Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Acacia Honey—The What?! Why?! Which?! and How?!—July 2018 Honey of the Month

Acacia honey is one of the most popular honey varieties. It is widely considered one of the best kinds of honey in the world, provided it is authentic….and is.highly sought after around the world.

Acacia honey is made from the nectar of Robinia pseudoacacia, what we here in America know as the black locust tree, or “false” Acacia…

This tree is not only native to North America, but is also found in Europe—from Northern Italy to the Ukraine, especially in Hungary—where the tree is known as the acacia, even though the honey does not actually come from true acacias.

As far as color, acacia honey is a very pale, light golden colored—much like liquid glass. Acacia honey is often jarred with the actual honeycomb visible in the jar beause the honey does have such clarity and a pale color.

As far as taste. acacia honey is one of the lightest tasting honeys in the world, having a clean, light and mildly sweet, floral taste with delicate vanilla tones and no aftertaste..

Why?!

Adding acacia honey to your diet can provide many health benefits, including…

  1. Dealing with diabetes…Acacia honey has a very low sucrose content and a high fructose level, making it the best choice for diabetics. In addition to being a good choice for diabetics, acacia honey is known for its therapeutic qualities, including…
  2. Helping boost the health of your skin…The rich supply of minerals found in every type of honey, including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and copper, as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants, can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, soothe inflammation, and decrease the appearance of scars, blemishes, and burns when topically applied
  3. Helping you lose weight more quickly...Honey mixed with water or milk can help satisfy your sweet tooth and make you feel full. This will possibly keep you from munching out while vegging out in front of the TV and stimulate your metabolism.
  4. Lowering your blood sugar…Although most people worry about their blood sugar being too high, acacia honey can help lower the blood sugar. Also, hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition, and eating acacia honey can deliver a concentrated burst of carbohydrates to your system that will balance your blood sugar levels
  5. Helping you deal with allergies…Acacia honey, like almost all other honeys, is great for helping you deal with allergies and other respiratory problems because of the antibacterial properties, rich nutrients, and antioxidants that it contains.
  6. Preventing chronic diseases…Acacia honey contains antioxidants that are able to seek out free radicals throughout the body and reduce the negative impacts of oxidative stress…in turn, lowering cellular mutation and reducing your risk of chronic diseases—such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
  7. Supporting your immune system…Acacia honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, a powerful antibacterial agent that can help prevent infections throughout the body and relieve strain on your immune system.

Which?!

When buying acacia honey, or any other honey, make sure that you are buying a honey that is pure, organic, authentic, raw, unprocessed, unheated and unadulterated from a responsible source with a reputation for producing “clean” honey that hasn’t been processed, heated or pasteurized in any way.

There are many processed products claiming to be acacia honey. Avoid these. After all, our goal in this “What Now?!” segment of Muffins and Magnolias blog has been to start eliminating processed foods from our diets and replace these foods with healthier alternatives.

Obviously, the best place to buy your acacia honey is directly from a beekeeper, who sources the honey directly from the beehive.

But you can also find sources of acacia honey from sites such as Organic Acacia Honey.comOlive Nation, and Savannah Bee.

How?!

Acacia honey is an excellent choice for cooking because of its mild flavor and the fact that it mixes easily in liquids and batters. Other ideas for using acacia in your kitchen include…

1. Berries…Acacia honey is a fantastic topping and the perfect complement to the natural taste of any berry—such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries…

2. Beverages…Acacia honey is a good choice for mixing with beverages—such as tea—because it sweetens your beverage, without actually changing the taste of the drink

3. Bread…Acacia honey and creamy butter makes an excellent topping for toast.

4. Cheese…Acacia honey is great when served with hard cheeses such as Grana Padano, an Italian cheese made from unpasteurised, semi-skimmed cow’s milk that has been aged for about two years.

The word “grana” means “grainy” in Italian.

This cheese is a “grana” cheese—a fragrant, dry, crumbling cheese with a firm, thick and deeply straw-coloured rind and intensely sweet flavor…very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, but much less expensive because more areas actually produce this type of cheese. Grana Padano is also less crumbly, milder and less complex than Parmigiano Reggiano.

5. Wine…The best wines to pair with acacia honey are

  • Barolo…such as this Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013 Nebbiolo
  • Zinfandel…such as this Rombauer California Zinfandel 2016
  • Gavi…such as this Principessa Gavia Gavin 2016

6. Yogurt…Finally, acacia honey is great paired with Greek yogurt…in recipes such as the following Kiwi Smoothie.

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Monofloral Honey—The Which?!

