Parents of young kids are often heard complaining, ‘My kids refuse to eat green vegetables, I don’t know how to include this necessary element into their daily diets.’
Ujjwala Patel too was staring large at this problem and was at her wits’ end to include vegetables into her daughter’s everyday food. Just then an idea struck her. “Why not make cakes and cookies out of them and ensure that she has her daily dose of nutrient requirements,” recalls Ujjwala as to what were her baby steps into starting her own bakery and turning entrepreneur with Cupcakes and more.
And this is precisely how she arrived at the solution – she started making vegetable-based whole-wheat cookies and cakes. Here’s what goes into her recipes – lauki (bottle gourd), beetroot, spinach, pumpkin, methi (fenugreek), matar (peas), sweet potato, corn and pepper, to name a few.
Using most of the ingredients, she makes two varieties – cakes (including muffins) and cookies.
Essentially, they are all gastronomical delights without any artificial flavours, chemicals or for that matter, even baking powder. As one would have understood by now, Ujjwala’s cakes and cookies are very popular with mothers who prefer healthy eating options for their toddlers and young kids.
Of pink fairies and green monsters
Ujjwala knew she had chosen the right way to ensure that her daughter consumes her daily dose of essential vegetables when her little one started liking the ‘green monsters’ and ‘pink fairies’ that emerged out of her mother’s kitchen.
Green monsters were spinach cookies and cakes, whereas pink fairies were made out of beetroot, two of Ujjwala’s specialities. It was just a matter of time before her daughter got addicted to her colourful cakes and cookies, all healthy eating snacking options.
Then came a point in time when her daughter asked her mother for these goodies on a regular basis and the mother quite delightfully experimented with more and more vegetables to roll out even more innovative recipes from her home bakery.
A hypnotherapist turned baker
Until the birth of her second child in 2013, Ujjwala pursued baking as a passion but increased responsibilities on her home front meant that she quit her career as a hypnotherapist and turned her attention to baking full time.
With a master’s degree in Psychology from Panjab University, Chandigarh, Ujjwala did a certificate course from the California Hypnosis Institute of India and used to work as a reiki healer. “It is one of the healing methods where people used to approach me with a problem and by delving deep into their minds through hypnosis, I attempted to give them a solution,” says Ujjwala. She enjoyed her role to the hilt but it was difficult to pursue a career like that with a small child at home.
As she says, it was not a very tough decision to quit her career as a hypnotherapist as she enjoyed baking and had taken a course in baking when she was in class 10. “I always had a knack in baking and when I distributed portions of what I made at home for my kids to family and friends with small kids, they liked it very much and encouraged me to start a business,” says Ujjwala.
Thought put into action and was born ‘Cupcakes and more’ on August 15, 2015, which Ujjwala says was a day of freedom for her.
Vegetable cakes and cookies
Vegetable cookies are made the same way as any other cake. It’s only the way the healthy ingredients are incorporated in the dough that makes it different. With some vegetables she makes a puree, a few others she mashes and a few she grates and mixes with the dough. Beetroot gives a pink tinge to the cakes and cookies while pumpkin gives them a yellow hue, attractive enough to draw the kids’ attention.
On an average, Ujjwala makes 10–15 specialities in a day and currently caters to demands only from Bengaluru, where she is based. From her hometown Bokaro, Ujjwala had moved to Delhi and then Chandigarh for her higher studies.
Ujjwala takes a minimum of half kg cake orders and prefers a one day notice to deliver her goodies. In case the cookies and cakes need to be delivered for an occasion, the notice period certainly goes up.