Mango lassis

Got a weakness for desserts? Then try these pots of Wellness

In The Wellness Principles Dr Gary Deng reveals the healthy sweet spot

Most of us know which foods are good and bad for us, even if we don’t know why. Which is to say, most of us aren’t quite like Dr Gary Deng. Dr Deng is the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He understands exactly how and why the choices we make in the kitchen affect our bodies.

In his debut cookbook, The Wellness Principles, he breaks down some of modern medicine’s more important nutritional insights into easily digestible terms. Readers of this book can gain real insights into the reasons why, say, we should favour plant oils over butter and animal fats, why we should limit the amounts of refined sugar we eat, and why whole grains are better than refined starches.

Given those insights, you’d be forgiven for thinking that recipes following Dr Deng’s introduction lacked a certain sense of indulgence. Certainly, when it comes to desserts, butter and sugar remain key ingredients. However, Dr Deng is both a highly skilled physician and a pretty mean home cook. He manages to work in all his healthy principles while still coming with dishes that not only skimp on these bad ingredients, but also include some highly beneficial ones.

Desire desserts? Try these pots of Wellness

Dr Gary Deng

Consider his dessert recipe for a mango lassi. “Mango contains digestive enzymes, and when eaten at the end of a meal, this dessert aids digestion, making it a better choice than cake or ice cream,” he writes. “There are several modifications to this recipe that make it healthier than the traditional version. I’ve added turmeric, reduced the ratio of dairy products, and used honey instead of sugar. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, but it needs to be blended with lipids to be absorbed efficiently by the body. Here, high-speed blending in the presence of kefir/yoghourt will achieve that. Yoghourt and kefir are fermented milk products, rich in probiotics. Kefir has both lactobacilli and saccharomyces (yeast). Yoghourt usually has lactobacilli and streptococci. I suggest alternating kefir and yoghourt from day to day, to get a more diverse probiotic mixture, or do a 50/50 mix of yoghourt and kefir.

“Be sure to use ‘live culture’ kefir or yoghourt,” he concludes. “Since I reduced the amount of dairy in this recipe, I added banana to make up for the reduced thickness in consistency.”

To make the good doctor’s recipe, you’ll need four fully ripe mangoes; a ripe banana, sliced; two cups (560 g) of live-culture kefir or yoghourt; two tablespoons of honey; a teaspoon of ground turmeric; a pinch each of ground cinnamon and cardamom; as well as four mint sprigs and a few pomegranate seeds for the (optional) garnish.

In a blender, combine the mangoes, banana, kefir, 2 cups (16 fl oz/475 ml) water, the honey, turmeric, and cinnamon/cardamom (if using) and blend on high until very smooth.Then just divide the lassi among four glasses. If desired, garnish with mint and pomegranate seeds.

Desire desserts? Try these pots of Wellness

The Wellness Principles

For a slightly fuller version of this recipe, as well as much more besides, order a copy of The Wellness Principles here.