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Maple Syrup: Not Just for Pancakes

 Maple syrup is one of life’s little pleasures. Most of us are familiar with this delicious nectar from maple trees, but we typically think of it only in relation to pancakes and waffles. But wait…. there’s much more to maple syrup.

Gluten-Free Granola Sweetened with Maple Syrup

Gluten-Free Granola Sweetened with Maple Syrup

Benefits of Maple Syrup
According to the Huffington Post, maple syrup is 100% natural, pure and free of any coloring or additives. Boiled down directly from tree sap, which is harvested from maple trees towards the end of winter, pure maple syrup is an unprocessed product of nature. White sugar, for example, is typically derived from sugar cane, and processed and purified before being sold. Because maple syrup is not as highly processed, it contains higher levels of potentially beneficial nutrients including calcium, potassium, sodium and copper, making it an excellent sugar alternative.

In addition, pure maple syrup does not contain high fructose corn syrup, a modified sugar substitute commonly found in processed syrup brands that may also contain additives like artificial flavorings and coloring agents. So, I always look for pure maple syrup so I know I’m getting the real thing.

Other Uses for Maple Syrup
Besides pancakes and waffles, maple syrup can be used in other ways, such as
-sweetening sauces on meats, such as BBQ sauce
-drizzled over roasted or cooked vegetables such as carrots or squash
-replacing honey in baked goods; replacing white or brown sugar in baking is harder because sugars are dry and maple syrup is liquid so use a recipe that calls for a liquid sweetener for best results.
-sweetening smoothies or puddings

Maple Syrup in Granola
In addition to the above uses, one of my favorite uses for maple syrup is to sweeten homemade granola. It leaves a hint of maple flavor, but lends a lovely texture to the granola and it also browns beautifully. Try this easy recipe from www.GfreeCuisine.com, my weekly e-cookbook that is only $7 a month. And, this recipe can be tinkered with to suit your taste, so feel to change out the raisins for dried cranberries or blueberries. Instead of sunflower seeds, try pumpkin seeds and the pecans can be replaced by almonds or walnuts. Sometimes, I add dried banana chips because I like how their crispy texture contrasts with the oats. Feel free to experiment!

Maple Pecan Coconut Granola
Reprinted with permission from www.GfreeCuisine.com, a weekly online recipe and menu planning service
We keep this granola on hand everyday at the Fenster household. I like it with sliced bananas and soy milk. It is also a great breakfast when you have overnight guests, because they can just help themselves whenever they like.

7 cups GF rolled oats*, such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cup coconut flakes (the large size, not tiny shredded coconut)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 tablespoons butter or buttery spread, such as Earth Balance
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups raisins

*Check with your physician about whether oats are approved for your diet.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

[1] In a large bowl, stir together the oats, pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the maple syrup and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

[2] Spread the granola mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent overbrowning. Remove the oven (even if it doesn’t appear crunchy, it hardens while it cools.)

[2] Cool the granola for 20 minutes. Mix in the raisins. Store for up to one week. Makes about 20 small servings.

per serving: 301 calories; 7 grams protein; 14 grams total fat; 5 grams fiber; 4 grams saturated fat; 41 grams carbohydrates; 9 mgs cholesterol; 64 mgs sodium

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