For MOMS & MOMS-TO-BE and TODDLERS 2 YEARS+*
When it comes to sweeteners, I generally try to stay away from them. High in sugar and low in nutrition, I try to only “sweeten” my foods with other “naturally sweet” foods such as berries and bananas, or even dates or coconut. However, there are definitely those times that a recipe calls for something sweeter, or I am just in the mood for something that’s not “too healthy”.
And this is why I love agave. Not only is it low-glycemic, it is richer than most other sweeteners (ie, brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup) so you can use less while getting the same sweet effect.
Yet not all agave sweeteners are the same and in fact, some you should down right stay away from. Fortunately, Blue Green Organics has developed a line of agave sweeteners that are not just organically grown, they are downright delicious!
THE PRODUCT: Blue Green Organics is the creator of Blue Green Agave, a line of products that are made from hand-harvested, certified organic, premium 100% Weber Blue Agave, all of which is organically grown and sustainably farmed. Plus, all of their products are chemical, enzyme, and additive-free.
For some background: agave nectar (sometimes called agave syrup) is most often produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus or yuccas in both form and habitat, but they are actually succulents, similar to the familiar Aloe Vera.
Agaves come in many sizes and colors, with well over 100 species. Due to the Blue Agave's high carbohydrate content (which results in a high percentage of fructose in the final nectar), Blue Agave is the preferred species for producing nectar. Though there are other species used to produce agave nectars, the best nectars are produced from 100% Weber Blue Agave.
When the agave has grown for 7-10 years, the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the "pina"). When harvested, the pina resembles a giant pineapple and can weigh anywhere from 50 to 150 pounds. To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Both light and dark agaves are produced from the same plants.
Blue Green Agave is available in both an Organic Light, and an Organic Raw flavor. The Organic Light Blue Agave Nectar has a neutral, mild flavor, adding sweetness without flavor. The Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar is produced at temperatures below 118ºF [to protect the natural enzymes], making it the perfect, all-purpose sweetener for natural and raw foods. It too has a neutral, mild flavor, but is a bit richer than the Light flavor (and is personally my favorite ;).
NUTRITION-WISE: Agave Nectar has been used for centuries as a flavoring, though native populations have also been aware of its health benefits and used it medicinally. The Aztecs used a mixture of agave nectar and salt as a dressing for wounds and a balm for skin infections, and agave's use as a folk remedy persists today.
Modern medical study has confirmed agave's remedial properties. Agave nectar applied to the skin has been found effective against pyogenic (pus producing) bacteria such as Staph aureus. The tradition of adding salt to the nectar has been found to further boost its anti-microbial property. Agave nectar has also been proven effective against enteric (intestinal) bacteria.
Especially in the last century, the western diet has become increasingly dominated by refined sweeteners like granulated sugar and corn syrup. The problem with these substances is their high glycemic index and glycemic load - both measures of the relative impact that foods have on our blood sugar. Foods that raise blood sugar quickly trigger the release of the hormone insulin. Excessive releases of insulin and, more specifically, chronically high blood sugar and insulin levels, are linked to Metabolic Syndrome (a complex bundle of health disorders including: insulin resistance and type II diabetes, abdominal weight gain and obesity, problems with blood lipids (raised triglycerides and cholesterol), and high blood pressure).
One of the most health-promoting properties of agave nectar is its favorable glycemic profile. Its sweetness comes primarily from a complex form of fructose called inulin. Fructose is the sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which provides sweetness without the unpleasant "sugar rush" and unhealthful blood sugar spike caused by many other sugars. Agave nectar is a delicious natural sweetener that can be used moderately - by dieters and health conscious cooks - to replace high-glycemic and refined sugars.
*Parents are vigorously warned not to give honey to children in their first year of life. This is because honey frequently contains a bacteria that can cause botulism. While this bacteria is harmless to anyone over the age of one year, it can produce toxins in an infant’s immature intestinal tract, causing sickness, hospitalization, and in rare cases, death. Agave syrup is not known to cause botulism in babies and is therefore a great alternative to honey.
With that said, I don’t believe in giving infants, or even young children for that mater, any type of sugar or sweeteners. For this reason, I wouldn’t give my little one agave. However, as my children get older I do think that agave is a great substitute for white sugars, corn syrup, etc. in everything from baked goods and breads, to dressings, etc.
WHERE TO BUY: Blue Green Agave products are currently available both Online and at a number of Retailers. They are also Coming Soon to numerous other retailers, if you are looking for some where a bit closer to you.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Agave used to be one of those “up-and-coming” products that was touted as the “next best thing”, and then was drug through the ringer as a product to avoid. Like most things, you need to do your research before believing all of the hype. With that said, I am a big fan of agave – as long as it is from the right company.
Thankfully the agave from Blue Green Organics is definitely from one of those companies! Made from hand-harvested, premium 100% Weber Blue Agave, all of which is organically grown and sustainably farmed, their products do not contain any chemicals, enzymes, or additives either. Plus, both of their flavors taste amazing and are so versatile!
Great in baked goods, salad dressings, coffee, tea, and pretty much everything else you can imagine, the best part is that a little goes a long way, making Blue Green Agave a great, healthier [low-glycemic] alternative to the vast majority of sweeteners on the market.
To learn more about Blue Green Agave, please visit their website and check them out on Facebook.
And remember, Contact Healthy.Fit.Fab…Moms today to create a personalized plan so you and your family can live a healthy, fit, and fabulous life!
In : Food Reviews
Tags: organic agave healthy sweetener healthy sugar substitute organic sugar substitute organic sweetener