Dining

Magic Ingredient: Honey

Colorado's liquid gold sweetens the season.

December 2007

When it comes to sweeteners, honey has lost its buzz. Interest in stevia is up thanks to its low glycemic index, sucralose has won the hearts of food manufacturers, and sugar remains the go-to for moms and bakers alike. And what about honey? It's hanging out in a plastic bear on aisle seven, waiting patiently to be squeezed into someone's tea.

Things haven't always been so bleak. In ancient Greece, honey was used as a spiritual offering and mead, a honey-based alcoholic beverage, was considered the drink of the gods. Sound like a stretch? I thought so, too, until I happened upon a jar of wild raspberry honey. Irresistible drizzled over yogurt, its light floral flavor came from the two million raspberry flowers the bees visited to make one pound of honey.

There are more than 300 honey varieties, ranging in color from nearly see-through to dark amber. Jeff Johnston, a fourth-generation beekeeper with Colorado Honey Company, says that what you like "depends on where you are. In Europe and Australia, people like [honey] darker and stronger." Here, lightly scented clover honey predominates, but I have a hunch that would change if raspberry, blueberry, or huckleberry honey started popping up in honey bears. Why not experiment with this crunchy granola from the Firestone-based National Honey Board?

RECIPE: Morning Star Granola (Serves 6)

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped
  • dried fruit
  • Diced apples
  • Plain or vanilla yogurt

In a large, ungreased baking pan, combine oats, coconut, and cinnamon; mix well. In a small bowl, combine nuts, honey, butter, and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture in pan. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring several times. Remove from oven; stir in raisins. Cool in pan. To serve, top with diced apples and yogurt.