When people check out the 4River’s Sweet Shop bakery, they usually are looking to indulge — never mind sugar or calories.
But in July, Sweet Shop has been promoting a different kind of pastry — one that will help diabetics and dieters make healthy choices while satisfying their cravings.
4Rivers and the Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute have partnered to create the Red Vel-Fit cupcake, a new treat designed to give diabetics their sugar fix.
The idea came about when 4Rivers creator and Winter Park resident John Rivers attended a Florida Hospital “Dining with Diabetes” dinner in June. He met with Florida Hospital registered dietitian Erica Hechler, who specializes in educating people about diabetes.
“It’s often about the amount of carbohydrates that’s consumed,” Hechler said. “A cupcake is going to contain flour, sugar, and those are carbohydrates. … If we just look at cutting back, we can enjoy the same foods just in smaller portion. Then the impact on the blood sugar won’t be as much.”
Hechler teamed up with Jenny Herbert, executive pastry chef for the Sweet Shop, to come up with a health-conscious treat that would be aimed at those watching their sugar levels. The Red Vel-Fit has a rich body with white chocolate drizzled on top instead of a thick cream-cheese frosting.
Rather than making the dessert with sugar and flavor substitutes, Hechler stressed that moderation in portions can be a healthier way to eat. She says many people she speaks to simply are having portions that are too large or uneven to be healthy. Instead, using less sugar, having smaller portions and focusing on the flavor is a better way to eat.
Where the original Red Velvet recipe at the Sweet Shop would bake 12 cupcakes at a time, the Red Vel-Fit are baked into smaller sizes — leading to 18 cupcakes a batch.
Hechler and Herbert communicated through email and designed the cupcake together. Herbert said the Red Vel-Fit has 65% fewer calories, 67% fewer carbs and 32% less fat than the usual pastry.
The finished product has been at the Sweet Shops in 4Rivers across Central Florida at $3. Herbert has been advertising the cakes with in-store signs and donated samples to the Florida Hospital to hand out at events.
While the Red Vel-Fit is only on sale in July, Herbert said the experience has given her ideas for healthy snacks in the future.
“The goal with this cupcake was to let people know they can make small changes in their nutrition that make a big difference in our health,” Hechler said. “The hope with this recipe was to inspire the community to create their own lighter versions of their favorite dishes. Even just small tweaks can make a big difference. Our goal is to care for the whole person.”