Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Honey

Honey has been popular for thousands of years, renowned for both its taste and medicinal properties.  Even when used in small amounts, honey contains antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals, including iron.  It can also be a good substitute for sugar, due to the fact that it has a lower glycemic index, meaning honey will keep blood sugar levels stable longer than table sugar will.  While it’s clear that honey is useful as a sweetener, the jury is still out as to how effective it is as a medicine.  Research shows that honey has antibacterial properties, aids in wound healing, helps relieve allergies, and can ease symptoms of the common cold, although no definitive studies on any of these claims exist yet.  If you’re looking for a way to add some sweetness to your coffee, meals, or snacks without experiencing the blood sugar spike you would with sugar, then honey is a great choice.  Just make sure to limit your intake to about a tablespoon at a time, and never give honey to children younger than one, as their immature digestive tracts are more susceptible to developing botulism from bacteria that may naturally find its way into the honey (honey is, however, perfectly safe for healthy adults to consume).

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Honey-Pomegranate Glaze

Ingredients
2-3 pounds lamb shanks, cut into roughly 1-pound pieces
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup carrots, chopped
½ cup onions, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, bruised
½ cup canned low-sodium diced tomatoes, with juice
½ cup white or red wine vinegar
¼ cup honey, plus 2 tablespoons for glaze
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Instructions

  1. With the tip of a sharp knife, make deep slits in the meaty parts of the lamb shanks. Rub the surfaces with paprika and pepper.
  2. Spray the slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the carrot, onion and celery in the slow cooker. Place the lamb shanks on top of the vegetables.
  3. In a small bowl, stir the garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, honey, and 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses until blended. Pour over the lamb shanks.
  4. Cover and cook on low 5 hours or until the meat is coming away from the bone. Transfer the shanks to a side dish. Strain the juices through a strainer set over a heat-proof bowl or into a fat separator with a strainer insert. Reserve the broth and vegetables separately.
  5. Return the shanks to the slow cooker. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons honey and remaining pomegranate molasses until blended and brush over the lamb shanks. Adjust heat to high. Cook, covered, 30 minutes. Turn the shanks and cook 30 minutes longer.
  6. Meanwhile, place the reserved vegetables in a blender. Skim the fat from the strained broth. Add the broth to the vegetables. Cool. Puree the vegetables and broth and transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until sauce is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the lamb shanks from the slow cooker to a shallow serving bowl. Spoon out juices in the cooker and add to the reduced sauce. Spoon the sauce over the shanks.

Recipe adapted from the National Honey Board

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