Monday, July 26, 2010
One of my very favorite ingredients is agave nectar. Once you start using it, you will always want to have it on hand. The amazing thing about agave is that it is a natural sweetener with wonderful flavor but it has a low glycemic index so it won't spike your blood sugar like other sweeteners. It is similar to honey, but thinner- in fact it's called "honey water" in Mexico! But in my opinion the flavor is MUCH nicer than honey. You can use this stuff straight up on anything to enhance the sweetness. I drizzle it over my fresh fruit salads and use it as syrup over whole wheat pancakes.
The pictures above show a few ways I've used this amazing ingredient. The bottom one is a fantastic banana cake that I've made several times. It pleases everyone- because it DEFINITELY does not taste healthy! If you are not fond of coconut, you can leave that off. The original recipe can be found on wholegraingourmet.com which I highly recommend. GREAT recipes on there, especially the desserts. Now here is where the agave nectar comes in. I ignore the part of the recipe that calls for cane sugar mixed with oil. Then I add agave nectar and canola oil in its place. I've done 3/4 c. agave and 1/2 c. oil and that makes it very flavorful and very moist. Trust me you are going to want to make (and eat) this cake over and over again. It tastes like a giant super-moist banana bread and the frosting is to die for. OH YES- and the agave nectar comes back into the scene for the frosting. Instead of the honey, use agave. YUM!!
The left picture is my new favorite way to treat myself. Four simple ingredients, high nutritional value and amazing taste! All it is- is Greek yogurt, agave nectar, blueberries and cinnamon. If you've ever eaten/used all natural Greek yogurt you'll understand why you can't substitute regular yogurt. The texture is thick and creamy and wonderful. I use Fage 0% fat all natural Greek yogurt. Then I drizzle some agave nectar for sweetness and top with blueberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you are not fond of blueberries, use strawberries or another fresh fruit. I could eat this every day. So special!!
And last but not least, on the right is a recipe I tried for the first time last night- Juicy agave and basil turkey burgers. If you want this recipe, go to thehealthyapple.com. This is a website run by a young woman in Manhattan. This is the first recipe I've tried from this site but she has tons of healthy recipes and after tasting this turkey burger, I'll definitely be trying more. I only made a few changes. The mixture seemed a bit wet to me, probably because I went a little overboard with the lime juice! So I decided to add some panko breadcrumbs to hold it together a bit, probably about 1/3 cup. I was really happy with the texture of the burgers, so I think the decision to add the panko was a good one. I also seasoned them more than the recipe called for- a little extra sea salt and some extra coarsely ground pepper right on top after the patties were made. There are some great suggestions for spreads and toppings at the recipe site. We used roasted red pepper humus, grilled tomatoes and onion.
Enjoy some amazing agave today! Hmmm-- maybe the next time I should just follow the alphabet and talk about an ingredient I love that starts with B....