 

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Oh my goodness!!! Before I started reading up on honey, I had no clue that there are SO, SO, SO many varieties…I thought honey was just something you picked up in a bear-shaped container found on the very top shelf at Walmart.

By the way, that top shelf at Walmart can be a very scary place for short people like me. One day I was on my tiptoes reaching up to get a can of canned salmon. That can fell on its edge into the top of my head. I got a concussion.

Anyway, back to the varieties of monofloral honey…

 

Monofloral honey, unlike multifloral or wildflower honey, must contain the nectar of one single predominant plant.

In theory, this sounds so easy…but in real life, this can be difficult to achieve because bees cannot be herded like cattle or trained like circus animals to go to a particular type of plant.

Producing relatively pure monofloral honey requires two things to happen—(1)the predominance of the target plant within a given radius from the hive…and (2)the timing of the introduction of the fresh hives when the target plants start producing nectar and the actual removal of the hives and extraction of the honey before any other plants within the area start blooming also.

Monofloral honey comes in hundreds, perhaps thousands of different varieties, each unique according the the specific flower that the nectar has been gathered from. Each variety of monofloral honey having its own unique characteristic flavor, texture, and aroma.

Anyway, I had originally planned on doing a quick synopsis of each type of honey and describing its unique flavor, texture, and aroma…a few recipes that can this particular type of honey can be used for…and a few of the best places to find this particular type of honey.

After discovering that at least 111 different varieties of monofloral honey exist, I’ve decided that this would be quite overwhelming, not to mention boring…

So instead—just like my posts on essential oils—I have decided to choose one particular honey each month to highlight.

The honey of the month for July is…

Acacia Honey

Join me on this journey…accomplished by a single step, or in this case, a single jar of honey.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Honey—The Why?!

Now for the most important question about monofloral honey—or at least to me and my family at this time as we rethink our diet and learn more about nutrition…

Do we add/keep monofloral honey on our Grocery IQ app or not?!

Just like I did in previous posts on why we should all be eating avocadoes and blackstrap molasses, let’s look at the nutritional benefits of honey in a way that corresponds to the nutrition labels.

  1. Serving Size…Honestly how much honey you eat at one time is totally up to you—how sticky do you want your toast to be—how sweet do you want your hot tea to be…but for our purpose, we’re gonna look at the nutritional value of 1Tbsp.
  2. Calories…Each tablespoon of honey contains about sixty-five calories.
  3. Basic Nutrients…Now as for those specific nutrients contained in monofloral honey—such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar—that all of us typically eat in adequate amounts….honey contains little fat (zero grams), dietary fiber (.2grams), or protein(.3grams).
  4. Vitamins and Minerals…Monofloral honey actually contains very few vitamins and minerals, but let’s take a look at how much honey does contain…
    • Folate (B9)…1%…2 μg
    • Iron…3%…0.42 mg
    • Calcium…1%…6 mg
    • Magnesium…1%…2 mg
    • Niacin (B3)…1%… 0.121 mg
    • Pantothenic acid (B5)…1%…0.068 mg
    • Phosphorus…1%…4 mg
    • Potassium…1%…52 mg
    • Riboflavin (B2)…3%…0.038 mg
    • Sodium…0%…4 mg
    • Vitamin B6…2%…0.024 mg
    • Vitamin C…1%…0.5 mg
    • Zinc…2%…0.22 mg

There are benefits of honey in general—such as being a natural antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antibiotic—but monofloral honey not only provide these benefits, but also many other benefits and unique properties that make them even more beneficial.

