For this week I had planned a different set of recipes, but it seemed that everywhere I went last week, people were asking about diabetic recipes. Diabetic cooking has really come a long way over the last few years. Now it is sometimes hard to tell a diabetic dessert from the sugar-filled ones. For as long as I can remember someone in my family had diabetes, and I know how difficult it can be to manage and how much a good recipe is appreciated. I have managed to round up a few good ones this week, and I know that some of you out there are bound to have some that you have tried and like. Please share, because if you are a diabetic, then you know how desperately fellow diabetics seek out a good recipe. Do send them in, and I will be more than happy to include them. Even if you are not diabetic, these recipes offer a lower-calorie alternative to desserts.

I have talked to several people this week who have promised to send in some of their favorite recipes, and I am looking forward to getting them and to sharing them with you. One of the reasons I enjoy talking about recipes and cooking with people is that it always leads to such interesting conversations because food and cooking seems to be one of the things that connects people in a way that few other things.

This week, make yourself and someone else happier--share something good, even if it is just a smile!

Pecan Pie

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

1 cup fruit sweetener

1 Tbs. cornmeal

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

3 Tbs. water

2 Tbs. cornstarch

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbs. very strong coffee or espresso, prepared

24 pecan halves

Prepare pastry and place in 9-inch pie pan. In large bowl, combine fruit sweetener, cornmeal and applesauce. Beat with an electric mixer. In a small bowl, blend water and cornstarch until smooth. Add to fruit sweetener mixture and blend. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and coffee.Pour mixture into pie shell. Decorate top with pecan halves. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until custard is set, at 375°. Cool slightly before cutting.

Strawberry Heaven

1/2 large or 1 small angel food cake

1 (3 oz.) box sugar-free strawberry gelatin

10 oz. lite frozen strawberries, thawed

2 bananas, large

2 (9 oz.) boxes instant sugar-free vanilla pudding

9 oz. lite whipped topping

Tear cake into bite size pieces and place in bottom of ungreased 9x13 pan. Dissolve gelatin in one cup boiling water- no cold water. Add strawberries and their juice to gelatin. Spoon evenly over cake pieces. Slice bananas on top and refrigerate while you prepare the pudding, which should be made with skim milk. Pour pudding over the bananas and top with lite whipped topping. Refrigerate one to two hours. Cut into squares to serve. Put a slice of a fresh strawberry on top of each piece, if available.

Macaroons

2 large egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/3 cup sugar substitute

1 tsp. almond extract

2 & 1/4 cups grated coconut

Preheat oven to 375°. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form. Continue beating, adding the sugar substitute. Fold in the almond extract. Then fold in the grated coconut. Mixture will be stiff. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a non stick cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Remove macaroons to a wire rack to cool. Cookies will be one inch in diameter.

Pumpkin Treat Bars

1/2 cup margarine

1/2 cup fruit sweetener

1/2 cup mashed banana (1 medium banana)

1 egg

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 tsp. vanilla

1& 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. each: ginger, allspice, baking soda

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Topping:

3 Tbs. orange juice concentrate

3 Tbs. fruit sweetener

2 tsp. orange rind, freshly grated

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine margarine, fruit sweetener, and mashed banana. Beat in egg, pumpkin & vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and stir into pumpkin mixture. Add raisins and nuts. Spread into a 9x13 pan which has been sprayed with a non-stick coating. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 325°, or until firm in the center. Combine juice concentrate, three tablespoons fruit sweetener, orange rind and one teaspoon vanilla. Spread glaze over warm bars.

Moist Lemon Cake

Non stick vegetable cooking spray

1 (18 oz.) pkg. lemon cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 cups unpeeled yellow squash, grated

3/4 cup unsweetened, crushed pineapple, well drained

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. (You can also use a 12 cup Bundt or tube pan.) In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cake mix, oil, and eggs at low speed until moistened. Continue beating at medium speed for two minutes. Fold in squash, pineapple, and almonds, thoroughly blending all ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes for the 9x13 pan or 60 to 70 minutes for the Bundt pan. Cake is done when a cake tester comes out clean.

