We’ve mentioned before that maple syrup is one of our favourite natural sweeteners. While that may seem like stereotypical Canadian thing to say, it’s true, and it’s not just because we’ve grown up in Canada. While we love the sugar bush experience, and the sweet taste of maple syrup is like heaven to our taste buds, there’s more to it than that. Maple syrup has a ton of nutritional benefits!
We recently visited a sugar bush and thought we’d share how maple syrup is made, and why we love it so much! When a sugar bush is active, it’s likely indicative of mild daytime weather, so if nothing else, it makes for a great day in the forest with beautiful weather. Touring through the trails in the bush was a great way to make a fun day active. And at the end, the maple syrup is always a great treat to bring home. If there’s a sugar bush near you, we strongly suggest checking it out! In addition to learning so much and getting to explore the bush, some even offer horse-drawn carriage rides, pancake meals, and fun family activities!
We’re not talking about Aunt Jemima syrup here, folks. We’re talking about the pure stuff. You probably know how important it is to read labels, to know what ingredients you’re putting into your body, and to try and keep foods as close to natural as possible (when possible). Well, pure maple syrup has just one ingredient: sap. To make pure maple syrup, maple trees are tapped in the spring time (the weather is a strong influence on the yield, as well as when the sap will run. Typically, the days need to be warmer with cool nights, and this tends to happen anytime between early March and late April) and sap is collected. This may be done traditionally using a pail, or using tubing from tree to tree, ultimately ending up in a storage container.
Once collected, the sap is taken to a sugar shack where it is boiled, evaporating out much of the water content and causing the sap to become sweeter and thicker, resulting in the maple syrup we know and love. That’s it – just sap from maple trees.
Not only do we love that maple syrup comes from a single, natural ingredient, we love the benefits! Maple syrup is lower in calories than common sweeteners like honey and corn syrup, and is superior nutritionally to honey and common sugars. Maple syrup is high in riboflavin, manganese, and zinc, and also contains magnesium, calcium and potassium. Studies have shown lower insulin spikes from maple syrup when compared with sugar, and it features 54 antioxidants, some of which are not found anywhere else in nature (antioxidants are so important because they protect our cells from damage related to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes among others). In fact, the level of antioxidants in maple syrup is comparable to the level found in bananas, broccoli, and gala apples. Not only that, but research has recently suggested that maple syrup could help protect against Alzheimer’s!
There are so many ways to incorporate it into your diet:
- Served with pancakes or waffles (obviously!)
- As sweetener for oats
- Added to hot cacao (we have a great recipe for this!)
- Topping your fav vanilla ice cream in place of chocolate or caramel sauces
- Adding flavour to roasted sweet potato and squash dishes
What are some of the ways you love to incorporate maple syrup into your diet? Share with us in the comments!