Health Benefits Of Honey!

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One of the many great things about Farmers’ Markets is that you can find unprocessed honey, also known as raw honey, for sale. Most of the honey sold in grocery stores has been pasteurized and sometimes even blended with cane sugar or corn syrup. However, raw honey is naturally antiseptic and does not need pasteurization.

People have been using raw honey for its health benefits for millennia. Raw honey contains pollen, enzymes, antioxidants and many other beneficial compounds that researchers are just beginning to discover. These compounds largely disappear during processing. The general rule is the darker the raw honey, the more nutritious it is.

Allergy Relief

Recent research supports the theory that local honey– obtained as close as possible to where you live–may help build an immunity to seasonal allergies. Honey made by bees in the vicinity of an allergenic plant will contain tiny amounts of pollen from that plant. This honey will act as a sort of vaccine if taken in small amounts–a few teaspoons per day–for several months, and can provide relief from seasonal pollen-related allergies.

Antioxidants

Raw honey contains powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants, while pasteurized honey does not.

Digestive Aid

Raw honey contains many enzymes that can help some people digest food more easily so it may also help treat ulcers and diarrhea.

Vitamins and Minerals

The nutrient content of raw honey varies (darker honey is more nutritious), but a 1-ounce serving contains very small amounts of folate as well as vitamins B2, C, B6, B5 and B3. Minerals including calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc are also found in raw honey.

Wound and Skin Care

Honey has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties. It is used by the medical profession to treat wounds, burns, and various other skin conditions including acne.

Cough Suppressant

Honey is also useful in treating upper respiratory infections. Studies have shown that a small dose of raw honey was more effective than an over-the-counter cough treatment. Be sure not to give any honey, either raw or treated, to a child under the age of 12 months.

Blood sugar regulation:

Even though honey contains simple sugars, some researchers believe it does not affect the body in the same way as white sugar or artificial sweeteners. Honey’s exact combination of fructose and glucose may actually help the body regulate blood sugar levels.

In addition to its health benefits, it is a scientific fact that cooking with honey makes food taste better. Honey contains gluconic acid, a completely safe and natural flavor enhancer. According to the National Honey Board, honey “balances and enhances the flavor profiles of other ingredients used in a recipe.”

A little honey makes everything better!

Smoke

Beehive Smoker

Beehive Smoker

I’ve never liked smoking my bees. Smoke calms them down all right, but they aren’t quite themselves for a day or two. I figured a few minutes of bee panic is better than several days of befuddlement.

I’ve never smoked when installing a new package of bees.  It hasn’t seemed necessary. They’ve been more than happy to get out of that dreadful packing box.

Likewise I haven’t smoked when I’ve opened the hive for only a few seconds to feed or stick in a frame or two.

Smoking a Hive

Smoking a Hive

Today I pushed the envelope. Big mistake!

I wanted to switch out frames in a new hive from one deep box to another. Not for a good reason, mind you, but because I liked the paint color of the second box better. It wasn’t going to take very long.

It turns out that from the bees’ perspective it isn’t so much how long the disruption is but how distressing. Moving a frame with the Queen on it is apparently very distressing!

My gentle hive stung me five times through my bee suit and then went after the landscapers working next door. Thank goodness the landscapers did not get stung!

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I quickly closed up the hive and ran inside, followed by a few angry girls. My dog, the Noble Bayard, ate them with gusto. All is quiet now.

I’m going back out shortly to finish the job. Needless to say, I’m going to smoke from now on. It’s better for all of us!!

Vegetarian Honey Winter Vegetable Soup

vegetarian winter veg soup

Reprinted from Salon.com

There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.

Yield:  10-12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

One 35-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 quarts water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

One 2-by-2-inch piece Parmesan rind

7 ounces butternut squash, cubed

5 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, undrained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Shaved Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Decrease the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sage, rosemary and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Add the water, soy sauce and Parmesan rind, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the squash and kale, cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the beans, honey and red wine vinegar and cook until all is heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheese rind and serve warm with shaved Parmesan.

Serve with hearty whole grain bread and a green salad.

Homemade Honey Marshmallows – For Medicinal Purposes Only!

Marshmallow Apothecary

Marshmallow Apothecary

My UK friends Emma Sarah Tennant and Emily Heath posted on Facebook about their recent visit to the Marshmallow Apothecary, a popup medicinal marshmallow shop in London.

Yes, you read that right. Medicinal Marshmallows. Who knew?

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For just two weeks,the Marshmallow Apothecary opened its doors in Carnaby Street, offering free consultations and marshmallow prescriptions to visitors.​  The delicious marshmallows contained herbal remedies for ailments ranging from the common cold to a lack of libidinousness.  As Mary Poppins was wont to say, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

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It turns out that the marshmallow probably first came into being as a medicinal substance.  The Egyptians concocted them with honey to treat sore throats.

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That of course gave me an idea. Why not make my own medicinal Honey Marshmallows?

