The Sweetness of Spring

It began with our February trip to Florida to visit my in-laws, Mike wanted to stop at the Waffle House for what else, waffles smothered in maple syrup. I hesitated to say yes, then he reminded me that I had recently lost a bet with him and so there we were sitting in a booth and ordering. I chuckled when he asked for the maple syrup because I suspected there wasn’t any, at least not pure maple syrup. You see, when you look at the ingredient label of maple syrup, there should be only one ingredient listed and that would be, pure maple syrup.

Spring is an outpouring of nature's gifts and promises of hope and new life everywhere we look. One of those things is the maple syrup that pours out of maple trees in the Spring. If you drive by maple trees and see buckets hanging from them, it’s because someone is collecting maple syrup from the tree. It doesn’t get more natural than that. This natural sweetener features over 54 antioxidants that can help delay or prevent diseases caused by free radicals, such as cancer or diabetes. It offers high levels of zinc , riboflavin and manganese, keeping the heart healthy and boosting the immune system. Pure maple syrup has the same class of beneficial antioxidant compounds as red wine, berries, tomatoes, tea, whole wheat, and flax seeds.

You can read more at , and you probably thought you were cheating by having pure maple syrup on your pancakes. Go ahead and pour it on, it’s “real” food!

So why the long list of ingredients on many of the bottles of maple syrup you see stocked on store shelves? Well, it’s less money than pure, in the short term that is and it’s because we have allowed to be fed “food like substances” because it taste good. The main ingredient in what I call “fake” maple syrup is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Is it good for you? My opinion after doing a little research, NO, it’s sugar and the worst kind of sugar.

Dr. Bruce Ames, one of the foremost nutritional scientists in the world and Dr. Jeffrey Bland, a nutritional biochemist and Dr. Mark Hyman have convinced me with their research that HFCS is responsible for the rise in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Here are their 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You.

Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic doses. One can of soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. Our ancestors consumed 20 teaspoons of sugar per year not per day.
HFCS and cane sugar are not biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body.
HFCS contains contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.
Independent medical and nutrition experts do not support the use of HFCS in our diet, despite the assertions of the corn industry.
HFCS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrition-poor disease creating industrial food products or “food-like substances”.

Marketers are tricky, it’s about profits and stooping the consumer. I’m all for supporting local farmers and sourcing as much local food as I can so that I know what I’m getting. I was at my Moms house the other day and asked if she had any coffee cream. She gladly responded yes and handed me a carton of Fat Free Cream. That immediately sent a red flag up because the last I knew, cream was delicious FAT. How can cream be fat free? Well, the ingredient label didn’t mention milk anywhere, only those food like substances I mentioned earlier. She had no idea that what she had bought was not pure cream.

The EWG and Organic Consumers Association is working hard to get GMO food labeling laws passed so Americans, like consumers in 64 other countries have the right to know what’s in their food and how it is grown. It’s important to have this transparency so that we know what we are bringing into our homes and putting into our bodies. I know checking ingredient lists in the middle of a supermarket isle takes time, but it’s important. Keep walking if any product contains high fructose corn syrup which many of them do and most times it’s from GMO corn.

I’m suggesting you start your spring cleaning in the pantry and throw away anything and everything that contains HFCS. I’m asking you to be aware of what food and products you bring into your home. I’m asking you to support your local farmers, shop at the farmers markets, sign up for a CSA basket this summer. I’m asking you to please eat real food in those lovely kitchens and homes, they were created to nurture you, not make you sick. If it’s all too overwhelming and you just don’t know where to begin, begin with the maple syrup.

After all that talk about maple syrup, how can I leave you without a recipe with maple syrup as an ingredient. I know there are pancakes and waffles to pour it on but you would be pleasantly surprised at the many more uses it has. I hope you enjoy this Vermont Chicken recipe as much as we do.

Vermont Chicken

2 lbs of chicken cutlets or fillets

cheddar cheese

8 slices of cooked bacon

bread crumbs or panko

pure Extra Virgin olive oil

pure maple syrup (As much as you want:)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bread cutlets in breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil, place in a baking dish and bake on each side until breadcrumbs brown. You can brown your cutlets stove top if you prefer. Drizzle a tablespoon of maple syrup over each cutlet and continue baking them until cooked through but still juicy. Remove from oven and drizzle more maple syrup over them, add cheese and two slices of bacon to each cutlet. Continue baking for 5 minutes until cheese melts and bacon warms. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable and enjoy!

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