Research involving cane sugar at the University of California-San Francisco reports that sugar is essentially a toxin that causes all sorts of lifestyle diseases, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Sugar is just about in every day foods bought. Such as bread, low-fat yogurt, soy milk, bbq sauce, tomato sauce, chocolate milk, cereals, smoothies, cookies, and muffins among many other foods.
If you were to have just one serving of each of the foods in the above image, you would have consumed about 13 tablespoons of sugar or 37 – 40 teaspoons.
There is an alternative sweetener, and what most people don’t know is that it beats out all the others.
What is the alternative? Maple syrup. Maples taste profile is even better than sugar.
Maple Syrup Flavor
Maple syrup has caramel notes along with the woodsy maple flavor that you might expect from a maple syrup product.
Maple syrup can have a complex flavor with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and even hazelnut.
Cane sugar tastes highly refined and incredibly sweet.
Maple Syrup Health Benefits
Maple syrup contains 100 essential nutritional compounds including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytohormones, and 67 polyphenols.
A study done by the University of Rhode Island – The College of Pharmacy, reported that maple syrup has antioxidants and minerals that deem this syrup a superfood (Study Source).
The researchers said that in their laboratory research they found several compounds that possessed anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.
When examining other sweeteners, real maple is higher in – magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, and potassium than honey, brown sugar, and white sugar.
The USDA Nutritional Database, says a 1/4 cup serving of Real Maple Syrup supplies 95% of our daily intake of manganese, 37% of riboflavin, 7% of magnesium, 6% of zinc, 5% of calcium and 5% of potassium.
The database also reports maple syrup is higher in antioxidants than cabbage, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.
Real Maple Syrup has a glycemic index of 54, and is defined as having a “medium” index.
Cane Sugar on the other hand, has a glycemic index of 68 and is defined as having a “high” index.
Honey has a glycemic index of 60 – Brown sugar has a glycemic index of 70.
If your vegan, maple syrup is an alternative to honey. It is also fat-free.
Eating and Cooking With Maple Syrup
Maple syrup can be used for more than just pancakes.
It can be used as an easy replacement for sugar in coffee, tea, and lemonade, as a homemade salad dressing, in baking, in marinades, and on roasted vegetables.
Balsamic vinegar is made by pressing grapes complete with the stem, seeds, and skin.
The unfermented grape juice, also called “grape must,” is reduced and then cooked down and aged in hard wood barrels either oak, cherry or walnut, to create a delicate flavor that expertly balances both sweet and savory.
Depending on the wood barrels being used, flavor is added to the essence of the balsamic gradually over time.
As it ages, moisture evaporates out, further thickening and concentrating the balsamic.
Many consumers outside of Italy are unaware of the fact that there are two types of balsamic vinegar.
According to Compass and Fork, the balsamic vinegars sold at a local market or gourmet food shops are commercially made vinegar, and even if it says Modena on it, it has not been produced according to the traditional standard.
To be able to be labelled as a balsamic from Modena, only one step in the process has to be performed and it can be to any quality standard.
Though the bottled balsamic vinegar is sold at moderate pricing, it is only bottled in Modena.
Wine Vinegar Included – Not Traditionally Made
Traditionally produced balsamic vinegar is also protected under labeling laws, with only products made in a particular way and in Modena bearing the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena label.
How To Use BalsamicVinegar
There are three basic age groups of balsamic vinegar, and each is used differently:
The youngest group, 3 to 5 years, is good for salad dressings, dipping sauces for vegetables and bread, sauces and marinades.
The middle age group, 6 to 11 years, is more viscous and is quite versatile. Use it in sauces (at the end of cooking), in risotto and pasta dishes, in marinades and mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream for a sandwich condiment.
Well-aged balsamic vinegar (12 to 150+ years) is best used after the cooking is finished, and in otherwise mild dishes (nothing spicy or heavily seasoned), so it can shine on its own.
Use it to flavor meat like chicken, steak, fish or veal. It is well-suited to fruit and cheese pairings, such as strawberries, peaches and pears, along with ricotta or feta cheese.
