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Literary Review

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HEALTH

Sweet alternatives

`Contrary to the general impression that the book is only for diabetics, the recipes in Low Calorie Desserts ensure good taste without adding those extra kilos.'


WITH India being the diabetic capital of the world and one in every five Indians diabetic, the sweet habit is hard to kick for most of us, irrespective of whether our health demands that we should watch the consumption of sweets. Rita D'Souza's Low Calorie Desserts comes across like a breath of fresh air, to harassed wives who hate to see husbands enjoying an overdrive of dessert, and to women and men with an agonising sweet tooth who just cannot afford to indulge in sweet fantasies. It is value for money at a reasonably moderate price of Rs. 125.

Good food, without the kilos

Sugar Free, a dietary sugar, supports all the 100-odd recipes. The book guarantees to appeal to the sweetest tooth without dire consequences, and the proof of the pudding will be to taste it and you will get your answers. Contrary to the general impression that the book is only for diabetics, the recipes in Low Calorie Desserts ensure good taste without adding those extra kilos. Every spoon gives you only two calories against 20 calories in a spoonful of sugar. One level measure of Sugar Free concentrate is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar and the taste is the same, so if you still want the good old sugar you can opt for it in the recipe with a little effort at conversion.

A brief interview with Rita D'Souza helped me understand the product better. Sugar Free contains Aspartame which is a protein derivative and a low calorie sweetener. It is not suitable for phenylketoneurics (a kidney condition). It is also not recommended for children. However, Sugar Free is perfect for diabetics and all adults as it is a healthy alternative to sugar.

The sections cover Indian Desserts like halwas, kheers and even mishti doi, The Fruit Desserts section has an interesting array of recipes, replete with custards, fondues, and stewed fruit, Moulded Desserts which leaves you drooling over soufflés and mousses, Iced Desserts, and then on to the section on Cheesecakes Cakes and Cookies. The strawberry cheesecake is excellent, and if you think strawberries are not readily available you can substitute with mango during season time.

Drinks are not to be left out and there are interesting varieties like Mocha Frappe, Piyush, Date and Banana Smoothie and other exotica on the list. The section on Basic Recipes tells you how to make chocolate sauce, skimmed milk yoghurt and here the inclusion of starter yoghurt in the yoghurt making process was omitted. A small slip, could it be printer's devil? For a different kind of drink and if you are rushed for time, I would recommend Ginger Lemon Fizz.

What would be invaluable to weight watchers is the daily calorie intake recommended, with charts which show you how many calories you burn up with various activities, and a calorie counter of popular beverages and desserts which means all the calorie fundas have been covered. You have to remember that the ideal composition in any diet is protein 30 per cent, carbohydrates 60 per cent and Fat 10 per cent, though modern diets like the Atkins Diet list different recommendations!

Helpful tips

The book is user friendly and the preparation and cooking time is kept to a minimum. Ideal, when after planning an elaborate meal for guests you are stumped as to what to offer as dessert. The nutritive content per serving has been indicated in each recipe and the chef (Kirith)'s tips for certain recipes add to its value.

In today's world where most of us, young or old, are testing the bathroom scales ever so often, go to the gym for a shape-up, walk, swim and jog and are aware of the importance of keeping one's weight down, for good health, this book is well worth having, in every home, and a steal at that price.

SABITA RADHAKRISHNA

Low Calorie Desserts, Rita D'Souza, BPI (India) Pvt. Ltd., p. 168, Rs. 125.

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