Have you purchased honey recently? If your store or farmer’s market is anything like mine, you’ve likely seen an influx in the varieties of honey available. Sure, there’s the traditional honey bear, but sitting around him are honey’s of all kinds – from lavender honey to orange blossom honey. With over 300 type of honey available in the United States, it’s no wonder your honey-buying experience just got a little more exciting.

Honey and Flavor

The cool thing about honey is that it’s flavor is strictly dictated by the flowers it visits. So, if a beekeeper wants lavender honey, you can expect to see plenty of lavender plants for her bees to play on. Because bees “dine on” different types of flowers, that means their ratios of fructose, glucose, amino acids and organic acids vary. That variation leads to that different, delicious flavor.

Large versus Farmer

Luckily, it’s as easy as it has ever been to purchase local ingredients at stores these days. That means your local beekeeper’s honey may be stocked on store shelves. And it might be worth it to pick up local honey or honey from farmer’s markets says Sydney Barton, Operations Manager at Chicago Honey Co-op. Sydney says that “while all honey is produced by beekeepers, large honey companies buy honey and heat it to high temperatures which destroy the pollen residues and flavor profiles originally found in the honey. They do this to make sure the honey is a consistent flavor and sometimes to hide the origin of the honey. Honey sold at farmers markets is more likely to be unheated (raw) and produced locally.” She also recommends asking the the beekeeper about their practices and the nectar sources of the honey they are selling. The choice is ultimately yours, but supporting your local beekeeper is never a bad thing.

Honey, Nutritionally Speaking.

From a nutritional standpoint, honey is a sweetener, composed of mostly sugar (about 80% with the other 20% being water), so use it smartly. Honey can lightly sweeten everything from your morning tea to that bowl of oatmeal. A 1 tablespoon serving is approximately 60 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates and 16 grams of sugar. But in most cases, you’ll need far less than that to get the flavor. So stick with about 1 teaspoon when adding to beverages or foods.

The Honey Recipe Round Up

Looking for some good honey recipes? We thought so! We’ve included some of our favorite dietitian-approved recipes that highlight the numerous ways you can use honey!

Share your questions/recipe subsitutions/best practice in the comments section below. Be sure to also download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.