why not to use artificial sweeteners? A recipe of parippu pradhaman muffins using unrefined sugar for Indian soul

I know sugary food is often called soul food, it quenches a different kind of thirst, calms down the nerves etc etc. To me that happens only when the sugary treat is home made. Else it just keeps corrupting insulin response and the soul connection is a farce, absolute absurdity. I don't say I don't ever eat ice creams or jalebis but I don't feel a soul connection, rather a generous mouthful makes me feel sick from inside. We eat things for social occasions sometimes, to eat for satiety one needs to work a little extra. Bake some dessert of your own when you really want it and use unrefined sugars or other natural sweeteners.

I see people all around me using artificial sweeteners into their tea, coffee, cakes and pancakes almost everyday. I wouldn't go into details of why artificial sweeteners are bad for the system but it will be good to know that all artificial sweeteners are addictive and have much harmful effects than real sugar. So if you are not diabetic (or if the diabetes is under control, going by your hbA1 readings) and are just trying to keep your weight under control, it is better to have very lightly sweetened beverages and other eatables using real sugar or raw sugar or jaggery rather than depending on artificial sweeteners. You must know even diet soda is addictive for the same reasons.

Having said that, I must add that if you are craving sweets as a habit, it means your insulin has started taking your 'hormone cascade' hostage or has already done it. And mind it, this can be the case even if you are not diabetic. Corrupt insulin discipline in the body doesn't always mean onset if diabetes. It could lead to insulin resistance or hypothyroidism or in a habit of binging and storage of fat in your body, even if you have been eating low fat foods and low cholesterol or 'cholesterol free' foods.

The question I am often asked is, what to eat? I ask, is sugar the only food and sweetness the only taste that makes sense? Why not some zing in the life? Sweetness in the excessive measure corrupts the taste buds and makes your body crave for it more, causing serious imbalances as I mentioned above.

Craving for sweets and cakes is a bad sign, get rid of it.

And if you want to wean yourself from too many sweeteners or you want to bake an occasional treat for a diabetic person in the family, why not bake using natural sweeteners?

 There are a few natural sweeteners and unrefined sugars I use frequently and never feel like adding sugar to my cakes or pancakes or cookies. Yes jaggery and honey are good natural sweeteners but these two need to be used in small quantities to make mildly sweetened dessrts

Other great natural sweeteners are ripe bananas, date paste, figs paste, chopped or pureed prunes, apple sauce, sapota puree, raisins and currants, sweet apricot puree, roasted peach puree and mango puree. One can add these to the recipe for baking cakes or cookies and drizzle them with very little honey or home made fruit preserves and the food will be naturally great tasting. The sweetness will be more complex and satisfying and the GI value of the food will be lower, helping your system not to fall prey to craving.

And now coming back to the recipe which is sweetened with unrefined sugar and can be lower GI than a 'white flour artificial sweetener' cake or muffin. Calorie count will be a bit high but being low GI this small muffin would keep you full for quite a long time.

This is my baked rendition of a famous Onam recipe from Kerala called Parippu Pradhaman. Yes, we can bake the traditional puddings that we have grown up loving. Parippu Pradhaman is traditionally a low GI, gluten free desserts but baking makes the recipe convenient for those who are away from home and traditional cooking is not as convenient. This recipe takes 25 minutes to prepare including 20 minutes of baking time. Just 5 minutes to assemble and mix the ingredients. Believe me.

(6 muffins)
mung bean flour or chickpeas flour 2/3 cup
powdered jaggery or unsulphured sugar 1/3 cup
coconut milk 150 ml or 2/3 cup
dehydrated coconut chips 1/2 cup
chopped cashew nuts 2 tbsp


Dry roast the mung bean flour for about 5 minutes. If you don't have mung bean flour you can powder yellow mung dal into a sturdy grinder and proceed. Else us chickpeas flour (besan) but that would compromise the taste.

Mix everything together, saving a few chopped cashews for garnish and make a thick batter.

Pour equal amount of batter in 6 ramekins or lined muffin tray. Sprinkle chopped cashew over these and bake in preheated oven at 200C for 20 minutes.

Serve plain or drizzled with coconut milk. The aroma in the kitchen will just be like you were cooking the traditional parippu pradhaman. Always serve warm although it tastes good even when at room temperature.

You can see this recipe doesn't need anything that needs too much work. Fresh coconut can be used and would result in a better taste but using dehydrated tender coconut chips is not bad.

The chopped cashew nuts get browned and taste really good with the dry version of parippu pradhaman.

I have posted a baked version of traditional north Indian besan ki pinni where I use baking as a convenience procedure, the taste of the traditional pinni is not compromised.

Another baked version of a traditional Indian (north) dessert is baked sevaiyyan that is my effort to make Eed ki sevaiyyan more convenient for the modern kitchen..

Many Indian mithais can be converted into baked version for the ease of cooking as well as to control the amount of cooking fat and the sweeteners used. I even use Microwave oven to make an instant apple kalakand.

Hope you like this baked parippu pradhaman (muffin) as much as I liked them.