Syrup Alternatives

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Don’t get me wrong.  Syrup is a beautiful thing.  It is, after all, a food group (right after candy, candy canes, and candy corn).

Elf = Best movie ever.

But I don’t always want a mega-dose of sugar first thing in the morning.  I love waffles and French toast, and there are tons of different ways to top them without the golden stuff. 


Some of my favorite syrup alternatives include:


Greek yogurt

Peanut butter

Grilled bananas (slice ‘em and throw them on a hot pan – just be sure to spray it with non-stick stuff)

Banana soft serve

And balsamic reduction


Balsamic reduction is very easy to make – it just requires you to keep an eye on the stove because it’s very easy to overcook and ruin it.  You need to use a lot of balsamic vinegar to make it work, so we buy a cheap jug of it, not the pricey small bottles of gourmet vinegar.


I pour about 1/2 cup (for two people) into a small pot and turn the heat on high.  Let it boil and bubble for about 5 minutes or so and then begin to watch it very, very carefully. It will get thicker and thicker, and when you pick up the pot and roll the liquid around, you want it to appear gel-like but not sludgy.  I have ruined many a pot of balsamic reduction by overcooking it!


If you get it right, the results are mighty tasty!


French toast with balsamic reduction, strawberries, bananas, and almonds.


Thought of the Day:


“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson.



  • Rebecca May 10, 2012, 9:26 am

    Now I want pancakes… Hah.
    For a long time, the only way my sister would eat pancakes or waffles was if they only had peanut butter on top. I think that’s changed now, but it was kind of funny at the time.
    When my roommate had some friends up here a couple months ago, we went out to dinner and one of the girls ordered pancakes. Normal. And then she proceeded to put peanut butter AND syrup on her pancakes. I was very confused. “You use both??” Haha. 🙂

  • Faith @ For the Health of It May 10, 2012, 9:57 am

    I love balsamic reduction, but I usually do it with savory dishes (like my vegan balsamic mushroom tarts). I can only imagine that it would be an interesting pancake topper though!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 10, 2012, 10:01 am

    I love using greek yogurt, especially with berries mixed in!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 10, 2012, 10:11 am

    I used to think balsamic on breakfast was a very odd thing (same with on strawberries) but now I can’t get enough! There’s a really nice thick maple balsamic that I am addicted to at a local gourmet food shop, and it tastes AHHHHHHmazing on everything from pancakes to roasted Brussels sprouts. This post has made me hungry!

  • Annette@FitnessPerks May 10, 2012, 10:13 am

    I’ve never had balsamic at breakfast….but if you say so 😉 But I do love the Greek yogurt with a bit of berries –so tasty!!

  • Halley (Blunder Construction) May 10, 2012, 10:18 am

    I must be missing something/doing it wrong! I’ve tried basalmic reductions but I can’t get over the vinegar smell, it makes the whole house reek! By the time it’s done, I’m so disgusted that I can’t even try it. HALP

  • Corrie Anne May 10, 2012, 10:34 am

    haha. i needed this last night. my husband was determined that we needed syrup for our waffles. i’m not really a fan, especially of all the sugar!! great ideas!

  • Kate @ life's precious moments May 10, 2012, 10:35 am

    I love Elf! Such a fun fun movie 🙂

    Great ideas for syrup substituions!

  • Erin May 10, 2012, 10:52 am

    So, you like sugar?
    Is there sugar in syrup?
    Then, yes!

    Must try banana soft serve on my waffles!

  • Laura @ She Eats Well May 10, 2012, 11:00 am

    I love Elf, never gets old. Any time of the year! And I am totally down to try balsamic as a syrup substitute. I think you get additional sweetness from the bananas and berries! Beautiful breakfast.

  • Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! May 10, 2012, 11:17 am

    I know I’m usually in the minority here, but every time I watch that scene from Elf, all I think is, “That sounds pretty good!” I mean, I love my brussels sprouts with maple syrup on them, why wouldn’t I like it on spaghetti??

  • Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) May 10, 2012, 11:18 am

    Strawberries and balsamic are just FANTASTIC 🙂 Some fresh cream would be lovely on this too.

