Honey: The Natural Sweetener With Some Surprising Health Benefits
“The world is plentiful with honey, but only the humble bee can collect it.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
In our last blog post, we described the difference between truly local honey and honey produced from bees that are rented out and gather their pollen and nectar from sources far and wide. We’ll explain why choosing local honey is important. If you haven’t read that post yet, click back and check it out. It will make a nice introduction to this post which focuses on the health benefits of honey, why it’s important to buy local honey, and its use as a natural sweetener in so many delicious recipes! (Honestly, the recipes are why we’re really here!)
As Scott mentioned in the last post, Little Bee of CT’s hives are all located in Southbury and Newtown, and are NOT rented for pollination. The bees are not fed any supplementary sugar during the honey producing seasons, which means they are doing all the hard work themselves. And with only minimal processing to remove bits of wax, the honey goes directly into our jars, ensuring that all of the natural properties of the honey remain intact. This includes the oh-so-important bee pollen! Fine filtering, which is part of the production of commercial honeys, can remove the beneficial pollen. Heat treating can impact the color, flavor, all the natural vitamins, living enzymes, and other nutritional elements present in the natural honey.
What the heck is bee pollen and do I really need it in my smoothie?
Bee pollen is actually a mixture of pollen, bee saliva and nectar or honey. Bees will carry these pollen balls back to the hive in sacs on their legs and then store them in the honeycomb for use as food.
Remember our little bee with the “pollen pants” on our Instagram feed?
Bee pollen has very high antioxidant properties. Antioxidants keep us healthy by battling the oxidants that we face each day like air pollution, cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust. Bee pollen has also been shown to aid in liver function, boost our immune system, reduce stress, speed up healing and ease the symptoms of menopause.
In its natural form, bee pollen comes as small, crunchy pellets. One tablespoon of contains 16 calories, 0.24 grams of fat, 1.2 grams of protein, 2.18 grams of carbohydrates and approximately 250 types of nutrients, including vitamins and flavonoids. Amazing, isn’t it? This stuff is like gold and it can easily drive up the price of your smoothie or açai bowl. But, we think the benefits are worth it.
Side note for any pregnant ladies out there… just as it is commonly recommended to avoid consuming honey during pregnancy, it is also recommended to avoid consuming bee pollen.
And, another side note if you’re allergic to bees… it’s best if you avoid honey and bee pollen until you’ve consulted with your allergist.
Oh, and please don’t feed honey to children younger than 1, due to the risk of botulism. Yikes.
Now, back to our show.
So, why is it important to choose local honey?
Because “local” or “raw” honey hasn’t been processed, it still retains its nutrients. Store-bought honey might taste just as sweet, but it won’t deliver the same level of health benefits.
Honey has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures used it to treat wounds, fevers and stomach ailments. Today, honey is still being used to help us heal and as a food additive or nutritional supplement.
This may sound strange, but natural honey, when applied to wounds produces hydrogen peroxide. Science alert: Honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase. When exposed to water, it breaks down glucose sugars and generates hydrogen peroxide. Which means it can be used to kill harmful bacteria and fungi. Raw honey can be applied directly to minor cuts and burns to help them heal quicker and reduce infections.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it has been rumored that eating local honey (harvested from where you currently live) could help ease your symptoms. In essence, you’d be ingesting small quantities of the local pollens and could possibly begin to build up an immunity to the allergen. Scientists are not yet fully convinced, however there are people that swear by this and truly have seen their allergy symptoms lessen. You will have to be the judge!
Honey’s power-packed healing properties, coupled with the immune boosting properties of bee pollen, makes this naturally sweet treat something to buzz about.
Now, we know why you’re really here. Let’s get to some of our favorite recipes!
If you follow us on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen some of the many delicious honey-sweetened recipes we’ve shared over the years. Here are a few more to get you ready for the holiday season. Yes…Thanksgiving is right around the corner, people! (Let’s get through Halloween first, right?)
Here are three delicious recipes that will definitely impress and have just a touch of natural honey sweetness. Our fall honey harvest produced an amazing dark golden honey, and we still have jars available on our website!
- 2 pounds baby carrots with tops
- 2 teaspoons olive oil 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (or apple juice!)
- 2 tablespoons honey (LOCAL honey that is)
- 1 tablespoon chicken broth or water
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
How to Make It
Place a small roasting pan in oven. Preheat oven and pan to 500°.
Cut tops from carrots, leaving 1 inch of greenery on each carrot.
Stir together olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in preheated pan. Add carrots, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Bake 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in bourbon and next 2 ingredients. Return to heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until mixture is syrupy.
Drizzle syrup over carrots; toss to coat. Bake 5 to 7 more minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with thyme.
Brie, Apple and Honey Crostini
- 1 baguette cut into 1/2” slices (or buy pre-cut!)
- 1 jar of apple butter
- 6 ounces of Brie
- 2 large apples
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup candied pecans
- Honey for drizzling
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 375°
Spread apple butter on one side of the baguette slices and place on large baking sheet.
Slice brie into thin slices and place on top of each crostini. Bake for 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted.
While the crostini is in the oven, cut the apple into thin slices, removing the core. Squeeze lemon juice over the slices to keep them from browning.
Remove the crostini from the oven. Top each piece with an apple slice, a sprinkling of candied pecans and a drizzle of honey. Serve immediately. Heavenly!
Honey Glazed Chili Almonds
- 1 1/2 cups raw, unblanched almonds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
How to Make It
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the almonds in a medium nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted, shaking pan frequently.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds.
Add honey mixture to pan, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Arrange almond mixture on prepared baking sheet in a single layer; let stand 10 minutes. Break apart any clusters.
We really wanted to share only gooey honey desserts, but we knew that these three recipes would be a lot easier and more practical for entertaining around the holidays. We hope you enjoy the versatility of honey and create some of your own special recipes with it. Send us your favorite recipe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on any of the all-natural products we create at Little Bee of CT, visit us at www.littlebeeofct.com.
Don’t forget to follow @littlebeeofct on Instagram and Facebook where we post daily updates on our products and our favorite creature…the little bee!
Thank you for supporting Little Bee of CT and the busy beekeepers around the world.