Sometimes I think I’m a southerner at heart. Why? Because I like it sweet. My sister once told me about how her mother-in-law, a Texas-native, eats biscuits with a generous drizzle of honey on each bite. While some northerners might be taken aback, I thought to myself brilliant! Like I’ve always said “I’ve got more of a sweet tooth than a meat tooth.” Because my cravings tend toward the sugary rather than the savory. Because biscuits slathered in honey just sounds delicious.
But I know, I know, sugar is bad for us. We eat way too much sugar. Even when we don’t realize we’re eating sugar, it finds a way into our drinks and sauces and snacks. But to be honest, I have no desire to completely renounce sugar or to change my sweet proclivities. I like making and baking and ordering desserts. So what’s a girl to do?
The answer: make tasty desserts using sweeteners that are less bad for you and maybe even healthy for you. Enter: raw honey.
For starters, I love honey. I love the different flavors, from the light and flowery to the thick and molasses-y varieties. And I checked with Registered Dietician and Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, Allison Scheinfeld, and she gave me an abundance of reasons why we should be eating and cooking with raw honey. Hooray!
According to Allison, there are several reasons for choosing raw honey over table sugar. For starters, researchers are saying that daily intake of raw honey boosts anti-oxidant activity when compared to refined, table sugar. Also, spoon for spoon, honey has a sweeter taste compared to table sugar, so you usually end up using less honey for the same amount of sweetness. This may help us decrease our overall caloric and sugar intake. And one sweet piece of advice: if you’re having trouble picking a raw honey off the shelves: the darker the honey, the greater the health benefits.
Allison also tells me that unlike conventional honey, raw honey is unpasteurized and unprocessed, which helps to preserve its natural nutritional benefits. The two main components of raw honey, bee pollen and bee propolis, contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant effects. This combo boosts our immune system, which is especially important during the winter months. But wait, there’s more! There is a TON of vitamin C in raw-honey, which further strengthens our immunity, and the vitamin B content kicks up our energy metabolism and helps to break down carbohydrates and fat. Winter pudge be gone!
If all of the above does not convince my dessert-loving readers to make this recipe for no-bake brownies with raw honey, how about this reason: because they taste really good. Also, Allison notes that the “no-bake” aspect means that the nutritional benefits of honey won’t be destroyed by high temperatures.
For this recipe, I’m using raw wildflower spring honey from Catskill Provisions, a honey producer from the Northwest Catskill Mountains that uses local materials to make its all-natural honeys and food products. Their motto is that “happy bees make better honey”. Those happy bees are making tasty honey, with earthy and floral nuances, too.
This recipe is adapted from the National Honey Board‘s brownie recipe. (Please scroll down.)
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup cashew butter (ok substitutes: almond or peanut butter)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, mix together honey, coconut oil, cashew butter, sea salt, vanilla and cinnamon until mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth. Should take 5 – 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine almonds, walnuts, semi-sweet chocolate chips, sunflower seeds and rolled oats.
- Slowly pour the honey mixture into the bowl with dry ingredients, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix.
- Grease with butter an 11 x 7 inch (or 8 x 8 in) baking dish and pour in mixture. Sprinkle extra chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds on top, gently pressing them down so that they are just slightly absorbed into honey mixture.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour. Then slice into squares and serve.