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Of all 32, there’s one tooth that’s cursed the most—the sweet one. But it’s time for a breather. Here’s giving life to what was once no more than an oxymoron: Healthy desserts.


ho wouldn’t want to indulge in decadent sweets without worrying about the numbers on the scale? A lot of you might wonder about how desserts can really be gluten free (made without wheat). Why do healthy desserts have to sound oxymoronic? Healthy desserts seem to be quite the craze these days with special diet cupcakes, flourless brownies and sugarfree chocolates filtering into supermarket health food

aisles, corner shops, patisseries, cafes and more. Not only do these sweets promise guilt-free indulgence; these desserts cater to a lot of patrons with food allergies (namely gluten, nuts and dairy) and those with lifestyle-related diseases (think high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease) as well as the mindful eaters and the weight conscious.

Peanut butter low-carb cookies, made from oatmeal, flax and nut flour with absolutely no sugar, are safe for diabetics and can be had at any time of the day.

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Image courtesy Petite Sweet Eats

TexT Jia Singh


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Images courtesy Petite Sweet Eats; Zoonar/HLPHOTO/ Zoonar GmbH RF/Dinodia

Gluten-free desserts are the biggest rage in the food industry the world over. Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is known for giving elasticity to dough and is also used to thicken sauces and soups. People avoid gluten either because of coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity or weight issues. Popularised by the svelte Gwyneth Paltrow, this diet has proponents believing that a diet sans gluten can be synonymous with weight loss as well as a host of other health benefits. I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance close to seven years ago and decided to start something for people who were avoiding gluten in Delhi. This is when Petite Sweet Eats was born. No stranger to the kitchen, I decided to work out recipes that were not just gluten free but also healthier and lower in fat and added sugars. I substituted the wheat with healthier alternatives such as amaranth, almond flour, gluten-free flour and gluten-free oats, to name a few. Gluten-free chocolate cupcakes: • 2 cups almond flour • 1 cup sugar • 6 tbsp butter • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar • 1 tsp vanilla extract • 5 eggs, separated • 2 tsp baking powder • 5 tbsp cocoa Preheat oven to 165oC. Whip egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff. In separate bowl, using electric beater, cream butter with egg yolks until light yellow and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and sugar. Beat until well mixed. Add about 1/3 of whipped egg whites to the butter/egg yolk mixture and mix lightly. Lightly fold the whole thing into the whipped egg whites. Add 1 cup of almond flour and fold lightly. Add remaining almond flour, baking powder and cocoa and fold thoroughly, being careful not to break down whites. Fill paper muffin cups in muffin tin about half full. Bake at 165oc for about 15 to 20 minutes until done.

Keep your heart in mind Think of your favourite desserts: lemon meringue tart, motichoor ladoos, rabri and baked New York cheesecake, and what do they have in common—copious amounts of shortening (margarine or dalda) that make any dessert sumptuous. However, not everyone can enjoy these delectable treats without worrying about their

Clockwise from above: Gluten-free cake can be made with healthier alternatives to wheat such as amaranth, soy flour and sorghum, and safe for those with gluten intolerance and coeliac disease; A raspberry yoghurt dessert with no added sugar; These cupcakes are low carb, gluten free and have no added sugars.

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janmiks/Kalium/Dinodia; FOODCOLLECTION/Dinodia; Stockbroker xtra/Dinodia


Clockwise from above: Gluten-free strawberry pie with jelly and mint; Gluten- and dairy-free German chocolate cake; A big bowl of muesli or granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit is a great alternative to high-carb breakfast options such as croissants.

Most kids today get way too much processed food and sugars at birthday parties and at school, so a dessert should be tasty, exciting and yet healthy. cholesterol levels, and this is where low-fat desserts step in. You can convert almost any sinful dessert into a low-fat one by making a few substitutions, such as replacing butter with apple sauce or mashed banana and in some cases, replacing margarine with olive oil. Where recipes call for cream cheese, you can swap the luscious store-bought cream cheese with homemade hung curd to create something that tastes almost as good.

Extra-Vegan-za Vegan desserts can seem extremely tedious because a vegan diet omits the use of any eggs, milk and dairy products, and 160•JetWings•December 2013

though this might seem like a lot of deprivation, it isn’t. A lot of people—including me—would shudder at the thought of not using any chocolate, cream, milk or eggs in a dessert. However, vegans can easily whip up a cruelty-free decadent dessert that’s tasty and healthy using natural ingredients like almonds, vegan chocolate, coconut, seeds and dates for sweetening. Although vegan desserts are remarkably lower in fat and calories than their non-vegan counterparts, they can be incredibly delectable too. They often substitute eggs with apple sauce, heavy cream with avocados or bananas (in some recipes) and coconut milk or almond milk instead of regular milk.


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Vegans can easily whip up a cruelty-free decadent dessert that’s tasty and healthy using natural ingredients like almonds, coconut, seeds and dates for sweetening.

Cooking for kids can be a tedious yet extremely gratifying activity depending on their food preferences. Most kids today get way too much processed food, sugars and highly sweetened cereals in junk food at birthday parties and at school, so a dessert should be tasty, exciting and yet healthy (without all the sugar-laden toppings such as wafers and candy). Involving your kids in every step of making a dessert adds to the excitement and they end up learning an easy recipe in the process. When in doubt, stick to unsweetened yoghurt, unsweetened juices and low-sugar muesli to whip up something exciting. Parfaits, fruit jellies, homemade granola, fruity yoghurts and yoghurt-based cheesecakes are delightful and healthy too. Here is the easiest recipe of a healthy apple crumble that you and your kids will adore.

Jia Singh is a Delhi-based food and wellness consultant and freelance writer. She is also one of the newest entrants to have joined the health food bandwagon. Her project Petite Sweet Eats is a health food initiative that makes gluten free, low GI and low-carb treats accessible and affordable. https://www.facebook. com/petitenutritionista

Patryce Bak/Image Source/Dinodia; Dorling Kindersley/UI/Age/Dinodia; Janssen, Valerie/Stock Food/Dinodia

Cooking for kids

Healthy apple crumble • 3 large apples, peeled and chopped into squares • 2 tsp cinnamon • 1 cup unsweetened plain yogurt • ¾ cup unsweetened muesli • 6 walnuts • Honey to taste Peel and chop the apples. Sprinkle cinnamon on apple chunks and microwave for about 1 minute. Take out and stir. Microwave for one more minute. Take out and let apples cool. Then layer yogurt, muesli, apples, and yogurt to make your parfait. Top it up with the walnuts. Add honey to taste (optional). This is healthy enough to be breakfast, and delicious enough to be dessert!

Clockwise from above: Gluten-free, lactose-free pancakes: a great way to start your day; Believe it or not, this apple and blackberry pie is entirely gluten free; No child can refuse brownies with cold milk, and the dark chocolate gluten-free brownies here can be had without any worries.

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Healthy desserts