Awesome Things About Honey (and Recipes)

Honey Bear n Sprittibee

Honey Bear n Sprittibee

Sometimes wonderful things happen on the internet that leave you scratching your head. One of those things this past month has been my fortunate partnership with the National Honey Board.

I’ve ALWAYS loved honey. Who doesn’t? I also love bees (as you might have noticed from my blog title and logo all these past 10 years). Proof of my devotion is below in the links to honey-sweet recipes and remedies I’ve shared – be sure to read to the end!

{ I hate to tell the National Honey Board this, because they sponsored this post, but I would be talking about how great honey is even if they weren’t paying me to do it! }

In case you don’t know this, we aspire to be a sugar-free family. I’m a lot more gung-ho than my boys (and the man), but me and my daughter are pretty much sugar-free for the most part. THAT DOESN’T MEAN I DON’T LOVE SWEET STUFF.  Sometimes I do cave in if everyone else – ahem, like the husband – is eating something with sugar in it, but after two years of retraining my taste buds, I even drink my coffee and tea sugar free! This is a FEAT for a good Southern girl. Can I get an Amen?

I know you are going to ask it, so here it is: WHAT ABOUT CHOCOLATE?

Of course I eat it… but I eat chocolate with stevia or honey instead of sugar.

Chocolate Honey Mints

Chocolate Honey Mints

Honey is my favorite sweetener of them all. There’s something so fantastic about knowing that it comes from cute, fuzzy little insects that tumble around from flower to flower outside in the sunshine. Bee spit, people. God is so amazing. With honey around, sugar is pretty much NOT NECESSARY. At all. And by the way, honey has been created by nature the same way without any need for refining since the dawn of time. Don’t get me started on the story of sugar (watch the Fed Up documentary if you want to scare yourself for the future of our nation with more than 80% of our packaged foods containing added sugar – even potato chips and meats).

Before I go off on a rant, let me introduce you to the National Honey Board…

The Honey Board is an organization whose purpose is to educate the public about honey and increase awareness of how it can be used, share honey recipes, and promote beekeeping! You might say they are “the bees knees”… or maybe a human voice for the bees.

How can you get involved, educated, linked in, and connected with them?

Check them out online at …
Honey.com
Storyofhoney.com
Honeylocator.com (to find honey varieties in your area)

Follow them at…
Twitter: @NationalHoney
Instagram: @NationalHoneyBoard
They also have a Facebook and Youtube

The event they held in Austin recently was at Vuka. I hadn’t ever been there before but it was a wonderful little spot and had me wishing I had my very own art-deco warehouse to host swanky honey-parties with fancy limousine service to boot. I got to ride in a fantastic limo and eat the most delicious foods all while learning about beekeeping and the #BenefitsofHoney!

Honey Swag

Honey Swag

They gave out sweet gifts – including Tupelo Honey, Alfalfa, and Buckwheat Honey. Can’t forget about the lip balm from bees-wax and wildflower seed bombs. We made honey-grapefruit salt face scrub. We talked about how honey is actually better than cough syrup, especially for young kids, and we sampled delicious recipes from none other than Marie Simmons – the author of ‘Taste of Honey: The Definitive Guide to Tasting and Cooking with 40 Varietals‘, my newest favorite cookbook (still starry-eyed over page 56 – the Feta Cheese and Honey Omelet – that I have been making for weeks with fresh chives from my garden and a salty Bulgarian feta).

I got to meet Marie at the honey event. She hosted the honey varietal taste-sampling. It was sort of like a wine tasting but much sweeter and you didn’t have to spit anything out.  I am still swooning over my new favorite flavor sensation: honey and cheese. What a match made in heaven. God was right with all his talk in the old testament of milk and honey.

Honey Board Snacks

Honey Board Snacks

My pancreas was a little overloaded with the amount of honey I consumed at the Honey Board event. I can’t say I regret it, though. Listen to these little recipe gem titles: “Honey-Hibiscus Orange Punch”, “Velvety Honey-Chocolate Pudding”, “Goat Cheese Spread with Lemon & Honey”, “Sriracha and Honey Deviled Eggs”, “Grilled Honey, Lime and Cumin Marinated Shrimp”, “Cold Chinese Noodles with Spicy Honey-Peanut Sauce”, “Flatbread with Melted Manchego, Rosemary & Honey”… I could go on. I bet you are going to try and get on the Honey Board’s mailing list right about now! I suspect these recipes are available on their site since they do offer so many! Beep me if you can’t find them and I’ll email them to you.

Here are some interesting take-aways that I brought home with me from the event (besides my honey swag, a fantastic cookbook, and more honey information than I can read through in a year):


Awesome Things About Honey:

– The US honey industry is valued at more than 19 billion as of 2010 and millions of acres of fruit, vegetable, oilseed, and legume crops depend on insect pollination, including honey bees each year. Almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries and sunflowers might not exist if it weren’t for the honey bee. One third of our diet is derived by pollinating insects and 80% of this is done by honey bees. Want to give back to the source of awesome? Put your money on the bees, not the sugar pushers!

