Clear sap, tapped from spring-warmed trees and boiled to remove much of the water, becomes pure maple syrup. It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way, so accept no imitations; if it’s not labeled “pure,” it’s likely mixed with cane or corn sugar and artificial preservatives. The real stuff contains trace minerals, such as manganese and zinc. Grade B (darkest and least expensive) works great in baked goods and drinks; more delicate Grade A is best used straight. Refrigerate after opening.

Substitute. Maple syrup is sweeter than white sugar, so replace
1 cup regular sugar with ¾ cup maple syrup in baked treats; also reduce recipe liquid by 3–5 tablespoons. It’s ideal for crisped-rice treats and spiced nuts, where the flavor really shines.

Marinade. Combine 1 /3 cup maple syrup, 1 /3 cup gluten-free tamari sauce, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard; pour over

pork tenderloin, salmon fillets, or chicken breasts. Marinate
30 minutes to 1 hour before roasting.

Vinaigrette. Whisk ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons champagne or white balsamic vinegar, 1½ tablespoons pure maple syrup, and salt. Drizzle over spinach and arugula leaves, orange sections, and toasted nuts.

Make: Tropical Fruit Parfaits.

For crunch, top these easy desserts with chopped nuts or cacao nibs. Place 2 cups cubed fruit (pineapple, mango, kiwi, or a combination) and ¼ cup pure maple syrup in a food processor; pulse until smoother but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. Rinse processor with warm water; then add 2 cups raw cashews, 2 table-
spoons vanilla extract, and 2 table-spoons coconut oil (warm oil to liquefy). Blend to a smooth, pudding consistency, adding a little water as needed. Divide
1 sliced banana among parfait glasses or ramekins; top with ¼ cup cashew mixture, and then drizzle with ¼ cup fruit syrup. Garnish with fresh mint. Serves 6.

PER SERVING: 341 cal, 20g fat (9g mono, 3g poly, 7g sat), 0mg chol, 7g protein, 33g carb, 3g fiber, 6mg sodium