Sunday, July 17, 2016

Honey, not just for bears

Since adopting a sugar-free diet, I’ve become reacquainted with honey. I used to eat a lot of it as a kid. My dad would buy a big 10 pound tub of wildflower honey every so often from the health food store. It would go on toast, in smoothies, and over yogurt. Ten pounds of honey seems like a lot (and it is) but my dad and I did our best to get through it!

While technically still a sugar, with nearly as many calories (21 cal vs 16 cal) and grams of carbs (6g vs. 4.2g) as table sugar, honey is allowed by those of us on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) because of its chemical composition.

Honey is a monosaccharide, comprised of a single sugar molecule. Because of this, honey is easier to digest than sugar. Sugar is a disaccharide and starches are polysaccharides. These require additional splitting in order to be transported from the intestine into the bloodstream and can often create intestinal problems for those of us who are sensitive. Other monosaccharides are fruit, lactose free yogurt, and certain vegetables.

Even if you don’t have digestive concerns (unless you’re diabetic, battling a candida (yeast) problem, or on a low-carb diet to reduce your weight) I recommend eating more honey and less refined sugar for a number of reasons. (For sure we should all be eliminating artificial sweeteners, which are just simply poison.)

Honey is a natural product, offering enzymes and minerals that sugar cannot.  Sugar has gone through a refining process and is no longer natural, Honey is simply a more natural way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Eating honey local to your area can benefit those with allergies. By eating honey produced by bees near where you live, you are building your immunity from local plants. A resource for finding local honey producers by state: Other good sites are, and

Certain types of honey, such as Manuka, have been shown to be more effective than antibiotics in the treatment of serious, hard-to-heal skin infections. The only types of honey you should ever attempt to use for wound care are Manuka honey or raw (unprocessed) honey. Conventional “Grade A” type honey found in most grocery stores may actually worsen infection and should never be applied to wounds. Clinical trials have found Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria.

Purchasing honey is also a great way to support beekeepers, who often struggle financially to make ends meet. While buying honey at your local market, Trader Joe’s or health food store is better than buying their sugar, go to your farmer’s market or neighborhood beekeeper directly and buy honey from them. They will be happy to let you taste the many varieties of honey they offer so you can decide which flavor you like best.

A few months ago I did just that. We were driving the back roads to a little mountain town northeast of San Diego called Julian for the weekend and came across a roadside shack selling local honey. They had some really interesting flavors: avocado, habanero, and cinnamon honey to name a few. I bought 2: desert sage, and cherry; cherry being particularly good over blueberries and whipped cream!

A few weekends ago we were in Ojai and our friends noticed a sign on the main street advertising a honey tasting nearby. Heavenly Honey offered samples of the 6-8 varieties they produce. I again bought the sage (it’s one of my favorites) and also this time a little darker honey variety than I usually get, Buckwheat, which was also really tasty. I tried it on my nutty pancakes I made last weekend and it was perfect.

But there are so many flavors to choose from. Another one I really love is orange blossom.

Embrace your inner bear and eat more honey, especially from beekeepers at your farmers market. You’ll be supporting our endangered bees and hard-working beekeepers by investing in Nature’s purest sweetener.

This recipe is particularly good at this time of year when peaches are in season and we’ve got the grill on half the time anyway.

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Honey and Whipped Cream

One ripe peach per person, cut in half, seed removed
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream*

Turn on your grill to low.

Wash, dry and cut in half one ripe peach per person.

Melt some butter in a small saucepan, to which you’ll add a little honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface of each peach half with a little coating of this mixture. Place the peach halves face down on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes until nice grill marks are achieved. Turn over, brush with a little more honey butter and cook another 5-8 minutes until the peaches are warm.

While the peaches are grilling, prepare some freshly whipped cream, sweetened, of course, with a little honey if you like.

Remove peaches from grill and serve alongside the whipped cream for a delicious, easy, summertime dessert.

* Alternatives to whipped cream or ice cream: ricotta cheese, mascarpone, chèvre, Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, or cream cheese. Any of those would be great with a little cinnamon, ginger,  and / or nutmeg, of course, sweetened with a little honey. 

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