With the festival season about to commence, you might be eyeing those delectable delicacies that have been held back for such a long time. And why not! You have every right to indulge. But if getting derailed from the commitment of eating all healthy is a worry, we have a couple of tricks up our sleeve. Here, Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji, Chef, Culinary Expert, Author, Hospitality and Food Consultant and Kejal Sheth, Nutritionist, Weight Management Expert & Founder of Nutrivity.in reveal some small changes that can go a long way in skipping those extra calories.
Say no to low-fat sweets
Sounds counterpoint to the whole discussion, right? But there is a logic to it. Kejal reasons. “As Indians, we will be attracted to low-fat foods and sweets. It is best to not reach for them as they add too much of sugar bringing about an increasing sugar levels.” Hence, it is best to go for full fat all the way. Just ensure that your delicacy is teeming with good fats instead of the bad one.
Replace fat with coconut oil
Speaking of healthy fats, we all know the importance of them for the smooth functioning of the body. So about making the most of these? One tip as per Chef Reetu is to replace butter with coconut oil. She reasons, “Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and behaves like butter. Plus, it is immensely popular for providing the consumers with health benefits like the reduction of hunger and prevention of harmful microorganisms.” Go for a cold-pressed version for best results.
Think beyond kaju barfi
We know it might sound blasphemous to say to not have kaju barfi during the season. But those who are trying to watch their weight, you can have one or two of this favoured delicacy and incorporate other types as well. In this manner, you can balance the number of calories. Kejal says, “Instead of just having kaju barfi, you can opt for dates or anjeer ones as they are a healthier option. Remember, to gain something, you have to lose something,” Plus, because of the natural high dose of sweetness of the latter two, you will not be reaching for more than necessary.
Sugar-free yoghurt or skimmed milk
Milk is another important ingredient when it comes to Indian desserts. But these can get hard to digest especially for those who are lactose intolerant. As per Chef Reetu, for something that is light on the stomach, you can swap it with the next best options such as sugar-free yoghurt or skimmed milk. Do not have the skimmed version? It’s simple, boil the milk in the night and put it in the fridge when it cools down. The next morning you will find a layer of cream formed on top. Just remove it and use the remaining.
Fruits instead of icing
What is a sinful dessert without its icing right? There is a way to retain its richness and making it healthier too. Says Kejal, “The icing on your cakes has a lot of fat. Instead, you can decorate your cakes with fresh fruits. They are not only nutritious and will also add to the visual appeal due to their colours.” She further adds, “Fresh berries are a great option as they well along with dessert other than any other fruit.”
Use natural sweeteners – dates, figs, jaggery
As the key concern with mitahis and dessert is the sugar content, you can switch this very ingredient. Chef Reetu suggests to use natural ingredients like dates and figs that are not only sweet but loaded with nutrition. Another great option is jaggery. Says Kejal, “The sweets taste even better with jaggery and have health benefits too.” They also contain iron that will give you that extra boost if energy (much needed during the festive season).
Bake instead of frying
Kejal cautions, “We all love jalebis and gulab jamun. But have you ever wondered how much calories they consist once they are out and fried?” Her suggestion is to bake items instead of frying them. She says, “Baking is the new and healthy in.” There are many sweet dishes which can be microwaved. You can experiment with different combinations to see what works the best for you.
Replace refined flour
Apart from sugar, another concern when it comes to desserts is the refined flour. More so because they are empty calories that do no good for the system. As per Reetu, you can use whole wheat flour or spelt flour instead. If you are too hung up on the taste, you can even try half and half. Another option that is quite popular to these days is almond flour.
Dark chocolate instead of just chocolate
It is impossible to think of a dessert without the decadent and luxurious chocolate flavour! “Rather than having normal chocolate, have dark chocolate which has a good amount of cocoa as it offers many more health benefits than the former.” Studies back this saying that dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that fight against free radicals and thus protect our system.
Add nuts and seeds
Having a tough time getting your kids to eat nuts and seeds? This is the perfect opportunity for you. Kejal says, “Try adding nuts and seeds in your dessert to make it healthier. This has become quite a trend these days.” As per her, they will not only load the dish with a whole lot of nutrients but will also lend that nice crispiness.
Incorporate these minor tweaks and savour your sweets guilt-free! Just keep in mind that portion control applies here too!