These benefits are related to the following conditions…

    1. Acid reflux…Monofloral honey can help reverse acid reflux damage.
    2. Infection…Monofloral honey often contain strong antibacterial elements—such as hydrogen peroxide and antioxidants.
    3. Cancer…Monofloral honey controls the side effects of radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
    4. Digestive conditions…Monofloral honeys are good for stomach health. They  have prebiotic benefits that help to improves digestive health, such as helping to soothe an upset stomach or constipation. These honeys can also encourage the stomach to regenerate itself, helping heal gastritis naturally.
    5. Fatigue…Monofloral honeys can give you more energy and help you combats fatigue and hypoglycemia.
    6. Immunity…Monofloral honeys, especially those produced from local sources, make your immune system more effective.
    7. Respiratory conditions…Monofloral honey helps you recover from respiratory infections more quickly, as well as helping you deal with seasonal allergies due to pollen.
    8. Skin conditions…Monofloral honeys are good for all skin types. They help prevent acne by reducing bacteria and the excess sebum that these bacteria feed on and by calming skin irritation. As far as dry skin, monofloral honey nourishes, hydrates, and restores radiance.
    9. Sleep…Monofloral honeys can help you fall asleep faster.
    10. Sore throat…Monofloral honey is good for sore throat and cough, common cold and tonsillitis.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The 4-7-8 Breath

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

 

One of the most popular breathing techniques or exercises is the relaxation breathing exercise known as the 4-7-8 breath. This technique is shockingly simple, takes hardly any time, and can be done anywhere in five steps.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned physician, holistic health author and founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is the mastermind behind this 4-7-8 breathing technique and claims that his technique will help even the worst insomniac go to sleep in sixty seconds. He describes the technique as “a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”

This technique is rooted in yoga and based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means “regulation of breath.”

Supposedly this technique can work wonders before bedtime, or any other time you’re feeling stressed. People who have tried this technique claim that it helps calm their anxious minds, reduces tension throughout the body, and eases them into a state of calmness and relaxation so that they can enjoy better sleep.

It works by slowing down your heart rate and encouraging the fast removal of carbon dioxide from your passageways.

How do I do it?

1. Sit up in your bed with your back straight.

2.  Press the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth.and keep it there through the entire exercise.

3.  Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

4. Hold that breath for a count of seven. According to Weil, this is the most important part of his technique because holding the breath in will allow oxygen to fill your lungs and thPen circulate throughout the body, produces a relaxing effect throughout the body.

5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

6. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths

It will probably require your practicing this technique twice a day over two months to perfect the technique, but once you’ve mastered it, it will become a more and more effective tool for helping you deal with anxiety and stress in your life.

Getting Healthy

22 Reasons Never to Take a Shower or Bath Again

  

Traditional bar soaps often contain any number of harmful ingredients. A few of the worst and most common of these ingredients include…

1. Artificial Colors…

  • What is it…The letters “F” (food) and “D”(drugs) and “C” (cosmetics) followed by a color and number, such as D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1, represent artificial or synthetic colors that are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. 
  • Why to avoid…suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant, and contributing factor to ADHD in children

2. Artificial Fragrances…

  • What is it…”fragrance” is a catchall term for the thousands of hidden chemicals used to make fragrances smell good. Federal law doesn’t require companies to list the actual ingredients in a product’s “secret formula,” meaning you as the consumer could actually be putting tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health without realizing it
  • Where it’s found…found in many cosmetics and skin care products including perfume, cologne, conditioner, face creams, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, body wash and moisturizers
  • Why to avoid…allergic reactions, headache, aggravated asthma, dizziness, dermatitis, respiratory distress, and potential effects on the reproductive system

3. Benzophenone…

  • What is it…preservative commonly used to keep cosmetics and nail polishes from breaking down when they are exposed to ultraviolet light
  • Where it’s found…lip balms and nail enamels
  • Why to avoid…carcinogen

4. Diethyl Phthalate (DEP)…

  • What is it…a masking agent 
  • Where it’s found..in many cosmetics
  • Why to avoid…believed to alter the function of hormones

5. Formaldehyde…

  • What is it…a potent preservative considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Carcinogens (IARC)
  • Where it’s found…nail products, body washes, conditioners, cleansers, eye shadows, hair dye, fake eyelash adhesives, shampoos
  • Why to avoid…has been linked to nasal and nasopharyngeal cancer, known to cause allergic skin reactions, may also be harmful to the immune system

6. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives (FRP) …

  • What is it…preservatives used to help prevent bacteria growth-including sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, methenamine, Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15
  • Where it’s found…widely used in US products
  • Why to avoid..known human carcinogen, can trigger allergic skin reactions

7. Homosalate…

  • Where it’s found…sunscreens, liquid and powder foundations with SPF 
  • Why to avoid…may negatively impact the function of hormones, makes it simpler for your body to absorb pesticides

8. Hydroquinone…

  • What is it…a skin bleaching chemical 
  • Where it’s found…found in a lot of cosmetics, such as foundations, that have skin lightening properties
  • Why to avoid… can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent black caviar-size bumps…may also trigger the development of cancer or irritation of the respiratory tract, as well as the toxicity of organ systems.

