Sweets without sugar: This festive season, indulge in Indian sweets without putting on weight
Festivals are such an integral part of our culture! There are rich traditions and customs interwoven with ancestral foods and memories, and we must manage to keep them the same.
Yet it is common for festivals to leave you with added weight and skin breakouts from all the sugar in the sweets. Most often people find themselves losing weight just by giving up on sugars. It is also true that your body does not know the difference between refined sugar and healthy sugars in terms of metabolism. But your body does know that difference in terms of inflammation. To keep the inflammation down, letting go of all refined sugars is very important.
Are there some sweets that do not make a huge impact on your weight? Can you use jaggery, honey, and coconut sugar in small amounts, to combine with certain fats and protein-rich ingredients, so that you can enjoy sweets while not gaining weight?
If your overall diet is balanced and healthy, which is crucial, then you can absolutely eat certain sweets and not be affected. It also matters that you do not have them every single day. Having some of these protein-rich sweets during a festival or occasionally is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
What are some of these healthy sweets that will not make you gain weight?
1. Peanut jaggery ball is a wonderful sweet that combines our ancient protein-rich peanuts with jaggery. While tradition usually combines equal amounts of powdered peanuts with jaggery, you can reduce the jaggery and increase the peanut until you find that the sweetness is just enough to satisfy you.
The fats released by the peanut, when you grind them, is adequate to hold the mixture together. Form them into a small ball using your hand and let them cool. If you have sensitivities to peanuts or issues with oxalates, which are seen as joint pains, then you might have to give this one a miss. If you can tolerate peanuts, the rich protein and fats present in it reduce the glycemic index of the jaggery. Your kids will absolutely love it!
2. Who does not love a great kheer? In a traditional Kerala sadhya, one cannot miss the red rice payasam or kheer. Using fibre and nutrient-rich red rice, which is simmered with coconut milk, cardamom, and jaggery, is a wonderful sweet.
Coconut milk is rich in healthy fats. If you are extracting it at home from fresh coconuts, that’s wonderful! If you do not have the time, make sure that you find canned coconut milk that lists only coconut and water as the ingredients. Most coconut milk produced in India has many additives, emulsifiers, and preservatives. Use just enough jaggery to satisfy your sweet tooth, and enjoy this after a hearty meal similar to a sadhya.
3. The good old besan laddoo is another wonderful sweet. Combining protein-rich besan with ghee, cardamom powder, and jaggery is a great way to enjoy a sweet, without adding a lot to your weight. Remember that the key is to use just enough of jaggery to reach the level of sweetness to satisfy your sweet tooth and not to overdo anything.
If you decide to enjoy one, then savour that one slowly. Also, remember that your level of sweetness may be high when you have been addicted to sweets. You have to slowly start reducing the sweetness in some of these sweets until you get your tastes accustomed to enjoying lower levels of sweetness. If you are buying a besan laddoo, always look at the ingredients and get the one which says pure ghee versus poor quality fats, and with jaggery instead of refined sugar.
4. Fruit and nut sweets are very common these days. A laddoo made of dates, almonds, pistachios, cardamoms, dried figs, and cashew nuts is a great way to get some vitamin and mineral-rich nuts and dried fruit into the diet while satisfying the sweet tooth and remaining healthy. Always remind yourself that they are high in sugar nonetheless, and will impact your blood sugar and weight if you go overboard.
One of the benefits of traditional sweets is the combination of proteins from different lentils and nuts, healthy fats like ghee and coconut milk, jaggery, and spices like cardamoms. Compared to processed sweets like ice-creams, pastries, and cookies, they are definitely a better way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Keeping them lower in sweetness to the level that is just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, and eating just enough to not affect your weight is a wonderful way for you to indulge without impact. Enjoy the festivities without feeling the impact on your weight!
Edited by Suman Singh