Monday, October 8, 2012

Honey: The Sweetener That's Good for You!

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Honey, I'm here today to tell you that not all sweeteners are bad! That's great news, especially if there's a bear-shaped squeeze bottle in your kitchen within reach! 

There are mentions of honey dating back to 8,000 B.C., in cave drawings near Valencia, Spain. In ancient Egypt, honey had many uses - as a sacrifice to the gods, as an embalming fluid for the dead, and as a moisturizing bath (when combined with milk) for the infamous Cleopatra. You can also find honey referenced in many religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. The ancient Romans used honey in their cooking, while the feudal system in Europe used it as currency. In the Ayurvedic tradition in India, honey was considered a natural remedy. 

Honey has been around a long time and it's no wonder why it's so integral to human existence. Honey possesses antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and antioxidant properties that can...

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BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM - Honey is largely composed of fruit sugars, but it also contains B vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, minerals and antioxidants - all very integral to your body's success in fighting infection and disease.

FIGHT ALLERGIES (OR SO THEY SAY) - Some studies support the idea that honey from your local area can help fight the symptoms of allergies and hay fever. It's the same concept of being injected with a mild version of the flu virus when getting a flu shot. It allows your body to build immunity.

HEALS MINOR CUTS & BURNS - Because honey has antibacterial properties, it works to prevent infection and decrease inflammation. Honey is a humectant, which means it draws moisture in from the air, allowing your injury to heal properly without leaving a scar.

KEEP YOUR SKIN YOUNG AND FRESH - Because honey draws moisture to the skin, it can be substituted for all those fancy and expensive skin creams. Lightly wet your fingers, dip them into 2-3 Tbs. of raw honey and spread a thin layer over your face for 10 minutes. Afterwards, wash the honey off with water (avoiding soap) and layer your dry face with moisturizer to lock in the benefits.

PROVIDE YOU WITH ENERGY - The glucose in honey is absorbed quickly into your bloodstream, giving you an instant energy boost. Meanwhile, the fructose content sustains your energy for an extended period as it is absorbed more slowly.

SOOTHE A COUGH - Honey helps mask the 'tickle' that causes you to cough. Try drinking honey in your tea or in a cup of warm water with lemon.

PROVIDE YOU WITH PROBIOTICS - Probiotics are live microorganisms that ensure the microbial balance in your intestines (think yogurt or other fermented foods with active cultures). Probiotics can help relieve digestion issues or chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases.

HELP WITH A HANGOVER - Honey accelerates the oxidation of alcohol in the liver, helping you recover from that 'big night out' much faster than usual.

**PLEASE NOTE: You should never feed honey to infants under the age of 12 months. Honey is the only known dietary source of C. botulinum spores, which can cause botulism (a rare and sometimes fatal paralysis) in small children who's intestinal systems have not yet matured.**

Last week, I pulled a recipe out of the archives - Honey-Jalapeno Chicken with Sesame Noodles. I don't even remember where I found this (my sincerest apologies to the culinary genius behind it), but it's fantastic! It's the perfect light dinner and it makes just enough leftovers to take to work the next day or two for lunch! It makes approximately 3-4 servings.

Cook 12 oz. of soda noodles (or any other Asian noodle like udon) according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Now for the prep: Chop 1 bunch of scallions (green part only) to fill 1/4 cup.
Finely chop 1/4 cup fresh cilantro.
Remove the seeds of 1 jalapeno and finely chop.
Grab some pickled ginger, which you can find in the grocery store's Asian food aisle.
Finely chop 2 Tbs. of pickled ginger.
Pour 2 tsp. of olive oil into a preheated skillet. Add 1 lb. or so of organic chicken (cut into 1/2 inch pieces),
the jalapeno, and the cilantro. If you don't have time to cook the chicken, then just
buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and use half of it (shredded). Cook over medium-high heat.
Now grab your seasoning. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
When the chicken is about halfway cooked (like so), pour in 1/3 cup honey. 
Meanwhile, pour 3 Tbs. soy sauce and 2 tsp. sesame oil over the cooked noodles. Also mix in the scallions and ginger.
To get the chicken nice and brown, drain some of the liquid that's in the bottom of the skillet. I usually add more honey
here so that the chicken has a nice, bold flavor. When the chicken are browned slightly and cooked through (about
10-12 minutes), remove from heat, drain the excess liquid in the pan and pour over the noodle mixture.
Mix everything together and if you feel that the noodles need a little extra soy sauce and
sesame oil, don't be shy! This dish is a taste bud tantalizer!

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