You may have noticed a new fall flavor popping up everywhere, and we think this one has sticking power. Move over, pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin beers–it’s time to make room for some maple-flavored treats. That’s right: everyone’s favorite waffle topping is the newest trendy flavor being added to everything. With the introduction of the Maple Pecan Latte, Starbucks has created a new fall flavor profile that rivals the pumpkin spice. Of course, those from Vermont have been touting the wonders of maple syrup for years. If you’re not a maple connoisseur, here are the basics on this deliciously sweet syrup.
The Low-Down On Maple
You may know maple syrup as the more expensive pancake topping in your baking aisle, but it’s so much more than that. Maple syrup is the natural sugar that comes from the maple tree, and the process is actually quite fascinating. According to the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association (yes, that’s a thing), the leaves of the maple tree make sugar in the summer and stores it as a starch until the early spring. Once February hits, the farmers trap the trees and begin collection of the sap. This sweet liquid is brought back to the sugarhouse (you can’t make that name up), where some of the water is taken out of the sap before boiling. During this process, the sap thickens and the temperature is raised to 219 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when the concoction reaches maple syrup status. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make each gallon of maple syrup, hence the price tag that’s heftier than other processed syrups.
It’s important to recognize that maple syrup is a natural sugar–but it’s a sugar nonetheless. Each teaspoon of white refined sugar has 4 grams of sugar, and maple syrup is no different. But unlike white sugar, maple syrup does contain some minerals, including manganese, zinc, iron, potassium and calcium. And let’s not forget that a little bit of maple syrup goes a long way in terms of sweetness, so it’s a good substitution for sugar in baking, smoothies or atop your favorite oatmeal or yogurt. That being said, just like white sugar it’s important to use maple syrup sparingly.
4 Maple Products to Try
If you want to jump on the maple train but aren’t ready to drop $5 and hundreds of calories on a Maple Pecan Latte, give these products a try:
Maple Almond Butter
If you like honey-roasted peanut butter, then you need to try maple almond butter. It’s made with just a few simple ingredients, and it’s the perfect blend of nutty and sweet. Lather it on a banana as your pre-run fuel.
Just like maple syrup, maple water is collected from Vermont maple trees in the spring. The liquid consists mostly of water, with just a hint of sweetness. This flavored water comes in around 30 calories with seven grams of natural sugar, and it’s a good source of calcium and iron with a sweet maple flavor. DRINKmaple may not be the best choice for a really long run, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to add it to your casual running routine.
Quaker Real Medleys Super Grains Oatmeal+, Maple Pecan Raisin
I’m not even sure if you’re allowed to eat oatmeal without maple syrup on top. Okay, that might be a bit extreme…but the two definitely make a perfect combination. This product from Quaker combines super grains like oats, wheat, barley, quinoa and flax seeds with maple flavoring, nuts and raisins. Sounds like the perfect pre-run breakfast to power you through the toughest of workouts.
UnTapped Pure Maple Syrup
For the purist, UnTapped pure maple syrup is 100 percent pure Vermont maple syrup, plain and simple. Seriously, there are literally no other ingredients in here. UnTapped is made from Slopeside Syrup, a family-run company out of Richmond, Vt. The Cochrans, makers of Slopeside and all former ski racers, teamed up with professional cyclist Ted King to introduce this unique offering to the sports nutrition world.