What is Agave Syrup?
When you hear the word Agave, you might think of a large, pointy leafed garden succulent. Or if you like to get tipsy on Tequila, you could identify Agave as the Mexican plant from which it’s derived. But in the foodie world, Agave Syrup – or Agave Nectar as some call it – is a natural, plant-based, gluten-free sweetener, used instead of sugar. Aguamiel is the natural occurring juice of the Agave plant and it has many health benefits. It is low in GI and diabetics in New Zealand are starting to opt for it (as well as Stevia) as an alternative to sugar. Agave Syrup and Stevia can be a lot sweeter than sugar, so use just a touch! It tends to make you feel fuller earlier than sugar, so a bonus for sweet tooths. It has also been identified as an anti-inflammatory and boosts your immune system as Agave Syrup contains saponins.

What does it taste like?
Sugar and honey mixed together! Super sweet but a “herby” twang.

Where can I find it?
Commonsense Organics in Wellington and Huckleberry Farms health food shop in Auckland sell the Madhave brand from Mexico. You can also buy it online at www.lifefoods.co.nz. Nature’s Goodness in Australia has an Agave Syrup that people rave about. If you want to travel to Central Mexico, Agave plants grow wild almost everywhere.

What can I use in its place?
As it is a liquid, try maple syrup, golden syrup or molasses. Stevia is a leafy herb very similar in qualities to Agave nectar. Of course sugar, raw sugar and brown sugar can also be used instead.

Got any good recipes using it?
Agave Syrup suits desserts of course, being a sweet plant derivative. It is also wonderful in home-made pie crusts, chocolate dishes and a lot of diabetics use it in their smoothies to combat the tartness of berries and yoghurt. Search “agave” at fresh.co.nz for more great recipe ideas.

Quick Agave Factoid:
The Aztecs, believing it had antibacterial powers, used the nectar of the Agave plant (what we call Agave Syrup today) for treating wounded tribesmen.

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