Seventy-six percent of honey sold in major supermarkets is untraceable because it contains virtually no pollen, according to Food Safety News. Pollen in commercial honey is filtered to keep it liquid, but ultrafiltered honey from China has been found to be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals. (For more on honey read 15 Household Uses for Honey and The Health Benefits of Honey.)
Know Your Honey
If whole foods are important to you, avoid mass-produced supermarket honey. Opt to buy honey that is closer to the land, and keep the beneficial compounds in the sweet substance in your food.
Read the Label: Some honey, especially the kind that comes in a to-go packet, is actually flavored high-fructose corn syrup. The ingredient list will spell it out for you.
Opt for Raw: Raw honey is the consistency of peanut butter because it is unfiltered and has crystallized. Honey that stays in liquid form longer is generally Grade A honey, which means it’s been filtered, so many of the healthiest natural compounds are gone, too. Plus, you are guaranteed to avoid inferior, superfiltered honey by opting for raw.
Where is it From? Choose honey that is produced close to home, if possible. Artisan producers are often available to discuss how they process their honey, if you give them a call. Your health-food store employees may be able to help you select a high-quality product, also. Even better, find a beekeeper in your area to buy from.
Plant for Pollinators
No one knows what causes Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious phenomenon of bee nests dying en masse, but we can do our part to save these crucial creatures by growing plants the pollinators love. Bees are attracted to brightly colored day-blooming flowers full of nectar, especially those tubular in shape. They also need a flower structure that acts as a landing platform. Plus, bees like a sweet or minty scent. Plant these five herbs to help bees thrive.
• Bee balm
How to Make Infused Honeys
Follow the flow chart to make three types of infused honey: ginger, chili and, for the adventurous, garlic. Stir it into tea, add it to toast or heap it on waffles! (Garlic honey makes a good cold remedy or an unusual topping for vanilla ice cream.)
2 cups local honey + 1/4 teaspoon citric acid + 1 tablespoon ginger powder or 4 tablespoons dried chili flakes or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
Mix all ingredients in a large jar, cover tightly and allow to sit away from sunlight for up to three weeks for best flavor.
Excerpted with permission from Honey Crafting by Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes, F+W Media, Inc. 2013. Buy this book from our store: Honey Crafting.
If you are up for something different this Valentine’s day, then make sure to save room for dessert! Pots de crème translates to jars of cream in French. This dessert is a type of custard that is velvety smooth and traditionally served in an adorable petite pot with a lid.
Dress it up for your sweetheart with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, grated chocolate, a drizzling of My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce and a few of your favorite cookies.
Photo by Victoria Greenstreet
Chili Chocolate Pots de Crème Recipe
• 4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1/2 dried guajillo chili pepper
• 3 large egg yolks
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• Garnish: whipped cream, grated chocolate, My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below), cookies
• Two 8 ounce ramekins or four 4 ounce ramekins
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Put the chocolate and the sugar in a medium heat-proof bowl and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan bring the cream, milk, cinnamon and guajillo chili pepper just to a boil, cover with a lid and let sit for 5 to 20 minutes, the longer you let this mixture steep the more spice you will detect, so adjust time to your spice preference.
4. After steeping is complete, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass measuring cup and add more cream if necessary to measure 1 1/3 cup.
5. Discard the chili pepper and the cinnamon stick and put the cream back into the small saucepan, bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate and sugar. Let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes then stir until well mixed.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla and salt. Whisk this mixture into the chocolate mixture. Strain the mixture once more through a fine-mesh sieve.
7. Pour into two 8 ounce or four 4 ounce oven proof baking vessels. Bake in a water bath at 300 degrees until the center is nearly set, about 25 to 30 minutes. (You are aiming for firm sides and a touch wobbly in the center).
8. Carefully remove the cups from the water bath and let cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
9. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to serving. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings
When ready to serve top with freshly whipped cream, grated chocolate, a drizzle of My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below) and your favorite cookies.
My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1/3 cup water
• 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
• 3/4 teaspoons fleur de sel
• Large heavy-bottomed deep saucepan
• Long-handled heat resistant spatula
• Clean pastry brush
• Cup of water
• Oven mitt (please wear if you are concerned about burning yourself with the steam or the hot sugar)
1. In a large heavy-bottomed deep saucepan, add the water to the sugar. Put over medium flame and let the sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes, do not stir.
2. Once the sugar is melted, turn the flame up to medium-high and boil uncovered. Resist the urge to stir, if the sugar is crystallizing on the sides of the pan, simply use the clean pastry brush dipped into the cup of water and brush down the sides, this dissolves any sugar crystals.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil until the sugar turns a deep amber color, pull the pot off of the burner and slowly stir in the cream and butter, the mixture will rise and splatter so pay special attention not to burn yourself with the steam (this is when your tall pot comes in handy!) Stir until well mixed. The caramel may harden a bit, that's okay.
