Discover natures perfect sweetener
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Honey adds a touch of sweetness to both sweet and savoury recipes. The many types of honey add flavour and health benefits that beat white sugar hands down.
If you want a more natural way to add sweetness to both sweet and savoury dishes, look no further than honey. Whether it’s from your health food store or a local beekeeper, honey outdelivers refined white sugar in both flavour and health benefits. Does it get any sweeter?
Honey is hygroscopic; it retains moisture that helps keep baked items soft longer. Also, since honey is sweeter than sugar by volume, less can be used.
To swap honey for sugar in recipes such as baked goods, use about three-quarters as much honey as you would sugar and cut other liquids by roughly one-quarter. Add a pinch of extra baking soda to counteract the added acidity and reduce oven temperature by 25 F (13 C) to prevent overbrowning. You may need to bake items for a little longer.
In recipes that call for both oil and honey, measure out the oil first and then use the same measuring device for the honey. The honey will pour out easily without leaving a sticky mess.
Produced from flower nectar by industrious worker bees, there are numerous varieties of Canadian honey from light and floral to dark and assertive, depending on the bees’ nectar source.
Light and amber-coloured guises of honey, including alfalfa, orange blossom, blueberry, and ubiquitous clover, are mild tasting and pair well with yogourt, fruit salads, warm or iced teas, salad dressings, and roasted vegetables.
Researchers found that hunger-fighting hormones were elevated while blood sugar levels were lowered in subjects who consumed meals sweetened with honey compared to white sugar. Honey’s effects may help reduce overeating and type 2 diabetes risk, respectively.
Honey also has strong antibacterial properties, meaning it can help discourage the growth of dangerous micro-organisms. Its ability to soothe irritated tissues makes honey useful for helping to alleviate sore throats and coughs.
Darker varieties, such as buckwheat or manuka, add a bolder, richer flavour to smoothies, baked beans, barbecue sauces, DIY granola, and chocolate baked goods.
Studies suggest that you should join the dark side more often, as buckwheat honey has more disease-thwarting antioxidants than its light-coloured counterparts. Honey also contains oligosaccharides, prebiotics that can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Manuka honey is well known for its antibacterial properties.
Made by crystallizing liquid honey, creamed honey has a smooth, creamy consistency similar to butter, which makes it a great spread for toast, crackers, and baked goods.
Comb honey—honey sealed in hexagonal beeswax built by bees—is a conversational addition to a cheese plate.
How to Store
Store honey at room temperature in a tightly closed container. You can return crystallized honey to liquid form by setting the jar in a pot of warm water and stirring occasionally until the crystals dissolve.
Fitness fanatics take note: honey can boost your game. A study found that cyclists who consumed 1 Tbsp (15 mL) honey every 16 km of a 64-km effort were able to work harder toward the end of the exercise session. More sweet news: a separate study found honey can reduce muscle oxidative stress associated with intense training.
Keep in mind that, despite all its benefits over refined sweeteners, being too liberal with your honey intake can lead to weight gain. Honey should not replace more nutrient-dense sources of natural sugar in your diet such as fruits and vegetables. As always, practising moderation is sage advice.
Health Canada does not recommend giving honey to infants under the age of one because of botulism spore concerns.
While essential for peak athletic performance, high intensity activity over 90 minutes can deplete a person’s energy stores, leading to exhaustion, muscle cramping, headache, and dizziness. To prevent this, fuel up two to three hours before with one of these high quality, carbohydrate-rich granola cups. Loaded with oats, pecans, hempseeds, dried fruit, and coconut oil, and sweetened with honey, these granola cups are sure to provide sustained energy for hiking, biking, or whatever your exercise pleasure.