Seema says: ‘Everyone has a different definition of healthy, some people will say if you if I don’t have dairy, refined sugars, or gluten in my diet I will have a healthy diet. Some of our cakes have more sugar than others and we point that out to our customers who will ask what has the least amount of sugar, and we are really honest with that.’
So what can make a cake healthier?
Substituting ingredients such as sugar with naturally sweet alternatives seems to be the way forward. Cakes are typically made of sugar, flour, eggs, and butter. Butter is high in saturated fats, and can often be replaced with olive oil as a healthier alternative. You can think about replacing the sugar by using naturally sweet fruits or vegetables and flour can be replaced with a gluten-free alternative.
Seema tells me how they do it...‘ With cakes, we work backward. We have a cake recipe of a standard cake, and we take it back, and switch ingredients and we kind of have an idea now of proportions, we just experiment really.’
Seema continues ‘If you want to have a cake-like sticky ginger cake, you cannot expect it to have a minimal amount of sugar. It’s not physically possible, but what we do try and do, we use coconut sugar, dates, so it’s healthier. We don't use any white sugar. Our vegan cakes have the least amount of sugar, except if you have frosting on top, but again we’ve used maple sugar. For the healthiest, lowest sugar cake it would be our vegan cake, with no frosting.’
Spice it up!
Seema is Asian, Hindu and has grown up with Indian cooking all her life. She has applied her healthy ethos to her curries and makes all curries dairy-free. She believes you can’t tell the difference. Her tips are to cook with fresh ingredients - all Lean’s ingredients are locally sourced - her spices from Leicester, her fresh vegetables from Oakham market, her meat from Nelsons, her eggs from Whissendine - and experiment with spices and flavours.
Seema says ‘‘Don’t be afraid of mixing spices up. That’s the one thing I’ve recently started doing, once you start combining 6 or 7 different spices, you have instantly got a good rub or a marinade, and honestly, it’s delicious. Mix it with flour so you have a batter, do it without flour and add it with lemon juice, oil, so whether it’s meat, chicken, fish, tofu...anything it adds a big, big flavour to it. Cook from scratch, and experiment!
Seema’s tips for mums trying to budge those final few pounds:
‘I would recommend seeing a dietician or personal trainer, they will do a plan based on you, your activity and fitness levels. If you were to do one thing, without seeing anybody, I would say cut out refined sugar, cut out snacks in the day, just 3 meals a day. And drink loads of water to keep hydrated!’