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Honey – Not Vegan

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raw-honey-on-a-stickOn every post you read about sweeteners please keep this thought in mind… Just because the dessert recipes on my site  (or any other raw site) are raw, created on the foundation of whole foods, and are healthier than the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) desserts…  they are still desserts and should be consumed with the same sensibilities.  

I am not here to debate which sweetener is better than the other or whether or not you should consume them.  You know your own health better than anyone else, so you will need to make those determinations for yourself.  

To Use or Not to Use…

Sweeteners, in general, tend to face controversy at some point or another.  My suggestion is to use sweeteners in their raw and purest form so be sure to read the labels and if you are really concerned, called the manufacturers.

Some raw sweeteners are vegan, and some are not,  you decide on what the priority is for you.  All we can ask of ourselves is to make the best possible decisions with the information we are given and what is available to us.

Why do you use several sweeteners in one recipe?

I like to mix different sweeteners together for several reasons. By layering multiple sweeteners, I can sometimes reduce the overall glycemic load, as well as create layers of flavor and sweetness.  Plus, different sweeteners respond textually in unique ways.

For instance, dates not only add sweetness to a recipe but also works as a binder, holding cakes, cookies, and bars together.  To keep the sugar levels down, I might add stevia, which bumps up the sweet level without adding more sugars or calories.  In raw recipes, you always need to take your health needs into account, the texture that you want from a recipe, and the overall flavor.

Now, onto Raw Honey!

I use raw honey occasionally in recipes, for its flavor, nutrients, and texture.  So here’s the thing when it comes to the flavor of honey… There are as many flavors of honey as there are flowers. So, it solely depends on where the bee collected the nectar. Flavors can range from mild to aromatic, spicy, fragrant, or even medicinal.

The color is usually an indication of flavor concentration. They can range from near-white through yellow, yellow-green, gold, amber, dark brown, or red. Have you ever tried manuka honey? It is near black in color! This is one of those kinds of honey that are used more for medicinal, therapeutic reasons.

Usually, a lighter color will indicate a milder flavor, while darker honey is customarily more robust and contains more minerals. Texture can also vary from thin to heavy.  For everyday use, I buy locally when using it in teas, but for recipes, I order Y.S Organic Raw Honey because of the thick texture and neutral flavor. Honey can be anywhere from 25-50% sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need as much when using it in a recipe.   It is best to taste test as you build a recipe, regardless of the type of sweetener you use.

Nutritional Data

Raw honey contains up to 80 different substances important to human nutrition. Honey contains all of the B-complex, A, C, D, E, and K, minerals and trace elements: magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, calcium, chlorine, potassium, iodine, sodium, copper, and manganese.

Organic raw honey is antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial the never it never spoils. It is packed with vitamins and nutrients which can support the immune system. It contains beneficial live yeast and enzymes because it has not been processed. The heat of pasteurization kills those beneficial enzymes. Raw honey contains over 5000 enzymes including amylase, a digestive enzyme for carbohydrates.

Fun Fact:

Bees actually have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar backpack, and their regular stomach. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar, and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honey-stomachs.

Let’s go buy some honey!

If this will be your first time purchasing raw honey, you might be surprised to see that it is not clear and that the consistency is thicker than pasteurized honey. To be sure that your honey is raw, it must say so on the label.  It is very very thick and often can be a cream color.  The kind that I use requires a spoon to get it out of the jar, there isn’t any pouring this stuff.  Honey that you find down the aisle at a typical grocery store has been pasteurized with high heat, filtered to make them clear, and most likely it has been cut with corn syrup.

To me, the best possible place to purchase honey is at your local Farmer’s Market.  Not only does it help to support the locals, but raw honey from local sources is also beneficial for treating seasonal allergies like Hay Fever, asthma, and being most beneficial for your immune system’s particular environment needs.

There are crystals in my honey, toss it?

The truth is, crystallization of honey is a natural and uncontrolled process. Containing more than 70% sugars and less than 20% water. Over time, almost all pure raw honey crystallizes.  Not to fret my friend, it can be softened by briefly placing the jar of honey in a bowl of warm water (never in a microwave oven). Subjecting honey to too much heat would destroy its live enzymes. Store honey at room temperature in air-tight containers. Do not place it in the fridge; it would accelerate the process of crystallization and harden the honey.

Measuring out honey:

When measuring honey, coat your measuring cup with coconut oil to allow the honey to smoothly and quickly come out of the measuring cup with no mess.

Great for Ice Cream:

I use raw honey often as the main sweetener for ice cream.  Honey consists of sugars with smaller molecules than those of table sugar, so it’s more than twice as effective at lowering the freezing point of ice cream. Faster freezing means smaller ice crystals, one of the keys for creamy ice cream.  I find that when I make ice creams with the honey as the dominant sweetener, the ice cream doesn’t freeze rock solid.

When not to use raw honey?

I have read in numerous places that children under 18 months of age should not be fed honey since their digestive system is not well-developed enough.  Babies don’t yet have the ability to break down botulin, so raw honey fed to babies can cause botulism.

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