To think about cooking as purely functional would be to look at just one aspect of it. When in fact there are several reasons why we cook.
Cooking makes food more edible and in doing so cuts down on the time it takes to digest it.
Some foods we can eat raw, but there are others that need to be cooked, like meat or eggs for example.
Humankind has been on the earth for thousands of years and throughout the centuries we have learned the art of cooking.
Yes cooking is an art. If you are a professional-cook or not – when you put together different flavors you are creating a dish to satisfy your taste and hunger.
The More You Know
We spend just five percent (5%) of our day eating. So make the food you eat count towards a healthier you. Read more here: First Step To Being Healthy
The bottom line is, we have learned through trial and error that some foods need to be cooked.
So again, ever thought while you are preparing something to eat, why you cook it?
Why We Cook
It makes eating food safe, as cooking destroys bacteria, and the toxins they produce.
The food flavors multiple with using heat to cook. The heat browns meat, vegetables, breads, and cakes.
Cooking caramelizes sugar and helps herbs and spices to release their locked in flavors in a process known as the Maillard reaction.
Read More Here About Cooking With Herbs – Spices – and Caramelizing Sugar
Food that has been cooked helps with your digestion as it softens starches and releases foods nutrients.
Cooked food tastes delicious and brings new textures to food.
Cooking To Gather Family and Friends
You may have heard the expression, make friends by “breaking bread together.”
Research has shown that the ritual of cooking and sharing your cooked food with others is entrenched in our psyche, and it brings family and friends together.
Regularly eating cooked food with others also improves our well-being.
Cooking Supports A Healthy Life Style
Here’s a great response to why we cook.
Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, lead author of a study on home cooking and weight lossat the John Hopkins Center, says if you are trying to lose weight or not, people who cook most of their meals at home, consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all (Study Suggests Home Cooking is a Main Ingredient in Healthier Diet).
According to Civil Eats – The power of a communal meal, or eating together – either it be a Thanksgiving feast, a community potluck, or a dinner-table gathering can build cultural ties and tear down political walls.
Despite its appearance, risotto is not a type of rice but rather an Italian dish made with a special high-starch short-grain rice.
Which includes the Arborio, Carnaroli and the Vialone Nano rice.
This special type of rice can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.
A basic risotto is particularly prepared with Arborio rice, bone broth, shallots, butter and salt.
Once you have the basics, you can add just about any other food that you would like.
This risotto includes dried cranberries, pecans, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, goat cheese, and Italian parsley.
The History Of Risotto
The history of how Risotto became an Italian dish is quit simple.
The story of risotto begins in the 14th century B.C. with the Arabs bringing rice to Sicily and Spain during their rule.
Italy was the ideal place to grow short-grain rice due to the humid weather and abundant flat land.
Till today, the Po Valley (Italy) is one of the largest rice producers in Europe and rice is eaten extensively throughout northern Italy.
Making A Risotto Is Not Time Consuming
Making a risotto with any of the rices we noted at the start of reading this article, takes as long as cooking an Asian rice or Mexican rice.
But the difference is, it is hands on from start to finish. Which is about 20 to 25 minutes. And I will say, It is worth it.
If you prepare a risotto the right way, or in other words, follow the recipe, you will have a creamy delicious risotto.
PumpkinPecanRisotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese
• 4 cups bone broth (or vegetable stock)
• 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 shallot (minced)
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar red
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• Fresh ground black pepper
• 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the stock and pumpkin over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover and keep warm.
Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the shallot and salt.
Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme and rice and cook for one minute longer.
Add the white wine vinegar and a ladle of warm stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Add another ladle of stock, and continue cooking until evaporated again.
Continue cooking, adding a ladle of stock at a time, and allowing to evaporate in between each addition. Cook until the rice is done, but has a bite to it, it should be creamy in texture, and will take about 20-25 minutes.
Mix in the parmesan, half of the parsley, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining parsley, goat cheese and dried cranberries. Serve immediately.