This is the time of year for dining al fresco with friends, for patio parties, BBQs, and pot-lucks. I have a list of go-to recipes for these kind of things. This is one that I got from my mom, who got it from a friend, and I have no idea where the original recipe came from. The original recipe calls for refined sugar, but by simply substituting a more natural sweetener, I can easily improve the nutritional value of this salad. With a little experimentation, natural sweeteners can be used to replaced refined and overly processed sugars in just about any recipe.
For this recipe, I used agave. Agave is a natural, liquid sweetener from the juice of an agave cactus. Its a bit sweeter than refined sugar, so you can use less of it when substituting in a recipe. Another bonus is that it has a lower glycemic index, meaning its less detrimental to your blood sugar levels and wont give you a “sugar rush” or leave you tired and lethargic later. Unlike refined sugars which are void of any nutritional value, agave contains iron, calcium, and potassium. Unfortunately, that isn’t the whole story.
Agave is composed of mostly fructose. Research tells us that fructose interferes with our body’s ability to communicate being hungry or full, which may lead to overeating. In addition, it increases triglyceride levels (blood fats) which can lead to poor heart health.
Overall, agave is a preferred option compared to refined white sugar and is beneficial due to its nutritional value and low impact on blood sugar levels. However, there are many other natural sweetener options and agave should not be your primary substitution, especially if you have a history of heart problems or obesity.
Cranberry Broccoli Salad
3 bunches of broccoli florets
1/2 large red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, salted
1 cup organic mayonnaise*
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T honey or agave nectar
Combine ingredients for dressing, feel free to adjust depending on if you like it sweeter, more vinegary, or more mayonnaise-y. Pour over broccoli salad. Recommended: refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.