Throughout my life, my dad bestowed upon me a healthy plateful of lessons. One of his pearls of wisdom was to always ask for “real maple syrup” at restaurants.
Maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees. It’s not just for pancakes. In fact, that crap you put on your pancakes at IHOP isn’t real maple syrup at all. It can only claim “syrup” due to its first ingredient, corn syrup. I won’t bore you my disdain for the other man made substances within.
If you read my post on indulgences, you learned about my love for maple bars. While fried dough and sugary, flavored glaze has its merits, maple syrup can stand independently as both an taste bud pleaser and, nutritionally, as a high quality sweetener far superior to an alternative like white sugar.
Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that maple syrup is filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help prevent several chronic and inflammatory diseases like diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. It also comes packed with phenolics — the beneficial antioxidant compounds in maple syrup — that may help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels balanced since phenolics inhibit the enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar.
You know how passionately I feel about finding foods that reduce inflammation. We are all responsible for wiping out our nation’s dependence on over the counter pills. If we consume the right combinations of nutrients, we can accomplish just that. Advil sucks. Just sayin’.
You should also be aware that maple syrup might help you steer clear of colds and viruses based on its dense nutritional profile that includes zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium. Additionally, zinc supports reproductive health and helps to keep your white blood cells up.
So how can we use this sugar substitute? Well, FitSugar illuminates one of the other benefits of maple syrup:
It helps with muscle recovery. Real maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, which helps repair muscle and cell damage; it also keeps bones strong and blood sugar levels normal.
Excellent, we train, we need help in building our muscles back stronger, we like a tad of sweetness with our oatmeal post workout, and we win.
So here’s what I’ve done to incorporate maple syrup into my diet. Post workout, I like to include a slow burning carb and an animal protein. One of my go-to quick and easy meals upon returning from the gym is oatmeal, 4 over medium eggs and a handful of blueberries all mixed together. This probably doesn’t need a recipe, but for you folks who love step-by-step instructions like me, make sure you see below. Remember when you prepare it – you’re still consuming sugar, albeit a form with nutritional bonuses added. Mantra reminder: fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat. Pour lightly.
There is one more benefit to maple syrup. It provides me a perfectly unique opportunity to culturally profile an entire country in a single post. Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, my teammates over at Fox Sports 1 and, perhaps more importantly, my two favorite Canadian humans, are going to be so proud of me for writing this post.
Random sidebar on Dan: He shared with me recently that he found a peanut butter with two ingredients, peanuts and maple syrup, at his Redondo Beach Farmer’s market.
Dan, you had me at Redondo Beach, you California snob, you.
- 1 cup of organic oats
- 2 cups of water
- 4 whole organic eggs
- 1 cup of organic blueberries
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- Pat of grass fed butter
- Bring water to a boil, add oats
- Cook for 5 minutes (or to desired consistency) over medium heat, stirring frequently
- Remove from heat and let sit
- In pan, melt the butter, and then fry your eggs
- Add over-medium eggs to oats and stir with a wooden spoon
- Mix in blueberries
- Add maple syrup and salt