11.23.2009

Guest Blogger: Jessica on Honey



Please welcome Jessica to PWN today. A fellow health food enthusiast, Jessica is also a tennis champ, finance whiz, avid biker, and bee guru. Over the past month you've listened to me bash agave nectar and promote raw honey. Well, Jessica is going to explain exactly why raw honey should be your sweetener of choice. And as you'll see, she has a hidden talent: writing. As promised at the end of Friday's blog post, you will laugh today. So here she is!




From Jessica...

I like to refer to it as "sweet liquid ambrosia", but you probably know this gift from nature by its common name, honey. I can't exactly imagine how humans first decided to harvest honey (as a thickly covered hive of stinging insects seems to be a bit of a deterrent), but its use has been documented throughout history, with evidence of beekeeping in ancient Chinese, Roman, and Egyptian cultures. With all of honey's nutritional and beautifying properties, no wonder Cleopatra was such a hottie.

What gives honey such powerful qualities? It all starts with how it is made.... (it helps if you hear the next paragraph narrated in Sigourney Weaver's Planet Earth voice):

Honey begins when the bee takes off on its foraging flight. Buzzing to and from each blooming flower, it collects precious nectar. The nectar mixes with the enzymes in the bee’s saliva, an alchemal process that breaks down the complex sugars into simple sugars. The bee then carries it back to the hive where the industrious house bees store it in the walls and fan their wings to reduce the moisture content, rendering it hygroscopic, meaning it is so dry it will pull in moisture from the atmosphere. This is why harvested honey must be stored in sealed containers, and why baked goods made with honey rather than sugar will stay moist longer.

There are many varietals of honey available. Bees will work the nectar within a two-mile radius of the hive so each batch of honey will have slightly different flavor nuances. I like a light alfalfa honey in my morning tea whereas a darker wildflower honey is a richer, more of an after dinner honey. No, I don't have a honey rack next to my wine rack. But that's only because I can't find anywhere that sells them.

Darker honeys will have a higher concentration of antioxidants, but the most important thing to remember when purchasing honey is that it be raw and unfiltered. Honey that has been heated and pasteurized will lose most of its beneficial antioxidants. As in most cases organic is best, but I would rather buy from my local farmers market over a South American honey that has been labeled organic. Enforcement of such labeling is inconsistent, and unless the bees are being interrogated... well I have my doubts.

I use honey as a panacea for any problem, and despite the doubt that clouds my friends’ eyes when I try to talk them into smearing it on their sunburns, it truly does have some amazing natural healing properties. It is antibacterial and antiviral, and will virtually never go bad. It can be used to treat burns, cuts, sore throats, and acne. It can be a cough suppressant, an athletic performance enhancer (makes a great gift for A-Rod!), or a hangover cure. Honey's humectant properties make it a key moisturizing ingredient in many naturally formulated beauty treatments.

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy honey:

Honey + almond butter. This is a hotter matchup than Brad and Angelina. Spread on toast, celery, cardboard... it doesn't matter as long as you have this combo it will work. I'm so passionate about this flavor medley that I'd like to stalk down everyone eating PB&J sandwiches and slap them out of their hands before they take the first bite. (Unless of course it was a child, then I'd gently extract the sandwich from their sticky fingers and hastily tell them to say no to drugs.) I just don't know why you'd ever go back to PB&J once you've tasted this.

Honey + grapefruit. Allows you to eat grapefruit with no chance of the sour face.

Honey + goat cheese + any cracker/bread medium. Small time investment, huge deliciousness payout.

Honey + plain yogurt. A much better alternative to sugar laden flavored yogurts, which will spike your blood sugar significantly higher than honey will. I found it surprising how little honey I had to use to attain the sweetness I desired.

Honey can also be used in recipes in place of sugar. The rule of thumb is 2/3 c honey for every 1 c sugar. Since honey is liquid you will want to slightly reduce your overall liquid content by about 1/4 c for every cup of honey. The sugars in honey will also carmelize more quickly so reduce your baking temperature by about 20-30 degrees.

Honey should not be given to infants under 12 months, but should absolutely be given to sick adults acting like infants.




Thank you to Ann, who is sweet as Tupelo honey for letting me ramble on about bees and honey on a forum where people can't visibly walk away from me.



...did I mention she's funny?

Thanks Jessica! You're the best. Please come back soon!


9 comments:

  1. How do I know if the honey I buy is raw? I always buy Missouri Honey, but I don't know if it has been heated.

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  2. AHD- If the honey is raw, it should say so on the label. The manufacturer will want to tout this fact as it takes longer to filter honey that hasnt been heated over 160 degrees. I looked on the Missouri Honey website and did not find any info on their processing (but I did find a beeswax plaque of The Last Supper- only $50!) My guess is that although it looks like a great local product, it is not raw.

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  3. I love goat cheese, but I never thought about mixing raw honey with it, great tip! Thanks.

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  4. Honey, great job finding a tremendous guest blogger today. I hope she comes back soon.
    Jessica, what is you favorite term of endearment? Mine is, "Honey."
    -Eddo

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  5. Great information! I'll head to the farmer's market this weekend to pick up some raw honey!

    Happy VGNO!

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  6. love the sweet post ) Funny enough my boyfriend was just saying how much he looovees the raw honey I got him. AND at school the other day, we learned that local raw honey can alleviate hayfever/sinusitis issues...its amazing! thanks
    Sheila

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  7. Guest blogger is insightful, hilarious, and can I say YEOWZA to that bio pic? Tried the recommended honey/almond butter/corrugated cardboard and went back for seconds! Will small children soon have honey hands instead of jam hands? One can only hope.
    Can't wait for more Jessica guest spots! She's the Bill Simmons of the nutrition world!

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  8. President and CEO of the FTCNovember 24, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    Great Article..totally agree with the Bill Simmons comment (Millsx3), I thought the same thing.

    I do have a question, can we use the honey from the bee hives in our backyards? do we need to do anything with that honey?

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  9. Prezzy/CEO- If you have 'wild' beehives in your backyard, I would first ensure they aren't actually hornets. If you are purposely keeping bees, then if I were you I would absolutely harvest the honey, although this will take some research and equipment. Keeping it raw is simply a matter of how you filter the honey.

    It is important to note that while true beehives may resemble pinatas the honey extraction process is in no way analogous to the candy extraction process.

    Ps. Simmons...if only. Thank you though!!

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