Friday, April 24, 2015

Would you like some honey with that?

By: Jeanette Andrade, PhD, RDN, LDN

I am not a big honey fan. I don’t know why, I know there are health benefits associated with honey, but I don’t really use honey much on anything. Well, I don’t eat a lot of table sugar either as I am not a sweet fan. On the other hand, my daughter and husband use honey as if it is going out of style. They add honey to their oatmeal, Cheerios, bread, and even sometimes a fresh fruit shake. Many of my clients, especially my active clients, use honey as an energy booster. So, I decided to investigate more about honey and share my findings.

Many know that honey is made from bees, but the entire process of how bees make honey is quite fascinating. First, bees do all the work of extracting the nectar from flowers and place this nectar into the honeycombs. Second, beekeepers collect the honeycomb frames and scrap off the wax cap that seals the honey into these combs. After the wax caps are removed the frames are placed in an extractor to remove the honey from these combs. Once the honey is extracted, it is strained to remove any wax and particles. The process is natural and there are no added preservatives or colors added (National Honey Board, 2015). Note, different plants will produce different flavors and possibly color of honey, but this does not mean a beekeeper altered the pure honey (National Honey Board, 2015).

The natural process of making honey is very appealing to many, but beyond the naturalness of honey, there are several health benefits as well. Honey may help soothe a person’s throat (I do sometimes use honey for this), help heal wounds and sores (however, seek medical attention if you do have a wound or sore as the physician will know best how you should treat the wound or sore), and possibly help fight infections (again check with your physician prior to taking honey to reduce the infection) (Ware, 2014).    

In a serving of honey (1 tablespoon) there is about 65 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates. Additionally, honey may contain certain B-vitamins such as b6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, and other minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. However, the amount of these nutrients will depend on the type of plant that was used to make this honey (Dickinson, 2013).

If you are a honey fan or would like to incorporate honey more into your diet, this recipe may help get you started:

Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans (Retrieved from Southern Living)- Makes 6-8 servings

1 (6-oz.) package baby spinach
1 cup quartered fresh strawberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Honey Dressing*
3 to 4 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Honeyed Pecans**

Toss together first 4 ingredients and 1/3 cup dressing. Sprinkle with bacon, cheese, and pecans. Serve with remaining dressing.

Honey Dressing*
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.

Honey Pecans**
1/4 cup honey
1 cup pecan halves
Parchment paper
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 325°. Microwave honey in a bowl at HIGH 20 seconds. Stir in pecan halves. Coat a parchment paper-lined jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; spread pecans in a single layer on pan. Combine sugar, salt, and a pinch of ground red pepper; sprinkle over pecans. Bake 15 minutes or until toasted, stirring after 8 minutes. Cool completely; break into pieces.


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