[Updated 2 December 2018]
This recipe for a lovely light & citrusy Low-Carb Christmas Pudding is what I’ll be having for Christmas dessert! Gluten-free, and free of added sugar and artificial sweeteners – it’s made so quickly that you can easily whip one up on Christmas Day itself!
Obviously I like to indulge food and drink-wise over Christmas! But I also like to do that all the rest of the year as well! So I take the same approach to making traditional Christmas recipes low-carb friendly, as I do to the things that I eat all the rest of the time.
That sometimes involves making up my own recipes completely from scratch. Or other times I research several existing recipes, and then adapt what I consider to be the best of them, and add my own twists, to make my own unique version (a bit like Felicity Cloake’s approach in the UK Guardian newspaper in her ‘How to Cook the Perfect…..’ column). And on this occasion I’ve adapted my own low-carb Christmas pudding recipe from one by Sugar Free Londoner.
Making a Christmas Pudding Low-Carb
You’ve got to be realistic in your car expectations – this is a Christmas pudding, so it’s never going to be zero-carb!
But if you’re looking for a lower-carb alternative to a traditional Christmas pudding, you’ll see below that the carb savings from this Low-Carb Christmas Pudding are really significant. I’ve achieved that in part by straightforward substitutions that I use in many of my low-carb recipes. Those include using zero-carb natural sugar substitute erythritol instead of sugar (or you could use xylitol) – and ground almonds instead of flour.
But dried fruit provides more of a challenge! To make a low-carb Christmas pudding, pretty much all of the recipes out there – including this one – swap higher-carb fruits like raisins and sultanas for some combination of lower-carb berries and cherries. Frozen fruit works better than fresh as it’s already collapsed (like dried fruit), and so doesn’t fill your pudding with juice puddles.
And what I particularly liked about Sugar Free Londoner’s recipe was that she had also added grated carrot – as of course you would use in carrot cake – for extra bulk and sweetness. I know carrot doesn’t suit everyone’s keto regime! But it’s perfectly reasonable to include small amounts that fit within your macros on a low-carb way of eating.
This recipe retains the ballpark Christmas pudding flavours you know and love. But it’s much lighter – both in colour and eating quality – than traditional versions. It feels grainier in the mouth, and a little more ‘cakey’, than regular Christmas puddings And the orange zest gives the pudding a predominant citrus note in the flavour mix.
Overall, you might well find that anyone – low-carber or not – who usually complains that they don’t like Christmas pudding, or they find it too heavy or sticky – will prefer this lighter version!
Choice of cooking methods
I’ve included instructions for making this Low-Carb Christmas Pudding either in a microwave, or baked in the oven – it’s your choice.
Baking in the oven will take an hour, but while it’s cooking, you’re then free to be getting on with other things.
And in the microwave, Low-Carb Christmas Pudding is made from scratch in only 15 minutes in total. So you could get the ingredients ready for this Christmas pudding before sitting down to Christmas lunch, and have it ready to go for cooking in the microwave whenever people want pudding.
Or why not even save the expense of a Christmas pudding that no one might eat because they’re too full(!), by assembling the ingredients only if and when someone actually says they fancy some!
How to Serve Low-Carb Christmas Pudding
¼ of a pudding per person is a good size portion. And 1/6 would be an adequate small portion for those people who always say they don’t want much pudding!
Nutrition Count: Regular Christmas Pudding vs. Low-Carb Christmas Pudding
I’ve used UK supermarket Tesco’s own-brand Classic Christmas Pudding as a comparison for how many carbs you’re saving with the low-carb recipe here. And the savings are actually enormous – 66g of carbs per serving, and 40 calories!
The higher fat and protein content in the low-carb version results from e.g. sugars from flour in the regular Christmas pudding being swapped for healthy fats from almonds in the low-carb version.
|Per ¼ Pudding||Tesco Classic Christmas Pudding (454g, serves 4)||Low-Carb Christmas Pudding*|
|Net Carbs (fibre counted separately)||72.4g||6g|
* Figures calculated using verified nutritional info on MyFitnessPal
Health Impact of the Main Ingredients
I’ve also written full posts about zero-carb, zero calorie natural substitute erythritol, and an alternative – xylitol. It covers what it is, its health benefits, how to cook with it, and where to buy it.
The bottom line is that, overall, this pudding gives you much greater health benefits than carb-laden versions.
