Fitness Friday: For the Love of Honey
Back in April, I decided to pretty much stop eating sugar.
“Pretty much” is the scientific term for “if I am making homemade chocolate chip cookies for my kids and the recipe calls for sugar, then I will use sugar therein. Because serving your kids homemade chocolate chip cookies without real sugar borderlines on child abuse. But other than that, I am omitting the added sugar from my recipes or I am substituting the sugar with a natural and wholesome option, amen and hallelujah.”
If you’ve been around Fitness Friday Girl for any length of time, you know I have an obsession with finding a natural and wholesome substitute for white sugar. I don’t add sweetener to many things, but I do enjoy it in my coffee and hot tea. I also like to make homemade granola bars and bread—both of which need sweetener. There are probably other things that I can’t think of, but I’ve already defined “pretty much,” so let’s just assume there are other things.
I refuse to give aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda) or saccharine (Sweet n Low) the time of day. Why? Because they are bad news.
I have tried stevia and Truvia—they left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I had a temporary crush on Agave Nectar (so sweet), until I discovered he was just like all the others—overly processed and unnatural. Agave Nectar had me fooled. Agave Nectar broke my heart. It took me awhile to move on after Agave Nectar.
That is, until I decided to give local raw honey a call. Sometimes your soul mate is the boy next door. The one you’ve been ignoring since elementary school. That’s how I feel about honey. He’s been there all along, while I was off gallivanting—looking for love in all the wrong places.
Honestly, I think he may be The One.
What is Local Raw Honey?
Raw honey is the concentrated nectar of flowers that comes straight from the extractor; it is the only unheated, pure, unpasteurized, unprocessed honey.
“Local” implies it was extracted close to where you live. Did I insult you just now when I felt the need to explain the “local” part?
Most of the honey found in the supermarket is not raw honey but “commercial” regular honey, which has been pasteurized (heated at 70 degrees Celsius or more, followed by rapid cooling) and filtered so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and easier to handle and package. Pasteurization kills any yeast cell in the honey and prevents fermentation. It also slows down the speed of crystallization in liquid honey.
Unfortunately, when honey is heated, its delicate aromas, yeast and enzymes which are responsible for activating vitamins and minerals in the body system are partially destroyed. Hence, raw honey is assumed to be more nutritious than commercial honey.
Where can you find Local Raw Honey?
I have found raw honey in the natural food section of Kroger. To find local raw honey, I’ve had to go to health food stores and farmer’s markets. It’s pricey, though. I’ve paid anywhere from $12 to $18 for 44 ounces (the size if a Mason jar). That’s a lot of honey, but if you are using it in coffee, tea, and in various recipes or for multiple family members (a.k.a. “pretty much”), you may go through it quickly. But for me, it’s worth it.
Here are nine reasons I gladly pay the price for local raw honey:
1. It is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. That may not mean a lot to everyone, but I like to use the standard of “If God created it for me to eat, then it is the best thing for my body.”
“The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out… so he (Jonathan) reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened….Jonathan said, …See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. (I Samuel 14:25-29)
2. It counteracts acid indigestion.
3. It relieves nausea when mixed with ginger and lemon.
4. Its natural enzymes make it more digestible than any other sweetener, helping you to break down foods and undigested particles.
5. It can be used to soothe a sore throat or a cough.
6. It can be used by athletes—especially endurance athletes—for energy during and post training (use in recovery drinks and in place of carbohydrate gels).
7. It works to harmonize the liver, neutralize toxins, relieve pain, calm the nerves, and help you sleep.
8. It has natural antihistamines to help relieve seasonal allergies and asthma. This is where local honey becomes so beneficial. You can buy honey from some of the very flowers and blossoms that cause you allergic reactions, helping you build up a natural immunity during high-pollen seasons.
9. Are you ready for this? It contains Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene, all of the B-Complex Vitamins, Vitamins C, D, E and K, the minerals magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, calcium, chlorine, potassium, iodine, sodium, copper and manganese (Take THAT, Agave Nectar!)
Q4U: What do you use to sweeten your food?
I've used honey in place of sugar in my pumpkin/whole wheat muffins – delicious!
I think once you move past a cup of sweetener in a recipe, (i.e. 1 1/2 cups sugar) you may have to modify how much honey used. I've googled it before and gotten some good sites that tell how to convert.
We have been on the same journey. I avoid artificial sweeteners, although I can't say I've totally rid my diet of them because they can be sneaky. Plus my thing about diet cherry limeade…
I, too, thought I'd found the answer in agave nectar. It tasted great in my tea and 65MD even liked it. It was pricey but I paid the price. I was really hurt when I learned that the stuff was an imposter.
Just this summer, I rediscovered honey. It has gotten a bad rap because it has been lumped in with sugar. I initially bought local honey at the farmer's market to combat allergies. I've done a little cooking with it, but mostly put it in tea.
I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiments with it.
EXCELLENT info and thank you for sharing about aspartame because you're right, it's BAD news. A lot of people don't know it's in diet soda also. I'm glad I dropped by today! Have a great weekend!
I am loving Whole Foods raw honey these days. (Gentle Breeze Honey . . .gently warmed, but never overheated. You might like it, once Farmer's markets are over.
Mindy: I've used it in baking, too. But I don't bake a lot, so I will have to do more experimenting.
Lori: You are exactly right. Most people lump sugar and honey together in the same category. Usually when people are looking for a sugar substitute, it's because they are trying to cut calories or lower the glycemic index of their foods. Honey is not beneficial in that way.
MOMSWEB: Yes! Diet soda is the biggest offender of using bad sugar substitutes. It's also in a lot of "fat free" yogurts and vitamin water. Anything that is sweet but says "sugar free" on the label usually has a chemically produced artificial sweetener (the bad kind).
Glenda: I love Whole Foods. They always have great choices.
Honey is a delicious, healthier alternative to sugar. And it’s especially great when you got freshly made honey from the beekeeper itself!