Noemi Demay is a young holistic nutritionist. After her studies, carried out between France, London and Spain, she carries on her business, providing international consultancy also online.
She is an expert in the preparation of delicious vegan desserts, with unrefined ingredients and low-glycemic natural sweeteners. In this interview, Noemie tells how it is possible to eat properly, without sacrificing taste.
When did you start dealing with vegan pastry and what benefits did you see right away?
I have always loved baking, as a kid Sundays were spent baking with my mum. About 5 years ago, I saw a documentary on how animals were treated and the conditions in which they lived, I was so shocked that I just couldn’t keep eating meat. I stopped cold turkey. Around that same time, my nieces developed a skin condition called eczema. Their skin got worse when they consumed dairy products, this really encouraged me to start baking vegan treats for them. As a result, I did a course about vegan pastry by chef Fran Costigan so that I could understand the basics. I was never a fan of meat so I haven’t noticed a massive change. However, not eating dairy products has really improved my gut health and skin as a result. Whenever I succumb to the temptation of some cheese, I get cramps almost right away. It is best for me to stay away from dairy as much as possible!
What type of natural sweeteners do you use for your preparations and what benefits do each of them bring?
Sugar remains sugar in whatever form or shape you consume it. White, brown, syrup, none of these are beneficial to your health. What I like to say is although they won’t benefit your health. Try and use the one that is a lil bit less “worse” than the rest 😊. My personal favourite is unrefined cane sugar which keeps my cakes super fluffy. For cookies and porridge, I like to use maple syrup. Then, for the healthiest option, I will use mashed bananas, date puree or apple compote which are super good for you and full of fibres as well as vitamins and minerals.
The most skeptical argue that natural sweets do not have the same consistency and beauty of “traditional” sweets, others believe they do not taste sweet enough. This is because many are so used to sugary flavors that they do not recognize and appreciate the natural sweetness. What do you reply?
I won’t blame them, as it is true that we are so used to very sweet sweets and added sugar as consumers. I experience it first hand with my family who likes them very much. What I would suggest is to get your taste buds used to more natural sweets little by little. Let’s start with chocolate. For instance, if you like milk chocolate, go for a 60% dark chocolate, once you are used to it, go up to 70%, until you can enjoy the 80%. Liking dark chocolate helps with appreciating sweets that are not overly sweet. Have dates as snacks, this will also help getting used to more natural sweetness. Try to decrease your consumption of processed sweets as much as possible. This is about education your tastebuds and getting used to more natural sweetness.
In regards to the consistency, they are very good sweets out there such as my vegan brownies which are absolutely delicious and extremely gooey, you couldn’t tell the difference! Let’s bear in mind that the vegan market is relatively new and we need to give the chance to those trying to make mistakes and perfect their recipes.
What basic ingredients are never lacking in your pantry and what ingredients do you recommend for those who want to start preparing vegan desserts?
My pantry is filled with different types of flour: rice flour, chickpea flour, spelt flour, oat flour, I love playing with different gluten-free blends. I always have oat and soy milk too (the latter blends better in my tea 😉).
For those wanting to try vegan desserts, have fun trying to make an egg white peak with aquafaba (the water in your can of chickpea). Mix that slimy water with icing sugar and a bit of lemon and you will get yourself a lovely meringue mix in under 15 minutes.
Chia seeds and flax seeds helps replace the egg in your cakes, plus they are a great source of Omega 3, as well as benefiting your hormonal health.
Start with pancakes! They are a lot of fun to make.
Three natural sweeteners you suggested as white sugar substitutes and their benefits.
Maple syrup is one of the least processed of all the sweeteners and my favourite.
I would recommend using dates. Let them soaked into hot water and then blend until you get a puree consistency. I love using them to make chocolate bars with a caramel centre. They are very nutritious, high in fibres and antioxidants.
Finally, I love coconut sugar, it is so flavourful and I love its smell too! Its nutritional value is low, although it contains some iron and zinc, I wouldn’t recommend you have coconut sugar if you were lacking any of those.
As a holistic nutritionist, which basic breakfast do you recommend and which desserts should you eat after a light meal?
My favourite meal of the day is definitely breakfast, it sets you up for the day and the options are endless. I would recommend having something high in proteins and fibers at that meal. Why not scrambled tofu with spinach leaves and tomatoes on a toast? My personal favourite is a creamy porridge to which I add some berries, a sprinkle of seeds, cacao nibs and a dollop of coconut cream or almond butter.