by Patty Liston
I’ve been using agave nectar
now for several months. It's like honey in that that it is sticky, thick, sweet and most importantly, natural. You can use it as a replacement for honey, and won’t really notice that the taste is just a little different. To me Agave has a cleaner, less cloying, taste. It is easy to use in place of sweeteners that a recipe would call for.
I also use it in my tea. YUM! If you or someone you know is a diabetic, Agave nectar is a perfect sweetener due to its low glycemic index- so it is more slowly absorbed into the bloodstream. Vegans like it because unlike honey it isn't an animal product. Blue Agave is the purest, and can be found in health food stores. Due to the growing popularity of this sweetener, some supermarkets are even beginning to stock it, so you may check there as well.
According to various web-sites, Agaves are large, spiky plants that resemble cactus or yuccas in both form and habitat, but they are actually succulents similar to the familiar Aloe Vera.
I’ve included some recipes for you to try using Agave. You will see how easy it is to use, and how delicious the results are!
Almond Agave Butter
Makes 24 Servings
1/2 lb. butter
1/4 cup almond flavored liqueur
1/4 cup Agave Nectar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
Beat butter until smooth. Gradually add liqueur and Agave Nectar. Stir in orange peel. Chill until ready to serve.
Download this recipe.
Agave Oat Bars
Makes 12 bars
These simple but flavor-packed bars provide heart-healthy fiber, good fats, and aromatic ingredients such as cinnamon and agave nectar (look for agave in the honey section of your natural products store).
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole-grain O-shaped cereal, or granola
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped (about 12 large dates)
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon butter or canola oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together oats, cereal, and sesame seeds; spread on a baking sheet and toast in oven, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add chopped dates, almonds, and wheat germ. Toss with hands until well-mixed, breaking up clumps.
2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter, or heat oil. Add agave nectar or honey, stirring until bubbly. Stir in almond butter and cinnamon until smooth. Pour into dry ingredients and mix together quickly.
3. Press mixture into a 9x13-inch pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Cut into bars and wrap separately in waxed paper. Store in refrigerator.
Download this recipe.
Apple Agave Tart
Makes 4 Servings
1 (17-1/4 oz.) puff pastry dough
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup white zinfandel wine*
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1 stick (3-inch) cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1 slice (1/4-inch) fresh ginger root
3 medium apples, pared, cored and sliced
Whipped cream or low-fat dairy sour cream
Cut two 5-inch hearts out of puff pastry. Cut 1/2-inch wide strips of pastry from remaining dough. Brush edges of hearts with beaten egg. Twist and line edges of hearts with dough strips, joining ends of strips with egg mixture as necessary. Bake according to package directions. When golden and baked, remove or push down puffy centers of hearts to allow space for apple filling. Bring wine, Agave Nectar and spices to boil in 9- to 10-inch skillet; reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Add apples in one layer, return mixture to boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until apples are tender. Carefully remove slices from liquid and drain thoroughly. Reduce liquid until syrupy; cool. Brush bottom of crust with syrup; arrange poached apples over syrup. Serve with dollops of whipped or sour cream.
*If desired, apple juice may be substituted for wine.
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