The Salty Donut Makes Gluten-Free Doughnuts Under 150 Calories

Indulging in a doughnut often brings feelings of guilt and regret. At the Salty Donut, not so much. The pop-up shop (29 NW 24th St.), which will become a permanent store in spring 2016, sells gluten-free, baked doughnuts under 150 calories. 

"People ask all the time if we're lying when we have them on the menu," Amanda Pizarro, cofounder of the Salty Donut, says. "It's possible because of the process we use to make them." 

The gluten-free, low-calorie offerings are butter-free and baked instead of fried, reducing the overall calorie count. They are equally rich in flavor and about the same size as regular doughnuts, but their texture is not as dense. Still, Pizarro says many customers don't realize they're any different.

"When you think gluten-free, you imagine it having a weird texture or not the best taste," she says. "But that's really not the case. People have been obsessed with them." The pop-up menu rotates weekly, but at least one gluten-free, 150-calorie-or-fewer doughnut is always offered. Since the shop opened late last year, there have been three flavors: baked spiced pumpkin, spiced apple cider, and baked chocolate cake. The spiced pumpkin, featuring a pumpkin glaze and topped with caramelized pumpkin seeds, and the apple cider, made with spiced vanilla and cinnamon, fall just below 100 calories each.

"The pumpkin spice is actually my personal favorite," she says. "But we didn't do it on purpose with it being less than 100 calories. It just sort of happened that way. We were trying to cater to a gluten-free crowd but realized that also caters to a healthy crowd too. Because both of the doughnuts have no butter and aren't fried, the amount of calories are just so low." 

The baked chocolate cake doughnut, which is about 120 calories, is made with roasted cocoa nibs, rich chocolate devil's food cake, salted ganache Belgian chocolate, and turbinado sugar. "This is definitely one of our more indulgent doughnuts," Pizarro says. "We use a dark chocolate base, and the glaze is pure chocolate with nothing added to it."

Pizarro says the regular doughnuts offered, such as the lemon-and-rosemary or brown-butter-and-salt, aren't the gut bombs one might assume, either. "The general thought of a doughnut is it has a lot of calories," she says. "I thought they for sure did too, but when I started calculating, I realized they didn't. The lemon-and-rosemary is about 260 calories. When you start getting into Boston creme, it's a bit more, but no more than 500. I think that's why when people eat them, they don't feel bad or guilty."

She attributes the relative low calorie count to the Salty Donut's artisanal practices. "We really do make everything in house," she says. "Nothing is artificial or processed."

The Salty Donut's next goal is to create a gluten-free baked doughnut that's vegan too. "There's one little ingredient in them right now that makes them not vegan," she laughs. "They're already like 90 percent vegan. We don't know exactly what we'll be doing in the weeks ahead, but we're definitely going to keep one gluten-free, hopefully vegan, doughnut on the menu."

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Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor, with her work appearing in print and digital titles worldwide.
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