Friday Food Focus: Agave

Agave has recently made the rounds as a new, some might say “trendy”, sweetener.  In an effort to veer from all that proccessed stuff (e.g. artificial sugars, corn syrup), “natural” sweeteners have become strong contenders in the foodie-world – agave seems to be the front-runner in this movement.  It looks and flows like honey, but its associations are often related to the famous liquor, Tequila. However, it is certainly not new and it has many uses other than providing libations!

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I purchased my first bottle of this nectar a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve use it on toast as a pre-run snack, and on top of my oatmeal as a honey-substitute.  I’ve yet to decide if I prefer this to honey, but it’s definitely ranking high up there with my taste buds.

The taste is different; equally as strong and present as honey would be, but for some it is considered “more palatable”. It originates from the Agave plant in Southern Mexico, where it is known as “aguamiel”, or “honey water”.  (Source)

According to an article recently published on WebMD, these are some other things you should know about Agave:

  • It is grown in the United States, too! “More than 300 species of agave plants grow in the southern United States, northern South America, and the hilly regions of Mexico.”
  • It contains ~60 calories per tablespoon – vs. “table”-sugar’s 40 calories per tablespoon. However, because it is sweeter, you end up using less of it.
  • It does contain trace amounts of various nutrients (calcium, potassium and magnesium), but not enough to “matter nutritionally”.
  • It ranks lower than most sweeteners on the Glycemic Index. Because of this, some professionals may refer to it as a “more diabetic-friendly sugar”. However, there is insignicant evidence behind that claim.

This article, titled “The Truth About Agave”, concludes with this:

“It’s better to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruit than with any kind of concentrated sugar. Not only is it unprocessed, and fiber- and nutrient-rich, it has an even lower glycemic index than agave.”

I will always agree that the only “natural” sweetness comes from fruit! That being said, Agave has found its place in my pantry and you definitely see it around in a recipe or two!

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For more ideas on Agave uses, there are recipes listed here and here! Or, you can simply go my route and top your whole-wheat toast (w or w/o nut butter), or your morning bowl of oats.

Happy Friday!

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This post is part of a series. In previous editions, we’ve talked about Tempeh and Tofu. What else would you like to see on Friday’s Food Focus?

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5 Comments

Filed under food, new things!, Nutrition, recipes

5 responses to “Friday Food Focus: Agave

  1. I don’t use much honey or agave, but I do like having it as a sweetener option to add a bit in smoothies or baked goods.

  2. I keep hearing about this stuff, though I haven’t seen it here yet. Thanks for the great info!

  3. This was so informative, thank you! So many articles I try to read on agave are too intricate (apparently there’s a lot to say about the stuff!). This summed it up perfectly. I’m slowly trying to lay off sweeteners completely, but I still use sweet n low in my green tea in the am. Bad, I know, but I’ve gotten it down to half a packet. Progress, right?? 🙂

  4. I just thought of a food I’d really like advice on making yummy, not just edible: KALE. I can’t figure this one out, besides cutting out the stems, steaming it, then sauteeing it, THEN putting it in soup. I feel certain you could find ways to make this yummy!

  5. Kevin

    @Amy – I like to steam kale and add to it sauteed garlic and onion, salt and pepper to taste. Have that as a side with fish or rice/beans and it’s on of my favorite heavy greens.

    @Heather – I see a lot of yellow squash at farmers’ markets these days, so I’d like to see something on that. Or like Amy, something on kale or other super greens that I never get enough of because I don’t know what else to do with them other than steam, salt/pepper.

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