By Ali Lopez
Having spent many years living in Vermont, I kind of feel like maple syrup runs through my veins. It is definitely my sweetener of choice and it is WAY more than just pancake syrup. I use it in salads, on vegetables, in my coffee and tea. There’s a big difference between syrups on the shelf at the grocery store, by the way. Make sure you are buying 100% real maple syrup, which is a natural product that comes directly from maple trees with nothing else added, versus artificial breakfast “syrups” which are highly processed and made from corn syrup, preservatives and artificial flavorings.
The Four Grades of Maple Syrup
The USDA revised the grading standards for maple syrup to match international standards and the revisions do away with the Grade B syrup label. Grade A now includes four new color and flavor classes for maple syrup:
- golden color and delicate taste (formerly Grade A light fancy amber)
- amber color and rich taste (formerly Grade A medium amber)
- dark color and robust taste (formerly Grade B)
- very dark and strong taste (commercial grade)
Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, rinsed, halved
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped finely
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola, optional (but amazing!)
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss Brussels sprouts with oil and spread on baking sheet, cut side down. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until bottoms are browned.
- Remove from oven and add walnuts to pan, toss sprouts and drizzle with maple syrup. Cook for another 5-7 minutes being careful not to burn walnuts. Remove from oven. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to serving platter and top with gorgonzola, if desired.
Butternut Squash Maple Soup
coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
3-4 lb. butternut squash, seeded, halved
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juiced, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake cut side down for 45 minutes or until squash is softened. When cool enough to handle scoop squash into a bowl.
- While squash is roasting heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp oil and onions. Cook until slightly browned and translucent, then add celery, carrots, garlic and ginger and cook until softened. Turn down heat if cooking too quickly.
- When squash is done add to the pot along with vegetable stock, cinnamon, peanut butter and maple syrup. Bring to a boil and then to a simmer for a few minutes until peanut butter melts into soup. Transfer soup mixture to a blender, in batches or use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If using a blender, place a towel over the top of the lid, and make sure that the lid is not on tight before mixing to avoid exploding soup. Pour mixture back into pot. Add coconut milk and lime juice over low heat and taste and adjust seasoning.
Nutty Maple Granola
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup raw pecans (or cashews, slivered almonds, walnuts, peanuts)*
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade B preferably)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried cranberries (or your choice raisins, dried cherries, apricots, etc)
- Preheat oven to 250 F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and cinnamon.
- Heat the maple syrup, oil, and salt so the coconut oil melts and the mixture is pourable. Pour liquids over oat mixture and stir really well to combine everything. Spread on two baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes. Switch the pans from one shelf to the other. Bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on racks to allow granola to crisp up. When cool, transfer mixture into a large bowl, then add fruit and mix until evenly distributed.
*Feel free to swap out and interchange the type of nuts and seeds you use. Make it your own!