White Chocolate and Pecan Nut Mini MuffinsCurrently, almost 16 million Americans, or 6 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes. For these people, the role of diet is threefold: It plays a part in the onset of diabetes, in controlling the disease and in reducing the risk of long-term complications such as eye and kidney problems, coronary heart disease and nerve damage. Simply, if you have diabetes, you need to rethink your eating habits. For a large percentage of the people with diabetes, poor nutrition and obesity were contributing factors in the development of the disease.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of great recipes geared toward diabetics that are both healthy and tasty. While it's true that most people with diabetes need to limit high-fat, high-sugar foods, this doesn't necessarily mean abstaining from their favorite dishes. Rather, it means balancing choices and enjoying certain foods in moderation—even sugar, as it's a popular myth that diabetics must follow a sugar-free diet. Not true! The following four dessert recipes offer an abundance of flavor and are suitable for diabetics. Remember: Enjoy, but all things in moderation.

White Chocolate and Pecan Nut Mini-Muffins
Serves 36 (1 muffin per serving)


These mini-muffins are extra sweet with white chocolate and pecans. For a change of flavor, use plain chocolate or replace the pecans with your favorite nut.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup pecan nuts, chopped*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

White Chocolate Pecan Nut Mini Muffins1. Preheat oven to 400º. Lightly grease and flour three trays of 12 mini-muffin pans.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl. Stir in chocolate and nuts. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and quickly fold into flour mixture.

3. Spoon mixture into prepared mini-muffin pans. Bake for 8­12 minutes, until golden and risen. Cool muffins in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

*Star ingredient: Pecans are slightly sweeter than walnuts and make a good substitute for them in recipes. Both types of nuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein and fiber.

From Diabetes Cookbook (DK Publishing) by American Diabetes Association.
 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 91
Fat: 5g
% fat calories: 51%
Cholesterol: 16g
Carbohydrate: 10g
Protein: 2g

Summer Fruit Sorbet
Serves 4


This refreshing sorbet made from frozen summer fruits is a real treat. Easy to make and even easier to eat, it will satisfy any sweet tooth.

4 cups frozen mixed summer fruits, such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries
1 large orange peel, grated
Juice from 2 large oranges
1 tablespoon raspberry jam*
Mint sprigs, to garnish
Fresh berry fruits, to serve

1. Place food-processor bowl in refrigerator for a few minutes to make sure it's very cold. Place first few ingredients in cooled food-processor bowl and process until smooth. This may take a while. Continually scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse again.

2. Scoop out sorbet and serve immediately, decorated with mint and fresh fruits.

*Star ingredient: You can use ordinary jam for this recipe, rather than the sugar-free kind. The amount of sugar is so small that it will not affect diabetes control. If you choose to replace the mixed frozen fruits with a single fruit, match the jam to the fruit.

From Diabetes Cookbook (DK Publishing) by American Diabetes Association.
 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 97
Fat: 1g
% fat calories: 4%
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 24g
Protein: 1g

Blackberry CobblerBlackberry Cobbler
Serves 4


Because this dessert can be made with frozen blackberries, you can enjoy it any time. Use the leftover pastry dough to make tarts or pies.

1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries*
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 pie pastry (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350º. In medium pot, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, vanilla extract and orange rind. Bring liquid to a boil. Add blackberries and lower heat to medium-high. Stir gently, allowing blackberries to cook and burst.

2. In separate bowl, combine cornstarch and water until they form a smooth paste. Pour cornstarch mixture into pot and stir, letting liquid thicken. Pour liquid into four individual, ovenproof dishes.

3. Roll out pie pastry and cut it into four equal pieces (you'll have extra). Cover top of each baking dish with a piece of pastry. Using a pastry brush, brush tops of pastry with butter. Put all dishes in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until pastry top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Basic Pie Pastry

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons low-fat milk

1. Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Slowly add oil and mix with fork. Slowly add ice water and milk. Use your hands to form dough. Separate into two balls, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store until needed.

*Star ingredient: Blackberries are one of the few fruits to contain significant amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E. They are also a useful source of vitamin C and folate.

From Cooking with the Diabetic Chef (American Diabetes Association) by Chris Smith.
 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 412
Fat: 15g
Calories from fat: 132
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 66g
Protein: 5g

Chocolate Crepes with Strawberry Filling
Serves 5


A sophisticated, yet easy, dessert recipe that is sure to impress guests.

Batter

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for cooking

Filling

3 cups fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Powdered sugar, to dust

1. For batter, sift flour and cocoa powder into large bowl and make a well in center. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into flour. Separately, whisk until smooth. Chill for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place strawberries in saucepan with sugar and lemon juice. Sauté several minutes, until sugar is melted and fruit is tender.

3. Heat nonstick sauté pan brushed with oil. Pour in a little batter and tip pan so that batter covers the base. Cook over medium heat 1­2 minutes, until mixture starts to bubble, then flip crepe over with spatula and cook other side. Tip cooked crepe onto waxed paper. Freeze leftover crepes up to three months.

4. Serve crepes filled with strawberry filling, dusted lightly with powdered sugar.

*Star ingredient: Cocoa powder has a strong chocolate flavor, so only a small amount is needed to give a good chocolate taste to a recipe.

Adapted from Diabetes Cookbook (DK Publishing) by American Diabetes Association.
 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 221
Fat: 6g
% fat calories: 23%
Cholesterol: 86mg
Carbohydrate: 36g
Protein: 7g

Joslin Diabetes Gourmet Cookbook (Simon & Schuster, 2000) by Bonnie Sanders Polin, PhD; and Frances Tower Giedt with the Nutritional Services Staff of the Joslin Diabetes Center
 

Rebecca Broida Gart is a freelance food writer whose work has appeared in Cooking Light and Natural Health.
 

Caution: Because sugar affects individuals differently, be sure to check with your doctor before trying these recipes if you are diabetic or prediabetic.

Photography by: Priscilla Montoya