Regular Jell-O gelatin or pudding might contain as much as 19 grams of sugar per serving 1. If you're diabetic, that can push traditional Jell-O desserts out of your dietary plan 1. However, sugar-free Jell-O products that contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame feature no sugar or carbohydrates in each serving 1. Use these products as the basis for easy desserts that won't sabotage your blood sugar level.
Get Creative With Parfaits
Parfaits, desserts that feature different layers of ingredients served from individual glasses or dishes, are an easily customizable way to use sugar-free Jell-O in a diabetic-friendly dessert 1. A basic parfait might consist of nothing more than prepared sugar-free Jell-O cooled to room temperature, then mixed with your choice of chopped fruit, nuts or a combination, spooned into serving glasses and chilled until set 1. For an elaborate dessert, layer premade Jell-O pudding or gelatin -- one type or several -- with fruit, low-fat whipped topping and low-carb cookie crumbles or cake slices 1.
Dessert Salad With a High-Fiber Twist
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A typical molded gelatin salad recipe can pack in nearly 30 grams of sugar per serving 4. For one that supplies extra nutrients with as little as 6 grams of carbohydrates in each 1/2-cup serving, the University of Illinois Extension advises diabetics to use sugar-free gelatin -- choose your favorite Jell-O flavor -- along with canned or chopped fresh fruit, shredded vegetables such as carrots or cabbage and slivered nuts 13. If you prefer a more traditional dessert salad, skip the vegetables, include more fruit and fold in low-fat whipped topping. Use heated unsweetened applesauce instead of water for additional flavor.
Give Pie a Try
Any flavor of sugar-free Jell-O pudding or gelatin can be prepared, poured into a regular or graham cracker crust and refrigerated until set 1. Stir in sliced fresh fruit like strawberries or mix reduced-fat cream cheese or nonfat whipped topping into gelatin before using it to fill the pie crust. You can substitute the water called for on the Jell-O package with another liquid such as diet lemon-lime soda or skip the crust completely and put the filling directly into a pie plate greased with nonstick cooking spray for fewer carbohydrates 1.
Use Jell-O on Cake
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"Diabetic Gourmet" magazine suggests baking your favorite type of cake, allowing it to cool, then poking holes all over the cake's surface with a fork or toothpick and pouring prepared liquid Jell-O gelatin onto the cake 18. Refrigerate it until the gelatin is set, then ice the cake with a low-sugar topping such as a frosting made from yogurt mixed with nonfat whipped topping or sugar-free Jell-O pudding combined with whipped topping 1. Experiment with different cake and Jell-O combinations, such as white or lemon cake with lemon gelatin or angel food cake with orange gelatin and vanilla pudding, garnished with fresh orange segments 1.
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- Jell-O: Jell-O
- My Recipes: Cranberry-Waldorf Gelatin Salad
- University of Illinois Extension: Rainbow Gelatin Salad
- Taste of Home: Gelatin Fruit Salad Recipe
- DiabetesCare.net: Strawberry Fruit Pie
- Southern Bite: Fresh Strawberry Pie (and a Diabetic Version)
- Everyday Diabetic Recipes: No-Bake Key Lime Pie
- Diabetic Gourmet Magazine: Light Lemon Cake
- Nutritionix.com. Gelatin snacks, raspberry. Jell-o. Nutritionix.com
- Magnuson BA, Carakostas MC, Moore NH, Poulos SP, Renwick AG. Biological fate of low-calorie sweeteners. Nutr Rev. 2016;74(11):670-689. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuw032
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- Shaw, G.; Lee-Barthel, A.; Ross, M. et al. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Amer J Clin Nutr. 2016;105(1):136-43. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.138594
- American Heart Association. Added Sugars. What is the added sugar recommended limit per day? Dallas, Tex.: American Heart Association 2020
- US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. Updated February 2015.
- Yang, Q. Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):101-108
- Swithers SE. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013;24(9):431-41. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2013.05.005
- Kraft Heinz. My Food and Family. JELL-O. Frequently Asked Questions. Q:Are natural colors better than artificial colors in food products? Chicago and Pittsburgh: Kraft Heinz 2020
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Gelatin Alternatives. Norfolk, Va.: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals 2020
- Chung EH. Vaccine allergies. Clin Exp Vaccine Res. 2014;3(1):50-57. doi:10.7774/cevr.2014.3.1.50
- Medline Plus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2020. Gelatin; [reviewed 2019 August 29]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1051.html
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.