This past weekend was a big one for the state of Vermont. It was the Maple Open House weekend. That’s when Vermont sugar houses open their doors to the public. This resulted in a steady stream of cars jostling and bumping up our muddy, rutted road to reach our neighbor’s sugar house at the top of our hill. Several of the cars lost their mufflers in the process.
This served as an amusing diversion as we watched the steam rise from our own make-shift maple sugaring operation in our driveway. As a result of my husband’s laboriously lugging buckets of sap, my family spent the better half of our weekend in the sun and snow, surrounded by neighbors and the scent of syrup. More than twenty friends randomly came by to visit (in various mud-splattered vehicles) all to say hi and enjoy a much loved Vermont tradition.
Maple sugaring serves as a family friendly mud-season diversion, and it helps our economy (Vermont is the country’s largest producer of syrup, oh yeah!), and it results in a lot of liquid gold. With plenty of it around we use it to sweeten everything from smoothies, and salad dressing to our morning coffee and even stir-fries. The great thing is it also adds rich maple flavor, so you need less of it than straight up sugar. And that’s important because while maple is delicious, we should all watch our sugar intake.
Even though it’s brown, maple syrup isn’t healthier than regular table sugar, corn syrup or brown sugar. Use it in moderation says Kay Tran R.D., certified Diabetes Educator. She explains “there is not a significant change in nutrients between the different sugars.” She likes to keep it simple, “a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate.” Tran gives us a ballpark for what we should aim for in our diet for added sugars. She points to the recommendations of the American Heart Association, “They say added sugars should not exceed 150 calories a day for men or 100 calories a day for women.” That’s only two tablespoons of maple syrup or other sugar for women!
In honor of maple season I developed this recipe for stir fried chicken. I’ve added two tablespoons of maple syrup to the whole recipe (which serves 4) to give it a special maple flavor and slight sweetness, but it won’t blow your sugar budget for the day.
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- Pinch salt
- 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper or black pepper
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root (or you can mince it if you don't have a microplane)
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups broccoli florets, about 2 small crowns
- 2 cups sliced carrots
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish, optional
- Whisk maple syrup, tahini, tamari or soy sauce, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat large skillet over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil and swirl to coat bottom of skillet. Add chicken, sprinkle with pepper and cook, turning once or twice until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Note* the chicken will not be fully cooked and will continue cooking in the sauce in step 4. Remove the chicken to a plate.
- Add the remaining 2 teaspoons canola to the skillet, followed by the scallion whites and ginger. Cook, stirring until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Add broccoli and carrots, cover and simmer, stirring once or twice until the broccoli is bright green and the vegetables are still crisp but starting to soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stir sauce, the chicken and any accumulated juices from the plate into the vegetables and continue cooking, stirring often until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in reserved scallion greens, lime juice and sesame seeds.
57 mg Cholesterol, 5.8 g Added Sugar
Serve with brown rice or whole-grain noodles.
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