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Call me naïve, but when I started to consider going one step further than vegetarian and becoming vegan it never even crossed my mind that honey was one of the food products I'd have to give up. I'd always just thought of honey as a by-product of the hive, a leftover substance that was acceptable to use. After learning more about bee keeping and how honey is taken from hives I understand much more about why honey is not a vegan food. However, finding an alternative to a product I love and eat a lot of has been difficult. I started by trying to substitute honey with maple syrup but this Canadian favourite has a rather sharp bite which takes some getting used to and which swamps any dish you add it to with it's intense flavour. Then I found this Premium Agave Nectar by The Groovy Food Company while I was shopping in Aldi. I'd never heard of Agave nectar before and I was very curious about the product which was labelled as being vegan and an alternative to sugar and honey.
The product comes in a transparent squeezy bottle. The bottle is designed to sit on it's lid so you can flip open the top and dispense quickly. The dispensing hole is fitted with an expandable rubber seal to help stop drips and spillages. The bottle contains 250ml of nectar which looks like a very runny honey and is a rich golden amber colour.
I'd never heard of The Groovy Food Company before but the brand seems to have a wonderful sense of humour and the presentation of their product is impressive. The label on the bottle is adorned with an odd cartoon man whose speech bubble tells us that this product is "great in hot drinks and cereals". Font that is designed to look hand written also explains that this is a "low GI organic sweetener from the finest Blue Webber Agave plant".
The label on the back of the bottle has more information about the product's origin and how to use it. The nectar comes from the Agave plant in Mexico which is organically grown. It can be used as an alternative to artificial sweeteners, honey or sugar. The brand state this can be used in meals, drinks or in baking and state that since this has a low GI it does not create that sugar high and crash that other sweeteners can. Nutritional information is provided and per 100 grams there is 298 calories and 0g fat. 1tsp or 4.6g also provides 13.7 calories and 3.57g carbohydrates. The nectar is suitable for veggies, vegans and is also kosher. The ingredients contain nothing else but 100% organic Agave Nectar.
The consistency of the nectar is slightly more fluid and runny than honey. When dispensing this it tends to squirt out quickly rather than flow out slowly. I like to use this product on my porridge, mainly, as I like to eat oats for breakfast. The nectar melts into hot cereal or if used on cold cereal it forms a gelatinous golden brown topping.
The nectar has a syrupy flavour as opposed to being honey-like but it is not as sharp as maple syrup or as sickly as golden syrup. It tastes light but has a sharp aftertaste which has the hint of a flavour of roasted nuts. It's ultra sweet and powerful although I've noticed that if I add it in the same quantity as I would have done with honey to my porridge that it isn't as noticeable as honey would be. This is perhaps because the nectar is a thinner consistency than honey. The nectar is delicious though and is really satisfying to a sweet tooth! It's great on cold cereal as it really binds the flavours together and it also works well in hot and cold drinks.
I'm really pleased with my purchase since a bottle of this only cost me £1.99 at my local Aldis and I was sometimes paying nearly double that for my home grown counties honey. I have noticed that at other stockist's it's a bit more expensive though (£2.50 at Tescos). I am definitely going to keep on using this agave nectar though and I would recommend it to wannabe vegans, anyone who wants to look for a healthier sweetening product and to anyone who just likes to try new and different products.
You can check out the range of interesting products made by The Groovy Food Company at their website:
The Groovy Food Company's Premium Agave Nectar Light And Mild wasn't something I went looking for in the supermarket, rather I happened across it while perusing the Free From section. I'd seen it mentioned in some vegan recipe books I'd bought in the hopes of finding some decent dairy-free baking recipes though, so I picked it up to try.
Agave Nectar is essentially a sweetener. The Light and Mild version is a viscous yet still runny, golden coloured liquid, which comes from Mexican Blue Webber Agave plants. No, I'd never heard of them either, so I Googled and found that it is a rather ugly, blue/greyish plant with large spiky leaves. In fact there are two rough drawings of the plant on the label. It is 100% organic.
The reason this product can be found in the Free From section is that it is a vegan alternative to honey, but it can also replace sugar in hot drinks and on cereal, and golden syrup in baking. I like it in my coffee, but the best use I've found for it is on Weetabix (other wheat biscuits are available!) Being dairy intolerant I use rice milk, which is sweeter than cow's milk. Then rather than sugar, I squirt some of the Agave Nectar over the top of the wheat biscuits. The Nectar forms a thin, almost crispy, layer on top of them, which gives a delightful caramelised flavour.
Agave Nectar is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and is a kosher food.
Another major selling point is the low GI status (it has a low Glycemic Index score of 27). GI is a measure of the rate at which blood sugar levels rise after eating different foods. A low score is a good thing (you don't get sugar spikes and lows) and low GI diets have become quite popular. A friend of mine lost a huge amount of weight by switching to low GI foods. This product would be a viable alternative to sugar for anyone following such a diet. The calorie count isn't too horrific either at just 13.7 calories per teaspoon. You need far less of it than you do sugar - 25% less in fact, according to the Groovy Food website.
It comes in 250ml squeezy bottles that stand on their caps. This makes it very easy to dispense the Nectar without wastage. The Best By dates are very long. My current bottle is best by April 2015. It stands no chance of lasting that long! It should be stored in a dry cupboard, or at least out of direct sunlight. I keep mine in the shade of my two coffee machines.
The Groovy Food Company Agave Nectar costs around £3 in leading supermarkets and can sometimes also be found in the baking aisle, as well as in the Free From section. Most supermarkets only stock the Light and Mild version, although a darker version is also available. That one tastes more like Maple Syrup and is slightly thicker and has a more intense flavour.
Nutritional Info per 100g
Carbohydrate 77.73g (of which sugars 66.11g)
*Review also appears on Ciao*