Will coconut palm sugar be a healthy sugar substitute? –
My answers below with sweet potato boli recipe
When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my dietician recommended the usage of artificial sweeteners like Splenda in place of regular sugar. During diabetes, the patient is denied from foods that can spike up their blood sugar level to extreme highs. The foods are given the GI value based on the amount of blood sugar level, low numbers for lower values and vice versa. Since I was very particular about not taking in any chemicals inside my body I stopped with taking anything sweet and drank just plan milk without sugar. I totally stopped taking anything sweet, except for the small slice of chocolate cake for my baby shower 🙂 (wink). And then post pregnancy I started with healthy eating habits and avoided sugar all together with a hope to get rid of the flab around my waistline. I took a break from regular sugar consumption. Recently I discovered agave nectar and I loved its taste and I had been using that for the past 6+ months. More so recently I heard about the goodness of coconut palm sugar and decided to explore it more.
Coconut palm sugar
It is the latest product of coconut that has gained so much attention and the consumer demand for them is growing rapidly. Coconut palm sugar is proclaimed to be a healthy sugar that has low glycemic index, packed with vitamin, minerals and amino acids. Pure form is made from the nectar of the coconut palm sugar. The nectar is extracted from the flowers of the coconut tree and air dried to become brown crystals and it is packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And added advantage is that they taste just like sugar and can be used just like sugar in baking, for instance 1 cup of white sugar can be replaced by 1 cup of coconut palm sugar. As simple as that!!
Where to find one?
After much research I found brand name Sweet Tree that sells organic coconut palm sugar in the US. I bought a 16oz packet from whole foods and since we loved its texture and taste, I ordered it in bulk from Amazon.
Comparison between agave nectar and coconut palm sugar
Agave nectar has high fructose corn syrup. The fructose which is the carbohydrate found in fruits does not impact your blood sugar level as they get transported directly to liver and will be converted to fat. While coconut palm sugar has very low fructose and its main sugar component is sucrose. Sucrose (GI is 35) is nothing but table sugar (GI of 64).
To get clearer answers, I took a look at the packaging for calorie information. The number of calories in coconut palm sugar was almost close to the number of calories in agave nectar and regular table. Since we need more case studies and literature to support that coconut palm sugar might be a health food. Until then lets enjoy it for the amazing taste and for the fact that it is less processed than white sugar.
I came across a cooking competition – No More ‘Mallows! Blogger Recipe Contest. You can read about it here.
The theme of the event is to create a dish with sweet potatoes. I decided to cook South Indian dessert/snack called Boli with sweet potatoes. Poli or Boli is a traditional flat bread from Karnataka region of South India. It is generally made with all purpose flour base just like a pizza base and stuffed with a sweet filling made with jaggery, lentils or coconut. Today I wanted to recreate the same dish with ingredients that can be little bit healthier and ideal for diabetic people. So I used sweet potatoes as the main ingredient and replaced jaggery with coconut palm sugar for the filling. This dish is also called as ubattu in certain parts of Andhra Pradesh. Sweet potato and coconut palm sugar has much lower glycemic index and this dish is a little better alternative to the original version. I wouldn’t call it a healthy snack as it has all purpose flour in it. I tried to make another version with whole wheat flour dough but the boli was bit dry and less crispier. So I stuck with all purpose flour for the final recipe.
|My son is enjoying his sweet potato boli|
Hot-hot boli topped with dollop of ghee is a sure treat for both kids and adults. The crispy outer layer complements so beautifully with the aromatic filling that has been nurtured with the flavors of coconut and cardamon. I bet you definitely wonn’t stop with just one and will come back for more. Your family will love it for sure.
SWEET POTATO BOLI
Makes 15 small disks
For the dough
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
!/4 cup warm water + more to knead
2 tablespoon olive oil
For the filling
1 cup organic coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 cardamon pods
4 tablespoon unsweetened dessicated coconut
4 tablespoon all purpose flour
3 large sweet potatoes – boiled and mashed, about 1/2 lb
1 cup ghee (clarified butter) or melted butter
For the dough
1. Sift the flour with salt once, pour in the oil and add little by little water and knead to a soft dough. Cover and let it rest for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
For the filling
1. Heat the coconut palm sugar with water and cardamon in a non-stick cooking pan. Cook at simmer. After about 5-6 minutes, there will be bubbles around the edges. At this stage add the dessicated coconut and sweet potatoes and stir well to combine. Increase the heat to high and let it thicken, about 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye to prevent burning. Add four tablespoon all purpose flour and mix well. Let it cool.
2. Scoop them into tiny balls and place it over a baking tray covered with a parchment paper. Let it chill for minimum 30 minutes.
|Step by step tutorial on how to make a boli|
For the assembly
1. Roll the dough to15 small balls of equal size. Grease the working section of the granite counter with oil. Take one ball and roll out to form a circle, about 2-3 inches in diameter using a rolling pin.
2. Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, place a ball of the filling in the center of the rolled out circle and fold it from all sides, proceed to seal at the top.
3. Dust the working surface with flour and roll out the stuffed dought to form a circle. Carefully transfer the “boli” to a medium sized saucepan and cook for 8-10 minutes on each side, until done. Cook on medium low flame. When you flip over to the other side, with a pastry brush apply ghee or melted butter around the edges. This will help to crisp up the boli well. Serve hot with tea of your choice.
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