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Volume II
April 6, 2009

Sweet, Savory, and Sugar-Free
By Calli Rhoades

You may or may not have heard of agave nectar as a low calorie substitute for sugar, but if you haven’t I would love to introduce you to this wonderful product. The sweetener comes from the agave plant, which is native to Mexico. It tastes similar to honey and the strong sweet flavor can go a long way in sweetening treats without all the calories. This is a great option for diabetics and anyone else trying to find a solution for enjoying sweet treats without sending your blood sugar soaring.

“Agave Nectar is the recommended natural caloric sweetener in low calorie diets for reduction and weight control, mainly when it is added to non-acid foods and beverages. It might be used in less than quantity than sucrose or synthetic sweeteners, obtaining the same sweetness level with fewer calories.”

To read more about agave and the benefits of agave to your diet, check out our Agave Nectar page.

Substituting Agave

There is no need to forsake all your favorite recipes for sweet treats just because you are looking to cut back on calories. These simple guidelines for substitution will help turn favortie recipes into new, healthier versions that you can indulge in without all that guilt! Cook'n also has a title with over 300 agave recipes that are already converted for you.

Agave nectar is most easily substituted for liquid sugars, since it is already in liquid form and the difference in moisture will usually be negligible. Because of its lower glycemic index, it makes an excellent substitute for many natural and refined liquid sugars such as honey, maple syrup and corn syrup. Other sugars, such as granulated sugar, can also be replaced with agave nectar.

Here are basic guidelines to help you get started.

Substituting Agave Nectar for Liquid Sugar

Honey: Replace each cup of honey with one cup of agave syrup.

Maple Syrup: Replace each cup of maple syrup with one cup of agave syrup.

Brown Rice Syrup: When replacing a cup of brown rice syrup, use 1/2 to 1/3 as much agave, and increase other liquids in the recipe by up to 1/2 a cup.

Corn Syrup: When replacing a cup of light corn syrup, use 1/2 as much agave, and increase other liquids in the recipe by up to 1/3 of a cup. Like corn syrup, agave nectar will not crystallize.

Substituting Agave Nectar for Granulated Sugar

White Sugar: For each cup of white sugar replaced, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. This substitution will also work for Demerara Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice, or Sucanat.

Brown Sugar: For each cup of white sugar replaced, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup. Because the moisture content of Brown Sugar is higher than that of white sugar, liquids may not have to be reduced as much when substituting agave nectar.

Here are some recipes using Agave! Try them this Easter!

Agave Clove-Glazed Ham

3/4 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey or 2 teaspoons Mexican Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
5 pounds bone-in fully cooked ham, spiral sliced

Combine agave, bourbon and cloves in small bowl until well blended. Place ham, cut-side down, in roasting pan; brush with agave mixture. Cover pan with foil and bake at 275°F about 1 hour or until heated through. Remove foil from ham and increase oven temperature to 425°F Brush with agave mixture. Bake about 10 minutes more or until ham is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on serving platter. Pour juices over ham.

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Agave Carrot Cake
Makes 3 8-inch layers or a 9"x13" pan

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cup peeled, grated carrots (3 or 4 large carrots)
3/4 cup crushed, unsweetened pineapple (fresh or canned in it's own juice)
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
3. Toast the walnuts in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, then allow to cool. Chop the nuts coarsely with a knife or in a food processor.
4. Peel and grate the carrots to a medium grate.
5. Drain the canned pineapple (reserve the juice for another use).
6. Combine the chopped nuts, grated carrots, pineapple, and raisins, and set aside.
7. Sift the dry ingredients together.
8. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and agave nectar together until well blended.
9. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating the first egg before adding the second.
10. On the lowest speed, stir in the dry ingredients.
11. Fold the carrot mixture in by hand with a rubber or silicone spatula.
12. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on pan size. The cake is done when it bounces back when touched lightly in the center.
13. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Make sure it is completely cool before frosting.

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Chocolate Walnut Fudge

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 pinch salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (4 ounces)

Mix sweetened condensed milk and agave in a small saucepan and stir to blend. Add a large pinch of salt. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add chocolate chips and lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts completely and mixture is smooth. Stir in walnuts. Pour the warm mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan and smooth the top with a butter knife. Let cool and refrigerate until cold. Cut into 25 squares.

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* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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