Best substitutes of sugar while cooking dishes and their measurements
Sugar is almost a permanent companion of every man’s life. At least… we can’t keep distance from a cup of tea or coffee twice a day. Sugar can also reach our body through sweets, soft drinks etc. When we buy soft and carbonate drinks and ice creams from shops, they have extra quantity of sugar content, much more than what our body and system can tolerate. Though sweeteners are available in markets as substitutes, they are more harmful than sugars. Such synthetic sugars can even cause cancer.
In modern food style, sugar is categorized along with most harmful ingredients such as fat and oil. Excess intake of sugar can lead to diabetics and other life style diseases, which are almost incurable. It can also lead to different types of cancers. It increases obesity and also the pace of aging process, thus making our body weaker. When our body is weak it gets more prone to disease conditions.
It’s not possible to completely avoid the intake of sugar. However we can control its intake, if we determine so. We can also substitute sugar with a few natural substances such as fruits, honey, dates etc, though not fully. In this topic I shall briefly explain about a few, and also their measurements to be substituted for desserts, especially bake dishes. Also read: How to overcome the tendency to take extra sweet?
Honey is one of the best natural available sweet products (though what we get is not 100% pure). Honey is prepared by honey bee using the nectar which they collect from flowers, and hence it is natural. A honey bee during its lifetime makes almost half teaspoon of honey. So what we get is a collective effort of a group of bees. Structure and taste of honey depends on the type of flowers from bees collect nectar.
80% of honey is natural sugar, 18% water, 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen grains and proteins. 70% of natural contents of honey are made of glucose (30%) and fructose (40%). Mineral contents include iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium etc. Non-processed honey is the best substitute for artificial sweeteners, and can be used to prepare any sweet dish. Minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, zinc, iron, anti-oxidants, vitamin B-6, enzymes, riboflavin, calcium etc are abundant in honey. It also has anti-microbial and defense factors needed for our body, which help in defense mechanism.
For baking products, you can substitute sugar with honey. Take measurement of honey slightly lesser than sugar ingredients. For 1 cup sugar, ½-2/3 cup of honey will be sufficient. Also reduce liquid ingredients in the recipe. 20% of honey is water. So for every cup of honey, reduce ¼ cup of liquid ingredients in the recipe such as milk, water etc. One more important thing – even if the recipe doesn’t suggest baking soda, add a little. Honey has acidity; that’s the reason, and baking soda equalizes it. For every cup of honey, use ¼ tsp of baking soda.
Also reduce the temperature needed for baking. As honey is high in sugar content, in high temperature sugar caramelizes. If so colour of baking items can easily change to dark shades. Reduce the temperature by 35 degree Fahrenheit to avoid it.
Date fruit is found only in places with high temperature such as deserts. Yet it is very tasty, and can be used to prepare many sweet dishes too. Dates have Vitamin B-6, fiber, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium etc. It also helps in the metabolic activities of protein, carbohydrate and fat and also in reducing bad cholesterol thus decreasing the possibilities of stroke.
Dates can definitely be defined as the ‘powerhouse of sweet’. Apart from natural sugar and fibers, it also has ‘caramel’ taste. Yet it’s not easy to substitute sugar with dates for recipes. Dates syrup is one such easy solution. First boil dates in water, and when its texture and consistency become similar to honey, take it off from flame. You can substitute 1 cup sugar with 2/3 cup of dates syrup for baking recipes. Dry fruits like raisins also can form a good substitute of sweetness, to some extend. But, please not, while processing such dry fruits, extra sugar is also added.
Jaggery, prepared from sugarcane is abundant in vitamins and minerals. It can reducing anaemic conditions and improves Hemoglobin content in blood. Whenever it possible, substitute processed sugar with jaggery, and make it a habit. Jaggery also contains anti-oxidants, of which selenium is the main component. Jaggery can resist many disease conditions. Its moisture content is high, comparing with sugar, and hence acidity also differ.
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