Sweet Success

Sweet Success

Sweet Success

Article by Sarah Williams
Photos courtesy of Créations Les Gumes, photos by Véronique Boisjoly

Once upon a time, a young mother was faced with a difficult pregnancy…

Diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with her third child, Annik de Celles had no choice but to make some menu changes.  De Celles’ doctor advised her to reduce her sugar intake, while assuring her that didn’t mean she had to cut out sweets altogether. 

To make healthier versions of dessert recipes, one alternative is to replace the sugar with pureed fruit, such as dates or apples, but de Celles took this tactic to the next level.  Since, as de Celles saw it, “apple sauce still has a lot of sugar, so I decided to use vegetables instead”.  After lots of experimenting, and some “not so pretty”, results, de Celles finally hashed out a few veggie-based dessert recipes that she was happy with, which also managed to satisfy her craving for sweets.

A few months later and 50 pounds lighter, the mom of three returned to her job teaching English. De Celles’ colleagues were amazed by her physical transformation and intrigued by the homemade, healthy treats she was now packing in her lunch; sure they are better for you, but can desserts made with vegetables be tasty too?  The rest of the story should be proof enough that the answer is a resounding “yes”. 

Once de Celles’ co-workers and friends tried her creations, they wanted more.  Orders started coming in, to cater parties and events of people she knew.  Finally in April of 2011, de Celles had enough confidence in her concept to spin it into a catering business, and so Créations Les Gumes  came to fruition.  

Through these initial clients, her friends and colleagues, de Celles managed to make the right contacts so that her goodies wound up on the shelves of some local supermarkets: three IGA stores and a few independent grocers.  As demand increased, Créations Les Gumes outgrew de Celles’ own kitchen and moved into a new bakery/boutique location. 

Then, the media caught on; de Celles was invited to appear on several television and radio programs, and featured in numerous articles, all to talk about her healthier dessert concept.

Not long after that, the publishing house, Trécarré, came knocking on her door.  Trécarré offered de Celles a deal to compile some of her culinary creations into a recipe book.  She immediately started experimenting in her laboratory/kitchen.  “I’m a very creative person,” de Celles says, “I invent at least one recipe a week, if not more.  Everyone has that ugly old vegetable in their fridge, that’s how I use it…I throw it in a dessert”.  She came up with 48 original recipes specifically for Desserts Santé: pour dents sucrées.  

This recipe book is in no way encouraging parents to trick their fussy eaters by hiding vegetables in sweet disguises; in fact, de Celles says she thinks kids should learn to eat their veggies, “raw, cooked, every which way”.  She goes on to explain, “Eating dessert is a habit that we have… and we all need to eat more vegetables, so this is one way to insure that we do”.  Her goal is simply to alleviate some of the guilt parents feel when they serve their kids the usual sugary fare.  

By adding vegetables, and using other healthier options such as whole grains and whole wheat flour, de Celles’ dessert recipes are lower in sugar and fat, and higher in fibre, and the book has the nutritional numbers to prove it. The launch for Desserts Santé took place right here in Quebec City on October 25th, and judging from the crowd in attendance, the book will be flying off the shelves.

This brings us up to today; as hard as it is to believe, this entire story has occurred over the span of a mere two year period;  it certainly has been a fairy tale (of entrepreneurship)  for Annik de Celles.   

About the author:

Sarah Williams is a mother of three young children, and a freelance writer.

Sarah had her first experience living in Quebec while earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Concordia University (MTL) in the late nineties.

Hailing from Cobourg, Ontario, Sarah moved to Quebec City in January of the year 2000. For her, this city is the perfect balance of the small town feel of her hometown in Ontario and the vibrant francophone culture of Montreal.

Professionally, Sarah has worked a fair bit in the media as a copywriter and researcher; for Global Television, and for a T.V. cooking show (what’s cooking).

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