It’s been a long time since I discovered a new product that rocked my world in the way agave nectar has done, so it seemed like a natural to be featured for Kalyn’s Kitchen Picks, where I tell you about products I love. If you’ve somehow missed me raving about it, agave nectar is a 100% natural sweetener that’s low on the glycemic index. It’s South Beach Diet friendly, vegan, and reported to be safe for diabetics as well. (Edit 2011: I am told that not all sources agree that this is safe for diabetics; if you’re diabetic, I would recommend following the advice of your doctor.)
The sweet taste in agave nectar comes from natural fructose, the same sweetener found in fruit, not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup which has chemically produced fructose. In recent years concerns have arisen concerning chemically produced agave nectar. I still believe the brand mentioned in this post is safe for most people, particuarly in the small amounts in which I use it. You may want to read Agave Myth Buster and Is Agave Nectar Safe, both of which speak specifically to this brand. Also food expert Ellie Krieger says moderate amounts of agave nectar are not harmful.
Agave nectar comes in two types, light and amber. The light variety tastes like sugar and the amber one tastes more like honey. I’ve tried both types and think they both taste great, with no aftertaste or “too sweet” taste like some artificial sweeteners have. Agave is sweeter than sugar or honey and also more liquid, so recipes will need to be adjusted, but more and more food bloggers are reporting good results substituting this ingredient in recipes. Agave nectar is available online if you can’t find it where you live, although I think it’s pretty widely available. In Salt Lake I can find it at Whole Foods as well as my regular grocery store. Keep reading to see ways I’ve used agave nectar, and recipes from other bloggers who are using it.
South Beach Suggestions:
I looked up fructose in The South Beach Diet Good Fats, Good Carbs Guide, my favorite little book to check ingredients, and it’s considered “good.” However since fructose is found in fruit, and fruit isn’t allowed on phase one, I’d limit use of agave nectar to phase two and three. Agave does have carbs, and a small amount of glucose, so it needs to be counted in the daily amount of carbs you’re eating if you’re a South Beach Dieter, especially for phase two.