Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something Sweet

I have received several questions and emails about the use of Agave nectar and the recent controversy surrounding it.

For the record, we do use agave nectar, sparingly, but we use the raw blue agave which is heated at a lower temperature. (Click on the above link for a full explanation of the process). And the fact that agave is sweeter than HFCS, honey and refined sugar means you can use less of it to achieve the same sweetness.

However, real maple syrup is not processed and is my sweetener of choice. I also use sucanat, primarily for baking, which is processed twice versus white sugar that is processed up to 20 times.

I think the real issue is not that agave nectar should be avoided at all cost but rather that we should all be trying to eat more whole foods and less refined, processed and fast foods. Processed sweeteners are just one culprit in the larger health epidemic that essentially boils down to the fact that we no longer know what real food is. Fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes are no longer the staple of the American diet and that, in my opinion, is the real problem.

So, in your quest for better health I urge you to look at the whole picture – the totality of your diet and whether it is one that promotes health – rather than getting hung up on one particular aspect. Any sweetener, whether refined or raw, should be used sparingly.

The good news is that the less refined, processed foods we consume the more we are actually able to enjoy the natural sweetness found in fruits and vegetables.


  1. Thanks for painting the big picture, Erin!

  2. Erin, you are so right about us not knowing what food is anymore...

    ...I stopped at Starbucks yesterday (for the first time in a month!) and while I was doctoring my skinny latte I watched a young 20something woman put FOUR Splenda packs in her grande iced coffee. I use Splenda in my tall coffee but one packet is usually MORE than enough - I often go with half. Otherwise it is too sweet. But I imagine this young woman is telling herself it's okay because it's no calories . . . .I thought I'd better not interfere since she probably already has a mom that nags her. Maybe I should just carry around cards with your blog address on them...I've given the Momastery address to moms of young children who look like they (the moms) are about to explode...so why not Full.at.Last card? hmmmm

  3. ok, this just shows how little time I have -- I stopped buying anything with HFCS in it a couple of years ago, and recently stopped using splenda - I figure if I'm going to sweeten something, I'm better off with that raw/brown sugar, more natural, right? But I had no idea there WAS a controversy over Agave nectar!!!! geez.

    I actually don't bake much at all, so little that I only actually buy sugar once a year, at Christmas when I making cookies and biscotti. Basically, I just try to not buy stuff that super sweetened, or has HFCS. I was going to buy some agave nectar and try that brownie recipe.

    So, I guess my question is, if the choice is between regular white sugar, and agave, choose agave? or "raw" sugar? or what? or don't worry about it b/c I don't have time to bake anyway and that's the only time I really use sweetener? can you tell I'm confused?

  4. guys guess what? i found dandelion thingees! next to the kale today, there were these big leaves that said "dandelion!" so we are going to put them in our smoothies.
    also, we will continue to use agave because it makes us feel fancy to say agave.

    thanks for helping us erin. you are like a translator for me. thank you, thank you.

  5. you found dandelions at the grocery store?!? cool! I will have to look this weekend too...let us know how they taste in the smoothie.

  6. I'm confused, too. So, truvia and stevia in the raw are processed, too? arrgh. What do you put in your tea? anything? Do you buy your agave from that link you provided? Thanks for giving me as much information as possible! Feel free to explain like I am a 5 year old!!! Thanks for helping me! I've been reading, just not commenting...yet. Also, I bought kale the other day and I'm going to make your chips!