The Deepavali detour: Desserts for those with diabetes

For people living with diabetes, the easy way to celebrate; plus dietician-vetted recipes that the whole family will love, in bite sizes

Updated - November 05, 2018 02:12 pm IST

Published - November 05, 2018 11:46 am IST

For people living with diabetes, Deepavali and the festive season it unfolds, can be difficult. Parties, sweets and high-cal foods push up temptation (and sugar and stress) levels to yearly highs. Here’s how to navigate your life through this time. Do remember that if you have type 2 and have controlled diabetes (on tablets), you can have the odd indulgence. For those with type 1 and uncontrolled levels, especially those on insulin, it’s best to stick to the straight and narrow.

Choose wisely: Pick up the nuts, from a range of things that may be in front of you. No nuts? Very limited amounts of dark chocolate is fine, and fresh fruits eaten in moderation are okay too, says Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases & Endocrinology, Fortis Hospitals, Delhi. Check with your doctor how much is okay for you. “If it feels very sweet in your mouth it’s probably not okay to eat (think gulab jamun ),” says Dr Ravindran Kumeran, an obesity specialist in Chennai.

Keep the celebration to a day: “A teaspoon on one day won’t kill you, but if you do it across many days, and extend festivals to seasons, it will have an adverse impact,” says Dr Kumeran. Also, say no if you have to: your health is more important than being politically correct.

Ask for the sensible: You may not want to put it on the table that you have diabetes, especially at say, an office party. Ask for lime with soda instead. “Sugar-sweetened beverages are an absolute no-no, as are juices. Alcohol is okay: 60 ml twice a week if the person does not have liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, or high triglycerides,” says Dr Misra. But always check with your doctor. At a family do, a glass of non-sweetened lassi or coconut water are healthy choices.

Support each other: When there are multiple people with diabetes in the extended family, try and be role models to each other if you’re at a series of events together. Ensure you have meals and meds at the same time as you always do. For those who don’t have the disease, avoid separating food. Ensure most of your food can be eaten by almost everyone.

Keep walking: Make sure you don’t cut back on exercise, but you can also say, extend a walk by 10 minutes, or be more active around the house.

Sleep: Since stress and diabetes go hand-in-hand, do get your rest at night, and if you’re having a late night, try and grab a short nap in the daytime.

The recipes

Multigrain cookies


Whole wheat flour: 75 gm

Instant oats: 20 gm

Amaranth flour: 25 gm

Buckwheat flour: 35 gm

Ghee/butter: 30 gm

Peanut butter: 25 gm

Coconut oil: 25 gm

Coconut sugar: 45 gm

Sliced pistachio: 25 gm

Chopped cranberries: 25 gm

Mixed dry fruits powder (walnuts, almonds, cardamom, poppy seeds): 2 tbsp

Saffron: 8-10 strands

Baking powder: ¼ tsp easpoon

Baking soda: ¼ tsp easpoon


In a medium-sized bowl, beat the ghee/butter, peanut butter, coconut oil and coconut sugar till light and fluffy. Mix the flours well with baking powder and baking soda. Add to the butter and sugar mix.

Add the dry fruits powder, pistachio, cranberries and saffron. Knead gently to form a rollable dough.

If the dough doesn’t come together, add two tablespoons of milk. Once the dough is formed, roll it out and cut cookies with a cookie cutter. Put the cookies in a tray lined with parchment paper. They should be placed an inch apart from each other. Chill them in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 hours. Preheat oven at 160 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and preserve in an air-tight container.

Makes 15 to 18 medium-size cookies. Serving size: 1

Recipe and photo courtesy: Shikha Sachdeva, Cocoka, Delhi

Bajra and dates laddoo


Bajra flour: 150 gm

Dates: 120 gm

Fennel seeds(Saunf): 10 gm

Jaggery: 150 gm

Ghee: 20 gm


Melt ghee in a kadai, add bajra flour and roast well. Melt jaggery in a separate pan, add 1 tbsp of water while stirring. Add melted jaggery, chopped dates, and fennel seeds to the bajra flour. Mix well and cool to room temperature. Roll them into dumplings to make laddoos and serve. Makes 10. Serving size: 1

Recipe and photo courtesy: Naren Thimmaiah, Executive Chef, The Gateway Hotel Residency Road, Bengaluru

Beetroot halwa


Beetroot, grated: 1 ½ cups

Ghee: ½ tbsp

Almond milk: 1 cup

Organic honey: 1 tsp

Green cardamom powder: ¼ tsp

Almonds, blanched, peeled, slivered: 2 tsp

Pistachio, slivered: 2 (optional)

Silver leaf: 1 sheet (optional)


In a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan, add ghee, add the grated beetroot and cook on a low flame till its moisture reduces. Add almond milk; let it cook on a medium flame, approximately 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. When the milk reduces to 80%, add honey (if needed) and cardamom powder.

Cook till the milk is completely absorbed. Serve hot, garnished with silver leaf, pistachio and almonds. Serves 4.

Recipe and photo courtesy: Reetu Uday Kugaji, chef, blogger, hospitality and food consultant, Gurugram

The ingredients you can use

If you want to experiment with your own recipe, here is a list of diabetes-friendly foods, compiled with the help of Manjari Chandra, a Delhi-based dietician.

Low-carb, high-fibre vegetables

Eggplant, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, bottle gourd, spinach, amaranth, beetroot


Melons, apples, oranges, sweet lime, berries, pear, pineapple, apricots


Ragi (finger millet), kangni (foxtail millet), bajra (pearl millet), gram flour, buckwheat

Dairy alternatives

Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk

Sugar alternatives (not more than 1 tsp a day)

Coconut sugar, date paste, wild honey, unrefined jaggery

Spices and herbs

Cinnamon, fennel, rosemary, nutmeg, ginger, star anise, bay leaves, cloves, coriander seeds, basil

Nuts and seeds

Apricots, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, fox nuts, hazelnuts, figs (in moderation), sesame seeds (as laddoo), flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

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