Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Margarita: It's More Than a Girl's Name

Blue Agave Plants
Margarita Cocktail Recipe

1-1/2 oz. Tequila
1/2 oz. triple sec (preferably Cointreau)
1 oz. lime juice

Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with lime juice and dip in salt.  Shake above ingredients with ice, strain into the glass, and enjoy.

Tequila is produced by fermenting and distilling the nectar from the blue agave (pronounced ah-GAH-vay) that thrives in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico.  The Aztecs considered the plant a gift from the gods and used a mixture of agave nectar and salt as a dressing for wounds and balm for skin infections.  Modern medicine confirms agave as a healing remedy.  Agave nectar has been proven effective against intestinal bacteria.

When an agave plant is 7 to 10 years old, the leaves are cut off, exposing the core of the plant, called the pina.  The pina resembles a giant pineapple and can weigh from 50 to 150 pounds.  Sap is extracted from the pinais filtered and heated at low temperatures, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars.

The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which provides sweetness without the unhealthy sugar spike caused by other sugars.  Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that can be used moderately by dieters, some diabetics, and health-conscious cooks.  Depending on the variety, honey's glycemic index usually ranges between 65-85.  The glycemic index of agave differs by variety and manufacturer, but usually ranges between 11 and 30.  This makes  it less likely to raise blood sugar levels or store body fat.

Agave is completely vegan, which means that it can be used by those not wishing to use products associated with animals.  Agave doesn't crystallize in the bottle like honey does.  It's thinner and easier to measure and pour, and dissolves easily in hot and cold liquids.

Well, I've nicely talked myself into a trolley to a health food store to get us some of this natural sweetener.  Move over tequila.....the agave nectar is moving in, too.

Treat yourself  to a Margarita.....
 it's National Margarita Day!