This month’s healthy challenge is SWEET! I’m challenging you to replace processed sugars with whole foods. Whole foods like fruit and raw honey are great alternatives to processed sugars! Honey is truly a gift from nature, and we have our friends the bees to thank. A honey bee will only make about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey IN ITS LIFETIME. Talk about a precious gift. But there is a big difference between commercial honey and raw honey!
Raw Honey Benefits in a Nutshell
Raw honey is absorbed into the bloodstream slower than processed honey (or sugar). This means your body doesn’t need as much insulin to process it, which also helps keep your body out of fat-making mode. Honey is a prebiotic, which means it feeds and promotes helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. That’s not all! Raw honey may also contain 4 times as many antioxidants as processed honey. It also has some impressive antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing effects. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend it as a natural cough remedy for children older than a year old. Honey’s ability to nourish the surrounding tissue can help treat burns and certain skin conditions like including psoriasis, hemorrhoids, and herpes lesions as well.
Purchasing Raw Honey
While conventional honey is processed with heat and filtration, raw honey is unprocessed. True raw honey is straight from the beehive, unstrained, and doesn’t undergo any heat treatment. Unfortunately, there is no current regulation for the label, so some “raw” honey in the store may actually be slightly processed. Commercially produced raw honey at the supermarket does often undergo minimal processing, including high-pressure filtration and gentle pasteurization–even though it is labeled as raw! This “raw” honey is still healthier than the super processed commercial honey. If you want truly raw honey, seek out a beekeeper (or bear… just kidding, don’t do that) and go straight to the source. Visit your local farmer’s market and ask questions to find raw honey without any processing. The bottom line is to stay away from commercial, processed honey!
Have you wondered why some raw honey is liquid and some is solid? Depending on the particular honey composition of fructose to glucose, the honey may crystallize very slowly, quickly, or not at all. If there is a larger ratio of fructose, the honey tends to stay as a dissolved solution rather than crystallizing and hardening. It’s the type of nectar the bees collect that determines this ratio. Whether it’s solid or liquid; raw honey is beneficial to our bodies.
Don’t confuse organic honey with raw honey. Generally speaking, raw honey is not processed or pasteurized. Organic honey CAN be pasteurized and processed, it just has to come from a bee farm that meets the organic livestock standards of the USDA to be considered organic.
Baking with Honey
If you want to start replacing sugar with raw honey for healthier recipes, substitute every cup of sugar with 3/4 cup of raw honey. You may want to reduce the liquid in your recipe by 2 Tablespoons and lower the oven temperature by 25° F, since honey is liquid, and has a low burn temperature. If your dish is done browning but not quite finished cooking, you may want to lay a protective piece of foil over the top until it gets to the color you want while it’s still baking.
No honey for baby!
Don’t give raw honey, or any honey for that matter, to babies under 1 year of age! Honey contains botulinum endospores, and children under 12 months old have an immature digestive system, unable to destroy the spores. After 12 months babies can handle the spores without problems. For extra precaution, pregnant women may want to avoid fully raw honey and stick to the gently pasteurized raw honey or processed honey at the supermarket.
I’m inviting you to join me in adopting the 12-Fix Wellness Plan in my book, 12 Fixes to Healthy! Start with Fix #1 and replace sugar, sweet treats, refined flour, and processed foods with whole foods like fruit and raw honey! Then add a new Fix each month with me. Follow my posts on my website FoodsWithJudes.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @FoodsWithJudes for ways to adapt this 12-Fix Wellness Plan to your life. So make sure to go follow and pick up a copy of your manual, 12 Fixes to Healthy: A Wellness Plan for Life and do this 12-Fix Lean Life Plan with me!
Judith (aka Judes) Scharman Draughon, MS, RDN, LD is a registered, licensed dietitian nutritionist, author of 12 Fixes to Health: A Wellness Plan for Life, as well as a corporate wellness speaker. Judes inspires many with her high-energy nutrition presentations, workshops, and seminars throughout the county. She is known as “Foods With Judes.”
Judes is passionate about her quest to empower people to make small changes that make a big difference. She can’t wait to empower you!
Contributor: Ray Norton