4. Stir in the vanilla bean seeds and fleur de sel.
5. Put the pot over low heat and stir constantly until the caramel is melted, about 2 minutes.
6. Let cool to room temperature and it will thicken up a bit, about 3 hours. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Makes 1 3/4 to 2 cups
Victoria Greenstreet is inspired by seasonal ingredients. Her focus is whole foods and gluten-free cookery. She is a classically trained chef, freelance food writer, stylist and photographer. She is currently working on her first cookbook due during the winter of 2014-2015. Visit her blog Honey Dumplings for more recipes and culinary adventures.
We opened a bottle of champagne for New Year’s and didn’t finish it! Lucky for us, we had just enough left over to make a half batch of these blushing poached pears. They are a festive addition to any brunch, serve chilled or warm with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. If you are craving something a bit more savory, then slice the pears into wedges and toss with arugula, olive oil, Champagne vinegar, goat cheese and toasted nuts. Of course they always make an elegant dessert, garnish with a quenelle of vanilla ice-cream and voilà!
Photo by Victoria Greenstreet
Champagne Poached Pears Recipe
• 1 750 ml bottle rosé champagne or sparkling wine
• 2 1/4 cups water
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, split
• 6 whole peppercorns
• 4 firm pears, peeled with stems intact
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat warm the champagne, water, sugar, vanilla bean and peppercorns until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.
2. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the pears and make sure that they are fully submerged in the liquid, put a small plate over the top to weigh down if necessary. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until soft and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and let the pears cool in the poaching liquid for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the pears from the liquid and bring the liquid to a boil, reduce until about 1/2 of a cup of liquid remains. Drizzle the sauce over each pear and serve with plain Greek yogurt for brunch or vanilla ice-cream for dessert. Serves 4
Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Rewarm or serve chilled.
*Tip: If you want your pears to stand tall then slice the bottoms off and serve upright.
Victoria Greenstreet is inspired by seasonal ingredients. Her focus is whole foods and gluten-free cookery. She is a classically trained chef, freelance food writer, stylist and photographer. She is currently working on her first cookbook due in the winter of 2014. Visit her blog Honey Dumplings for more recipes and culinary adventures.
For the sake of a lengthy explanation, this recipe is the compliments of my fabulous “almost-sister-in-law” Shelby. She made this as a side dish for Thanksgiving and I have since made it three times...and then again tonight. Ha!
It is amazing and delicious. It works well as a party appetizer, a light lunch or a side dish. Plus, this salad is packed with flavor thanks to fresh arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, nutty almonds, salty feta cheese and a fresh basil vinaigrette.
When you're prepping your ingredients, I like to give the arugula and the julienned sun-dried tomatoes a rough chop.
Shelby’s Sensational Orzo Salad Recipe
• One 16-ounce package of orzo, cooked and drained
• 5 ounces arugula, roughly chopped
• 3 ounces julienned sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 6 ounces slivered almonds
• One 8-ounce block of feta, crumbled
• 1 ounce fresh basil leaves
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Red wine vinegar (optional)
1. Start with cooking your orzo pasta to the directions listed on the box to the tenderness of your pleasing. Keep in mind this makes a HUGE portion.
Adjust the amount of lemon, garlic, salt and pepper to your taste in this Basil Dressing recipe.
2. While the pasta is cooking, go ahead and make your Basil Dressing. Put basil in the food processor along with the lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and set aside. You can play with the measurements so that the dressing meets your taste buds. While I love lemon and garlic, you could omit either. I tend to go easy on the salt because the feta cheese, which we will add a little later, is super salty all on its own.
Set aside the dressing and only add it when serving your orzo salad so that the salad doesn't dry out.
3. Back to the pasta. After cooking the pasta, drain and rinse it with cold water. Let it cool a few minutes, then put the pasta in a large bowl.
Stir everything together for a delicious medley of flavors.
4. Add the arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and slivered almonds, and stir together. Then add the crumbled feta cheese. Finally, add the dressing to the dish directly before serving. Toss the dressing with the salad and ENJOY!
Note: If you chill the salad overnight with the dressing on it, it loses some of that fresh flavor and dries out.
This orzo salad is ready to serve and enjoy.
Photos by Jennifer Rose
The crunchiness of the almonds and the leafy arugula is so satisfying! You will love it! Try some other variations on the dressing and see what new flavors you can come up with!
Jennifer is a lover of all things yummy. After traveling the states for five years, this Mississippi native planted her southern roots in funky, easy-to-love Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she resides with her husband, Phil, and two dogs. She is an avid cook, baker, gardener and creator of all things wonderful. She loves being in the kitchen, gardening, hiking, biking, traveling, yard work, anything DIY, good beer and great food!
If you are entertaining for New Years or need to bring a quick appetizer to an upcoming party then these Parmesan and Bacon Bites are the perfect snack for you.
Photo by Christy Kenyon
Parmesan and Bacon Bites Recipe
My family first tried these little bites of amazingness at a Christmas party years ago, and they are still a family favorite around the holidays. They are pretty versatile as I've also made them during the summer. Maybe it's just me, but when you pair these with a glass of red wine the flavor seems to be even more enjoyable. As an added plus, my two kids love them and it helps to expand their usual mac-and-cheese cravings around dinner time.
