Sweeten your food without sugar or chemicals
Did you know that the average American eats almost his or her entire body weight in sugar each year? †The average teenage boy eats thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day, and the average teenage girl consumes twenty-four. When you add it up, itís easy to see how this happens.
Sugar is added to virtually all processed foods and carbonated beverages.†The average can of cola, such as Coke, 7-UP, †or Pepsi, contains ten to twelve teaspoons of sugar. Thereís a new breakfast cereal with a whopping eighteen teaspoons of sugar per serving; thatís one-third of a cup, or the equivalent of forty-eight Hersheyís Kisses. This should be of great concern as research shows that sugar and refined carbs are detrimental to our health in a multitude of ways, increasing the risk of many chronic disorders including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and breast cancer. Fortunately there are healthy natural alternatives.
Agave nectar is a multipurpose sweetener obtained from the core of the Mexican Agave cactus, also known as maguey. The plantís sap is famous as a source of tequila, however, it has been used as a natural sweetener since the 1990ís.
Agave nectar is about 25% sweeter than sugar and consists of 10% sucrose and 90% fructose along with trace amounts of minerals such as iron, calcium, potas-sium and magnesium. It has about 60 calories to the tablespoon, and the high natural fructose content of Agave syrup gives it a low glycemic index score (40 – 45), therefore affecting blood sugar levels less dramatically than ordinary sugar.
Agave is similar to honey but is slightly less viscous and dissolves easier in liquids. Most agave products are unrefined and many qualify as raw, having been processed at temperatures lower than 118įF. Its color also resembles honey, ranging from pale to dark amber with the darker colors exhibiting a more robust flavor that contains a pleasant hint of molasses.
For best results with cooking and baking use 3/4 cup Agave Nectar for every 1 cup of sugar, and reduce liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Also reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees and increase baking time slightly. Agave is a great low glycemic alternative to syrup on waffles or pancakes, and can also be used in fruit salads, coffee or tea, hot cereals, lemonade, or as an addition to BBQ sauce, among many other things.
Sample some agave nectar in this simple hot chocolate recipe:
Mexican Hot Chocolate
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
ľ tsp cinnamon
3 1/2 cups low-fat milk (can substitute soy, rice, or almond milks)
Everyday Agave: Recipes for Healthy, Everyday Eating Using a Low-Glycemic Sweetener!† by Anne Astle
Baking with Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener: by Ania Catalano and Lara Hata
Wikipedia the online dictionary
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