photo by alsjhc
Here’s the thing: honey in its natural state is full of unique elements that are difficult (or impossible) to find elsewhere in nature, and incredibly beneficial to our health. These include:
- Bee pollen, thought to have anti-allergenic and anti-cancer properties
- Amylase, an enzyme that helps the digestive system break down starches.
- Propolis, something the bees use to protect their hives from unwanted organisms, and thus has anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties
(Read more about these properties here.) All of these, especially the amylase, can be effectively destroyed by heating. Unless it is labeled “raw”, honey has been pasteurized by heating it. Pretty much any kind of honey is healthier than regular sugar when it comes to cooking and baking, but if you want to maximize the nutritional and medicinal benefits of honey, you’ll definitely want to go for the raw.
The problem is that raw honey can be incredibly expensive, sometimes costing as much as twice the cost of regular honey. If you’re on a tight budget like me, that’s a big obstacle. What’s a girl to do?
Here’s the thing: heating honey removes some of its best qualities.
Ergo, heating honey renders the expense spent on raw honey worthless.
Ergo, don’t use raw honey in food that is going to be heated.
Did you get that? In plain English: don’t waste your raw honey on baked or cooked food. If you’re baking and cooking, go for plain old (organic if you can afford it) pasteurized honey because it’s going to be heated anyway.
So what’s the point of even buying raw honey then? Oh, there are still lots of things you can do with raw honey to reap its unique health benefits. Here are my favorite uses for raw honey:
As a Spread
Because raw honey is generally thicker than pasteurized honey, it works very nicely as a spread for bagels, toast and biscuits. Mmmmm!
As a Topping
My Certain Little Someone loves honey on his pancakes and waffles… and I have to admit, so do I! It’s better than syrup!
In Tea or Coffee
That is, if your tea or coffee isn’t too hot. Honey is still considered raw as long as it is kept under 105F.
Only for medicinal reasons, though (it’s still sugar, mind you!). Honey is as effective as conventional cough syrup medicines at reducing and suppressing coughs, even at night.
In particular, I love this cream cheese frosting that is sweetened with honey.
In Greek Yogurt
Don’t waste your money on fancy containers of Greek yogurt: make it at home from regular yogurt with raw honey and vanilla.
Preventative for Seasonal Allergies
Studies have mixed results, but the anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly indicates that consuming local raw honey on a regular basis can help reduce or even eliminate seasonal allergy symptoms. (more information)
Use raw honey in any vinaigrette or dressing recipe for green salads or fruit salads. Also use it in recipes for fruit dips!
In Whipped Cream
Add just a bit of raw honey to your cream when whipping it for a lightly flavored, deliciously sweetened topping!
Do you have any other suggestions for raw honey?
Want to win a jar of raw honey? Enter my giveaway (ends November 25, 2011)!
Some friends and I have collaborated to bring you an awesome little eBook just in time to help you with your Christmas baking! It’s chock full of easy, delicious cookie and candy recipes to help you celebrate the holidays in tasty style. Each recipe is built around wholesome ingredients, so you won’t even feel guilty indulging in one… or two… or even three! What’s more? We’re offering this book absolutely free – no strings attached – to each of our email subscribers! All you have to do is subscribe via email to any one of our blogs and you will receive a link for a free download of this sweet little book.