USING HONEY IN YOUR DIET
Overview by Margot Rutigliano
Do you use honey in your diet? I love it for health benefits but I also like to use it as a natural sweetener. I use it as a sweetener in baking recipes if it’s an easy swap, as a substitute for syrup on the occasion that I have pancakes or waffles and even in yogurt with granola. It’s also a great sweetener in protein smoothies and drinks like tea, iced tea or coffee.
I usually go for raw honey that isn’t pasteurized or processed with any herbicides, pesticides or pollutants. Or I’ll choose a local honey that’s not pasteurized or filtered either just to make sure that I have the highest quality honey. Might as well get the most out of this nutritious superfood, right? – Margot
HONEY AS A SUPERFOOD
Honey is an extremely versatile food, known worldwide for its numerous health benefits; so versatile is this rich, golden liquid that its usage extends beyond dietary purposes! From food spreads and skin potions to illness remedies and beauty applications, the utilities of honey seem boundless.
Honey possesses the following benefits:
antioxidant and nutritional properties that make it a power food for the whole family
soothes sore throats
can help lower cholesterol
may help with digestive issues
Since honey is an adaptable food, serving multiple purposes, one can include honey in the daily diet in several ways.
HOW TO USE HONEY IN YOUR DIET
1. In your beverages:
Kickstart your day with a tall glass of warm water, two tablespoons of honey and one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This honey-water-lemon concoction is known to help aid faster burning of fats, when coupled with an active lifestyle. You can replace sugar and other calorie-heavy sweeteners. Opt for honey in milk, instead of sugar. You can also whip up your very own, healthy power drink to immediately feel refreshed and energized. Mix two cups of water, one-fourth cup of fresh lemon juice, one-eighth teaspoon of salt and two and a half teaspoons of raw honey in a water bottle. Consume as and when needed to rehydrate yourself, instead of consuming unhealthy sports drinks and mixes.
Honey is also a great natural sweetener in protein shakes, smoothies and even hot tea.
2. As a bread spread:
Using honey as a breakfast or bread spread is a smart and healthier alternative to the sugar-packed conventional bread spreads available in the market. Generously spread honey onto your morning toast for a delicious breakfast; remember to have some fruit portions as well. Honey drizzled over sprouted bread with 1 tablespoon of nut butter and 1/2 banana sliced makes a wonderful breakfast or snack.
You can also make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder and apply it on bread as a spread, instead of jams and jellies. You can also make a honey-mustard spread for sandwiches in a pinch – just blend one-fourth cup of prepared mustard, one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of mayonnaise, and spread the mixture between bread slices. Alternatively, you can use honey as a great dip to go with breakfast toast or pastries.
3. As a salad dressing:
Salads taste great when married with the right dressing! You can use honey to up your salad dressing game, and turn snack time into a delicious, healthy daily routine. Simply add equal parts honey, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil into a jar; add a sprinkling of your favourite herbs and a pinch of salt to taste. Close the jar tightly with a lid and shake thoroughly, or simply use a spoon to mix the contents well. Add a generous portion of the dressing to your salads, instead of using mayonnaise or other calorie-rich salad dressings.
4. As a power snack:
For a quick and nutritious snack, mix your favourite dry fruits, a cup of raw toasted oats, a little warm milk and three tablespoons of honey in a bowl. This muesli-like snack bowl is super-nutritious and packs quite the punch in filling you up; it works perfectly as a light tea-time snack, thus preventing you from binge-eating salty, fried or processed snacks.
5. In your soups:
Honey is an excellent ingredient in soups such as bisques, broths made with carrots, squash, sweet potato of certain fruit, and in soups or curries seasoned with ginger. Just a drizzle of honey works to add more complexity and balance to soups. In case of soups that work on the bitterness angle such as cauliflower or parsnip based soups, honey makes the soup softer on the palate. Spicy soups gain a slightly sweet dimension when honey is added. Moreover, the natural viscosity of honey helps in adding more body and thickness to soups.
Honey works wonderfully in various food preparations, both as an additive and a key ingredient. Experiment with honey by using recipes for whole-cooked meals with honey. But do note that Ayurveda warns against heating honey. If you want to keep it simple, go the easy route and add honey as a table ingredient in your daily meals such as beverages and snacks.