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Can doughnuts be healthy? Elite Sweets thinks they can

Pam LeBlanc

You probably won’t find doughnuts at the top of anyone’s list of so-called health super foods.

But the University of Texas students behind Austin-based Elite Sweets have unveiled what they describe as a healthier alternative to those traditional breakfast pastries, and they say their “protein doughnuts” make the perfect post-workout snack for athletes.

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The doughnuts come in cinnamon sugar, peanut butter, birthday cake and chocolate chip flavors.

Not to burst the runner’s high you just went out and earned, but don’t go expecting fluffy, puffy, yeasty rings of dough. These dense little numbers taste vaguely like the beefed-up version of a cake doughnut you’d buy from a vending machine, only less sweet and with a slight plasticky (or something) afterburn.

Still, they pack a powerful, 16-gram wallop of protein. That’s a good dent in the recommended dietary allowance of .36 grams of protein per pound of person per day – or about 56 grams for the average sedentary man and 46 for the average sedentary woman. Most regular doughnuts contain little to no protein.

Brothers Amir, who attends UT, and Amin Bahari, a UT graduate, co-founded Elite Sweets along with two former UT football players, Timothy Cole Jr. and Caleb Bluiett. The brothers lived near a doughnut shop just west of campus, and Cole and Bluiett spent a lot of time there, too.

“Being in college with a low budget, that was a lot of our meals – doughnuts,” Amir Bahari said. “That or Whataburger.”

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Convinced that everyone likes doughnuts, the men decided to develop a high-protein, less sugary version that would appeal to athletes. They began working on the product almost a year ago, targeting health-conscious eaters, many of whom had eliminated doughnuts from their diets.

“We decided to make it healthier, because clearly all our lifestyles revolved around health and fitness,” he said. “Most of our customers are like, ‘We haven’t had doughnuts in years.’”

While a conventional doughnut contains about 300 calories and 20 to 30 grams of sugar, an Elite Sweets cinnamon sugar version, which is sweetened with stevia, contains about 200 calories and 2 grams of sugar. It also contains 15 grams of fat, mainly from the almond flour used instead of processed wheat flour to make it, and a good, 12-gram jolt of dietary fiber, nearly half of the recommended daily intake.

The doughnuts are gluten free. They last about two weeks in a refrigerator or three months in a freezer, Bahari said.

Bahari delivered a sampler pack to the Austin American-Statesman containing four frozen, individually packed “doughnuts” and tubs of pink frosting, chocolate frosting and colorful candy sprinkles.

In a blind taste test, you wouldn’t mistake an Elite Sweets doughnut for one of those famous, orange-hued patries from Round Rock Donuts. But if you think of it as a new kind of protein bar, well, maybe.

“We say go ahead and eat one in the morning with coffee or as a post-workout snack,” Amir Bahari said.

The doughnuts are baked in Austin, and you can buy them at two coffee shops – Cafe Creme, 1834 East Oltorf Street, and 360 Uno, 3801 North Capitol of Texas Highway in Davenport Village, and two fitness studios – Defiant CrossFit, 16801 Radholme Court in Round Rock, and Ignite Fitnez, 1005 East St. Elmo Road. They sell for $3.50 each. You can also purchased them online at for delivery in the Austin area, with a minimum order of six.

Eventually, the company hopes to develop a line of sweets that includes brownies, cookies and cheesecake.