Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baking with Agave Nectar

If you keep up on healthy foods, or are a fan of Oprah and the good doctors Oz and Roizen, you already know about the virtues of using agave nectar as a sweetener – namely an all natural sweetening ingredient with healthful properties that, best of all, does not cause blood sugar spikes in those who consume it. Diabetics, parents of sugar addicted kids, or anyone else who wants to cut refined sugars should definitely give agave nectar a try for all your everyday sweetening needs, including beverages, cereals and cooking.

Agave nectar comes in light and dark varieties (much like corn syrup) with the dark having a more pronounced flavor. In my experience, however, both are very mild in flavor (virtually undetectable in cooking) and can be used interchangeably, regardless of what the recipe specifies. Find agave nectar in natural and health food stores. If you're lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's store near you, you can pick up agave nectar at reasonable prices anytime.

Ten Speed Press and author Ania Catalano have recently come out with a great book entitled Baking with Agave Nectar, which is a great introduction to cooking with this beneficial ingredient, as well as to healthy baking as a whole, as it gives you lots of wonderful recipes for healthy baked goods. When I say healthy, I’m not talking just exchanging refined sugar for agave nectar. The author revamps the entire recipe to include healthy ingredients as much as possible without losing taste and texture, including the use of healthy whole grains wherever possible. The results are baked goods of all kinds that you can feel good about eating and serving to your family. My freezer is almost always stocked with agave nectar sweetened whole grain banana bread – perfect for breakfasts or snacks. Many, but not all of the recipes in the book are vegan.

Yes, you may have to go to a health food store (or order online) for some of the flours and ingredients, but the results are worth the effort. Agave aside, this is a great whole grain baking book. My only criticism is that I wish it included nutritional information for the recipes, as the audience for this book certainly has interest in, and need for. such information, especially those dealing with diabetes.

Recipe chapters include Muffins, Tea breads, and Breakfast Dishes; Cookies and Bars; Cakes and Cupcakes; Pies, Tarts, and Crisps; Ice Creams, Frozen Yogurts, and Sorbets; Special Treats; Frostings, Fillings, and Sauces; Glossary of Ingredients; Sources.

Sample Agave Sweetened Recipes from Baking with Agave Nectar


The Blonde Duck said...

What a great site! I learned a lot from this post. I had no idea what agave nectar was!

Cheri Sicard said...

One thing I forgot to mention, unlike other sugar-free sweeteners, agave DOES have calories. It is low glycemic, meaning it won't spike blood sugar levels, but it does contain about 60 calories per tablespoon.

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