Friday, April 12, 2013

Substituting with Agave Nectar

Agave has more calories than regular sugar, though you don't use it in equal proportions very often, so most of the time the reduction of the product is enough to counteract that.

Agave is touted as being "healthier" than refined sugar because it is fructose. Fructose is the natural sweetness in fruit. However, in fruit there is a much smaller amount of fructose than in Agave. Studies have shown the gastrointestinal tract doesn’t absorb fructose readily, so it goes straight to your liver. The large amount (over 70%) fructose in Agave places an overwhelming load on your liver, which can lead to scarring and development of triglycerides. It also doesn’t stimulate the hormones that indicate satiety or fullness, so you can continue to eat it in large amounts.

I am not an expert and only recently began researching sweetener alternatives so you will have to do your own research to find out whether agave is right for you. If you decide that it is, here are some tips on using it as a substitution:

 • Reduce or Add?: In order to substitute other sweeteners with agave but keep the right texture you can either reduce your liquid or add more starch or flour. I choose to reduce sugar and alter the liquid ingredients before adding additional starches to the mix. If I am trying to cut sugar I have to keep it low carb.

 Here's a basic rule of thumb to go by:

· Honey: Replace with equal amounts.
· Maple Syrup: Replace with equal amounts.
· Brown Rice Syrup: Use half as much agave + (up to) 1/2 cup liquid
· Corn Syrup: Use half as much agave + (up to) 1/3 cup liquid
· White Sugar: For every 1 cup sugar called for use 2/3 cup agave minus 1/4 cup liquid.
· Brown Sugar: For every 1 cup sugar called for, use 2/3 cup agave minus 2 tablespoons liquid.

Mix With Liquid or Fat First: Although agave is a great substitution in baked goods, if it's not added in properly, the results can be a little—well off. A crust or oily layer can form on top of your sweet treats if it's not first combined with the liquids or fats in your recipe. Make sure you get your goods into the oven or refrigerator pronto after your dough/batter is combined to keep the suspension at its best.

Reduce Your Oven Temperature By 25°: Baking with agave yields great results, but it also browns faster than traditional sugars. Decrease your oven by 25°s and all should be well, with quick breads, you can also tent your pan with foil to keep the browning away until you're ready for it!

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