Gluten-free Raw Vegan Blueberry Bon-Bons & Agave Nectar Information

Happy Monday Morning Lovelies!

Looks like it is time to make something delicious, I adore these blueberry charmers. I am sweetening these without using agave nectar, below the recipe I am including a whole bunch of well researched information on agave nectars and why it is so awful. I used to use this product but cut it out of my diet completely in 2011. The recipe follows after all the info, if that's what you came for, scroll down to after the last links.

Warmer weather is on the way and that means goodbye winter weight, hello healthy clean eating choices. I need snacks, quick, grab and go yum yums for the munching moments that come up. The problem is that all too often they are so sticky sweet that it hurts my teeth and gives me headaches. I have a sweet tooth but it seems that the level of sweet I like differs greatly from the average sugar monster. I gave up on "health" bars a long time ago and decided to make my own with way less sugar, a fraction of the cost, and ingredients that I could pronounce. 
I don't use agave, you may feel free to use it as a maple syrup replacement but a lot of information has come out on agave and after I researched and listened to how negatively my body responded to it, I gave it up. I don't miss it, I know it's big in the raw vegan world, which was where I first discovered it years ago, but it's not a healthy sugar or corn syrup alternative. As a matter of fact, it's not even raw. It goes through a serious process to come out like how we are used to seeing it and with a taste we like. In it's truly raw state, agave is very thick, almost black, and super bitter. That kind of agave has some medicinal properties but is used sparingly. In our North American way, we have denatured a product to suit our sweet tooth needs and have hoped for the best until we find out the worst. I was just as guilty of this as any other, I firmly believed that Agave nectar was raw and had a lower glycemic index than sugar, blah blah blah. New studies have actually come to find that it's just as bad if not worse than corn syrup because it's more quickly absorbed than corn syrup and has been processed to a point where it has no health benefits what-so-ever.
Here is a small excerpt from an article at the huffington post, the link follows underneath if you want to read more. And before all the haters start firing off, for the sake of balance, I have included a write up from another health site that says why Agave is not as bad as high fructose corn syrup. I give you the information, take what you like and leave the rest. All I know from my personal experience is that my body started reacting very negatively to Agave in a very short period of time and I never looked back. I don't want to have my stomach swelling, making horrible sounds, severe nausea and then itchy skin to be a part of my treat routine.

What is the "Real" Truth about Agave?
If you knew the truth about what's really in it, you'd be dumping it down the drain and that would certainly be bad for sales. 
Most agave "nectar" or agave "syrup" is nothing more than a laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, devoid of virtually all nutrient value, and offering you metabolic misfortune in its place. 
Unfortunately, masterful marketing has resulted in the astronomical popularity of agave syrup among people who believe they are doing their health a favor by avoiding refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup, and dangerous artificial sweeteners.
And if you're diabetic, you've been especially targeted and told this is simply the best thing for you since locally grown organic lettuce, that it's "diabetic friendly," has a "low glycemic index" and doesn't spike your blood sugar. 
While agave syrup does have a low-glycemic index, so does antifreeze -- that doesn't mean it's good for you.
Most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener ranging from 55 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is FAR HIGHER than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.
This makes agave actually WORSE than HFCS.
It is important to understand that fructose does not increase insulin levels, which is not necessarily good as what it does do is radically increase insulin resistance, which is FAR more dangerous. You see, it's okay for your insulin levels to rise, that is normal. You just don't want these insulin levels to remain elevated, which is what insulin resistance causes.
That is why fasting insulin is such a powerful test, as it is a very powerful reflection of your insulin resistance.
In addition to insulin resistance, your risk of liver damage increases, along with triglycerides and a whole host of other health problems, as discussed in this CBC News video about the newly discovered dangers of high fructose corn syrup. The study discussed in this news report is about HFCS, however, it's well worth remembering that agave contains MORE fructose than HFCS, and in all likelihood, it's the FRUCTOSE that is causing these severe liver problems.
How Agave is Grown and Produced Proves it is Unnatural
Agaves grow primarily in Mexico, but you can also find them in the southern and western United States, as well as in South America. Agaves are not cacti, but succulents of the yucca family, more closely related to amaryllis and other lilies. Edible parts of the agave are the flowers, leaves, stalks and the sap. 
A mature agave is 7 to 12 feet in diameter with leaves that are 5 to 8 feet tall -- an impressive plant in stature, to be sure. There are over 100 species of agave, in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
Although the industry wants you to believe that agave nectar runs straight from the plant and into your jar, nothing could not be farther from the truth.
In spite of manufacturer's claims, most agave "nectar" is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from its pineapple-like root bulb. The root has a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of fructose molecules.
The process which many, if not most, agave producers use to convert this inulin into "nectar" is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1. 
Though processing methods can differ among manufacturers, most commercially available agave is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals. Here is a partial list of the chemicals many producers use:
Activated charcoal 
Cationic and ionic resins 
Sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid 
Inulin enzymes 
How natural does this sound?
The result is highly refined fructose syrup, along with some remaining insulin.
Most agave "nectar" is neither safe nor natural with laboratory-generated fructose levels of more than 80 percent!
Is There Really a "Safe" Organic Agave?
Part of the problem leading to the confusion is that there are some natural food companies that are indeed committed to excellence and in providing the best product possible. But let me assure you that in the agave industry, this is the minority of companies. 
Nevertheless, these ethical companies seek to provide an outstanding product. There are a few companies who commit to and actually achieve these criteria and actually:
Work with the indigenous people, 
Use organic agave as the raw material, free of pesticides 
Process it at low temperatures to preserve all the natural enzymes 
Produce a final agave product that is closer to 50% fructose instead of over 90% 
Fructose is bonded or conjugated to other sugars and not floating around as "free" fructose, like HFCS, which is far more damaging. 
The VAST majority of companies however do not apply these principles and essentially produce a product that is, as this articles states, FAR worse than HFCS.
If you are going to use agave you will certainly want to seek out one of the companies that adhere to the principles above. However you will still need to exert caution in using it.
Just like fruit it is quantity issue. Fructose only becomes a metabolic poison when you consume it in quantities greater than 25 grams a day. If you consume one of the typical agave preparations that is one tablespoon, assuming you consume ZERO additional fructose in your diet, which is VERY unlikely since the average person consumes 70 grams per day.
Even a hundred years ago, long prior to modern day food processing, the average person consumed 15 grams a day.
Listen to YOUR Body
Many people will not be convinced by my arguments and data. They certainly can choose to do that but they are only hurting themselves. Fortunately there is a very simple way to learn if the fructose level you are consuming is safe.
When you consume fructose over 25 grams per day it will very likely increase its metabolic byproduct, uric acid, in your blood. So you can go to your physician and have a simple uric acid level done.
This is not a fasting test and is very inexpensive to do, it's typically free with many automated chemistry profiles.
If your level is above 5.0 you will want to consider reducing your fructose level until the level drops below 5.0. This will provide you with a valid, objective parameter to let you know if the information I am sharing is correct for you and your family. 

