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Diwali Delights

Oct/07/2023 / by Maureen Petrosky

How to keep your Festival of Lights delicious and sweet, but just a little bit leaner

Don’t panic. We all know Diwali is a time to celebrate and leave the stress of the day to day- including maintaining a healthy lifestyle- aside for a minute. True, this autumn festival of lights is about harvest so that means food, too, and lots of it. When I asked my Hindu friend about making Diwali recipes healthier she laughed out loud and said, “Everything is fried and sweet!” So how can we make Diwali foods cleaner and healthier?

In preparation for this five-day festival many households and even offices embark on a massive cleaning. Home renovations and repairs are common in days leading up the holiday kick off. It’s a wonder with all this focus on light we have yet to see a big push on lightening the calories, fat, or sugar in our favorite holiday treats. We’re not talking about giving up your sweets. In fact, we’re focusing on making them better, better for you that is.

The second day of Diwali is when we celebrate our love of sugar. Families buy and gift Indian sweet treats, also known as mithai or sweet meats. The most popular include versions of Halwa. This is a grated vegetable often carrots or pumpkin cooked with ghee, sugar and milk or condensed milk until it becomes thick, then it can be flavored with nuts and cardamom. Seeing as this treat already contained vegetables, I moved on to the next favorite sweet—Laddu or laddoo. These delicious little balls of flour, ghee or oil, sugar and nuts or dried fruits and can be deep fried too. Now this is a recipe that can definitely be made healthier and here’s how:

First skip any added refined sugar and up the dried fruit. Medjool dates, raisins, dried apricots and dried cherries work great here. Next, we cut the fat or ghee which is traditionally used and skip the deep frying like you would a Besan Laddu. 

And finally, we will make ours gluten free. You can achieve this using chickpea flour, nut flours, flaxseed meal or Metta gluten free flour. I know you’re clutching your heart- what are we doing to your poor little laddoo? If it makes it any easier, we can stop calling these laddoo, and instead call them a little Indian sweet or an Indian energy ball because it is true, they are both. Try it before you swear them off. I promise these are the perfect little treat and you can celebrate Diwali knowing you are a little bit healthier for it.

An over the shoulder view of a woman and her husband inviting her parents into their family home and greeting them affectionately. They have arrived with deserts for their Diwali celebrations in their home in the North East of England.

Gluten-Free Healthy Laddoo

1 1/4 cup of grated coconut, lightly toasted to golden brown

½ cup golden flaxseed meal

½ cup almond flour

12 soft Medjool dates, seeded

¼ teaspoon salt

1/4 cup of raisins, dried cherries (or a mix of them all)

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon of water, if needed

15 nuts of your choosing- pistachio, almond, cashew, or peanut

In the bowl of a food processor combine all the ingredients, except for ¼ cup of the coconut and the whole nuts. Pulse to a course grind. Pinch off and roll into small laddoos. Roll half in the remaining toasted coconut, leave some plain and place one nut on top of each of the remaining to garnish. Makes about 26 to 30 small laddoos. You can store these for up to a week in an airtight container. 

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