Raw Honey – To Eat or Not to Eat?

My family and I have been eating “healthy” for quite a while now. We seek out good quality, natural substitutes for things like vegetable oil and sugar. There is a tone of information out there to help us make healthy choices, but really, what is truly “healthy” for me? One source will tell me butter is bad for me, but another source says it’s good. How can one make healthy choices in such a confusing world? It boils down to gaining as much knowledge as possible about foods and knowing myself and my body inside out. What my diet consists of, my body constitution, my mood, all of it will guide me toward judging whether or not butter, or any other food, is healthy for me.

I recently decided to try raw honey. I had been reading about how much more healthy it is than regular honey, with many of its beneficial properties not being stripped out by pasteurization. I first bought a small bottle; it is expensive and I was just trying it out. Every morning for about a week in the month of June, my kids would make themselves toast with raw honey for breakfast. I was adding raw honey to my plain yogurt with hemp seeds and berries. It was absolutely delicious! My kids loved it, I loved it! You can taste the more “natural” side of raw honey. It’s just got more flavor. I was thinking I was sold… until I could hardly see my son’s eyes anymore.

As the days were going by, my son and I were both experiencing more and more seasonal allergies. We both have them every spring and fall, but nothing serious, just enough to be annoying. I wasn’t thinking anything of it as it was about that time of year. This time, I was getting allergy-type sinus headaches that would get worse in the afternoons, on top of sore throat and difficulty breathing. My son’s symptoms were the same, plus his eyes got so swollen, itchy and watery that he could hardly see anymore. We were both taking allergy medicine (the homeopathic kind that is usually very effective), but nothing seemed to relieve our symptoms. This was very unusual. After over a week of trying to figure out why we were getting severe allergies, a light bulb suddenly turned on above my head. The raw honey!!!

The honey pasteurization process removes any trace of pollen, among other things like (healthy and non-healthy) bacteria, from the honey. Raw honey is not pasteurized like the regular honey we know. So, the raw honey we were eating most likely contained pollen from plants and flowers to which my son and I are allergic. The danger in this case was that we were not breathing in the allergens, we were consuming them directly in our bodies allowing them to be transported in our blood stream. Needless to say, I immediately ordered my kids to stop eating the raw honey and got rid of the 3/4 empty bottle. Within a few days, our symptoms were gone. This could have been disastrous if our allergies were extreme to begin with.

My recommendation: raw honey is great for you if you don’t have any seasonal allergies (like my daughter who was fine that whole week, but I’m still not taking any chances), or if your immune system is not vulnerable to the wrong kinds of bacteria.

Final score: I can’t give raw honey a score in this case, because it all depends on circumstances.


Best Homemade Granola Bars Recipe!

I’ve finally found the perfect homemade granola bar recipe! I have two kids in elementary school; they can’t bring any food item with nuts or that might have come in contact with nuts. Have you ever looked for granola bars without nuts? There are very little choices. Not that they get granola bars every day, but we call it the “you’ve eaten everything in your lunch and you’re still hungry” snack. However, when you’re in fifth grade and you’ve seen the same 3 flavours of granola bars for the past 5 years, you kind of get annoyed.

Here’s a recipe that was forwarded to me by a colleague. We have no idea who or what the source is, sorry. It’s VERY easy, and flexible. You can put in whatever your heart desires in them. 

3 cups of oatmeal (the regular kind, not quick cooking)
3 cups of whatever you want in your bars (e.g. dried cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, etc.)
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 can sweetened condensed milk (e.g. Eagle Brand)

Mix everything and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Let cool, remove from baking pan, let cool some more. When completely cooled, cut into whatever size or shape you like.

If you want, you can wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag in the freezer. You can just pull one out when you are making lunches and it will be thawed for snack time!

I made two batches last week; both are just as good. In my first batch, I put in: raisins, cherry infused dried cranberries, pomegranate infused dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and a little All Bran cereal for fibre. In my second batch, I put in: mini chocolate chips, Skor bits, raisins and hemp seeds. My kids LOVE them and so do I! I am never buying granola bars again.

Final score: 5 out of 5