Despite the fact that it was imported from far away Vermont and Canada, maple syrup was one of those things we always had on hand in the Philippines when I was growing up. My mother would give it to us with pancakes and use it as a glaze for her famous fruitcake.
Maple syrup is the concentrated sap from sugar maple trees that grow only in New England and Eastern Canada. It’s collected, usually starting in March, when the nights are still near freezing but the days are starting to warm. The sugar in maple syrup is considered unrefined and contains small but significant nutrients that contribute to good health. After all, the sap of a maple tree contains minerals and antioxidants that nourish the tree and keep it healthy, and so it does for us. Just like there are refined and unrefined grain-based items, maple syrup is an unrefined form of sugar just like honey. In fact, maple syrup has a glycemic index of 54 and is considered a low glycemic food, which means it affects blood sugar less than white, refined sugar (GI 58) and honey (GI 87), according to the International Maple Syrup Institute.
In a quarter cup of maple syrup, there are:
Maple syrup also has an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) per 100 gm of 600, which makes it higher in antioxidants than nutritional superstars cabbage (508), tomatoes (337) and cantaloupe (315), and just under carrots (666).
As for using maple syrup, think beyond pancakes and French toast. You can swap the honey for maple syrup in my Honey-Lime Dressing recipe, which appears in my first cookbook, The Age GRACEFULLY Cookbook. It’s great with greens or as a marinade.
Put maple syrup in oatmeal, sweeten coffee and tea or try one of these delicious recipes from the Coombs Family Farms. They have been in the maple syrup business since the 1840s and producing organic syrup since 1988. I’ve met some of their staff a couple of times at the Natural Products Expo-West.
Maple Meatball Hors d’oeuvre
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chili sauce
1/2 cup Coombs Family Farms organic maple syrup
Combine beef, onion, eggs, salt in a bowl. Mix well and add enough bread crumbs to bind mixture. Shape in small balls. Brown in skillet. Pour rest of ingredients over meat, gently mix together and simmer for 25 minutes. Serve with wooden picks.
Note: You can add more age-fighting FoodTrients to this recipe by adding 1 Tbs. of parsley and 1 Tbs. of garlic.
Maple Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
This sauce is sweet and smoky, which makes it perfect for chicken, ribs or tri-tip.
Makes about one cup
3 large chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup Coombs Family Farms organic maple syrup
1 cup organic chicken broth
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 Tbs. onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a blender combine first 5 ingredients.
Heat oil until hot but not smoking in medium saucepan, over moderately high heat; add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes until golden.
Add chipotle puree, season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice and allow to cool.
Chocolate Devastation Cake
This chocolate cake may not devastate you, but it will enrich your life with its decadence, and it may well become a stand-by for parties, friends’ birthdays, and those cold winter days when chocolate cake and a cup of tea (or beer or wine) is what you are craving.
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cup Coombs Family Farms organic maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 lb. soft tofu
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. raspberry vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Mix wet ingredients in a blender until no lumps of tofu remain. Pour wet ingredients into dry bowl. Fold together, do not over mix. Pour batter into lightly oiled and floured 9-inch spring form cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or more if needed, checking with a toothpick to ensure it is cooked throughout. Allow to cool before icing.