I like to use three different natural sweeteners – honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. I’d like to take a few minutes today to talk about honey. I’ll be following up with posts about maple syrup and coconut sugar and the reasons why I use each one. The primary reason I use natural sweeteners is for the nutritional health benefits. Honey has several of the B vitamins as well as many trace minerals. Natural sweeteners contribute nutrition to your desserts instead of taking nutrition away from you, like processed sugars.
Honey has antibacterial and antiseptic properties making it very good for topical use, as well as in the kitchen. It acts a softener and moisturizer for your skin, and it makes a great (albeit messy) conditioner for your hair. You’ll find some links below to make your own products with honey.
Studies have found the phytonutrients contained in honey are beneficial in preventing numerous diseases. However, honey is only beneficial if it’s raw. Once honey has been processed it loses it’s beneficial properties, much like cane sugar.
Considerations on what to buy:
1. Look for honey in the raw.
2. Ask what the food source is for the bees. Sometimes bee keepers feed their bees white sugar which isn’t their natural food source, and doesn’t benefit you nutritionally.
3. Try different kinds of honey: lavender, fireweed, and buckwheat honey all have different but equally compelling flavors.
4. Truly raw honey is only lightly filtered, making it creamy in color. The honey in my pictures was lightly heated (under 115 degrees) and then filtered. I’m currently looking for a local source that isn’t heated at all, for even more benefits!
Honey has a distinctive flavor that can be very complimentary to a lot of different flavors found in desserts. It’s almost two times sweeter than cane sugar, so you can use less of it. I do some of my baking with honey, mostly with cakes and muffins. With it’s high moisture content, it makes baked goods exceptionally moist and soft. If you’re looking for a crisper texture (like cookies), I would recommend coconut sugar.
Below is a few things we’ve made with honey:
As a final note, if you’ve never eaten raw honey before; take a spoonful and just savor the taste all on it’s own. It’s perfect for breakfast drizzled over Greek Yogurt and berries, and I’m addicted to it now as a quick snack mid-afternoon.