’s similar to traditional biscotti. If coconut is off the menu for you, feel free to replace the measurement in this recipe with more almond flour.
Bright Lemon Zest Cookies
These beautiful lemony cookies from Keto Connect are the answer to any lemon-lover’s longings. They’re keto-friendly cookies made with almond flour and other zero-guilt ingredients like coconut flour and a blood sugar-friendly sweetener called erythritol. The original recipe also tops these sweet treats with a creamy glaze and lemon zest. However, you have the option of elevating them into something a bit more elegant by adding meringue topping. If that sounds appealing, trade the glaze for this healthy, keto-friendly meringue topping instead.
This list wouldn’t be complete without some decadent fudgy brownies for chocolate lovers. This recipe from King Arthur Baking provides you with all the chocolate goodness you want and none of the extra carbs you don’t — you’ll just need to substitute the regular sugar for an equal amount of granulated sucralose, such as Splenda. If you’re not keen on Splenda, be sure you use another keto-friendly sweetener that substitutes cup for cup. Options like stevia may not provide the same bulk, which you’ll want in order to create fluffy, moist brownies.
Chewy Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Can’t get enough of coconut’s tropical goodness? This simple recipe from I Breathe I’m Hungry calls for just five ingredients — and it’ll satisfy your coconut-craving sweet tooth. These bite-sized shortbreads are surprisingly rich and delicious. Plus, they’re easy to make and perfect for anyone on a keto, gluten-free or vegan diet — you’ll just need to swap in a vegan butter substitute and you’re ready to get baking.
These cookies come together quite quickly, but you’ll still want to plan ahead to make them. They need to spend some time chilling in your refrigerator before you slice and bake them, so it’s important to factor that into your prepping. As an added bonus, these coconutty cookies keep in the freezer for up to six months.
Macarons are always made with almond flour, so you might be delighted to find that most macaron recipes can work well when you’re on a keto diet — as long as you make sure to keep real sugar out of the equation, too. This macaron recipe from Healthy Wholesome Homemade is a great starting point for learning the ropes of these popular French cookies. You can also alter the recipe as desired with extracts and flavorings to create tasty new combinations.
To make these macarons, you’ll need almond flour, of course, along with other typical baking ingredients you likely already have in your pantry or fridge. You’ll also need powdered erythritol as the sweetener. Look for erythritol that doesn’t have any fillers or additives for best results; these extras can affect the chewy texture of the macaron cookies.