Maple syrup is a prized and surprizingly versatile pantry item. We’re talking about real maple syrup, not a commercial brand many of us recall from childhood. Pure maple syrup is exactly what it sounds like – no additives, coloring, or corn syrup – just the natural stuff that comes from the sap of maple trees.
There is a big difference between this and the artificial version, so make sure to look for the word “pure” on the packaging. Most of the maple syrup you come across will be from Vermont or Canada. It can come in different grades, hues and tastes, but as long as it is pure, it is natural and unadulterated.
Maple syrup is a great weapon in the kitchen, for baking and breakfast as well as savory cooking. It brings a wonderful sweetness to dishes, from dressings and glazes, to marinades and sauces. Anywhere you might use sugar, honey or agave, try using maple syrup. Some people even opt for maple syrup instead of sugar in their morning coffee!
Not only does pure maple syrup taste better than its artificial counterpart, it is also (no surprise) much better for you, as many of these artificial versions are made with corn syrup. Maple syrup is also lower in calories than many other sweeteners, and is a great source of manganese, which is vital to brain and nerve function. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. There is ongoing research that shows just how beneficial this ingredient may be, so it’s a great choice when it comes to natural sweeteners.
Related: Easy on-the-go breakfast bars
In addition to maple syrup, this dish packs plenty of health benefits from carrots. Carrots are low in fat and cholesterol and are rich in vitamins including Vitamin A (which is important for our vision), Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, as well as manganese, thiamin and potassium. Carrots are also high in fiber. Related: What does fiber do? Soluble versus insoluble fiber
This recipe for Maple-Roasted Carrots showcases how incorporating a bit of maple syrup into cooking can add complexity and flavor to a dish. The carrots are slightly sweet to begin with, but a dash of maple syrup and a bit of time in the oven really lets them shine. The caramelized flavor and sweetness of these ingredients is balanced out with some heat from a pinch of red pepper flakes. This dish is a breeze to whip up, and will be an instant favorite at the dinner table. Serve the carrots alongside some chicken and a simple green salad for a well-rounded meal.
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (you can try substituing molasses or agave nectar, if you don't have maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes until evenly coated. Roast until carrots are cooked through and slightly caramelized, about 40-45 minutes, tossing halfway through.