Can Diabetics Have Birthday Cake?

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Ward Alper is a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than four years ago, he has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health. In this article, Ward shares a few of his diabetic-friendly birthday cake recipes.

A friend of mine approached me one day and said:

My brother in law, Jack, was diagnosed with diabetes about six months ago. He has been a real champ about managing his disease and is doing really well. We are a closely knit family and always gather together to celebrate family birthdays. Next week is his birthday. Is there a birthday cake that I can make that will be OK with his diet and still taste good enough for the rest of the family? I don't want him to feel left out, but also don't want him to feel worse because the rest of the family has to eat some dried-out, tasteless cake just because of him. Do you have any suggestions for a cake that will make everybody happy?

My response:

First of all, what a great sister you are to make sure he is included in your family tradition. Feeling normal is a big part of a diabetic's incentive to control their disease while bolstering their self-esteem. GREAT NEWS! Yes indeed there are a number of my recipes that will fit the bill. If you and your brother-in-law are not caught up in NOT eating artificial sweeteners, many of my cake recipes make great birthday cakes.

These are some of my cake recipes that work very well. Everything from a plain, simple cake to an over-the-top cream confection. All have fewer than 15 grams of carbohydrates for a very decently sized piece – not a sliver, mind you, but a slice!

Diabetic-Friendly Birthday Cake Recipes

  • House of Orange Cake: This light, richly flavored cake has such a wonderful orange flavor that I think it needs no frosting. If an unfrosted cake is not your thing, you can frost it with an orange-flavored cream cheese frosting. It is very rich and a snap to make. I like to just put a dollop of whipped sweet or sour cream and some berries over each slice.
  • Pineapple Carrot Cake: Just like the original but made with a sugar substitute. This is a sweet cake loaded with carrots, nuts and fresh pineapple used in place of raisins (that are so high in carbohydrates). Use chopped fresh pineapple to decorate the cake and a tablespoon of the juice to flavor the cream cheese frosting.
  • Amaretto Cheesecake: Yes, really, cheesecake. I make this cake all the time. My neighbors who are both diabetic (he's type 1, and she's type 2) always ask me to make it for them for their family birthdays. I used to make one for them with a sugar substitute and another with sugar for the rest of their extended family. Nobody could tell the difference, so I just stopped making the full-sugar cake. If you don’t like the flavor of amaretto, you can use orange or lemon juice and zest instead.
  • Italian Crème Gallette: This one is just over the top. It not difficult to make, but it does take some time for the merangue layers to bake and cool. The really great things about this cake are: it is also gluten-free, it can be made in dozens of flavors (use your imagination to guide you), if you hate the texture of the ricotta I use for the filling you can just as easily substitute flavored whipped cream, and it looks stupendous!

Just as a silly note, get one of the plastic picks or candles that says, "Happy Birthday!" That way you don’t have to use a sugar gel to write on the cake.

Enjoy yourself and save a piece for The Decadent Diabetic!

Get more nutrition tips and recipe ideas from Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic, on his website.