Growing up in Canada, maple syrup was a delicious treat that was to be savored over pancakes and waffles. And when we moved to California as a kid, I remember we couldn't get it easily. I don't know if this was actually true or maybe it was a little more expensive than my parents were used to paying for it. For whatever reason, I had back shelved this sweet delight in my brain for most of my life as something I didn't need or want. I put honey in it's place as the healthy sweetener of preference and used honey to sweeten tea, toast, even put on pancakes.
This summer, on a family camping trip, my brother and wife brought pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast and WOW. Fully in love. Not only is it good on pancakes, it's delicious on ham, bacon and smoked pulled pork. It's even good in coffee! What? And tea!! And it doesn't solidify the same way honey does...something that had made the miracle sweetener less miraculous for me and more of a sticky pain.
As I'm prepping & packing for Costa Rica it hit me this morning, am I going to have to say goodbye to my new favorite morning beverage companion? Can I justify bringing a big thing of maple syrup in my bag? Is it worth giving up the real estate that could otherwise be filled with linens or shower heads? I mean, this is a big deal for this #propertypacking girl with three full suitcases already ready-to-go.
This led me to the big question, "Could there be any health benefits?" Resounding answer: YES!!!!!
5 Things to Know about Maple Syrup:
1. It's readily available in California and much of the world. Not sure if that includes Costa Rica but I can easily have good quality, delicious maple syrup on hand whenever we are back in Tahoe.
2. It's packed with nutrients! "Real Maple Syrup has significantly more calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese than honey." as stated by Parker's Maple. What?? Who knew?
3. It's good for your immune system. A sugar that helps keep you healthy? I'm all ears. Not only does it have anti-oxidants that are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, add in the minerals listed above and you're giving the cells of your body the nutrients they need to boost immune support.
4. It's lower in calories than honey. I never really considered the amount of calories in honey...it comes from bees and bees are considered the most invaluable species, so it must be good to consume. That was basically my thought process. If avocados are the good kind of fat, honey was the good kind of sugar. I still believe that's true, I just think maple syrup should have it's spot on "the good kind of sugar list." Maple trees store starch in their roots in preparation of winter. In the spring, as temperatures rise the trees turn that starch into sugar and mix the sugar with ground water to make a sap. I think we can all agree that trees are as important and miraculous as bees. I therefore believe #treesandbees are equally capable of producing nutrient-rich sweeteners we can feel good about indulging in.
5. It's good for the environment too. Maple syrup comes from maple trees. As the popularity of maple syrup rises more farmers are inclined to harvest maple over dairy. This means more trees. More trees means less carbon in the air. Organic standards not only pertain to the way the trees are cared for or the harvesting process they also require forest diversification, only 75% of the land can be sugar maples and there is a required 25% diversity in types of sugar maples to help build the tree canopy supporting more bird and insect species to flourish.
My conclusion, yes, there will be room in my suitcase for some delicious, earth-friendly, organic maple syrup to accompany us to Costa Rica this year. Yay!!!