New Year, Same Trusted Benefits

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Happy New Year! If you’re anything like us, this week you have been buried under piles of emails and notes upon your return from the holiday break, but here we finally are with the first blog post of the year!

As we move into this fresh new year, we will be leaning on the tested and trusted benefits of our favorite kitchen staple - honey! Whether you are looking for more natural ways to sweeten and balance your favorite recipes, boost your energy, or calm a pesky cough, all you need to do is reach for honey. Today we are exploring honey’s multitude of benefits that make it an ingredient that is both good for you and good for the planet!

Nature’s Sweetener

Honey is sweet – that’s a given. But did you know that honey also adds a special touch to almost any recipe? Now more than ever, honey’s being recognized as a versatile ingredient and pantry staple in the kitchen. All-natural honey gives your recipes unbeatable flavor and unmatched functional benefits. From balancing flavors to providing moisture to baked goods, one-ingredient honey performs a slew of tasks, all from one little bottle:

  • Sweetener: Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar, so less can be used to achieve the same sweetness intensity.
  • Flavor: Honey not only imparts a unique flavor to any dish, but it also balances and enhances the flavor profiles of other ingredients used in a recipe.
  • Emulsifier: Honey acts as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips.
  • Humectant: Honey provides and retains moisture to a variety of dishes and can even extend the shelf life of baked goods.

Nature’s Energy Food

Honey provides 17 grams of carbohydrates (the primary fuel the body uses) and just 64 calories per tablespoon, making it a natural source of energy that is easy to work into your daily routine. Combining honey with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and other healthful foods can add to your total nutrition and give you a great natural energy boost. Check out this blog post to learn more about nature’s energy food and get simple sweet hacks and usage tips.

Nature’s Cough Suppressant

Honey has been used for centuries to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with a common cold. While time is the most important healer of sore throats caused by viruses, you may find relief of the irritating symptoms with a spoonful of honey to soothe and coat your throat. Take a spoonful straight, as often as you need, to relieve the irritation. In between, keep up your liquids with a steaming cup of tea sweetened with honey. For added vitamin C, try mixing in orange, grapefruit or lemon juice.

A 2007 study by a Penn State College of Medicine research team found that honey may even offer parents an effective alternative to over-the-counter cough medicine. The study found that a small dose of buckwheat honey given before bedtime provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications. Try it out this cold and flu season with these simple (and delicious) cough suppression recipes for adults and kids*:

Worldly Flavor

There are more than 300 unique types of honey available in the United States, each originating from a different floral source. The color, flavor, and even aroma of a particular variety of honey may differ depending on the nectar source of flowers visited by the honey bee. The colors 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 the flower. As a general rule, the flavor of lighter colored honeys is milder, and the flavor of darker colored honeys is stronger.

Fun Fact: Varietal honeys may be best compared to varietal wine in terms of annual climatic changes. Even the same flower blooming in the same location may produce slightly different nectar from year-to-year depending upon temperature and rainfall.

Good For The Planet

Not only does honey help take your recipes to the next level, but your purchase of honey helps support the honey industry and the honey bees that make it all possible. Everyone knows honey bees make honey, but their contributions hardly end there - bees are critical to the health of our planet and food chain. Without them, the food we depend on would dwindle as pollinator foods, including those pollinated by bees, represent one in every three bites of food that we eat.

We often get asked how people can help the bees, and continuing to buy and enjoy honey is actually the easiest way to help. This simple act helps to fund life-saving honey bee research and ensures that our little friends will keep on buzzing!

Here at the NHB, we want to wish everyone a happy new year full of peace and good health, and you can be sure that we'll continue to share our best honey tips so you can take advantage of all of this ingredient's natural (and delicious) benefits.

We want to hear from you! What is your favorite way to use honey? How are you planning to use it in the new year? Let us know in the comments below!

*Be aware, of course, that honey should not be fed to infants under one year of age. Honey is a safe and wholesome food for older children and adults.