Healthy Ways to Sweeten Your Food
Candies, gumdrops, sweet icing on the cake...sweet and sugar infused delights are always a temptation for all of us. But with growing health concerns such as strokes, diabetes and obesity, sugar cravings need to be controlled. Fret not. Endless home recipes exist for naturally sweetening food the healthy way. Here are a few ways in which you can enjoy that sugar craving without worrying about hospital visits and increasing waistlines.
Honey is an excellent way to do away with the phlegm and allergies from the body. Not only this, honey is much sweeter than white sugar and acts as a healthy substitute to it. Therefore, if you use only one-third amount of honey as compared to white sugar, your desserts are bound to taste much richer and creamier. Add it homemade sauces and salads and you can add texture and varied consistency to any dish. Drizzle it as a dressing on piping hot vegetables or mix it with a bit of chilli sauce and lemon, it is an ideal natural sweetener.
Raisins or Kishmish can be added to any sweet dish as the sweetening agent present in them gives ample amount of taste.
Dates (also known as khajur) have around 60% sugar content and the more you dry them, the more water evaporates from them, increasing the sugar content in them. However, make sure that when you use dates, you don’t use them in dishes which require liquefying sugar in a liquid. This is because date sugar does not dissolve well. They are best when used along with baked dishes. So, ditch the white sugar this festive season and sweeten your desserts and baked dishes with khajur instead.
Figs (also known as anjeer) were used instead of sugar even when the concept of sugar was unknown to man. They contain fifty per cent sugar content and are a rich source of iron too. Pre-soak them for adding a better and richer taste to your food.
Fruits: Fruits such as apples, strawberries, blueberries, mangos and pineapple can be served as desserts. All you need to do is lightly sauté them in a bit of olive oil, add the said fruit and a bit of water. Let the fruit cook in its own juices and relish it as a dessert or as an evening/mid-morning snack.
Jaggery (also known as gur) is prepared by the extract of sugarcane juice, gur is dark, unrefined sugar and is one of the most available ingredients in Indian households. An excellent source of iron, gur is also full of many medicinal properties. However, one needs to be careful when eating gur as it can lead to a sudden hike in the blood sugar levels. Diabetics, watch out for the quantity of gur you eat!
While these are healthy natural food sweeteners, it's important to remember that an overdose of any kind of sugar (no matter how healthy) is not good for you in the long run. These natural sweeteners have a definite advantage over white sugar, as they are sweeter, and also contain many nutrients. Therefore, use these natural sweeteners, but use them in the right quantities.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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