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Ganesh Chaturthi: This Jalandhar entrepreneur is making healthy modaks that are sugar-free and oil-free

Shriya Maini from Jalandhar started her company ‘Immuno Eats’ to promote healthy eating and offer sugar-free sweets to diabetics

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Festivals are incomplete without sweets and when it comes to Ganesh Chaturthi, nothing beats the delicious flavour of modak. Keeping the essence of the popular sweet intact, Shriya Maini from Jalandhar has made healthy modaks this year with a twist—she has used millets to replace the traditional filling and nuts to make the outer cover instead of flour. The modaks are both sugar-free and fat-free.

‘I wanted to help diabetics, cope with obesity’

Having launched her startup ‘Immuno Eats’ amid the pandemic, Shriya has been innovating a variety of sweet treats that would be nutritious while satiating cravings. Through her products, she wants to offer a solution to diabetics, who are otherwise unable to enjoy sweets. “Our family has a history of diabetes. Growing up, I saw how my father was constantly told to limit his intake of sweets. That’s when I thought, how about helping diabetics who may have to abstain from sweets throughout their lives?” she says.

Shriya herself has been obese since childhood, which also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. “To cope with obesity, you need to avoid two things—fried food and sweets. It is a custom in many Indian households to have sweets after a meal, something I practised too. So, I took it up as a challenge to make healthy and guilt-free alternatives,” Shriya further says.

‘Discovered healthy recipes through trial and error’

While Shriya has been passionate about cooking since childhood, it was not something that she had initially planned to pursue. After completing her schooling at Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg, she enrolled herself in Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA) for BCom, followed by an MBA from Apeejay Institute of Management & Engineering Technical Campus (AIMETC). During the pandemic, however, she started researching lifestyle disorders and healthy eating. “I started studying from scratch about everything related to healthy food. The research work started two years ago and then I officially launched my company a year ago,” the young entrepreneur mentions.

Also Read: Celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in an eco-friendly way

The healthy recipes, on the other hand, were discovered through trial and error. Expresses Shriya, “While recipes online look enticing and easy-to-try, the reality may not match your expectations when you are following them at home and preparing something. Different people have different tastes. For me, it was all about trying new combinations to cater to the tastes of people in my region. In the process, there were many failures too because I had taken up the challenge of making sugar-free and oil-free products; there were phases when I thought I would never achieve my goal.”

Check out this sugar-free and oil-free recipe sandwich spread recipe below:

Courtesy: Shriya Maini

‘Trying to include healthy ingredients in people’s daily diet’

She asserts, “Through my sweets, I am trying to get people to include healthy ingredients in their day-to-day lives.” The ones she is making now are mostly nut-based. “I am also making sweets from a single dry fruit without any additional flavours or preservatives. Some of the ingredients I use are cashew, coconut, almond, etc. For sweetening, I use natural sugars like dates, raisins, berries, fig, and so on. In place of oil and ghee, I use natural oil produced from nuts. I also use a variety of healthy seeds in the sweets.” 

These sweets, however, do not replicate the traditional Indian mithai, Shriya points out. “You can have these to satiate your post-meal cravings. They are more like small bites in different shapes. I am also careful of the proportion size.”

Currently, she is running her startup from home. “I have been managing the company single-handedly till now. As we expand, I plan to get a separate space for the operations.” She uses WhatsApp to reach out to clients and market her offerings and has been receiving a lot of positive feedback. Her friends are also helping her by circulating the posts among relatives. “My clients are happy that they are being able to enjoy sweets without worrying about blood sugar levels. Some of them, who are diabetics, also suggested I make healthy, roasted savouries as well as an alternative for fried snacks in the market. So that is my plan now!” she signs off. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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