Imagine a berry pudding made using amaranth, a chicken wrap made of wholewheat or corn tortilla and grilled chicken salad without using marinade. Eighteen-year-old Vedant Bahri's cook book, "Cheat It All", will make you drool over a whole slew of yummy and nourishing dishes.
Since he feels that life is too short to eat boring food, he took it on himself to make healthier choices that are not dull and uninteresting. In the process, he wrote a 239-page book comprising 75 "cheat" recipes. Published by Niyogi Books, "Cheat It All" is priced at Rs 795.
"I am not somebody who can eat salads or boiled food to stay fit. I have a huge appetite for junk food. Because life is too short to eat boring food, I did a lot of research to balance health and taste," Bahri told IANS.
Not a trained chef or a nutritionist, Bahri has definitely had a commendable journey from a food enthusiast to a writer. What inspired him to begin was his mother's great cooking skills.
"My mother is a very good cook. She was the one who inspired me to start cooking. We always experiment a lot at home," he said.
"A lot of my experiments went wrong while working on the book. Over the years of reading, experimenting, exploring and searching, I have come up with these healthy recipes," said Bahri, adding: "I have experimented with quantities to make them healthier."
The writer, who describes himself as "a food enthusiast", said, "The book has recipes that are known to be unhealthy like pizzas, burgers and desserts. I have tried to make them as healthy as possible without compromising on taste. I made a lot of mistakes and tried every recipe twice or thrice to make it healthy."
It is difficult to find substitutes to unhealthy ingredients like maida (bleached wheat flour), sugar, cheese and the like, but Bahri seems to have found a way out, like a professional chef.
"I have used healthy ingredients such as honey, gluten flour, coconut flour, but sometimes the desserts didn't taste that well. I used honey wherever I could but I also used sugar because there was no other option. Minimising the amount as much as I could without compromising on the taste was a way out.
"I am primarily a foodie rather than a fitness freak. So, for me taste is always the first priority, health is second. I can guarantee that my recipes are any day healthier than what you find in the markets and restaurants."
His favourite recipes from the book include amaranth pudding and cheese cake.
"Not many people know about amaranth. It is super grained and readily available in India. I used amaranth flour that is much healthier than regular flour. It is very tasty and one of my favourites."
For the cheese cake, I have used quark cheese which is now available in the Indian market. It's significantly lower in fat as compared to the regular cheese. I love it as it tastes exactly like the usual cheese cake.
Apart from the recipes of nourishing foods, "Cheat It All" offers an Inspire Section to do just that through interviews of filmstars, sportspersons and chefs like Vikas Khanna, Manish Mehrotra, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, John Abraham and Milind Soman, among others.
"It was very interesting for me to know their fitness regimes, how they are at home and what they eat. I am sure it will inspire a lot of people to get healthier," Bahri said.
One who inspired him the most was John Abraham for his simple and healthy diet plan.
"I have been most inspired by John Abraham... he gave me the recipe of boiled eggs and nothing fancy. He takes it to the extreme when it comes to his body and that's very inspiring. He is very tough with his diet and doesn't take any cheat days and always eats healthy," he said.
So, taking inspiration from Bahri and his book, you can feast on healthier foods without compromising on the taste.
(Mudita Girotra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)