Low-carb alternatives to holiday favorites

      (<a href=Cranberry sauce photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_87817189" width="640" height="360"/>

    (Cranberry sauce photo via ShutterStock)

    Holiday meals are often high in carbs, which can be a problem for people who are diabetic or watching their weight.

    Here are a few recipes that have substituted artificial sweeteners for sugar and that contain no grains, so they are gluten free. If you need to watch your carbs, you can enjoy these recipes and save room for something decadent.

    These are some of the alternatives I came up with while caring for my mother, who was a diabetic.

    You can use Stevia (though I find it has an “off” taste). For sweet recipes, 24 packets of aspartame (Equal) or sucralose (Splenda) equals one cup of sugar. Be careful with aspartame, however. It can become bitter if it’s overheated.

    Cranberry sauce

    Empty the contents of one 12 oz. package of cranberries into a pan and add just enough water to cover the cranberries. Add the flesh of 1/4 of an orange cut up. You may also add the zest of an orange or lemon. Bring to a simmer until the cranberries burst. Add 24 packets of artificial sweetener and stir. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

    Spaghetti squash with cheese and/or butter/olive oil

    Cut a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place half of squash in microwave-safe bowl, cut-side down. Add one cup water and cover. Cook in microwave oven on high for 10 minutes.

    Let squash cool to the touch and shred the flesh into spaghetti-like strands with the tines of a fork into a bowl. You may add your choice of butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, parmesan or other cheeses. One half of a spaghetti squash should provide four servings.

    Cauliflower ‘mac’ and cheese 

    1 large head of cauliflower cut into 1-inch pieces1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan or any cheese you like1 cup milk1 beaten egg1 cup French-fried onions1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)1/4 teaspoon pepper1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)vegetable oil spray

    Cook the cauliflower in boiling water for five to 10 minutes until al dente. Drain well. Beat the egg and milk together. Place cauliflower in bowl, add cheese, milk, egg, fried onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Spray an 8″x8″ square baking pan or 8″ round baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Pour cauliflower mixture into pan. Top with remaining fried onions. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes until hot, bubbly and brown. This should provide eight servings.

    Chocolate cheesecake

    2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature1 teaspoon vanilla4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate broken up1/2 stick butter1/2 teaspoon salt45 packages sucralose (Splenda)3 eggs, beaten

    Stir together cream cheese, vanilla and salt. On a low temperature melt half a stick of butter in a pan.  When butter is melted, add baking chocolate and slowly stir as it melts. Add 45 packages of sweetener to chocolate-butter mixture and stir. Taste for desired sweetness. Add chocolate mixture to cream cheese.  Add beaten eggs and stir into batter. Pour into a springform pan that has been coated with vegetable oil spray.  If you do not have a springform pan, line an 8″ round baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil and pour batter into the pan. Place pan in preheated 350 degree oven for an hour or until the center is firm.  Let the cheesecake cool and and then chill in the refrigerator before removing from pan. Garnish with raspberries or strawberries  and dust lightly with powdered sugar if desired.  You may also  make a cherry, strawberry or raspberry sauce similar to the cranberry sauce.

    Whipped cream

    Pour into a chilled bowl 1 cup whipping cream, add 2 to 6 packets of artificial sweetener and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Whip until cream achieves desired stiffness. Serve with dessert.

    Happy Holidays!

    Cei Bell has published recipes in the “Philadelphia Daily News” and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House “Served with Love” cookbook. She is writing a cookbook.

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