So just let me tell you a little bit here about carrots, which haven’t cropped up in my recipes until now. That’s partly because they’re a bit higher carb than most vegetables (along with e.g. onions – both with around 8g of carbs per 100g). So while I do include carrots in my regular low-carb diet, I keep an eye on portion sizes (whereas with vegetables like mushrooms and spinach – with only 1g and 2g carbs per 100g respectively – I tend to be able to eat as much as I like).
Carrots are a famously rich source of carotenoids/beta-carotene – from which obviously they derive their name.
Sone of the most recent scientific evidence suggests that carotenoid-rich foods can provide various health benefits through their roles as provitamin A and antioxidants. Those include potentially protecting the body’s cells from free radical damage and the cancerous effects of sunburn; and they may delay the onset of certain other types of cancer. Carotenoids are also thought to enhance the immune system.
There’s also a small amount of walnuts in this recipe, and I haven’t talked about them before either.
A scientific review in 2017 neatly summarised the nutritional properties of walnuts. They include, in particular, their essential fatty acid content and role as a vegetarian/vegan source of omega 3, of which most people just aren’t getting enough.
Walnuts also contain significant vitamin E, which promotes healthy eyes, skin and immunity. And they are one of the most important dietary sources of polyphenol antioxidants.
If the full-on science interests you, then the main polyphenol in walnuts is an ellagitannin called pedunculagin! But the take-home message is that ellagitannin polyphenols have well-evidenced anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity in the body. The 2017 scientific review points out that several studies suggest their potential for protecting against the initiation and progression of various diseases – including: degenerative diseases of the nervous system; cardiovascular diseases; and cancer.
Recipe for Low-Carb Christmas Pudding
Recipe for Low-Carb Christmas Pudding
Low-Carb. Free From Gluten, Grains, Added Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners.
- 100g (1 US cup) ground almonds
- 1 egg
- 100g (¼ cup) mix of your choice of 2 or 3 different types of frozen lower-carb fruits i.e. choose from cranberries; roughly chopped cherries; and/or blueberries (strawberries and raspberries will also keep the carb count low – but don’t taste ‘Christmassy’ enough for my taste!).
- 100g (3/4 cup) carrot, grated
- 10g (about 4 halves) roughly chopped walnuts
- 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled a little
- 1 tbsp double (heavy) cream
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp raw natural cacao powder (gives it colour)
- 2 tbsp (to taste) erythritol sugar substitute e.g. Sukrin (UK) or Swerve (US) (or use xylitol)
- 3 tsp mixed spice/pumpkin spice (or create your own blend – I used ½ tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1½ tsps cinnamon)
- Zest of one orange
- 30ml (1/8 cup) brandy or dark rum (optional)
- Mix together all the dry ingredients (ground almonds, walnuts, baking powder, cacao powder, sweetener) with the carrot, fruit and orange zest. Then add the egg, melted butter and cream, and mix well.
- If you’re going to use it, add the brandy/rum at this point and stir again (I find this loosens the mixture nicely for easier transference to its cooking receptacle). Taste for sweetness, and if you think it’s needed, add a little more erythritol and stir once more.
- Microwave cooking method: Grease a microwaveable pudding basin with butter, and transfer the mixture to it.
- Microwave, covered, at 800W for 8 minutes.
- Leave the pudding to rest for a minute. If any sogginess remains in the middle, then return the pudding to the microwave for one more minute. Skip to step 8.
- Cooking method for steam-baking (in a bain-marie): Grease an oven-proof pudding basin with butter, and transfer the pudding mixture to it. Cover the top of the pudding basin tightly in tin foil. Then sit it in a roasting tin in a couple of inches of hot water. Make sure the foil lid is well away from the water so that it doesn’t get into the pudding and make it soggy while it’s cooking.
- Roast the pudding for one hour at 180C/Fan 160C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
- Whichever cooking method you’ve used, once the pudding is done and firm in the middle, place an inverted plate on top of the pudding, and turn upside down to get it upright onto the plate.
- Serve Low-Carb Christmas Pudding immediately if you want it hot – but it’s also lovely cold. To keep it low-carb when serving, simply pour over double/heavy cream, or my low-carb rum/brandy sauce, or low-carb English custard. For non-low-carbers who just fancy this as a lighter healthier pudding, you can of course serve it with regular custard, sauce or ice cream – good quality vanilla goes great!
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