Agave syrup

Blue agave plant

It sometimes seems like everything that tastes good has sugar in it.  If you’re concerned about how much sugar your family is eating but don’t like the idea of using artificial sugar substitutes, you will definitely be interested in agave.  Agave syrup is made from the same Agave plant used to make tequila.  Don’t get scared off because it doesn’t taste anything like tequila!  Juice from the agave plant is cooked to turn its carbohydrates into mostly fructose and some glucose.

Agave from Trader Joes

So why is agave better than just plain table sugar?  It has to do with the balance of sugars it contains.  Agave contains mostly fructose, which is also the main sugar in most fruits.  Fructose is much slower to raise blood sugar than sucrose (white table sugar) so doesn’t cause the sugar highs and lows associated with most sugary foods.  This is measured using the glycemic index.  Agave is very low on the glycemic index (15) compared with table sugar (70) or corn syrup (110).  Foods low on the glycemic index keep your blood sugar more even which results in less of the sugar converted to fat.  It’s a good idea, in general, to eat more foods low on the glycemic index.

Use agave in most recipes where you would use regular sugar.  It’s sweeter than sugar by 3x so use 1/3cup per 1cup of regular sugar.  You might need to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe a bit since agave is a liquid itself.  It dissolves easier than sugar in cold drinks so is great in iced tea.  It is a great substitute for sugar in cereal and oatmeal.  Once of my favorite places to use agave is in homemade granola:

Agave granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup of any kind of chopped nuts
  • 2T flax seeds
  • 2T almond flour
  • 2T shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup canola or safflower oil
  • 1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

Mix up the dry stuff and add the wet stuff, except for the raisins.  Bake at 300F for about 30min, stirring every 5-10min.  It should pick up a light brown color.  Make sure it doesn’t burn.  Take it out and mix in the raisins and cool completely.  I eat this with plain yogurt.  YUM!

Ok, you’re probably wondering how frugal agave really is.  Well, it definitely costs more than regular sugar.  The health benefits of avoiding regular sugar are so high that I feel the extra price is worth it.  I wouldn’t use agave to make up items for a bake sale, but when it comes to my family, they’re worth it. 🙂

I hope you try agave some time.  If you end up using agave in a favorite recipe, post a comment and share it with us!

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