Many of you have heard of agave nectar as being a great alternative to sugar. But what is agave nectar? It’s a syrupy, low-glycemic natural sweetener from the Mexican agave plant. Similar to honey, it comes in three forms: amber, which is darkest in color and strongest in flavor (like maple); light, which is pale in color and mild in flavor; and raw, which is also light in color and taste, but is processed at a lower temperature, so it retains more of its enzymes.
Agave syrup is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less of it when you bake. Rules for using agave nectar in baking:
- Substitute 2/3 cup agave nectar for 1 cup sugar
- Reduce other liquids in the recipe by 1 oz. per 2/3 cup agave nectar
- Decrease oven temperature by 25 degrees
- Increase cooking time by 4 minutes per hour
Agave nectar is NOT calorie-free. It has about 15 calories per teaspoon, like sugar and honey. So, if you’re counting calories, make sure to count the agave nectar you add to your food.
Other ways to use agave nectar:
- In your coffee or tea, instead of sugar or honey
- On your morning grapefruit, instead of honey
- In a homemade vinaigrette – a drop helps to balance out the acidity of the vinegar
- In homemade marinara sauce – it’s the secret ingredient that makes people say “mmm”
- In your pancake, waffle, or muffin batter
- On your almond butter and banana sandwich
- Anywhere you’d normally use honey or sugar.
- One major exception: I haven’t tried it in any kind of meringue or candy making, so test it out at your own risk!
There are some good cookbooks available specifically for baking with agave. Check them out at your local pubic library, bookstore, or online retailer.