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I’m sure all of you have heard of Jennifer’s Lopez’s viral 10-day no sugar challenge? Along with her stringent exercise routine, she followed through with this challenge and the results were astounding.

My only qualm with all such health challenges is that most people are invariably told to cut-down, remove, and avoid items (unless it’s junk food!) when they embark upon their fitness journey and sugar ranks on top in most cases!

What if I told you that a nature-given sugar substitute exists and that there’s no need to have your morning coffee with a packaged sweetener anymore? 

Jaggery – an unrefined sugar substitute made with concentrated sugar cane juice and date/palm sap. Is it healthier than refined sugar? The answer is, YES! The high content of molasses (which is removed while industrially refining sugar), makes it a healthy alternative. It’s high in iron, fiber, magnesium and potassium. 

The best part, the intake amount isn’t any different from your regular sugar intake. So, don’t think twice before adding a spoonful of jaggery to your morning jolt. Having a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t come from holding back on food groups, it comes from having what your body is used to and ensuring that meals are balanced.

It’s also great alternative for the juice fast fad, a glass of jaggery water helps in detoxifying your liver and generates healthy enzymes that aid in digestion. I KNOW! This is an ancient superfood that was part of regular meals and people consumed it without any health challenges back then! 

You know one of the first ‘packing for the U.S’ advice I got was to carry jaggery from India? Yeah, it’s ingrained in our meal preparation to that extent! After my stock got over, I started looking out for options here in Seattle. My regular grocery store carries unrefined palm sugar but I wasn’t convinced. People wrote down the spelling to see if they could recall seeing it on the shelves. I finally visited my local Indian store and found what I was looking for. All Indian stores in Seattle carry jaggery, if you guys ever want to give it a go!   

I’ll conclude this week’s Mondays with Madhu with a quick recipe of my go-to healthy snack — Jaggery peanut bars! 

JAGGERY PEANUT BARS

Ingredients:

1 cup of roasted unsalted peanuts (no skin)
1 cup of ground Jaggery
1 cup water
1 tsp cardamom for aroma (optional

Directions:

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the jaggery and the water. Stir it in medium flame till the consistency is such – take a bowl of water. When you drop a pinch of jaggery mixture into water it should immediately harden, and you should be able to make it into a ball. This means the right consistency is achieved. It hasn’t reached the right consistency if the jaggery mixture splits as soon as it touches the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add the roasted peanuts and mix until well combined. This would take about 10 minutes. Keep stirring to avoid the mixture from burning. At this stage add cardamom.
  3. Immediately transfer into a tray lined with parchment paper and pat it down with a spatula.
  4. Wait for it cool down completely before cutting into bars.

Voila! A healthy, crunchy and sugar free snack is ready. Time to remove those protein bars from your grocery list!

What’s your favorite homemade healthy snack?

Madhu Narayan
Mondays with Madhu
Guest blogger, Plant Life Meals