Let me tell you, they are so delicious, it’s almost worth being sick!!

They Are More Medicinal When You Make Them Pink!

They Are More Medicinal When You Make Them Pink!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1 cup water

2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites

Food coloring, if desired

Directions

Dust an 8 by 12-inch baking sheet generously with confectioners’ sugar.

Place 1/2 cup of cold water and the gelatin in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Let stand for 30 minutes.

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the remaining water, sugar, honey, salt and vanilla. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. If necessary, wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan.

Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F. Remove from the heat and, working quickly, add the egg whites to the bowl of the electric mixer and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to low and slowly pour the syrup into the bowl, making sure the stream remains between the whisk and side of the bowl. If you want to color the marshmallows, add the food coloring at this stage, until desired color is reached. Increase the speed to high again and whip until the mixture has at least doubled and becomes thick and fluffy.

Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread out evenly using a spatula. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and let it sit out overnight, uncovered, to dry. Invert the marshmallow mixture onto a cutting board and, using a hot knife, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch squares. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar.

Prescription:  Eat them until you feel better!

The Romancing The Bee Diet – Honey, Garlic And Rosemary Chicken

Fat bee

People used to ask me how I kept from gaining weight with all the rich cooking I do.  I haven’t heard that question since Thanksgiving.

I have been asked about my weight though. My daughter politely inquired how I managed to gain so much in a mere 30 days. My mouth was full of Tiramisu at the time. I think she was being ironic…

Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s true. This little bee has grown plump.  There will be no more Romancing for me  if I don’t lose a few.

For the record, honey had nothing to do with my weight gain.

On the contrary, it was butter, cheese, cream, bread, pasta and refined sugar.  (Yes, I’m human…)  I can’t remember the last time I passed up a glass of wine. My recent exercise has consisted primarily of typing. Oh, and of course, cooking.

I’m not giving up the goodies forever, mind you!  I believe in everything in moderation. I just have to get rid of my newly acquired avoirdupois before it gets too comfortable around my midsection and doesn’t want to leave.

Diets are never fun, but I thought it might at least be interesting if I made up my own.  One that includes honey of course!

In a nutshell, I’m going to give up the aforementioned dairy, grains and refined sugar until I lose the weight. I’m also going to walk more and maybe take a yoga class once a week.  I’ll keep you apprised of my progress.

I’ll also provide the details of my diet, which I’m still making up!  Until then, here’s a recipe for a starter!

Honey, Garlic and Rosemary Chicken

Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

• 2 skinless Chicken Breasts or other boneless chicken

• 1/8 cup  Olive Oil.

• 3/4 teaspoon honey

• 1 teaspoon dried Rosemary.

• 3/4 tsp Balsamic Vinegar.

• 1/2 tsp crushed Black Pepper.

• 1 pinch of Kosher Salt.

•  1-2 cloves of Garlic, minced.

Directions

Pound chicken in wax paper with a mallet until 1/4 inch thick.  Mix rest of ingredients and brush on chicken before and during cooking.  Place in grill pan or hot skillet and cook to desired doneness.  Serve with steamed brussels sprouts or broccoli.

Dahlias And The Last Of Summer Blooms

The emergence of my dahlias soothes the pain of losing all the other blossoms…

Clouds Of Wonder

There are two (at least!) great things about meditation retreats.

The obvious is the sense of peace and contentment that accompanies the process of meditation itself. I’ve often wondered whether I’m really that spiritual or just so lazy I like not thinking.

A little of both, probably.

But the less obvious is even better.

After the retreat, I get to discover what I’ve “downloaded”  during my hours of meditation – those hours when I wasn’t busy thinking/worrying about stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter.

On my drive home, I discovered that my writer’s block had disappeared.

Then my petty grudges.

Who knows what I’m going to discover today?

I’m sure it will be awesome!

Honey Apple Cider Vinegar

I love to cook with flavored vinegars, and I think honey apple cider vinegar is the best!

Flavored Vinegars

Not only does it give food a wonderful zing, but it’s full of health benefits as well.

Benefits of apple cider vinegar:

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) mixed in 4 ounces of purified water after a meal has been used as a naturalremedy for heartburn and as a replacement for toxic heartburn medications.

ACV may help improve bowel irregularity, thereby removing toxins from the body at a faster rate.ACV clears up skin conditions and blemishes giving a smoother texture and complexion.

ACV may also help with joint pain and stiffness.

ACV helps to break down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them. For this reason, many diets include ACV in their regimen.

On a small scale, ACV was studied by researchers at Arizona State University. The preliminary study was published in the Diabetes Care journal. It reported that ACV helps reduce levels of glucose.

Benefits of honey:

Honey is nature’s energy booster.

Honey is a great immunity system builder.

Honey is a natural remedy for many ailments.

The recipe for honey apple cider vinegar couldn’t be easier. Just mix four tablespoons of honey in a cup of apple cider vinegar. Put it in a pretty bottle and use for cooking or gifting!