With the early “heat” waves we’ve experienced this winter it is sure to be a great year for Vermont’s favorite and sweetest harvest – maple syrup!
Maple Syrup: Enjoy it…In Moderation
Like all added sugars, maple syrup should be enjoyed in moderation. Unlike most added sugars, maple syrup contains nutrients and flavors that refined sweeteners like cane sugar or corn syrup lack.
In fact, serving of maple syrup contains 100%, 37% and 18% of the recommended daily values of manganese, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and zinc. Both riboflavin and manganese play important roles in the body’s metabolic process. Zinc is necessary for a healthy immune system. Other essential minerals found in maple syrup include magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Maple Syrup: An Excellent Source of Antioxidants
Maple syrup contains some of the same polyphenolic compounds found in foods like berries, flaxseeds and tea. That means it is an excellent source of antioxidants. In fact, that means maple syrup ranks high among “superfoods” like cabbage and carrots. When compared to other unrefined sweeteners like agave and honey, maple syrup is a better source of minerals and antioxidants for fewer calories.
How to Cook and Bake With Maple Syrup
Swap maple for cane sugar or other refined sugars in coffee or tea, baked goods, sauces or salad dressings.
The recommended limit for added sugars is 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men, regardless of the source. Use maple in place of sugars with no health benefits. Substitute maple for other types of sugar, rather than consume it in addition to other sugars. Most of us could use a lot less sugar in our diet so using a bit of maple, which has more flavor, can allow you to use less sweetener overall.
This Month’s Recipe: Maple Vinaigrette
This month’s recipe for maple vinaigrette adds subtle sweetness to your favorite salad. In vinaigrettes, a little bit of sweet balances the acid of the vinegar and/or citrus. With maple as the sweetener you get the added benefit of the delicious caramelized flavor that you don’t get with regular sugar. Additionally, making your own dressings at home can help you control the amount of sugar and salt that is added while also avoiding preservatives. This vinaigrette is a win-win for taste and heath!
- 1/4cupolive oil
- 1/4cupmaple syrup
- 2Tbspapple cider vinegar
- 1tspgrated lemon zest
- 2Tbsplemon juice
- 1/2tspkosher salt
- 1/4tspblack pepper
- Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, cider vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Season dressing with salt and pepper; whisk until the dressing is well blended.
- The vinaigrette can be prepared and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
For more on maple syrup including recipes, interesting facts, and books for kids, check out the Vermont Harvest of the Month website: http://www.vermontharvestofthemonth.org/
Bridget Shea, RD, is a clinical dietitian at The University of Vermont Medical Center.