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Sweeter Than Honey: A Look at Agave Nectar

Last year, my friend bribed each of her kids with $60 a piece if they gave  up sugar for the entire summer vacation. They weren’t even allowed honey.  The only sweetener she allowed them was agave nectar.

When I took them on a picnic, I was in charge of bringing dessert, and was excited to experiment with this sweetener I was hearing so much about.  It worked well in a panna cotta, and I have since used it in all kinds of things: dressings, breads, and anything else I might make with honey.

Agave nectar comes from Mexican agave plants (which look like huge aloe plants), and include several different species: Blue Agave, Salmiana Agave, and Green Agave, among others.  The liquid is harvested from the plants’ root systems.

Now, I am in no way an expert on the subject, but in my reading, I have learned that agave nectar is a smart choice, not only because it is sweeter than honey or sugar by volume, and less of it is required for a recipe, but also because it is lower on the glycemic index.  That means that after eating it, it does not spike your blood sugar levels quite as high as other sweeteners.

It can be a good source for iron, soluble fiber, and calcium.  Though I am still a sucker for plain white sugar and white flour, I do try using healthier ingredients when I remember.  Lately, I find myself reaching for the bottle of agave nectar more often.

So next time you are in a health food store, look for a bottle of it.  You may just see it turn up in some of my recipes in the future.

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