Maple Syrup Health Benefits and Recipes17. January 2019
You may find this hard to believe, but that delectable maple syrup you pour all over pancakes is actually… *gasp* not that bad for you! Pure maple syrup contains all kinds of nutrients (magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium, and riboflavin). Plus it has plenty of minerals and even antioxidants, to boot!
In fact, as many as 24 different antioxidants are in maple syrup. This includes phenolics, which are the same antioxidants found in berries and grapes. They help reduce free radical damage and assist in the prevention of chronic diseases and cancers. The darker amber syrups (Grade B) usually have higher antioxidant concentrations.
Another item that puts maple syrup a cut above other sweeteners is that it qualifies as a low-glycemic food. A food must have a glycemic index of 55 or below to fall in that category, and pure maple syrup comes in at 54. By comparison, pure honey has an index of 58 and white table sugar an index of 65.
When you are reaching for the maple syrup, please make sure that it is REAL or PURE maple syrup. That means there is nothing in it other than concentrated sugar maple tree sap. Delicious! Imitation maple syrup often contains high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, and artificial flavors. Not to mention other additives like sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and sulfur dioxide. High-fructose corn syrup does not stimulate insulin secretion in the body. Instead it amasses in the liver, causing many health issues. Caramel coloring and sodium benzoate, which can transform into benzene in the body, can put you at an increased cancer risk. No thanks!
So, you may ask, can I substitute pure maple syrup in my recipes when it calls for sugar? Most certainly! Use 2/3 cup of maple syrup for every cup of granulated sugar (white or brown). Just reduce the other liquid ingredients (milk, water, etc) by 1/4 of a cup. Also lower the baking temp by 25° F. You can also use it as a 1:1 substitute for liquid sweeteners like molasses, agave, honey, or corn syrup.
Which brings me to the “bummer” reminder: for all it’s benefits, use maple syrup sparingly, because it still consists mostly of sucrose (sugar). While pure, organic maple syrup, or even honey, are wiser alternatives to processed white sugar, they can still lead to serious health issues if consumed in copious amounts. Everything in moderation, as they say!
Here are my personal favorite recipes using maple syrup:
No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (print the recipe card)
This no-bake granola ball recipe uses healthy maple syrup and add-ins of your choice. Try different dried fruits or chopped nuts. I use a Chocolate Cacao Green Powder from Garden of Life but you can use regular cocoa powder instead. If you think the bee pollen is odd, you may omit that. Bee pollen alone has a slight floral taste and neat chewy texture. I use bee pollen as a vitamin supplement. It boosts the immune system and includes energy-enhancing nutrients (carbohydrates, protein & B vitamins).
- 3 to 3.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup natural peanut butter (I make my own peanut butter with unsalted dry roasted peanuts and no added sweeteners)
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup dried fruit, chopped (I use dried cranberries or cherries)
- 1 tablespoon chocolate protein powder (or cocoa powder)
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
- Optional: 1 tablespoon bee pollen
- Mix peanut butter and maple syrup together in a large bowl. If needed, slightly warm the ingredients so it’s easier to stir.
- Add the chopped dried fruit, cacao nibs, and optional bee pollen. Stir well.
- Stir in oats with chocolate cacao powder. Start with 3 cups of oats and add additional oats if the mixture is too sticky to roll. I almost always use 3.5 cups.
- Roll into 1.5 inch balls and store in airtight container.
Notes: I find it’s much easier to roll into balls instead of making bars. If you want bars instead, press the mixture into a pan lined with wax paper. Allow to cool and firm up a bit in the fridge. Lift the cooled bars out of the pan, and cut into bars. You can wrap the bars in wax paper for easy transport.
Sometimes I use a combo of maple syrup and raw honey. I think it’s way too sweet with all honey, so I add 1/4 cup raw honey and 1/2 cup pure maple syrup. The mixture is a little stickier with honey. You may need to add more oats so it’s not too sticky to roll.
Get creative with your mix-in ingredients! Try coconut, nuts or seeds, mini chocolate chips, or ground flax seed. Or try cinnamon and dried apple instead of chocolate powder and cacao nibs. Now, if you want to ruin your no-bake balls, you can add nasty raisins. Raisins ruin just about everything in my opinion. But hey, make this recipe YOURS!
My Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Granola has less sugar and contains healthier ingredients (oats, maple syrup, coconut oil, flax & pepitas). I created this recipe to reduce my husband’s obsession with sugary store-bought granola. It’s much less sweet and crafted with healthier ingredients. You can adjust the sweetness to your own taste. See our blog post for this granola recipe.
If you’re looking for ways to cook healthier, try replacing sugar for maple syrup. Naturally Sweet Food in Jars is a great book with specially-crafted canning recipes sweetened with maple, honey, agave & more. Souly Rested also has a Maple Syrup for Sugar Substitution Chart & Tips for Baking with Maple Syrup.
And here are some other maple syrup recipes to try!
Maple Syrup Jams, Butters, Dips, & Sauces
- Maple Bourbon Bacon Jam
- Maple Apple Butter
- Maple Pumpkin Butter
- Maple Bacon Dip
- Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
- Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Maple Syrup Meals
- Maple Glazed Bacon Wrapped Roasted Carrots
- Maple Soy Glazed Chicken Thighs
- One Pan Maple Mustard Chicken and Potatoes
Maple Syrup Desserts & Snacks
- Maple Oatmeal Bread
- Maple Syrup Bars
- Maple, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Overnight Oats
- Coconut Maple Freezer Fudge
- Soft Maple Cinnamon Sugar Cookie with Cream Cheese Maple Glaze
- Crock Pot Maple Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix
- Best Coconut Flour Chocolate Chunk Bars
- 20 Minute Almond Berry Sorbet
- Healthy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies
- Chocolate Maple Torte
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Granola
Maple Syrup Drinks
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