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agave – good or bad?

I have seen a lot of articles lately on agave nectar, and how some people believe that it is just a glorified high fructose corn syrup.  I’m not sure that I agree with it to that extent, but it is still sugar, and sugar is not good for us!

Agave nectar has the highest amount of fructose of all sweeteners and is much much sweeter than most as well.  It has become very popular in the diet world becuase it is marketed as a lower calorie sweetener that will not raise your blood sugar as much as other sweeteners.  It is used in many low calorie recipes nowadays as well.

Numerous articles and blog posts have been written about the agave nectar over the past few months.  Check some of them out if your interested:

The Truth about Agave Nectar

Eight Facts about Agave Nectar

 All About Agave

Debunking the Agave Myth

I’m really not sure what to believe at this point.  I am sure that it is a battle that will be going back and forth between health guru’s for months to come.  I am torn on the subject, and will continue to use agave (and other honey and natural sugar products) as I do because I honestly do not use them a lot.  You will never see me using artificial sweeteners though, due to the chemicals.  What I do know, is that no form of sugar is good for you, but eaten sparingly, it is not going to kill you!  (And, be careful – forms of sugar are in so many things that you do not realize!)

Anyways, on to breakfast!

I skipped the gym this morning, due to my late workout last night.  I have a lot of trouble working out one night and then the next morning.  Does anyone else have this problem?  I think my body needs more than 9 hours in between a workout!

So, I started my day with some cleaning and a fruit smoothie!  I was craving berries and bananas this morning, so I whipped up this:

 

Berry Banana Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries (I used the Berry Cherry Mix from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple (you can’t really taste it, but it makes the smoothie sweeter!)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Mixed up to perfection!

 

 

A little while later, I toasted up a Banana Nut Vitatop that I was sent to sample.

Vitatops are 100 calorie muffin tops that contain about 5 grams of fiber.  They have a few more ingredients than I would like, but they tasted good!  According to their website, Vitalicious is the inventor of the 100-calorie snacks.  Now, normally I would stay very far away from 100-calorie snacks because they are often loaded with crap!  Even though the bag of oreos is only 100 calories, they are still oreos!  However, I had read a lot about Vitatops on other blogs, so I figured I would give them a try.

Just because something is labelled as low-fat or 100-calories, does not mean that it is good for you.  Many of the 100-calorie packs out there are purely used as marketing.  Oreos are popular, so obviously if they come out with oreo packs that only contain 100 calories, consumers are going to buy them.  At least Vitatops are made with more natural ingredients.  They do not contain anything artificial or any preservatives, which means that they need to be kept in the freezer.

Overall, I liked my Vitatop.  It was fairly moist and definitely tasted like a banana nut muffin.  I did feel better about eating this than another bakery or store bought muffin!  I will not eat them all the time because I prefer a more natural breakfast or snack (such as oatmeal or a piece of fruit), but I will try the other types I got when I am running out the door or in need of a healthier muffin (the top is the best part, anyways!).

I toasted mine and spread some Almond-Hazelnut butter on the top for more staying power, but I guess I forgot to snap a picture!  I really enjoyed my treat this morning.

Almond – Hazelnut butter is the best!  No, seriously, best nut butter purchase I have ever made.  And, the ingredient list: Almonds and Hazelnuts! 🙂

Time for leftover Pad Thai for lunch!

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got to love chocolate

Ok, so I’m a chocoholic…I would say that I eat chocolate at least once a day in some form or another.  Breakfast this morning was a chocolate lovers paradise!

Stew Leonards whole grain toast smeared with homemade chocolate almond butter!!  I whipped up this almond butter last night, since I was craving something healthy, sweet and chocolatey.

(oopps – guess I couldn’t wait to take a bite before I snapped this photo! :))


Almonds do have a high fat content, but they are very good for you!  They are a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E.  They are great for your body, and for your heart!  A small handful of almonds is a great snack because they will fill you up, and are easy to bring on the go.

I bought some raw almonds at Trader Joe’s last week, so I decided to try to make my own almond butter!  It is a very easy process, and if you buy your almonds somewhere like Trader Joe’s (where they are cheap!) then you’ll save yourself some money as well.  Buying almond butter at a store can be upwards of $10 a jar!  I purchased a 1 pound bag of raw almonds for $5.49, and only used 1 cup for this recipe!  I still have over 1/2 of the bag left.

Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Raw Almonds
  • 5-6 ounces Dark Chocolate
  • Splash of Agave Nectar

Directions:

  • Take 1 cup of raw almonds and throw them into a food processor (or blender).

  • Process on high, until the almonds form an almond meal (a flour-like consitency).

  • Add 5 blocks of chocolate bar (or about 5-6 ounces of chocolate).  I added 3 blocks, then went back for 2 more to make this butter more chocolatey!

  • After the chocolate is blended into the almonds, add a few squirts of agave nectar for sweetness.  I used Almond flavored, since I had it in my cabinet, but anything will do.

(this flavor of almond agave nectar is delicious!  It has a slight almond flavor, definitely not too overpowering.  I’ll give it a try in tea sometime!)

  • Continue to blend until the mixture creates a butter-like consistency.  It will be a big drier than store bought nut butter, but still spreadable and even more delicious!

Well, it is delicious straight out of the jar!  And, it was even more tasty on my whole grain toast!

Next up for breakfast was a new smoothie flavor that I have been dying to try!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Frozen Cherries
  • 1/2 Banana (next time i’d use the whole!)
  • 1 tablespoon ground Flaxseeds
  • 1 scoop or packet Amazing Grass Kidz Chocolate SuperFood
  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  • Squirt of Agave, if desired
  • Handful ice cubes
  • Water if needed

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients above to a blender and blend until smooth!  I needed to add about 1/2 cup water to make the consitency drinkable.

Trader Joes Frozen Cherries – they have great prices on their frozen fruit, so I always have a freezer full of it!

Yummy banana thrown in there!

Ground flaxseed

The Amazing Grass products are definitely an aquired taste for me.  I cannot get over the wheatgrass flavor, but I do love the chocolate products (of course!).  I used the Kidz Chocolate Superfood here because I find the taste to be more chocolatey than their other products.  It is great in smoothies, and a great way to get some veggies into your breakfast!

I am a big fan of almond milk in my cereal, smoothies, and tea!

Almond agave

Add a handful of ice, and blend!

That was my kind of breakfast. 🙂