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery May 10, 2012, 12:05 pm

    I LOVE the movie Elf and that is my favorite scene!!!! This made my morning 🙂

  • JustNML May 10, 2012, 12:09 pm

    Caitlin, I know it’s off-topic for today, but let me ask the hive mind a question here.

    I’m 20 weeks (5 months) pregnant, have always been fit, and my husband and I couldn’t be any more excited about having a little girl.

    I have gained 3 pounds total, and eat a LOT of healthy foods, with an occasional ice cream cone. Here’s the problem – I am getting a lot of very negative comments from family and friends about my lack of weight gain. They imply that I’m starving the baby, being selfish, etc. etc.

    What would you even say to that? So far, I’ve been walking away and telling these people that when they become an MD, they can have an opinion, since mine doesn’t seem overly concerned yet.

    • CaitlinHTP May 10, 2012, 12:15 pm

      Your family is probably just concerned… and expressing it in a shit way 🙂 Have you spoken to your doctor about your slower weight gain? Maybe then you can say, “You’re right, it is slightly unusual! I spoke to my doctor about it and she said that….” and repeat whatever your doctor says, whether it’s that you should be (and are) focusing on eating higher cal foods or that you don’t need to worry about it. Maybe just knowing that you have spoken to your doc about it would be nice for them to hear.

      I mean, granted, at 20 weeks, the baby is only 11 ounces or something. Plus the placenta and fluids, you probably just haven’t gained any extra fat yet.

      I have heard of this happening to many women on the pregnancy message boards! So you aren’t alone.

  • Joy May 10, 2012, 12:15 pm

    Just when I thought you couldn’t get any cooler–you put an Elf clip in your post. You are awesome 🙂

  • Anne Weber-Falk May 10, 2012, 12:35 pm

    I have that quote framed and hanging in my living room. Every time I see it, it makes me smile. Love Elf! Thanks for making me smile some more.

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels May 10, 2012, 1:09 pm

    OMG love that movie and love syrup … a lot!

    but I do like your alternatives too 😉

    I use pure maple syrup as a sugar alternative in a lot of baked goods

  • Sam @ Fit for My Fork May 10, 2012, 1:18 pm

    That balsamic reduction looks great! I’ve only ever had it in restaurants but I really like it. I may have to try making it at home now!

  • Tamara May 10, 2012, 1:21 pm

    Great tip! I hadn’t thought of using balsamic reduction before!

  • jen May 10, 2012, 1:46 pm

    best quote ever. thank you so much.

  • Rachel May 10, 2012, 2:07 pm

    I love the syrup scenes in Elf! Actually I love most of the scenes in Elf, and I cannot get on a escalator without thinking of the movie.

    Today I walked past a girl who smelled like maple syrup. That’s another negative of syrup. There’s something really gross about the smell of syrup when there’s no syrup in sight!

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) May 10, 2012, 4:17 pm

    I just had French toast this morning with PB on top… didn’t miss the syrup!

  • Lindsay May 10, 2012, 4:17 pm

    ALL of those things in the last photo are MY FAVORITE. As in, I don’t even use balsamic vinaigrette on salad. Just balsamic vinegar. LOVE! I definitely need to try this!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 10, 2012, 5:25 pm

    I love drizzling soy nut butter thinned with a bit of milk over my pancakes! And I usually have maple syrup as well. I just can’t go without my sugar haha. 😉

  • Ali May 10, 2012, 8:32 pm

    Totally off subject but I thought you might like this!!!

  • Amanda K. May 10, 2012, 8:49 pm

    the reduction looks awesome. honey is also an awesome sub for syrup. my sister lives in asia (where syrup is really expensive) and her husband is from vermont (aka the land of maple syrup) so she had to find something good; they’ve used honey now for years.

  • BroccoliHut May 10, 2012, 9:00 pm

    I love using coconut butter as an alternative to syrup. It’s so naturally sweet and rich!

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed May 16, 2012, 1:38 am

    love love love that quote!
    Heidi xo

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