Agave; the new sugar?
Some say yes, some say no. Agave’s been highly debated, but, one thing is for certain, sometimes you just gotta’ have something sweet.
And if you’re craving sugar, grabbing a piece of fruit is probably your best bet, but if you just have to have something rich, sweet and absolutely chocolatey, try these agave nectar chocolate recipes I found.
This is the most amazing stuff. It taste SO much better than the “real” thing. I use it for icing too. Usually, my children just lick it off and leave the cake. Oh, it makes a wonderful chocolate pie as well – just double the recipe.
Makes about 2 cups
2 small ripe avocados
1/2 -3/4 C Madhava’s Light Agave Nectar
1/4 C raw cocoa powder (or carob if you prefer)
2 T coconut butter or oil
1 T alcohol-free vanilla
dash of sea salt
dash of cinnamon (optional)
Place everything in a VitaMix or high-powered blender or food processor and blend (on high) until very smooth. You may need your temper to move the contents a little so the motor doesn’t bog down on you. Most VitaMix blenders come with one.
Keep stored in an air-tight container in the fridge – that is, if it lasts long enough to make it to the fridge.
(recipe courtesy of Purely Delicious Magazine)
Amazing Black Bean Brownies
Recipe courtesy of Ania Catalano (author of Baking with Agave Nectar)
Makes 45 2 inch brownies.
Ania says, “You would never believe these incredibly fudgy brownies are made with beans but no flour. The beans provide great body and fiber without a beany taste. Keep the brownies in the refrigerator. They will slice much better if refrigerated several hours or overnight. Find natural coffee substitute at natural food stores.”
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated butter substitute
2 cups soft cooked black beans, drained well
1 cups walnuts, chopped
1 tbl. Vanilla extract
¼ cup natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ tsp. Sea salt
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups light agave nectar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 11 by 18in pan with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, ½ cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ½ cup walnuts, remaining chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.
Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well. Add the egg mixture reserving about ½ cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining ½ cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated).
More on sugar substitutes:
If you’re really worried about your sugar intake you may substitute canned pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce and/or plain yogurt to make baked goods. You only need about half the sugar of the original recipe.
Other great alternatives to sugar are dates, maple syrup and brown rice syrup.
And Dr. Oz says, “add cinnamon to things like coffee, cereal, etc. because it “tricks” your tastebuds into thinking you’re eating something sweet’.
More info on Agave Nectar:
“Agave is praised for being low on the glycemic index (GI) rating, which means it won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels the way sugar does. High-GI foods like white sugar tend to make us feel hungry sooner since they are digested quickly. So foods made with agave nectar may keep you feeling fuller longer than foods made with the white stuff, which translates to eating less.”
Difference between sugar and agave nectar:
One tbsp sugar vs. One tbsp. agave nectar
Calories: 46 sugar 60 agave nectar
Total Fat: 0 both 0
Carbs: 12 sugar 16 agave nectar
Fiber: 0 sugar 1 agave nectar
Sugars: 12 sugar 15 agave nectar
Protein: 0 sugar 0 agave nectar
“Many brands of agave nectar are highly refined, containing almost 100 percent fructose, which is a higher percentage than that found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Fructose is a sweetener known to raise triglycerides, promote belly fat, and contribute to fatty liver, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Another thing to note is that some distributors of agave nectar have been labeling HFCS as agave nectar, so the FDA recommends looking for labels that say “hydrolyzed inulin syrup,” which means it’s real agave.Although both sugar and agave nectar come from plants, both are sweeteners and provide little to no nutrition value. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but sweeteners like these should be used sparingly in your diet.”
“Dates and maple syrup are great substitutes, but brown rice syrup and agave nectar might as well be HighFruictoseCornSyrup – they’re super-processed and tend to react, chemically, the same way. Brown rice syrup is actually not recommended for diabetics because it converts into blood glucose faster than other forms (leading to the insulin spikes – for more info on why those are terrible, see my buddy Luke’s article here: http://woldfitness.com/2010/04/understanding-insulin-no-biochemistry-nee…).
Berries are good! While some fruits, like watermelon, have a high glycemic index, berries are pretty low. If you look into low-carb diets, most encourage fruit consumption because the fiber and other stuff (some of which we don’t really understand yet) protect the body against the sugar rush. If you’re not diabetic, don’t worry about it.
As for my personal rec – I used to have a huge sweet tooth, but I’ve found that increasing my fat consumption (aiming, generally, for a 40/30/30 carb/protein/fat caloric split) with mono-unsaturateds like olive oil and avocados, as well as whole milk, cheese, and meat from grass-fed animals (critical!) made all my sugar cravings go away. I’ll still indulge every once in a while, but I have to cut my ice cream and sorbet with bananas and nuts, or I get overloaded.
Great article on sugar; http://woldfitness.com/2010/04/understanding-insulin-no-biochemistry-needed/