9. Lead…

  • What is it…a neurotoxin
  • Where it’s found…hair dye and lipstick
  • Why to avoid…known carcinogen 

10. Mercury…

  • What is it…known allergen 
  • Where it’s found…mascara and some eyedrops
  • Why to avoid…impairs brain development

11. Mineral Oil…

  • What is it…by-product of petroleum 
  • Where it’s found…baby oil, moisturizers, styling gels
  • Why to avoid…creates a film that impairs the skin’s ability to release toxins.

12. Oxybenzone…

  • What is it…active ingredient found in chemical sunscreens 
  • Where it’s found…sunscreens
  • Why to avoid…: linked to irritation, sensitization, allergies, hormone disruption, cellular damage, low birth weight

13. Parabens…

  • What is it…estrogen-mimicking preservative used widely in cosmetics used to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products
  • Where it’s found…makeup, moisturizer, shaving gel, shampoo, personal lubricant, body washes, deodorants,cperfumes and other scented products, facial cleansers, and spray tan products
  • Why to avoid…linked to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count…may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorder

14. PEGs…

  • What is it…polyethylene glycol, synthetic petroleum-based chemicals
  • Where it’s found…often used as a creamy base in moisturing cosmetics such as scrubs, body wash, makeup, toothpaste …recognizable as the tiny plastic beads seen in face scrubs, lip scrubs, and exfoliating washes 
  • Why to avoid…skin-irritating carcinogen

15. Petrochemicals…

  • What is it…ingredients like mineral oil, paraffin, or petrolatum jelly that are produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel, heating oil and chemical feedstocks
  • Where it’s found…mascara
  • Why to avoid…may cause contact dermatitis and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities

16. Pthalates…

  • What is it…a group of chemicals used to improve the performance of some skincare and cosmetic products 
  • Where it’s found…used in hundreds of products, including nail polish, perfumes, lotions, moisturizers, fragrances, deodorants, and hair spray
  • Why to avoid…have been linked to increased risk of cancer–including breast, liver, kidney, and lung,—early breast development in girls, reproductive birth defects , endocrine disruption, damage, cancer

.

17. Propylene Glycol…

  • What is it…a small organic alcohol 
  • Where it’s found…commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays.
  • Why to avoid…has been associated with causing both dermatitis and hives

18. Retinol…

  • What is it…Vitamin A compounds 
  • Where it’s found…widely used in sunscreens, skin lotions, lip products, and makeup
  • Why to avoid…when applied to sun-exposed skin these compounds can increase risk skin sensitivity, skin lesions, and tumors 

19. Siloxanes…

  • What is it…non-biodegradeable silicone-derived compounds 
  • Where it’s found…common emollient used in makeup products to make the skin feel softer and smoother and to add moisture to the skin
  • Why to avoid…linked to tumour growth and skin irritation…also believed to disrupt the function of the endocrine system, interfere in hormone activity, and negatively impact fertility

20. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate…

  • What is it…an industrial-strength degreaser that can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products, especially foamy soaps
  • Where it’s found…shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mascara, acne treatment products, mouthwash, and toothpaste
  • Why to avoid…known skin, lung, and eye irritant…also has the potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen that can also lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage…has also been shown to cause or contribute to canker sores, disruptions of skin’s natural oil balance and eye damage,and cystic acne around the mouth and chin

 

21. Toluene…

  • What is it…petrochemical solvent, paint thinner, and neurotoxicant that is able to dissolve paint and paint thinne…often listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene
  • Where it’s found…found in nail and hair products
  • Why to avoid…affects the immune, endocrine, and respiratory systems…may also impair fetal development, linked to malignant lymphoma

22. Triclosan…

  • What is it…widely-used antimicrobial chemical…(found in liquid soaps as triclosan…and bar soaps as triclocarban)that are very toxic to the aquatic environment
  • Where it’s found…often added to cosmetics and other personal care items cease of its germ-resisting properties…especially in oothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial soap, and hand sanitizers
  • Why to avoid…known thyroid and reproductive hormonal disruptor…could possibly impair both muscle function and the immune system…considered to be potentially irritating to the lungs, eyes, and skin