It is believed that humans first encountered honey over 10,000 years ago.
Cave paintings in Valencia, Spain, depicting a honey robber stealing honey from a beehive, date back around 8000 years.
The earliest evidence of beekeeping is found in Egyptian hieroglyphs in the Sun Temple near Cairo, dated around 2400BC.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used honey as a sweetener in cooking, a gift for the gods and as healing medicine.
For thousands of years honey has been embraced and celebrated as a part of cultural diets for its culinary, nutritional and medicinal properties.
So what is it about our favourite golden nectar that makes it so ubiquitous?
1. Energy source: as a natural sugar, made up of glucose and fructose, honey
is a readily absorbed source of energy. The glucose is quickly absorbed, providing an immediate energy boost while the fructose is slower to be absorbed, providing sustained energy.
2. Blood sugar regulation: Honey is higher in fructose than glucose. As it is more slowly absorbed and does not cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, fructose has a lower glycaemic index and thus helps to regulate blood sugar . In fact, honey increases insulin levels resulting in a decrease in blood sugar levels.
3. Protective phytonutrients: raw honey contains both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients. Antioxidants protect the body from damage by free radicals that contribute to ageing and the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
4. Natural Sleep Aid: honey creates a rise in insulin which in turn stimulates the release of tryptophan. Tryptophan is used in the synthesis of Serotonin, the “happy hormone” which is converted to Melatonin, the “sleep hormone” when the sun goes down. Honey supports restorative sleep and provides effective relief from insomnia.
5. Immune support: honey’s antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties support healthy immune function to help the body fight infection and prevent disease. A teaspoon of honey also reduces coughing and provides effective relief from sore throats in an upper respiratory tract infection.
7. Wound healing: the antiseptic nature of honey makes it extremely effective in the treatment of ulcers, burns and other infective skin lesions. Medical grade manuka honey is used to reduce infection and support skin regeneration to decrease healing time.
Grain Free Honey and Apple Cake
· 1 1/2 cups almond flour
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· ¼ tsp ground allspice
· ¼ tsp ground cloves
· Pinch of salt
· 3 large eggs
· 1/4 cup honey
· 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
· 1 medium Granny Smith apple grated coarsely
2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm cake pan with baking paper
2 In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, spices and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, honey, and oil. Whisk wet ingredients into the flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue whisking on a until the batter is smooth. Stir in the grated apple.
3 Pour the batter into the cake pan, taking care not to move the parchment around. Spread out the batter in an even layer.
4 Bake the cake for 30 minutes, until it is browned around the edges and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
5. Toast the sliced almonds in a frying pan over medium heat until they are lightly browned, about five minutes. Shake the pan often so that the almonds are browned evenly. When they are done, immediately transfer to bowl to cool.
6 Leave cake to rest in the tin for 15-20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake to a cooling rack. Peel the baking paper off the bottom of the cake.
7 Warm honey in a small pan and then brush over the warm. While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle the almonds on top.
8. Let the cake cool and serve at room temperature.