by Northgate Sugar Maples
We love our sugar but sugar is our nemesis. We have four taste buds, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. Some say since we are descended from primates who ate the sweet fruits from the trees, we are naturally bent to want to eat sweets. It could be something as simple as sweet things taste great. Whatever the reason, eating sweets is here to stay, so we may as well do it in a healthy manner.
I prefer the story about eating the fruits from the trees for the rationale of why I like sweet things. As a frustrated baker, making homemade candies, sweet breads and cookies was my holiday routine, and I looked forward to making all those sweet treats. As I look back though, I was not a young mother who gave her children sweet things mainly because of my mother. She told me not to insult my children’s intelligence by perpetuating a myth that to get them to eat good food I had to disguise it with sugar. Being from farm, fresh fruits and vegetables were what we ate, along with beef and chicken raised right there. My food routine started with natural foods but somewhere along the line, processed foods for convenience became the norm.
Of course, everything old becomes new again, and the back to nature food trend has taken the food industry by storm. It has been over ten years since I used white sugar, and over five years since I settled on the natural sweetener for me. It is good for me and it does not make me want to and able to eat the entire ½ pound bag of peanut M&M’s: Maple Syrup.
The story of how we came to know and love the rich, amber colored liquid varies, but for the North Americas and Canada, the tribal people indigenous to the regions were the ones who came bearing the gift of maple syrup. One story about the discovery of maple syrup tells of a chief throwing a tomahawk and hitting a tree. Sap began to pour out and his wife gathered the liquid and boiled deer meat in it. It is probably closer to the truth that a tribal person saw a tree with a broken branch, and sap was running out of the branch at the place of the break. Regardless of how it was discovered, maple syrup is one of nature’s sweetest gifts.
Not only is maple syrup gold to the taste buds, but it also has nutritional values, which is not true for our favorite sweetener, sugar. It is an excellent source of manganese, which is integral to energy production and antioxidant defenses. It is also necessary for normal brain and nerve functions. Just ¼ cup of maple syrup is all that is needed to get 100% of the daily value needed of manganese.
Maple syrup contains 37% of the daily value needed of riboflavin, which aids in the metabolic process.
Maple syrup also contains 18% of the recommended daily value of zinc, which is needed to maintain a healthy immune system.
Other minerals contained in maples syrup are magnesium, calcium and potassium, which help in lowering the risks of hypertension and stroke.
The glycemic index measures how fast a food raises blood sugar. Since keeping blood sugar with a certain range is important when it comes to a healthy heart, protecting against diabetes and preventing obesity, using a sweetener that is natural and does not raise the index makes healthy sense. Maple syrup has a medium glycemic index of 54 compared to sugar, which has an index of 68 and no nutritional value. Eating white sugar is eating empty calories.
When it comes to our health, choosing a sweetener that has nutritional properties instead of just empty calories and that comes in a pure form, right from nature, the choice is a no brainer.
Maple Syrup Recipes
How can I have an old fashion without a sugar cube? What cocktail sauces do not have sugar? The following recipes give you an idea of how you can shift up your gathering to be fun as well as healthy.
Maple Leaf Cocktail:
Shake in iced cocktail shaker and strain
- 1 ½ oz bourbon
- ½ oz maple syrup
- ½ oz fresh lemon juice
- Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)
Maple Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
- 1 lb. cooked shrimp
- 16 slices of bacon
- 10 green onions with the dark green ends removed
- 2.3 cup pure maple syrup
- Cook bacon in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until it is cooked through. It should not be crispy.
- Cut onions in to 1 ½ inch segments, one onion segment per shrimp
- Remover bacon and cool slightly
- Turn oven up to 400 degrees
- Cut bacon in half and wrap one half around one shrimp and tuck a green onion segment inside
- Secure with a toothpick
- Place shrimp on a foil lined baking sheet
- Drizzle with maple syrup and bake for 10 minutes or until bacon is well done
- Remove from oven, and if desired, drizzle with additional maple syrup.
These two simple recipes that offer great taste and great nutrition are just a sampling of the myriad of recipes available to help anyone transition into a healthier world of sweet, without feeling deprived.
It would be great if everyone could just give up sweets, but realistically that won’t happen. Making the choice to switch to maple syrup for that sweet tooth, when used in moderation. as with all things, you can sate your sweet tooth, help your heart, keep your energy level up, your waist line down and your brain healthy. Who could ask for anything more?