Healthy desserts for a 'piece' of mind

This festive season, fitness enthusiasts across Delhi-NCR can indulge in calorie-conscious treats without packing on the pounds.

author_img Dyuti Roy Published :  16th October 2021 01:57 PM   |   Published :   |  16th October 2021 01:57 PM
Almond sesame balls

Almond sesame balls by Shivika Gandhi

With the pandemic, most of us have done a 180 as far as health choices are concerned. Many people are embracing healthier lifestyles and taking into account nutrition, along with taste, in matters of food. Regardless of how health-conscious one may be, it is impossible to dodge festive treats.

Ghee-laden Mithais or Gajar ka Halwa sautéed in oil - there is no escaping calorie intake this season. But what if we told you festive treats can get a nutritious twist? These three Delhi-NCR home chefs are giving you a selection of desserts - gluten-free, sugar-free, and even vegan—that will serve as an eye-opener to those who think healthy desserts are a myth.

Guilt-free treats 

When 63-year-old Tara Kapur began her journey, she did so to bake for her son who suffered from a lot of food allergies. Over a period of time, the need to make healthier alternatives to classic desserts grew into a full-time venture for Tara.

Originally based in Mumbai, the Bombay Bizare Baker has an outlet in Delhi’s GK2, which is run by Tara’s partner Jyotika Kapur. The recipes for all her desserts are created by Tara, who shares it with Jyotika for their Delhi outlet. A foodie at heart, Tara loves to serve tasty dishes all while it being health conscious.

Instead of the typical refined sugar, flour, and oil, she has a variety of gluten-free options such as almond, oat, rice, and amaranth. She uses home-made nut butter as an alternative to oil, and natural sweeteners such as stevia, raw jaggery, coconut sugar, or the artificial sweetener erythritol instead of sugar.

"As a matter of routine, every month I try out a new recipe to keep my customers interested. They are always calling me up to ask what’s new," says Tara, talking about the recipes she tries, and sends to her patrons for feedback to make sure that it is something they would want on her menu. 

Vegan delights

Based out of her home kitchen in Vasant Kunj, Arti Jain’s Bakeart serves authentic vegan desserts along with a range of treats that are gluten-free, sugar-free, and oil-free. In fact, her treats are completely devoid of trans fats.After watching a documentary on the humanisation of cows, Jain turned vegan in 2015. "I was a heavy dairy consumer before watching this documentary. But later, I stopped eating it [dairy], only to realise that local Indian food is actually vegan," Jain points out. 

Unaware of the nuances of vegan baking, she learnt the art on her own, and has now developed a boast-worthy array of desserts that are 100 per cent dairy-free. Apart from the conventional Western desserts such as Brownies, Tarts, Doughnuts, Banoffee Pies, Jain also has a range of vegan Indian Mithais such as Gulab Jamun, Besan Barfi and Besan Laddoo.

She's also given a Western twist to the traditional Gajar Ka Halwa, complementing it with a White Chocolate Tart. For the festive season, Jain caters to a Diwali hamper with Indian and Western desserts.

With an online website, her venture is an attempt to provide natural and chemical-free food that will nourish her customers. With more people turning to veganism as a way of life, Jain says that over the years, she has seen a 25 per cent increase in the vegan population among her clientele.

Nutritional indulgences

Professional lawyer-turned-baker Barkha Peshawaria presents an array of healthy and nutritious desserts at her bakery Talk Healthy to Me, located in East of Kailash. A self-proclaimed health nut, Peshawaria has always been conscious of the quality of food she eats.

In fact, she would experiment with ingredients such as almonds and dark chocolates to create a variety of snacks. Noting that a number of people were encouraged by her unconventional snack choices, she decided to quit law and venture into the profession of healthy baking full time. 

Talk Healthy to Me has several categories of health-conscious desserts such as Keto, Paleo, Diabetic, Vegan and High-protein. There’s also a guilt-free selection for those who want to indulge without care, along with a selection of healthy Mithais such as the Khoya Barfi as well as Coconut Laddoos for the 
festive season. 

Focusing on the nutritional value, Peshawaria uses gluten-free ingredients such as almond flour and oat flour, natural sweeteners like stevia, raw jaggery and dates instead of refined sugar, and freshly-whipped butter or olive oil. 

With a degree in Nutrition, her aim is to satisfy her customers while making them aware of the benefits of healthy, nutritious food. "I participate in a lot of exhibitions and also keep tasters so that people can try and pick whatever they like. Health is a personal choice for everyone and one should be aware of it. Every family member has an individualised diet, and health and nutrition should not be generalised at all," says Peshawaria. 

Going back to basics

"I agree to the core that we are going back to our basics and tracing sustainability as practice! The usage of non-refined ingredients such as jaggery, honey, whole wheat, quinoa, millets is a showcase of revisiting the old methodology to cook and ensure that health is a priority," says Chef Nishant Choubey, Corporate chef, Seinan Group, Tokyo, who has crafted a variety of health-conscious desserts such as the Camel Milk Panna Cotta, Coconut Milk Kulfi, Black Bean Brownies, Baked Yoghurt with Raspberry, and more.

The chef has also created unconventional treats such as Avocado Coffee Pudding, Ragi Coconut Creme Brûlée, Quinoa Flax Seed Granola Bar, Filo Pie with Apples,  Walnuts and Wild Honey, among others. 

Although Choubey uses ingredients that are vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-less, there has been no compromise to the taste of the desserts he crafts. The Chef says that these dishes have been received by many of his guests.

With the people of this city becoming more health-conscious by the day, Choubey believes there will be a time when healthy options for food will become mandatory for every restaurant. 

Tip to keep those calories in check

Delhi-based nutritionist and clinical dietician Shivika Gandhi says that turning a leaf and becoming healthy is one of the best decisions one can take in today's world. By replacing processed flour with gluten-free options such as oat, almond, and whole-wheat, one can take a step toward a healthier lifestyle.

Along with this, nuts and seeds such as almond, walnuts, chia seeds, and consuming honey and fresh fruit instead of refined sugar can improve nutritional value. Greek yogurt is also a better food choice as it has a lot of protein with less fat, keeping the calorie content of one's dessert within 100 to 150Kcals.