Refined sugar is pretty much everywhere. It’s not just packaged cakes, muffins and cookies that contain refined sugar, it’s also present in our store-bought sauces, dips, sandwich spreads, packaged fruit juices and soft drinks and some brands even add it to breads. Refined sugar is linked with numerous dangerous health conditions, from weight gain to increased risk of heart diseases, high blood sugar or diabetes, etc. Excessive consumption of sugar may also lead to faster skin ageing as well as frequent acne and breakouts. This is why health experts have been warning against consumption of too much sugar and have been urging us to look for healthier alternatives like natural sweeteners. Dates have been hailed as one of the best natural sweeteners out there.
What Makes Dates A Healthy Sweetener: Nutritional Values And Facts
The naturally sweet taste of dates or khajoor is what makes it a great alternative for refined sugar. This high-calorie fruit has been a staple in the Middle East and in the Indus Valley for thousands of years. What makes dates extremely good as natural alternatives for refined sugar in desserts and sweet dishes is the fact that ripened dates have a sugar content of around 80 per cent. The remainder is made up of protein, good amounts of dietary fibre, as well as a range of trace minerals like zinc, magnesium, manganese etc. A 100 gram portion of dates contains 282 kcal of energy (as per data by United States Department of Agriculture).
Dates are powerhouses of energy and fibre and a paste or syrup made from dates may be used instead of refined sugar for sweetening a wide range of desserts like cakes, cupcakes, granola bars, puddings, halwas, ladoos, burfis etc.
Healthy Cooking Tips: Turn dates into healthy sweetening alternative for refined sugar
How To Make Date Paste To Replace Sugar
There’s a very easy way of turning dates into a nutritional sweetener- date paste. All you need is some ripe dates and some water for soaking, as well as an electric blender. Follow this method to make date paste:
1. Soak the pitted dates in lukewarm or warm water for a few hours.
2. Remove the soaked dates and save the water.
3. Puree the dates in a blender and add the soaking water, until they attain a paste-like consistency.
4. You may add some salt or cinnamon to lightly flavour this paste. This date paste can be used in the same quantities as honey or maple syrup in your dessert recipes.