Florida Pound Cake

1 low-fat yellow cake mix

2/3 cup unsweetened orange juice

1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, well drained and chunked (reserve liquid)

2/3 cup reserved liquid from mandarin oranges

2 eggs, beaten (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)

1/2 tsp. mace (or nutmeg)

1 orange, cut in 20 slices

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Combine cake mix, orange juice, reserved liquid, eggs and mace in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed for two minutes. Fold in chunked mandarin oranges. Pour into Bundt pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

No-Fuss Brownies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 24 crackers)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1 & 1/2 tsp. Sweet-N-Low (6 packs)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup skim milk

Heat oven to 350°. Place all ingredients in bowl; blend well. Bake in greased 8x8x2 pan for 30 minutes. Cut in 2-inch squares while warm.

Melt-in-your-Mouth Cheese Cake

12 oz. low fat Ricotta cheese

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup Fruit Sweet

Grated peel of 1 lemon

3 graham crackers, finely crushed

12 oz. low fat cottage cheese

2/3 cup non-instant milk powder

5 Tbs. lemon juice or to taste

2 tsp. pure vanilla

Butter or oleo for pan

Put cheese in process with egg yolks and Fruit Sweet and blend. Add milk, powder and process until smooth. Add vanilla, lemon juice and peel to cheese mixture. Blend until smooth. Beat egg whites until frothy, then add to the processor and blend for about two seconds, until mixed. Butter the bottom and one-half way up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the pan and shake until buttered area is coated. Leave any extra on the bottom. Pour cheese cake mixture into pan and bake at 350° with a pan of water in the oven to prevent drying. Bake for 45 minutes or until inserted knife emerges clean. Cool. May serve with an all-fruit, no-sugar-added preserve of your choice. (Variations: All cottage or all ricotta may be used. For standard cream cheese cake, substitute 24 ounces cream cheese, three eggs, one-half cup powdered milk and two-thirds cup Fruit Sweet. Adjust lemon flavor.

Diabetic Fudge

1 (14 & 1/2 oz.) can evaporated milk

3 Tbs. cocoa

1/4 cup oleo

Liquid sweetener to equal 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 & 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 c. nuts

Combine milk and cocoa in saucepan. Beat well. Add oleo, sweetener, salt. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients except one-fourth cup graham crackers. Cool about 15 minutes. Divide mixture into 32 balls. Roll in remaining cracker crumbs and chill.

Baked Donuts

3/4 cup milk

2 Tbs. sugar, substitute with Equal

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 pkg. dry yeast

Melted butter - for later

3 Tbs. shortening

1 tsp. salt

2 & 1/2 cup sifted flour

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 425°. Put yeast in one-half cup warm water, set aside. Scald milk in saucepan then pour milk in large mixing bowl, add sugar, salt and cinnamon to milk. Let cool to lukewarm. Beat egg and add to mixing bowl mixture when lukewarm. Add yeast and mix, then add flour and beat until well mixed. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk (about one hour). Place dough well floured board, turn dough over two or three times to form a ball. Dough should be soft to handle - grease cookie sheet. Roll dough lightly one-half inch thick. Avoid stretching. Cut with doughnut cutter. Place doughnuts two inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Brush each doughnut with melted butter - put in preheated 425° oven. Bake until golden brown, eight or 10 minutes, remove from oven—brush again with butter and roll in granulated sugar. Makes 15 to 18 doughnuts.

Orange-Raisin Cookies

1 & 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup raisins

1 egg

2 Tbs. orange juice

2 tsp. grated orange rind

1 & 1/2 tsp. Sucaryl or some such sugar substitute

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Add all at once: raisins, eggs, orange juice, orange rind and Sucaryl. Mix well. Make into small balls; flatten on cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 375°.

Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup margarine

1 egg

1 tsp. Sucaryl solution

1/4 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup rolled oats

Cream margarine. Add beaten egg, Sucaryl solution, and milk. Sift and mix dry ingredients and then add to first mixture. Beat in vanilla, raisins, and rolled oats. Drop by teaspoon.