Happy new year! We had a busy end to 2019 and rang in 2020 with my mom, sister and her kids who were visiting from Hawaii. They love Vermont and their energy for outdoor play and exploration is contagious. We built a bonfire, hiked, sledded and explored the sugarbush. They were enamored by the birds and woodland creatures, and talked endlessly about environmental concerns and how to take care of the planet. My niece and nephews in Montpelier, Vermont are also young climate activists with a vested interest in protecting our beautiful state and ensuring sugaring isn’t phased out by climate change. It is reassuring to feel this love for our family property and to imagine a future generation who might want to continue the tradition of stewardship and sugaring. At the very least, they are hooked on Vermont, and Vermont maple syrup!
While we love maple syrup for the deliciousness it adds to pancakes and desserts, it is especially useful in savory dishes and healthy tonics. The start of a new year always brings on renewed efforts to improve our health and well being. While we make efforts to cut out white sugar, excess alcohol or red meat, maple syrup remains part of many of our meals.
Maple syrup contains 7 important nutrients for well being, as well as many natural antioxidants. Several newly identified antioxidant compounds found in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties. Maple syrup also contains anti-inflammatory compounds. So, with all that in mind, why not use maple syrup in your cooking, salad dressings, smoothies and morning tonics?
Read on for great recipes to support all your health goals for 2020!
Healing Maple Ginger Tea
This is a restorative blend of ginger, cinnamon, lemon and maple. Drink it warm as the recipe indicates, or store in the refrigerator for a morning tonic. It is wonderful blended with 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite apple cider vinegar.
- 4 cups water
- 2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 strips of 3-inch lemon peels, plus more for garnish
- 2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
- 3 T maple syrup
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- In a large pot, combine the water, grated ginger, lemon peel, maple syrup and cinnamon sticks. Bring the ingredients to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer for the next 15 minutes.
- Strain out the ginger, cinnamon sticks, and lemon peels from the liquid in the pot. Enjoy immediately or store for future use with vinegar. The beneficial properties of vinegar can be killed off if it is added to a hot beverage.
Mother Nature’s Sports Drink
Switchel dates back to 17th century New England and is certainly just as relevant today! It originated as a drink for farmers who spent all day in the sun and needed more than water to supply their hard working bodies with electrolytes and easily digestible sugar. As consumers look for sports drinks with fewer added chemicals, colors and refined sugars, variations of Switchel are appearing in stores. Try your own variation, using the recipe below. It’s great for hydration during a sporting event, but can also be drunk as a tasty and hydrating beverage throughout the day.
- 1 5″-piece fresh ginger (about 6 ounces)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
- 4 cups water or club soda
- Mint sprigs (for serving)
- Juice the ginger using either a food processor or juicer.
- Mix with the vinegar (make sure has the “mother” on the bottom of the jar, maple syrup, citrus of choice and water or club soda.
- Enjoy for hydration during or after sports. Some say this is so delicious it can also be used as a cocktail mixer! Let me know what you think!
Aunt Myra’s Maple Vinaigrette
This dressing is a family favorite. My Aunt Myra has been making it for years and was sweet enough to share the recipe!
Makes about 1/2 cup
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons balsamic, red or white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
- 1 TBSP or dollop of Dijon mustard.
- 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
- 1 TBSP or dollop of Couching Lion Maple Syrup. Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, garlic, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt; let the mixture stand 10 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, then add the oil and maple syrup in a very slow, thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is emulsified. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: The vinaigrette can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 1 week.
This is so popular that you may wish to double the recipe and keep it on hand in a jar in the fridge!
Aunt Myra’s (amazing) Gluten Free Granola
Heat to simmering
- 1 C Oil (coconut if you can tolerate it or canola or sunflower for a less strong flavor)
- 1 C. Couching Lion Maple Syrup
- 1 TBSP vanilla
Add (and stir quickly so that everything is coated with boiling oil/syrup mixture)
- 2 C. chopped nuts
- 1-2 C. sunflower seeds
- 1 C. sesame seeds
- 12 C. rolled oats
On ungreased cookie sheets at 375 degrees for 20-30 min., stirring now and then.
Add dried fruit when cool. I put in a little candied ginger for fun, as well.
Store in glass jars if you don’t eat it all at once!
Enjoying winter activities after a solid pancake breakfast!
Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year. As always, thank you for your continued support in this little business.
XO Chaska and Matt