Now that print is dead, maple syrup is the best thing to come from trees.
With Maple Open House Weekend and the Vermont Maple Festival behind us, my family is on an extreme maple kick. I have to say “extreme” because honestly, we’re always on a maple kick. As a born and raised Vermonter, I truly believe real maple syrup is a fact of life. Where I differ from the rest of the world is that I don’t enjoy maple syrup atop pancakes. That statement might be a little harsh. I’m more of a savory breakfast girl, but I guess I don’t exactly complain about the weekend waffle tradition my husband has started. When given the option, I can just think of many other ways to consume maple syrup instead.
Here are my 10 favorite ways to enjoy maple syrup, most of which involve pairing with another awesome Vermont product:
Coffee: Iced coffee to be exact. Even in the middle of a frigid Vermont winter, my go-to morning drink is a cold-brewed iced coffee with coconut cream and maple syrup. Pure bliss. We cold brew our own coffee which saves a ton of money and it’s downright delicious. Right now, my favorite beans are Vermont Coffee Company Medium Roast; organic, local, and available at Costco = #momwin.
Dressing: Maple balsamic dressing is nostalgic for us. When visiting Jay Peak, which ultimately became our wedding venue, my husband and I had the most amazing maple balsamic dressing. I immediately set out to perfect our own version at home and to this day whenever I make it, I am always brought back to our wedding day.
Lemonade: I have to give Palmer Lane credit for this one. My son is allergic to dairy. My husband is lactose intolerant. I nursed my son for two years and was on a strict no dairy diet basically the entire time. For most, maple creemees probably top the maple list but these just don’t work for our family. I was THRILLED to discover maple lemonade at Palmer Lane. For those who haven’t tried it, think lemonade slushie sweetened with real maple syrup. The tart, sweet, refreshing drink basically signifies summer for my family.
Bacon: This one almost goes without saying. Maple bacon on a stick exists at multiple food trucks in our state. If you haven’t had this yet, get it as soon as possible. As a savory breakfast lover, bacon in any form is a favorite. Bacon with a bit of maple on top to balance out the salty, savory deliciousness is perfection.
Yogurt: Before two years of cutting out dairy and a now questionable dairy intolerance, I went through a tub of Green Mountain Creamery’s maple greek yogurt every week. I even used this instead of ice cream as a late night treat. It’s that good. My absolute favorite way to eat it was with fresh berries and crunchy granola mixed in.
Veggies: I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that my child eats more vegetables than I do. For the most part, I consider it a parenting win that his favorite food was “squishy carrots” for almost a year of his life. Squishy carrots = steamed carrots. It’s taken far more creativity to convince myself carrots are delicious. My best trick? Maple syrup, of course. I’ve found I like maple or honey glazed carrots best if I boil them a little first and then cook with oil, salt, pepper, and a little drizzle of maple at the end. Same can be said for sweet potatoes or a whole pan of mixed root vegetables. Maple balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts are slightly more palatable for a picky adult, too.
Pulled Pork: I have to give my husband credit for this one. I’m a fan of crockpot recipes and pulled pork is an easy one. My husband got sick of the sometimes overwhelming flavor of barbecue sauce and pork in the crockpot and set out to find a new recipe. The end result is a flavorful, moist, and versatile pulled pork. What’s the recipe? A giant pork butt with maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, chopped onion, and spices as you see fit (salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic are our favorites). Cook on low all day, shred, and enjoy! We usually add sauce one day for traditional barbecue sandwiches and use the meat for spicy pulled pork tacos the next. If there is any left for a third meal, it goes on top of dairy-free mac and “cheese.”
Alcohol: I struggled with narrowing this category down. Try Googling “Maple Cocktail” and only sharing one favorite. It’s. not. possible. There are then maple wines to consider and don’t even get me started on our state’s craft brew movement. For a while, I was a strictly cider girl but my tastes have now expanded to include a lot of beer. I’m on pretty opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of beer preference: dark and heavy stouts like 14th Star’s Maple Breakfast Stout and light, fruity sours are my two favorite categories. Who wants to plan a maple drinking tour with me?
Baking: At one point, we had to cut all processed sugar from my diet and then my son’s. It was a small part of the food allergy and intolerance journey for us. During this time, I discovered maple syrup or honey as a natural sweetener and I’ve never looked back. It’s certainly more expensive than corn syrup but it’s delicious, better for you, and I always feel slightly less guilty pouring in a ½ cup of syrup into our favorite muffins as compared to dumping in a full cup of sugar.
Candy: I know this one is obvious but I feel like it is so often overlooked. As a food allergy parent, maple candy is a great treat. Maple candy is nothing but pure maple syrup. It is inherently dairy, gluten, peanut, tree nut, egg, soy, and basically everything free. I’ve spoken with a few local producers to understand what facilities are nut free and we stick with those for my son. A few stores around here also offer themed maple candies. Shaped chocolates don’t work for us but my son was ecstatic to find a maple bunny in his Easter basket this year!