Honey brings health benefits as sweet as its taste.
Anyone who is trying to lead a healthier lifestyle is probably well aware of the dangers of sugar. And while refined sugar is indeed harmful to your health, honey is a natural sweetener that not only tastes wonderful, but also packs a powerful nutritional punch. It’s actually one of the easiest—and most delicious—ways to nourish the body and promote wellness.
“Eating antioxidant-rich honey can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes—even help reduce body fat and unwanted weight—and increase longevity,” says Cal Orey, author of the new book The Healing Powers of Honey. But the benefits of eating honey go even further. Easing sore throats, boosting energy levels and strengthening the immune system are just a few added perks. As a DIY beauty treatment, honey can also be used to soften and exfoliate the skin.
It’s important to note, however, that not all honeys are created equal. “The quality of honey matters,” explains Orey. “It should be real, raw, unprocessed and unheated. Unfiltered honey, straight from the hive, is the true ‘superfood’ nutritionists applaud.” And while most honeys contain natural antibacterial qualities, some varieties contain higher levels than others. For example, Manuka honey, a special type of honey harvested from bees that feed on tea tree plants, is unique in its ability to treat minor wounds and burns.
To reap the benefits of honey, a little goes a long way. Honey is 25–50% sweeter than sugar, so you need less of it. The color and flavor of honey can vary widely depending on the bees’ diets, but as a general rule of thumb, light honeys are faintly sweet (clover), amber honeys are richly mellow (blueberry) and dark honeys are bold and robust (buckwheat).
With baking recipes, swap sugar for honey at a 1:1 ratio for any amounts under 1 cup. If the recipe calls for more than 1 cup of sugar, substitute 3/4 cup honey for every 1 cup sugar, and reduce the other liquid ingredients by about 1/4 cup per cup of honey used. Unless the recipe already includes it, you will also need to add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the acidity.
Supercharge your green tea—and soothe a cough or cold—by adding 1 teaspoon each of buckwheat honey, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and cayenne.
“During the creation of The Healing Powers of Chocolate, I noticed that honey, like chocolate, was noted in the Mediterranean diet—an underlying theme in my book series,” says author Cal Orey. “And that five-letter word—honey—stuck in my mind like a honeybee on a sunflower. What else could follow the class act of decadent chocolate?” For more info on The Healing Powers of Honey, visit calorey.com.
Celebrate the season and honey’s tasty health benefits with this smooth and creamy parfait. Greek yogurt with live active cultures does a delicious job of standing in for high-fat cream.
Sweet Potato, Yogurt and French Toast Parfait
By Neil Zevnik
Sweet potato layer:
2 cups cooked pureed sweet potato
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Scraped insides of half of a vanilla bean
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
French toast layer:
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons 2% milk
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 slices whole grain raisin bread
Garnish: Dried apple slices
Make sweet potato layer:
Stir together the sweet potato, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup milk and ground ginger until smooth and well combined. Chill.
Make yogurt layer:
Whisk together the yogurt, scraped vanilla bean, 1/4 cup honey and crystallized ginger. Chill.
Make French toast layer:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat; spray with cooking spray. Whisk together the egg, egg whites, 3 tablespoons of milk, 2 tablespoons of honey and the cinnamon until frothy and well combined. Soak bread slices in egg mixture for 1–2 minutes. Heat in skillet until lightly browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and let cool to room temperature. Cut into one-inch squares.
Place 1/4 cup of the sweet potato mixture into each of four tall parfait glasses. Next, add a layer of the French toast squares, followed by a layer of the yogurt mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with the yogurt mixture on top. Garnish each parfait with a slice of dried apple and refrigerate—covered with plastic wrap—until ready to serve. Makes 4 servings.
Sweet Potato Honey Squares
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
Generous pinch of salt
3 ½ tablespoons cold vegan butter alternative (Earth Balance is a great option), cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
2 cups cooked pureed sweet potato
½ cup honey
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice
1 cup evaporated skim milk
2 tablespoons finely crushed ginger cookies
Whisk together yogurt, honey and vanilla extract. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square springform pan with cooking spray.
Place flour, pecans and salt into food processor, and process until pecans are finely ground. Add vegan butter alternative and pulse a few times, then add water and maple syrup, processing until mixture start to form clumps. Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into a smooth, even crust. Thoroughly prick with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Let crust cool while you prepare the filling.
Lightly whisk egg and egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Add remaining filling ingredients and whisk to combine. Reserve a small portion of filling to use as topping. Pour the rest over crust and return to oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set and a fork inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at room temperature, then chill for a few hours or overnight.
Remove sides of pan. Cut dessert into squares and serve with a dollop of reserved topping and a sprinkle of crushed ginger cookies. Makes about 12 squares.
Pear and Pecan Relish
4 peeled Taylor’s Gold or Anjou pears, cored and cut into ½-inch dice
1 peeled navel orange, segments coarsely chopped
1/3 cup toasted raw pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoon honey
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 4-6 servings