Real Food Healthy Sweeteners and Why I Eat Cold Eggs


maple syrup

A year ago, breakfast was often a kale and shiitake frittata, farm-fresh goat cheese crumbled on top, still warm from the pan… Though I’ve kicked my coffee-shop-muffin habit (that had crept into my routine), the just-cooked eggs were often just-cooked two hours ago.  At 9 a.m. I often find myself eating the remains of Finn’s scrambled eggs – cold, picked over, and in some cases “pre-mouthed” (but not chewed – I do have my standards).  If I never ate my child’s food remains (“leftovers” is too elevated a term once the food has sat on someone else’s plate – or high chair), I would be tossing away eggs, fish, applesauce – all partially eaten and 100% touched.  Since I can’t bring myself to throw them out, I instead throw myself into the role of scrap-eater.

But here’s the thing, there are ways to make somebody else’s rejects taste surprisingly good.  It’s called maple syrup. It doesn’t just make up for the fact that the eggs are cold and starting to toughen up, it actually makes them delicious. You don’t need much, just enough to trick your tongue into thinking you’re about to indulge in a stack of hot cakes, fresh off the griddle. I sometimes even toss them back onto the pan so they are slightly warm, and then add a few drips of syrup. (This might be an indication of how far my culinary demands have slipped, but really I’m not kidding when I say I do this.)

I am extremely conscious about minimizing my added-sugar intake, as I am fully convinced that too much of it (and it does not take much to qualify as “too much”) leads, not only to obvious health problems (excess weight) but more subtle ones (inflammation for example) so when I use sugar, I use it sparingly and try to stick to the purest forms (mashed up fruit – banana, pear – is still my favorite way to add sugar to yogurt or home-made muffins.)

I used to be a honey aficionado, but, 1) My mouth become a bit desensitized to the flavor so it was less interesting and I was finding I needed more of it to really taste it, and 2) You’re not supposed to feed it to a baby (a bacteria issue) so I don’t use it to sweeten any of Finn’s foods.  Maple syrup also has a ton of antioxidants and contains trace minerals (such as zinc, manganese and potassium).  The darker syrup has even higher levels of minerals as is tapped at the end of the season when it’s more concentrated.

It is more expensive than many other sweeteners, but one way of stretching it is to heat it.  This thins it so you tend to use less. Don’t over-heat it though or you’ll lose all the nutrients.  One word of caution, I once bought a super unrefined maple syrup (pretty much straight from the tree), kept it in the cupboard and six month later when I poured it out, the syrup was preceded by a dark, furry stream of mold. Mmmmm… I now keep it in the fridge.

Your favorite healthy sweeteners?

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