Here is what you will need. Prep time is about five minutes. For the bacon I usually plan on making bacon for breakfast that morning or the morning before and saving two pieces for this recipe.
• 2 cups Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons sour cream
• 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
• 1 loaf party rye bread (or 2 loaves to double the recipe for a larger crowd)
Mix all of the ingredients together and spread on the party rye. Place in the oven under broiler for 3 to 5 minutes until bubbly. Make sure to check them after 3 minutes as they sometimes brown quickly.
To serve, place on a tray or platter and serve alongside a glass of wine, beer or your favorite cocktail. Voilà— you now have a quick, easy and delicious appetizer that your guests are sure to enjoy!
Freelance writer, sales assistant and mother of two, Christy Kenyon hails from Ann Arbor, Michiagn. Christy is an avid gardener and nutrition enthusiast who loves learning about how to improve the health of people, animals and the planet.
This recipe is a great way to get your vegetables in for the day. The vinaigrette complements the vegetables well and “spices” things up a little. Serve this with your favorite side—with salsa or just as is—either way, they are delicious and healthy for the whole family—even the kids will enjoy them. These can be made gluten-free using corn tortillas.
Roasted Vegetables Quesadilla Recipe
4-5 cups of vegetables, approx. (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups grated cheese
8 6-inch corn or flour Tortillas, approx.
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place vegetables on baking sheet in a single layer.
3. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until vegetables are fork tender and have slightly browned. Half way through baking, mix and redistribute on baking sheet.
4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine balsamic vinegar and mustard and whisk until well combined.
5. Continue whisking, slowly adding olive oil.
6. Once vegetable have cooked, remove from oven and place vegetables in bowl with vinaigrette.
7. Toss to lightly coat.
8. Heat up a cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium heat.
9. Once hot, place a corn tortilla on skillet.
10. Sprinkle enough cheese to lightly coat the tortilla—about 2 tablespoons.
11. Add some of the vegetables to cover the cheese and then sprinkle another light layer of cheese over vegetables.
12. Place another corn tortilla on top.
13. Once the cheese on the bottom tortilla has melted and the tortilla has toasted, carefully flip the quesadilla with a spatula.
14. Toast the second side for about 2-3 minutes until toasted and cheese has melted.
15. Remove from the skillet cut into quarters and serve while warm with your favorite salsa or just as it is.
• Don’t over fill the quesadilla. It’s harder to handle when there is too much filling.
• The cheese acts like glue—it helps hold everything together.
• Create an assembly line for yourself. It makes for a smoother process.
• If you feeding a crowd—turn your oven on low and place a cooling rack inside a baking sheet. Once you have finished toasting each quesadilla, place it on the cooling rack in the oven. This will allow your quesadillas to keep warm and prevent them from getting soggy until you are ready to serve.
• If you prefer to make this vegan, omit the cheese, toast the tortillas just as they are on both sides and fill with vegetable mixture and other desired fillings. Fold and enjoy!
Sam Pierre loves everything that involves the kitchen and the process of preparing food. When she is not in the kitchen, she’s thinking about new recipes and flavors that would complement each other. Between running around after her daughter and maintaining a healthy household, she blogs about her food adventures and experiences in the kitchen on delishious food.
When you have children there is a never-ending call for snacks. Their growing bodies require frequent munching, car rides go more smoothly with food in tow, you want to send a birthday treat to school, and the list goes on.
Busy parents often rely on the grocery store to supply options for easy snacks for their children. While we have come a long way in what the store shelves offer, many snacks can be made quickly at home. Making your own snacks cuts down on the salt, sugar and unhealthy fats that are found in most packaged goods. Granola bars are a perfect example. Usually loaded with refined sugar and fat, the homemade version uses healthy fats from nut butter and sweetness from honey. Best of all, they can be tailored to fit what your family enjoys and there is no baking required!
Homemade Chewy Granola Bars Recipe
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup organic, juice-sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup unsalted, sugar-free peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Stir together oats, cranberries and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix together honey, peanut butter and salt. Heat slightly in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the mixture loosens up.
3. Add the honey mixture to the oat mixture and stir together until everything is well coated. If the mixture seems too dry, add additional honey, 1 teaspoon at a time.
4. Line a 9-inch pan with parchment paper. Press the granola into the bottom of the pan. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
5. Once set, turn granola onto a cutting board and cut into small squares.
There are endless combinations for this recipe. Agave nectar can replace the honey, almond butter can stand in for the peanut butter, or try swapping slivered almonds and dried cherries for the pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Whatever you decide you can feel good knowing you’ve given your family a healthy snack and you didn’t have to spend all day in the kitchen.
Jessica is a stay-at-home mother of three. She enjoys learning how to make things from scratch. She can be found with her nose in a book or sharing her life on Daftly Domestic.