Why Agave Nectar is Not Worse Than High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Fructose is not inherently evil

Agave nectar is high in fructose, but so are many foods that we eat. This is Dr. Mercola’s main beef with agave nectar. And while it is true that agave is quite high in fructose, it is the most common form of sugar in all fruits. Dates, molasses, raisins, apples, honey, and even many vegetables and other plants are high in fructose. Fructose is a natural form of carbohydrate, and for thousands of years, it has been an important source of energy for the body.
In fact, fructose in live raw fruits is good for us! A scientific statement from The American Heart Association found that consuming limited amounts of fructose, in a pure form, had no negative effects on the majority of individuals. Other studies show that fructose, in limited amounts, may even reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Another study found that the beneficial fructans found in agave may help fight bone diseases such as osteoporosis, as well as other diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer. This research also suggested that fructans may promote the creation of beneficial gut bacteria, allowing for better absorption of calcium and magnesium (two important minerals for bone health).

Fructose & HFCS are not the same

There is no comparison between a natural form of fructose, such as in fruit or from agave, and the chemically-processed, pesticide-laden, genetically-modified High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The fructose in agave is a slow release form of sugar. This means that, in comparison to HFCS, which spikes blood sugar levels, agave does not cause the stimulation insulin secretion that leads to harmful rises in blood sugar. What is more, the enzymatic processing of agave is very different from the process of High-Fructose Corn Syrup, which fabricates fructose out of the glucose made from the milled starch of corn.
For High-Fructose Corn Syrup, glucose chains in the starch are broken down into long chain lengths of glucose molecules. These long chains are less sweet, but offer easier viscosity and functionality than raw glucose.
Producers of HFCS are looking for this better viscosity and adaptability, as it allows them to add it, unnoticed, to virtually any substance. To do this, they dry the corn and mix it with water and sulfur dioxide.
From there, the starches are separated from the kernel, fiber and protein. The separated starch slurry is then processed at very high temperatures, mixed with acid, neutralized, and then treated with an enzyme to create a 42% fructose and 55% glucose syrup. It is these strong acids and caustic chemical additives that are believed to be related to mercury contamination in HFCS. Moreover, most HFCS is made from genetically-modified corn, adding yet another contaminant into the processing mix.
Organic agave nectar’s processing could not be further related from this aforementioned processing of High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Agave is processed through either the use of natural enzymes, or through the use of thermal hydrolysis. These processes are essentially used only to evaporate the nectar from the liquid juice that is extracted from the plant. The processing of agave is done in the exact same way in which bees make honey, whether through a natural enzyme in the bee’s stomach, or when they fan their wings to evaporate the natural water out of the sweet liquid before capping into the honey comb.
In essence, no refinement, beyond the evaporation of water, occurs in agave processing. To put this in perspective, one must consider that hydrolysis is a 100% natural process of molecule separation. The human body does it every day!  

And now, we move onto the recipe that you came for, I like these really cold and a bit hard so I keep them in the freezer but you can eat them room temp or cold out the fridge. 



1 1/4 Cup ground almond flour
3 Tbsp ground tiger nuts
1 Tbsp cinnamon (yes, a tablespoon is right, not a teaspoon.)
1/4 tsp pink sea salt
1/4 Cup dried blueberries
2 Tbsp hemp protein powder 
3 Tbsp dark maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients, mix in blueberries, stir.
-Add oils and maple syrup, then mix with your hands, should clump together and easily form in your hands.
-Roll into bite sized balls, this recipe makes 12 regular sized bites but I make them a bit bigger so I get 10. Place on parchment paper as you roll them out so they don't stick.
-Chill in fridge for 2-3 hours, I like mine frozen but you can also make them and eat them room temperature.

These last 5-7 days in the fridge, (I always finish them before 7 days) and up to 4 weeks in the freezer (I don't keep them in the freezer longer because the nuts pickup flavours and get freezer burn quickly.)

This is a fun recipe to do with the kids because it's easy, no cooking or baking is involved, and they are fun to roll. I like to introduce raw vegan or healthy foods to people with these kinds of recipes. Leave your comments down below and don't forget to subscribe! 

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