Honey is good for you in many ways, but one which is often overlooked is its advantages over refined sugar. If you are a health-conscious person and like to keep a close eye on your diet and the types of food you eat, then having a jar of 100% natural raw honey in your cupboard is essential.
To explain: Sugar is made up of 50 % fructose and 50 % glucose. Fructose can be responsible for spikes in blood sugar levels, while both fructose and glucose are rapidly broken down by the body. Hence the term ‘sugar rush’ where a burst of energy is the result of consuming refined sugar. It is also responsible for the ‘crash’ afterwards as the boost in energy is only temporary.
Honey comprises 40 % fructose and 30 % glucose, with the remaining volume made up of water, pollen and minerals, especially magnesium and potassium. Honey, in its natural, raw form, takes longer to digest, so spikes in blood sugar levels are rarer. In addition, the enzymes in honey have already begun to break down the sugars, so it is more easily digested. Pound for pound, or gramme for gramme, honey contains more calories than refined sugar, but this is balanced out by the fact that honey is so much sweeter than refined sugar. That’s why it makes a perfect alternative to refined sugar when it comes to cooking.
With the Christmas season now upon us, here at Hikiän we thought we would come up three very simple but extremely enjoyable recipe ideas for you where raw honey really makes such a delicious difference:
Honey Roasted Almonds
In fact, this recipe can be used for any other nuts if you have a preference.
· 3 tablespoons (45 mL) honey
· 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Butter, Ghee or olive oil
· A pinch each of chili powder and ground cardamom or cinnamon
· 1 cup (250 mL) raw nuts
· A very light dusting of sea salt
Add all the ingredients except the nuts into a saucepan and bring the liquid to a bubble over a medium heat. Add the nuts and continue to cook, stirring continuously, until the nuts have turned a darker brown and the liquid has nearly all evaporated. Pour out the remaining contents of the pan onto a tray with a sheet of parchment paper on it. Spread the nuts out and allow them to cool. Finally break up the nuts and store them in a jar for up to two weeks, though these are so tasty, if they last two days that is good going!
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mulled wine, and this recipe is just as successful with alcohol-free red wine if you would prefer.
· One 75cl bottle of full-bodied red wine
· ¾ cup of raw honey for a sweet, mulled wine – ½ a cup for a less-sweet drink
· Two cinnamon sticks
· Whole cardamom pods
· Star Anise
· Black peppercorns
· Whole allspice berries
· Strips of orange zest
Depending on how ‘mulled’ you like your wine – how strong a spicy flavour you like – add all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring the wine, honey and spices up to a very gentle simmer. Cover the pan and allow it to continue to simmer for between 15 minutes and three hours. Best served hot after a long walk in the snow!
Pear with Prosciutto, Blue Cheese and Honey
This makes a delicious, light and fabulous canapé or starter to a main meal and is amazingly quick to prepare.
· 2 pears, cored and cut into 8 wedges or 16 thinner slices
· 5 oz. sliced prosciutto ham
· 1/4 cup blue cheese
Place each pear slice over the end of a piece of prosciutto ham. Drizzle honey over the pear slices, then crumble the blue cheese over them. Finally, wrap the ham around the pear slice and serve.
From cakes to cookies, honey roast ham to honey-glazed carrots, there are endless recipes where already delicious ingredients can be lifted to a new level with the help of a little bit of raw honey.