– Even beef and dairy are dependent in part on the honey bee! Alfafa hay is grown from seed that is dependent entirely on insect pollination.

– The honey industry and craft of beekeeping naturally support a healthy, thriving ecosystem on our planet. Bees are essential to biodiversity, crop pollination, and abundant agriculture; beekeeping and global demand for honey help maintain and sustain our natural ecology.

– There are so many foods that honey enhances in recipes that you may have not thought of yet. Cheese goes great with honey as I mentioned above, and you can pair it with teas, fruits, sweets, veggie dishes, meats – just about anything!

– You can’t get better and more simple and natural than honey as a recipe ingredient. No need to consult the dictionary or Google.

– Honey has a very long shelf-life because of how it retains moisture and is naturally anti-microbial

– Honey can easily be substituted for any other sweetener

– In baking, for each cup of honey used, reduce any added liquid by ¼ cup, add ½ teaspoon baking soda and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit

– Honey can mask the bitterness of gluten-free flours

– Honey adds a rich, golden or amber color to foods making it ideal for browning and glazing

– Honey is best stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

– The color, flavor, and even aroma of a particular variety of honey may differ depending on the plants the bees collect their nectar from. There are over 300 varietals of honey due to this fact in the US alone!

– You can reconstitute crystallized honey by gently warm it and stir periodically until crystals dissolve.

– The color of honey may range from nearly colorless to dark brown, the flavor may vary from delectably mild to distinctively bold, and even the odor of the honey may be mildly reminiscent of a flower

– Honey is an effective natural skin moisturizer, nourishing the body inside and out

– Honey  is a great energy booster for those who work out; with only 17 grams of carbs and 64 calories per tablespoon, it can provide a quick boost of energy without additives, colorings, or refined sugar

– Honey isn’t recommended for children under the age of one

I may not have a favorite honey yet (they are all so delicious), but I am pretty stingy with the Tupelo that came home with me in the swag bag.

FUN FACT: Did you know that Tupelo honey is harvested by boat in coastal swamps in the southern US and the flowers for this nectar bloom for around two weeks of the year. There’s even a song about Tupelo Honey.

For more information about the many different types of varietals of honey (something I hadn’t given much thought to until this event), you can read (and see plant images) on the National Honey Board website: Honey Varietals. I’m drooling at the descriptions of some of these (especially the blackberry) and wanting to put a bee hive in my back yard now (since I can’t seem to get rid of the wild blackberry vines, anyway).

My husband says the honey from our yard would probably taste weird because of our Vitex trees – which are a medicinal herb, themselves. But after reading about how Eucalyptus tree nectar produces a minty flavored honey, I’m intrigued enough to want to try beekeeping out! My Texas Chaste Trees (another name for Vitex) are certainly COVERED in bees right now. Maybe one of the reasons that honey has been revered for so long as having health benefits is because it also has many plant and herb essences built right in with all that sweetness?!

I’ve been writing about honey for many years on my blog and will continue to do so because it is part of our daily diet and we love it so. Here are a few of my previous honey-friendly posts (including recipes) to check out:

Flourless Honey-Sweet Peanut Butter Brownies

Honey Cookies (Better Than Snickerdoodles)
(this recipe was from my pre-gluten-free days, so don’t hold me accountable for that refined flour… I bet you could paleo these out!)

Field Trip Foto Friday: Honey Bee Farm
(of course as homeschoolers, we’ve taken field trips to honey farms)

Honey Rosemary Chicken

Honey Rosemary Chicken

Honey Rosemary Chicken
(this recipe is one of the easiest quick dinners you can toss together and bake – it has olive oil, roasted garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, diced grape or cherry tomatoes, cubed chicken breast, salt, lemony sumac, and drizzled sweet honey goodness to round it off)

Home Remedy: Natural Replacement for Gatorade
(never put those gross sports drinks with all their food colors, additives and refined sugars in your body again!)

J. Frank Dobie’s Frijoles
(my secret ingredient with pinto beans is honey – this recipe has been a favorite since prior to my blogging days)

Can you imagine a world without bees or honey? If not, get involved on a “grass-roots” back-yard level and take the pledge not to spray pesticides on your plants or garden. Plant lots of flowers that bees need to keep fed. Buy organic foods and support local farmer’s markets in your state. Hey – BEE like me and look in to getting your own little hive going! Share the golden goodness with your friends and family. Teach your kids about their six-legged friends.

Sprittibee's Redbud Tree

Sprittibee’s Redbud Tree

Be a friend to bees! Keep honey around for future generations and educate others about how wonderful it is. If you ask me, there’s not many things more miraculous out there than the honey bee and her gift to humanity!

 

Disclosure: No bees were hurt in the making of this post. Included in the links is an Amazon affiliate link for the cookbook – by all means, click and buy it if you love honey! This post was sponsored by the National Honey Board, but all opinions are my own.