We're often asked to name our favorite food. I think that question is much tastier when answered seasonally. What, for instance, do you fall for most during fall. My top tempter continues to be maple syrup. Whether you tap it from your own tree or pick it up on a jaunt to the supermarket, pure maple syrup is pure gold. Luckily, it's so rich and tasty that moderation is an easy task.
A fun challenge? Don't use it where it's expected, like on pancakes or French toast, and do insert it in the unexpected, like the tea that follows. All ingredients are to taste.
STEEPED IN FLAVOR
A tiny note with my new teapot clued me in to something I've been doing to great effect ever since. Boil ingredients with the water, then steep the tea in it for a much richer experience than if you just stirred in condiments, like sugar or syrups, afterward. A new favorite I created: Boil together water, maple syrup, fresh tangerine juice and allspice. Steep cinnamon apple teabags in it. Carefully remove teabags before serving.
CEREAL GONE BANANAS
Melt butter in pan in low-medium heat and carefully saute slices of banana. Turn off heat, drizzle with maple syrup and gently mix. Use as a warm topping for raisin bran and milk, soymilk or almond milk.
PUMPED UP PUMPERNICKEL
Into whipped cream cheese, gently mix maple syrup, ground cinnamon, curry powder and chopped walnuts. Spread onto pumpernickel bread and top with arugula and another piece of pumpernickel.
MORE VIBRANT VEGETABLES
Steam carrots cut into coin shapes, chopped green beans and chunks of unpeeled apple. After cooking and just before serving, carefully glaze with a mixture of maple syrup, fresh chopped rosemary and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle on dried cherries.
Gently mix popped popcorn with maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.
AFTER-WORK GOURMET COOKBOOK SHELF
Did you ever think you would find your next crowd-pleasing meal in a book called "The Paleo Diabetes Solution"? Authors Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier have created recipes that inspire good health and good eats. The nutritionists, who focus on whole foods, include a slew of innovative recipes, with tasty choices an entire health-focused family might crave -- or those rallying around an affected family member probably would be glad to try. Seasonal specialties, such as Balsamic Roasted Vegetables or Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Rainbow Trout, may turn into favorites without anyone realizing good nutrition was the goal.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.