By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
One of my favorite items on the table over the high holy days is honey. I relish the opportunity to spread it over challah, apple slices or anything else I can get my hands on (as my husband will attest to). There are so many varieties of honey depending on which flower the nectar is collected from, and each has a rather distinctive flavor. My favorites are clover, wildflower, orange, and Manuka honey from New Zealand.
Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugars, mainly fructose and glucose, with very little vitamins or minerals. Despite its reputation as being “just another calorie-loaded sweetener”, honey, particularly raw honey, is full of phytonutrients that are responsible for its anti-infective and anti-cancer properties. Raw honey, honey that has not been heated, is totally unprocessed, and still contains naturally-occurring pollen, honeycomb, live enzymes, and is high in antioxidants. Thus it is a true superfood; in addition, it can be used as a natural antiseptic and an aid for healing wounds when applied to the skin.
Most honeys found in the supermarket are not raw honey but commercial-grade honey, which has been heated and processed so that it looks cleaner and smoother, and is easier to pour and spread. Therefore, commercial honey is not as nutritious as raw honey. That said, even if we choose to buy commercial- grade honey this Rosh Hashanah whether for spreading, dipping or baking, we are still making the choice to use a sweetener that is a little less processed, has a much more distinctive flavor, and adds a moister quality to baked goods, than does cane sugar. But the best news about using honey is that a little bit goes a long way!
Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
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