As fall feasts and the holiday baking season quickly approach us, many are swapping out refined sugar for more natural alternatives such as maple syrup or honey.
Of course, it is best to use all sweeteners in moderation and center our meals around nutrient dense foods, but, that being said, we all need a little sweetness in our life!
Sweetening up bitter greens and tough winter storage vegetables is a great way to enjoy eating local food all year long. Plus, cooking with unrefined sources of sugar, like maple syrup and honey, can have benefits for our health, the environment and local farmers.
Maple syrup is 66-percent sugar by weight, while refined cane or beet sugar is 100-percent sugar by weight. Gram-for- gram, maple syrup contains less sugar than traditional refined sugar and may raise blood sugar more slowly than refined sugar. Still, maple syrup contains 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar per tablespoon, so be sure to use it in moderation.
In addition to having lower sugar content, maple syrup also contains vitamins and minerals, while refined sugar and most other sugars do not. One-quarter cup of maple syrup provides 61 percent of the daily value for riboflavin, over 100 percent of the daily value for manganese and 8 percent of the daily value for calcium and zinc.
It is also rich in polyphenols, which are beneficial, health-promoting chemicals naturally found in plants (like resveratrol in red wine or allyl sulfides found in garlic).
If all this was not enough, maple syrup can only be produced in the upper Midwest and northeastern United States and a few Canadian provinces, so why not support our delicious local delicacy?
One last important note: Cheap imitation maple syrup found at super markets is mostly corn syrup and food coloring and usually contains no maple syrup.
You can buy fresh, hand-harvested maple syrup at the Mill City Farmers Market from Horner’s Corner all winter long. Starting Nov. 12, the Mill City Farmers Market moved indoors for its winter markets inside the Mill City Museum.
The winter markets run 10 a.m.–1 p.m. on select Saturdays November through April. Get the market dates and more seasonal recipes at www.millcityfarmersmarket.org.
Brussels Sprout Celeriac Slaw with Maple Glazed Pepitas
Recipe by The Wedge Community Co-op
1 cup Pepitas
1⁄2 Tablespoon Butter
3 Tablespoon Maple Syrup from Horner’s Corner
1 teaspoon Pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1lb Brussels Sprouts
3⁄4lb of Celeriac
1⁄2 lb Green Cabbage
1⁄2 lb Red Cabbage
1⁄2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
2 teaspoon Whole Grain Mustard
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1⁄2 teaspoon Sea Salt
3⁄4 teaspoon Black Pepper
3⁄4 cup Canola oil
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in a small saucepan.
Add maple syrup, pepper and sea salt and heat until combined and bubbling. Mix the pumpkin seeds with the hot mixture. Spray a baking sheet with oil and spread mixture evenly across the greased sheet. Bake the seeds for about ten minutes. The seeds will darken slightly, and while they’re hot the syrup will appear to be wet but will harden as they cool.
Wash produce well. Cut off ends of Brussels sprouts and peel off any discolored leaves. Slice in half and place the flat side down. Slice as thinly as possible. Quarter cabbages and peel off any undesirable leaves, then slice cabbage as thinly as possible (a mandolin works well to thinly shave the cabbage, but you can do it by hand if you do not own one). Peel celeriac and thinly julienne (cut into small, fine matchsticks).
Toss Brussels sprouts, cabbages and celeriac together in a medium bowl. Next whisk apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the canola oil while whisking constantly to form the dressing. You can also use a mason jar with a tight fitting lid to emulsify the dressing by combining all ingredients and shaking.
Pour dressing over slaw and mix well. Top slaw with pepitas. Enjoy!