Friday, 24 May 2013

Getting Buzzy with Local Scottish Blossom Honey - Remedies, Recipes and Review of Hood's Honey

As a herbalist I am regularly prescribing concoctions of herbal teas and recommending the benefits of local honey to add a therapeutic touch of sweetness. So I was delighted to be given a complimentary pot of honey to review by Real Foods, one of Edinburgh's natural health heroes, health foods and organic grocery shops.

I noticed that Hood's Scottish Blossom Honey is not just Scottish but also local, based in the village of Ormiston, East Lothian, a stone's throw from Edinburgh. Box ticked! 

Here in Scotland, a reluctant spring has finally sprung! Local honey is a well known remedy to help reduce a sensitivity to spring and summer pollens. You may wonder, "Why is local honey good for allergies"? 

By adding local honey to your diet, you are introducing minute amounts of pollen and bee secretions that support your body in acclimatizing to the very flower pollens in the air that you will be exposed to. 

Take it regularly before and during the hayfever season. This can help minimise unwanted reactions such as sneezing, itching and streaming eyes, nose and throat. Try a spoonful in a cup of peppermint, nettle, chamomile, eyebright and elderflower infusions 3 x daily for a soothing summertime blend.

Sampling Hood's Scottish Blossom Honey straight off the spoon from its honeycomb shaped pot of delicately fragranced goodness, I was impressed by its smooth melting soft set texture. Then tasting it, I was equally pleased by its delicious and naturally sweet warming flavour, with hints of honeycomb wax. Tick, tick, tick!

Having done a little research on the interweb, I discovered that Hood's Honey is a small family run business that produces ethical bee products using traditional methods to very high standards, and has won every top award in Scotland. So, my taste buds were correct and I felt my halo shining a little brighter too. 

Founded by George Hood in 1950, it is now run by his son Stuart Hood. I was tickled to hear that Stuart's earliest memory is getting stung by a bee as a child while getting a bedtime hug from his father George!

Honey is one of the most ancient and remarkable of natural remedies. An Egyptian Papyrus found by Ebers in 1873 is the oldest known medical book in the world containing 800 medical diagnoses and remedies, with around half containing honey. 

A highly effective natural preservative, honey was used in ancient Egyptian times to embalm corpses. Honey has been found among other valuables in Pharohs' tombs, completely intact as honey does not go off! Even today honey is used medicinally as an anti-infective on wound dressings. 

If you are looking for ways to improve your diet, honey is a great sweetener to start swapping with refined white sugary products and to use in recipes that require sugar such as cakes and baking. The oligosaccharides in honey are associated with healthy gut bacterial growth.

Refined sugar is poor in nutrient value and promote inflammation in the body, so alternatives like honey are ideal while starting to reduce the amount of sugar intake. Having said that, honey is still a sugar and affects your blood sugar levels so it is best used in moderation and as part of a balanced diet as with most things.

Here are a few home remedies and tasty drinks recipes to try at home:

Colds and Flu Classic with a twist... Lemon, Ginger and Honey Chai

A warming cuppa with vit C rich lemon, anti-inflammatory ginger, expectorant star anis, analgesic cloves, carminative cardamon, circulatory stimulant cinnamon, and comforting antiseptic honey.
1. Add 3 cups water to a saucepan with peeled sliced or grated ginger (1 thumb-sized piece), stick of cinnamon, 3 cloves, 3 crushed cardamom pods, and 2 star anis. 

2. Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered for 15-20min.

3. Strain and pour into cup with honey and squeezed fresh lemon to taste.

4. Keep warm and cozy in bed and reheat to drink throughout the day. Get well soon!

Garlic and Honey Germ Blaster

When you are feeling under the weather and need an immunity boost, this anti-microbial combo helps to clear an infection or prevent it. The honey takes the edge off the pungent garlic flavour too!

1. Take 1 clove of peeled garlic and chop finely or put through garlic press.

2. Take a teaspoon of honey and mix in with the garlic.

3. Take the mixture straight off the spoon followed by a large glass of water.

Rosemary and Lemon Balm Memory Booster

A great combination to boost circulation and immunity: "Rosemary for remembrance" so the old saying goes. It's rich in reviving volatile oils. Lemon Balm has a lovely citrus flavour, especially when fresh, both have anti-viral properties and research which suggest a boost to the brain - fantastic if studying for exams or feeling fuzzy headed.

1. Put 1 large sprig each of fresh lemon balm and rosemary, or a half teaspoon each of dried herb into a cup.

2. Add hot boiled water and infuse covered for 5-10mins.

3. Strain herbs and add honey to taste. Enjoy an instant mental pick-me-up!

Peppermint and Honey Refresher

A nourishing and delicious cooling summer smoothie to relax in the garden and sip while watching the birds and bees.

1. Take 1 peeled avocado, 2 peeled kiwi fruits, a cup of natural live yoghurt, a large dollop of honey, a handful of nuts and seeds and a handful of fresh mint.

2. Put in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Pour into a funky glass, garnish with mint or a slice of kiwi. Cheers!

Sweet Almond Milk and Honey 

Do you use dairy milk alternatives? Why not try this recipe and make your own at home? Use on cereals, in smoothies, as you would with dairy milks, or a refreshing drink on its own.

1. Soak 1 cup of almonds in a bowl covered with cold water overnight.

2. Strain off liquid.

3. Put soaked half of almonds in food processor or blender with 1-2 tablespoons honey and 3 cups pure filtered water, and blend.

4. Strain through muslin, clean tea towel or strainer.

5. Repeat with remaining almonds and 2 cups pure filtered water and add to initial mix.

Hope you feel inspired by these honey infused creations. Please do try them out... I'd love to hear how you got on with them, or get in touch to share your own favourite honey based recipes. 

All in all, Hood's Scottish Blossom Honey gets a big shiny gold star and thumbs up from me! 

Thank you Real Foods for introducing me to this lovely locally sourced and health-giving treat.

Fiona Morris is an Edinburgh-based Medical Herbalist promoting optimal well being and vitality at her holistic herbal health care courses, workshops, wild remedy walks and herbal wellness consultations. For more info about her practice and natural health events visit:

Gratitude to: 
Sheila, tea lady extraordinaire at Hanna Cherrie's Teashop (at Gorgeous, 29-35 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH3 5BA) for providing the delightful tea ware and setting for the images above; and
Real Foods, for providing the Hood's Scottish Blossom Honey :)

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