Over the last few years, I’ve tried to clean up my sweeteners. A lot. I no longer use white, refined sugar but instead use products like raw honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar (on occasion) to sweeten my foods and baked goods. Instead of being completely devoid of nutrients and substance, honey and maple syrup are unrefined sweeteners that occur naturally and still contain various micronutrients and benefits.
My sweetener of choice is often maple syrup, but we all know that maple syrup can be hard on the wallet (boooo). Lucky for me, and those of us who don’t have unlimited cash, raw honey is an amazing alternative. Just make sure it’s raw.
Why is raw honey so great?
Raw honey is a healthy and fantastic, natural sweetener. Commonly used to sweeten baked goods and tea, honey also has a number of great health benefits if it is raw and unpasteurized. This type of honey:
- Contains phytonutrients
- Has antibacterial properties
- Has antifungal properties
- Contains antioxidants
- Contains friendly bacteria
- Is good for blood sugar management
- Can treat allergies
Honey’s antibiotic properties make it a great treatment for colds and sore throats because raw honey coats the throat, reducing irritation.
Honey is a handy topical ointment for burns, and because of it’s antibacterial properties, it’s also great to apply to a small scrape or cut to prevent bacteria from entering and infecting the wound.
Honey is a great way to treat seasonal allergies. When you purchase local honey especially, there is a greater likelihood that your honey will contain small amounts of the local pollen that individuals may be allergic to. By exposing your body to small amounts of these allergens prior to allergy-season, it activates your immune system and eventually, you may build up a natural immunity to those allergies.
How can I use honey in my daily life?
Do you even need to ask this question? Just take it by the spoon! … Kidding. It’s still a sweetener and there are still natural sugars, so maybe by the “spoonful” isn’t the healthiest suggestion. But there are SO many great ways we can incorporate honey as a sweetener. Here are some great examples:
- Homemade baked goods
- Mixed with organic, unsweetened yogurt
- To sweeten your tea
- To sweeten a tart and bitter, greens-filled smoothie
- … and more!
Where should I get my honey?
I recommend visiting a local farmer’s market, or finding a local beekeeper and purchasing the honey directly from them. Here is the main reason why:
Conventional grocery store honey is lacking many of the nutrients and health benefits that raw, unpasteurized honey provides.
Conventional honey, the kind we often find in supermarkets, is usually pasteurized. This is done so that the yeast cultures, which can live in honey, don’t ferment. Regardless of pasteurization, chances of this fermentation happening are low; often the moisture content in honey isn’t high enough to allow fermentation. Even if it did, it doesn’t necessarily spoil.
When pasteurized, the honey is heated up to 160F and then cooled. This is just enough time to kill the yeasts, but it also runs the risk of damaging the many benefits found in the honey. Pasteurized honey loses many of the important enzymes and nutrients due to this flash-heating.
Conventional honey is also highly filtered. This filtration removes a lot of the bee pollen; however, the bee pollen is where we find so many wonderful nutrients! It’s also said that the pollen is what helps offer benefits to allergy sufferers.
All those great benefits of honey that I listed above? They come with the raw, unpasteurized and unfiltered kind. They don’t come from the kind you typically get at the grocery store. The kind you get there is basically just sugar.
What honey do I use?
I take my own advice and purchase local, raw, unpasteurized honey from True Bee by Peachy Honey Farm (pictured above) based in Ottawa, Ontario. Honey experts Jan and Emily make some of the tastiest honey I’ve ever had. They definitely won me over with their creamed honey. If you’re local, I urge you to give it a try! And no, I am not being sponsored to say that. It truly is my favourite honey.
Do you enjoy honey? How do you like it?