With the festive season shifting into top gear, every shop selling traditional sweets in the tricity is bursting at the seams with laddoos drenched in ghee and barfis rolling in calories. But what do health-conscious sweet-lovers do in this calorie-overdrive season? Let’s admit it, mithais can’t be wished away and fitness can’t be forgotten, so the best course would be to take heart and gorge on some healthy sweet options available in town and in the virtual world.
Traditional sweetmeat shops such as Gopal Sweets and Sindhi Sweets have come up with healthy options such as anjir barfi (Rs 900/kg), kalakand (Rs 450/kg) and khajur barfi (Rs 900/kg). The sweetness, the makers say, comes from natural sources, making them healthier as compared to the usual mithais. “These products are popular with those who want to enjoy sweets but also keep their sugar levels in check,” says Navjot Singh, Chandigarh-based director of Gopal Sweets.
Abhishek Bajaj, the owner of Sindhi Sweets, agrees: “There is no such thing as sugar-free mithai. We try to provide sweetness through a natural maize-based sweetener. We even have a complete range of diet food from Lebanon called baklawa, which is a sweet pastry topped with nuts.”
The trend of healthy sweets seems to be catching up online as well. For instance, Abbelo.com, a local website that caters to Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, recently started offering mewa khajoor laddoos (Rs 750/800 gm ), churma laddoos (Rs 640/640 gm) and multi-grain laddoos (Rs 640/640 gm) for the festive season. “There is a strong market for such sweets. We have sold 20-30 such boxes in two days and Diwali is still over 10 days away,” says Abbelo.com director Sarabjit Singh. “People in the tricity like to splurge on such options. In fact, we came up with these gift packs only after we got a number of queries from customers about healthy sweet options,” he adds.
Reiterating the tricity customers’ spending capacity, Bajaj says, “Not only are these offbeat options a hit with customers, these days people have also started preferring such sweets as part of the mithai boxes with wedding invites.”
“I don’t mind spending a little extra if I am given the assurance that the alternative is good for health,” says Renu Gupta, 53, a housewife from Panchkula.
On the other hand, Mehak Sharma, 24, a social marketing manager in Chandigarh, finds the difference in prices of usual sweets to the niche ones big. “I don’t want to worry about calories or cash during the festive season. I just want to gorge on laddoos without any guilt,” she says.
“These so-called healthy sweet options can be succinctly defined as better than the worst. Excess sugar does affect the body in some way or the other, but yes, the healthier options are better than the usual ones,” says Sector 35-based dietician Shreya. Asked what sweets she recommends, she says: “Usually, calling any kind of sweet sugar-free is just a marketing gimmick. Instead of focusing on khajur barfi, I would rather gift dates,” she adds.
Fruits for health
Fruity treats are also in the offing online. For instance, Eatofresh.com’s organic fruit basket (Rs 1299) consists of a variety of fruits ranging from organic oranges to organic watermerlons. The organic dry fruit gift box (Rs 1500) make for slightly hatke gifting options. Abbelo.com, too, offers a range of organic dry fruits such as cashew nuts (Rs 400/300 gm) and almonds (Rs 185/200 gm).
So this festive season could be all about indulging in sweets, while keeping an eye on health too.