Sweetness of Nature

Stewart's Sugar Bush Pakenham, ON

Stewart’s Sugar Bush
Pakenham, ON

What a difference a week makes! Last week I was heading to Ottawa with a million things on my mind and no time to execute them. Today I am a peacefully sitting in my kitchen with a Raspberry Leaf tea and a bunch of checks off my “to-do” list.  Happiness may be overrated but contentment fills the soul.

This week has been productive: I returned from out east (okay maybe Westjet deserves the credit for that one), designed/ordered Fig and Basil paper products, prepped this week’s recipe 3 times, started my indoor seeds for my veggie garden, participated in a Garden Show, and don’t tell anyone this but… I also contemplated on getting a rescue puppy 🙂 Okay so I recognize the last one is borderline insanity but for the most part I have got my two feet planted back on the ground.

Indoor Grow-Op: Week One

Indoor Grow-Op:
Week One

My trip “home” was fantastic and we managed to stay very entertained.  Baby Mason, Olivia and Alyssa were adorable, as were the rest of the crew. The highlight was definitely when we drove our 5-car convoy deep into the Ontario bush and spent hours eating and learning about maple syrup. I haven’t done this since I was a kid.  Surrounded by maple trees, we ate pancakes & maple taffy, had a game of adult teeter-totter and even a horse drawn wagon ride. What could be better?  Well…the MAPLE SYRUP, thats what!

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There’s just something about maple syrup.  The sweet, smooth earthy goodness dripping over your pancakes. The nutty smell when you heat it. Heaven! As we get older and wiser (?) there are endless reasons why we should avoid refined sugars but thankfully maple syrup is in a whole different category .  One might even argue that it is a “health food”.  In just 2 tsp of pure maple syrup there is 22% of your Daily Value (DV) of manganese and almost 4% DV of zinc. Manganese is a very important trace mineral and is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defences. The zinc supplied by maple syrup, in addition to acting as an antioxidant also can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis. So it’s good for your heart! Not to mention that the zinc and manganese are a sweet support for your immune system.

***Never confuse pure maple syrup with the maple-flavoured syrup that is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. Pure maple syrup, although more expensive, is a natural product, has many health benefits and a superior flavour.

So when I came home with a little piece of Ontario in my luggage (many thanks to Paulette & Sebastian) I almost immediately started my Slow Cooked Maple Baked Beans.

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This recipe is simple and versatile. Serve as a complete meal or a side dish…I even had it for breakfast this week on a piece of toasted sourdough bread. The preparation of this dish only takes about 10 minutes active time with the remainder of your time spent waiting (hence the word SLOW in the recipe name :-)).  Patience is important for this dish. Plan ahead by soaking your dried beans overnight and then boiling them for about an hour in the morning. Of course, canned beans are always an option but you need to reduce the cooking time on your slow cooker to 4 hours and be sure to use a firmer white bean like a navy bean.

Aside from all the nutritional benefits of maple syrup, the blackstrap molasses and beans in this recipe are also amazing. The beans provide an excellent source of fiber & folate and are a good source of iron. The molasses is very high in iron, manganese and potassium as well as a good source of calcium. Since everyone usually asks a vegan how they get their calcium, here is a great example; Just 1 tbsp of molasses contains 179 mg of calcium (as a point of reference- 1 tbsp of plain yogurt contains 24 mg of calcium).

If you are out west like me, then you are likely getting a fresh dump of snow this weekend so its a great time to crank up your slow cooker to keep warm. I hope you enjoy this recipe and feel free to let me know how yours turns out.

Emily

Slow Cooked Maple Baked Beans

Prep Time : 6-8 hours (Inactive), 10-15 mins (Active) plus soaking time for beans

Ingredients:

2 cups dried Great White Northern bean (or approx. 4 cups of canned white beans, drained and rinsed)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped small

1 clove of garlic, minced

15 oz canned tomatoes, crushed (+ one can of filtered water)

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp allspice

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp liquid smoke (if you do not have liquid smoke then add another tsp of smoked paprika instead)

salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Cover 2 cups of dried beans with filtered water, in a large bowl. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

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  • When soaking is complete, drain and rinse with clean water. Add beans to a med saucepan and cover with fresh, salted water. Bring water to a boil with lid on. Then lower heat to med-low and simmer for approx. 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.
  • Heat coconut oil in medium sized frying pan and then add onions and garlic. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until slightly caramelized.
  • While onions are cooking turn on slow cooker to 6-8 hours on HIGH.
  • Toss all ingredients into slow cooker.  Don’t forget the 15 oz can of water and the sautéed onions/garlic.
This is a double batch. I managed to fit it all in my little slow cooker!

This is a double batch. I managed to fit it all in my little slow cooker!

  • Mix completely and place on the lid. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID FOR ANY REASON…well, maybe if there is a fire and you need to shield yourself or a food fight breaks out in your kitchen and you need to take cover…you get the point 😉
  • After 6 hours has passed remove lid and stir. Check beans for doneness and determine if you need more cooking time (adding a small amount of water if you feel it needs it). Also adding salt if necessary.
  • When fully cooked, remove and serve immediately with a buttered piece of rustic bread. Delish!

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