Honey is one of nature’s perfect foods. But because our culture is in an anti-sugar frenzy, honey’s health benefits and healing properties are too often overlooked.
A panacea for everything from skin problems to digestive issues, we’re taking a fresh look at the golden magic that is honey with Nicole Rice, an Ayurvedic educator and co-founder of recently launched functional cooking company Countertop. Together with business partner Jamie Kantrowitz, Countertop is helping families everywhere regain their connection to traditional foods like honey, ghee, and Ayurvedic spices in their everyday lives. We asked Nicole to talk to us a bit about the sticky stuff – read along and then enter to win some of your own!
Q: Not all sugar is created equal, but in the modern American diet, honey is sometimes treated like corn syrup or white sugar. Talk to us about why honey is more like medicine than sugar syrup…
A: Well, unfortunately, a lot of the honey on the shelf has been cooked or has sugar or color added — that stuff is basically white sugar. But raw honey, that has never been cooked, is alive, full of antibacterial and pro-biotic properties and it never goes bad. They have found raw honey in 5000-year-old Egyptian tombs and it was still safe to eat. Raw honey will actually help you balance blood sugar, not peak it. High-fructose corn syrup will process very differently in the body than raw honey will. Raw honey will actually benefit you and won’t create toxic build up. This is why we recommend that you do not cook with raw honey, but – like extra virgin olive oil – add it at the end after the cooking process.
Q: Your use of honey comes from its ayurvedic roots. Tell us about that.
A: Raw honey comes up a lot in ayurveda. For example, for kapha dosha you should eat small amounts of very old honey, for vata dosha a morning spoonful of honey will help with moods. The sweet taste is one of the 6 tastes that you should take in daily (along with sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent). What I really loved, and was blown away by, is that when you are taking prescribed herbs in ayurveda, they are normally given in ghee or honey (or if you are lucky, a combination of both!). They believe that these two carriers help get the benefits of the herbs and spices into the deeper tissues of the body. I was already a raw-honey lover before I studied ayurveda, but this just pushed my love for its wonderful powers to another level.
Q: Why is honey useful for new moms?
A:New moms need that sweet taste, it helps make breastmilk. With all of the probiotic and digestive benefits that raw honey has, we had to have one for new moms. For our Mother Honey, we actually used avocado honey, where the bees pollinate avocado trees; we thought we would try it as avocados are so wonderful for news moms, why would the honey not be too? It is wonderful and works so well with all of the herbs and spices and the coconut oil.
Q: Tell us why you’ve added such a variety of herbs and superfoods to the new honeys?
A: Raw honey is such a wonderful carrier for herbs and spices. For years a combination of cinnamon and honey was my go-to for any kind of chest cold, for its anti-bacterial powerhouse. But then when studying ayurveda, turmeric was the superstar with its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting, blood-cleansing benefits. I started adding it in, but turmeric also needs something to warm it up, and that is where the black pepper comes in. With its wonderful heating properties, black pepper can make turmeric 5000 times more bioavailable to the body. Cardamom is one of the most wonderful spices, with its calmative properties helping the digestive system and the large intestine. Plus cardamom has the most delicious aroma and taste. Coconut oil was included in our honey blends too, as turmeric likes a fat when it works in the body. Coconut oil has amazing antibacterial benefits, and it also does triple duty by cutting down on the sugar per serving.
Q: What’s your favorite way to use the stuff?
A: I love it straight from the jar, in my morning cup of tea or on toast with a sprinkling of our chai spice or some sliced banana and — but it is also my favorite face mask ever.
Learn more about the benefits of using honey daily here!