Be it for wine or for your favorite dish and dessert, use agave nectar. This food sweetener has been widely used because of numerous health benefits. Clinical studies proven benefits of agave inulin in diabetic diet. If you are a tequila lover then you must have known agave. This is a plant and the main ingredients used to make tasting and aromatic tequila. Its nectar is derived from a plant known as agaves commonly found over mountainous volcanoes in Southern Mexico. These spiky plants look like aloe Vera. With more than 100 species of this plant, farmers prefer growing blue agaves for nectar because of high fructose content. In fact, nectar composed of 92% fructose and 8% glucose.
In 7 to 10 years agaves mature and are for harvest. The leaves are cut-off to extract the sap from the core of the plant also called “pina”. The raw products are heated in low temperature at about 118 degrees Fahrenheit to hydrolyze agave inulin, a group polysaccharides categorized as dietary fibers. The heating process allows breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar. They are then heated and eventually produce nectar and syrup. The taste is sweeter than honey but the syrup is less sticky. Cooking experts prefer to use agave instead of artificial sweeteners because they do not have bitter aftertaste. They are also best substitute for recipes that use honey such as pastries, cakes, appetizers, side dishes and cold beverages.
Instead of artificial sweeteners why not try these recipes for yourself for a healthier alternative:
Pastries: Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Makes 4 to 5 dozens)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup agave syrup
Combine the Agave syrup and soften butter in a mixing bowl. Blend well with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and add vanilla followed by other dry ingredients including chocolate chips. Scoop the cookie dough and form flat mini-shaped cookies in a baking sheet about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake in 10 to 12 minutes until cookies appear golden brown over a pre-heated oven about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beverage: Perfect Banana Split Coolers (Good for 5 servings)
16 ounce thickening rice milk
½ cup agave nectar
1 ripe large size banana
1 cup ripe and freshly sliced pineapple in chunks
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup crushed iced
¼ cup ground almonds
Blend all ingredients except almonds and chocolate syrup until smooth. Top with chocolate syrup and ground almonds.
Vegetable Salad Basket (4 servings)
1 cup sweet potatoes
1 cup Mexican turnips
1 cup pineapple chunks,
1 cup lettuce
½ cup carrots, shredded
1 small onion, minced
3 tablespoons salad dressing
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon agave sweetener
Pepper and salt to taste
Slice sweet potatoes length twice like fries. Fry it in a pan with oil until golden brown. Place it in a plate with table napkin to remove excess oil. Let it cool. In a separate bowl, mix other vegetables and combine salad dressing, sweetener and vinegar. Add fried sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with pepper and salt to taste. Chill for 5 minutes and serve.
Enjoy all of these agave nectar recipes for a healthier lifestyle!