The Sugar Free life

Many of us grew up using refined white sugar. Consuming too much of the nutritive sweeteners or sugar grains can result in numerous health issues, which includes diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Nutritive sweeteners provide calories or energy to the diet at about 4 calories per gram. Non-nutritive sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners do not provide calories and will not influence blood sugar levels.

Some of the excellent sugar substitutes are Table Sugar, Sugar Free Gold and Sugar Free Natura. Table Sugar is a natural source of sweetness. It is composed of glucose and fructose. Sugar Free Gold is made from a protein derivative ‘Aspartame’ and is ideal for your tea, coffee and lemon juice as they are 200 times sweeter than sugar. Sugar Free Natura is sucralose, a non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. It is derived from sugar (or sucrose) through a multi-step patented manufacturing process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. This change produces a sweetener that has no calories, yet is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. It tastes like sugar and does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Since sucralose is non-caloric, it adds no calories to any of your foods and beverages. It is not broken down like sucrose and therefore not utilized for energy in the body. It passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged. Food items made with sucralose. However, may contain calories from the other ingredients that are used to make them.

It has been proved through research and clinical studies that sucralose can be safely consumed by diabetics. It is not recognized by the body as sugar or even as a carbohydrate and is not metabolized by the body for energy. It does not affect blood glucose levels and does not have any effect on blood glucose utilization, carbohydrate metabolism or insulin production. Over 110 safety studies have been done on sucralose. It is absolutely safe to use them and has been approved by WHO,USFDA and FSSAI.

Scientific studies have also shown that sucralose does not promote tooth decay since it does not support the growth of oral bacteria. It is freely soluble in water at both high and low temperatures and therefore, can be used in most food products. It is also heat stable and ideal for cooking and baking without any loss in sweetness. It can be used for making a wide range of desserts and mithais besides being used as a tabletop sweetener like in tea, coffee, lassi and yes can also be used in the making of ice creams.

But yes it does not perform certain actions that sugar does. It lacks the browning, tenderizing and moisture retaining properties provided by table sugar. Moreover, it cannot be caramelized or used to make candies. Certain modifications need to be incorporated while using sucralose. When the recipe calls for beating ingredients like butter, sugar and eggs together you will need to beat the ingredients a bit longer to incorporate enough air into the mixture. With sucralose, you won’t be able to bake as good as done with sugar. Therefore, addition of cocoa or other dark ingredients may be necessary to get the browning effect. Also, ingredients like buttermilk may be needed for moisture retention. Baked goods will get done faster so one will need to check for doneness a bit earlier than the time that a recipe with sugar calls for. Furthermore, these foods will last longer if stored in a refrigerator.

Substitute Sugar Free in your everyday diet and see the difference.

Live healthy, live Sugar Free. I live a Sugar Free life, do you?

Gajar halwa – The dessert of winter

Gajar halwa or, as we fondly call it in northern India, gajrela, is a famous sweet made in all Punjabi homes during winter. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some even like it nine days old! It does take to refrigeration well and some families always have a large tin of gajar halwa so that they can enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
It is a must as a winter dessert. However, this dessert is high in calories and carbohydrates, so those who are conscious about their sugar intake can take a tip or two from my variations in Gajar and Khajur Halwa as well as Sugarfree Gajar Halwa. If you diabetic, or borderline diabetic, be careful about what you eat during the rest of the day, and save it for special occasions. The challenge in making a tasty gajar halwa with some compromise lies in retaining the full-bodied sweetness of the carrots and not to mask it with added sweeteners. My addition of dates is an attempt to reduce the amount of sugar and make the dessert healthier.
To make Gajar and Khajur ka Halwa, first heat a kadai. Add 8-10 medium grated carrots and ½ cup sugar and cook for about five minutes. Add 2 cups skimmed milk and continue to cook. Add ¾ cup seeded and chopped dates, 8-10 roughly chopped cashewnuts, ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and mix. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes. When dry and cooked, add 2 tablespoons pure ghee. Mix well and this is best served hot. To use a sugar substitute, heat 3 tablespoons pure ghee in a kadai. Add 8-10 medium grated carrots and sauté for about five minutes. Add 2 cups skimmed milk and cook. Blanch 10-12 pistachios, peel and slice. Add ¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder, 10-15 sultanas, 18 measures sugarfree and mix. Cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. Add ¼ cup grated khoya and mix. Cook till the mixture is almost dry. Garnish with pistachios. Serve hot or cold.
When carrots are in season you could look at various savory options like Gajar Tamatar Pulao or Methi Gajar Muthia too. For different ideas during Diwali you could also make a Gajar Halwa Burfi or Gajar Kheer. But ask any Indian, settled in the east or the west, they will claim that gajar halwa is the best!

Fun filled festivities with fewer calories!

Everyone is looking out for Indian festive recipes now that the festive season is here well and good! It means those who have a sweet tooth and are health conscious will be literally looking at tightening their belts! It is so easy to go overboard in these days because there is so much food visible – fancy foods are made not only at home but there is so much variety available in the market too. You will find a flood of sugarless sweets and low calorie savouries on the shelves now. It is easy to get tempted and buy a lot of them with the thought that consuming them may not mean a lot of calories. But beware, drop by drop does an ocean fill! Too much of ‘low-calorie’ can also add up to too many extra calories! Secondly, there is always a trace of doubt as to what the commericalised ‘low calorie’ can mean!
Indian festive recipes are needed as festivities in our homes can mean a round of lunches, dinners and parties with a lot of snacky food and desserts. It is not always possible for the hostess or host to provide an absolutely ‘healthy’ menu to the guests: some people expect traditional fried foods too! But here we can suggest that you avoid whatever you think does not fit into your daily meal plan. Go for those dishes that look low in fat.
It is not so difficult to provide low calorie foods during festivals. Switch to baking instead of frying. One can bake samosas, namakparas and karanjis. For a sample try Baked Namakpara. You can also rustle up a variety of mini idlis and dhoklas. In sweets, sugar substitutes are the answer. Take a look at Sugar Free Mathura ka Pedha and Gajar Halwa Sugarfree. Otherwise use natural sources like dates and anjeer to add sweetness. For example, Date and Anjeer Baked Karanji and Date and Walnut Laddoo are good recipes.
It is the trend now to gift fresh fruit baskets instead of dry fruit boxes as the former are lower in calories! The trick to remain fit during the festive season is to eat in moderation. You will not be bogged down with any guilt pangs then! And then you always this little spot where you can read up on low calorie Indian festive recipes!