Pearl millet cookies incorporated with sugar substitutes: Stevia sugar and coconut sugar
P Harika Priyadarshini, Jyothi Kiran Singh
Baked products such as cookies are very popular among all age groups, especially with children. Cookies hold a significant place in the baking industry due to variety in taste, texture and aroma. They are low moisture foods with longer shelf life, generally prepared out of refined wheat flour, fat and sugar. Refined wheat flour is a key ingredient for preparing cookies due to its gluten content. However, refined wheat flour is a product of refining that contains higher proportion of starch, low dietary fiber and minerals and the resultant cookies are characterized with low proteins, fat and mineral content. Therefore, to improve its nutritive value, there is a need for replacing refined wheat flour with flour of better nutritive quality. It has potential for future human use due to its tolerance to difficult growing conditions such as drought, low soil fertility and high temperature and can be grown in areas where other cereal crops, such as maize (Zea mays) or wheat (Triticum aestivum), would not survive. Pearl millet contains substantial amount of minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc and high level of fat, it is nutritionally comparable and even superior to major cereals due to the energy and protein value. While, pearl millet is nutritious, it is underutilized in developed countries due to non-availability in convenient/ ready to eat form. Replacing of wheat flour with whole pearl millet flour has been researched previously. Cookies produced from 100% pearl millet were described as tough, hard, gritty, and mealy in texture and taste. They lacked spread and top surface cracks, which is a desirable attribute of cookies. Further improvement was made by replacing the refined wheat flour by pearl millet flour with different proportions to achieve desirable texture and nutritional increase. Decreasing the amount of sugar added to biscuits is a good strategy to obtain a healthy product. However, a reduction in the quantity of sugar may affect its nutritional value and quality. Nowadays, health is becoming a main concern for people around the world. However, many people are turning towards nature and seeking foods or food ingredients that not only healthy, but also have a good taste.There is a natural plant derived sweetener that can be used to answer all of this health problem, namely Stevia rebaudiana. It is now widely available and rapidly replacing artificial sweeteners in food products. Besides, its level of sweetness is 250 times sweeter than sucrose and it does not cause tooth cavities. Stevia has many natural anti-oxidants that can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and to control diabetes, hence it can prevent many chronic diseases. Coconut sugar is a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. The feasibility of the use of stevia and Coconut sugar for achieving healthier, nutritious and good quality cookies have been investigated. Three Pearl Millet flour cookies formulations were designed. Coconut sugar and stevia were used as sweeteners. The quality of the cookies was evaluated by measuring their moisture, thickness, diameter, ash content, carbohydrate content etc. The quality and safety of the innovative cookies was obtained by an analysis of the sugars, proteins etc. A comparison of the stevia formulated cookies, with the stevia formula and coconut sugar formulated cookies showed that the cookies had a good nutritional quality and improved texture and colour.