Honey is probably the sweetener I reach for most often (well, maybe tied with pure maple syrup, anyway). I love it in tea, I often drizzle a little on toast or a buttered English muffin, and it adds just the right amount of sweetness to plain Greek yogurt with fruit and chia seeds. I had an amazing pizza lately that included hot peppers with a drizzle of honey (called a “Bee Sting), and when I’m looking to add a touch of sweetness and consistency to a salad dressing? Honey to the rescue.
And, did you know about all the health benefits honey — specifically local, raw honey — has to offer? I mean, don’t get me wrong — honey is still very high in sugar, so I’m not suggesting you grab a bottle and start guzzling. But you might want to consider it a little more often as a sugar substitute after you read this.
Benefits of Raw, Local Honey
Seasonal allergy relief. I first looked into raw, local honey at the farmer’s market because my husband and I were suffering from horrible seasonal allergies and I’d read that eating local honey could help us become desensitized to the local pollen — kind of the way an allergy shot works. And, while I’ll always love shopping at my local farmer’s market, I don’t get there as regularly as I’d like, so I’ve been using Rice’s Local Hive Florida Honey, a brand established in 1924 with a commitment to promoting, protecting and prolonging pollination. They’ve got local hive varieties from all over the country — Washington, New England, the Great Lakes, Texas, and loads of spots in between — so you can find raw, unfiltered honey from your neck of the woods. And you can buy it online! Sweet. They sent over a bottle of the Florida and Southeast flavors, and it’s pretty cool to do a tasting and see what flavors stand out.
Free radical-fighting antioxidants. We all want more antioxidants in our lives — it’s part of why I’m always adding more fruits and veggies to my smoothies. And raw honey can pack a lot of ’em into a small serving.
Sore throat soothing. Whether it’s from allergies, a cold, or singing along too loudly at last night’s concert, if my throat is feeling a little raw, honey is my go-to. I usually put it in hot tea or hot water, ideally with some lemon if I’ve got it. It’s pretty darn tasty and it just feels like a hug.
Immune boost. Honey contains phytonutrients — those are the compounds found in plants that help protect the plant from things like ultraviolet radiation. And while it’s not a magical cure, raw honey has been shown to have some immune-boosting and even anti-cancer benefits. If your immune system could use a little boost, we’ve got just the recipe for you, straight from the book Anti-Inflammatory Drinks for Health by Maryea Flaherty (aka Happy Healthy Mama).
Immunity Booster Shot Recipe
- 1 small orange, peeled
- 1⁄2 teaspoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon raw honey
- 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- Using a citrus press or your hands, squeeze the juice from the orange into the container of a small blender. It should yield approximately 1⁄4 cup juice.
- Add ginger, raw honey, and cayenne powder to the blender and blend on high until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Consume immediately.
Are you sweet on honey like I am? —Kristen