RAW HONEY - FIJI'S SUPERFOOD
This week we continue my new series that promotes Fiji's organic produce as both medicine and food. Everything we eat, apply to our skin and put inside our bodies should be healthy for us and Fijian's must be the luckiest people on the planet to enjoy an abundance of natural wild foods that are less processed, not genetically modified and cheaper to produce than most countries in the world.
I am a huge believer in eating more of the things that nature has provided and less of the things that are made in the factory or laboratory. It's probably hard for most Fijian's to understand, but in overseas countries we don't have natural fresh foods all around us like you do. We don't have farms nearby growing root crops or tropical fruits, we don't go down to the river or sea to fish for fresh seafood, and nearly everything we buy to eat is highly processed and less nutritional.
Today we focus on one of nature's wonder foods and a growing agricultural and food industry for Fiji - honey, especially raw untreated honey.
Honey is an ancient food and medicine and has been used for over 8,000 years in cooking, medicine and religion across every ancient civilization.
Bees were introduced into Fiji during the early colonial times from Australia, as the warm tropical climate made for perfect conditions to keep bees and today, thanks to programs encouraged by the Agricultural department and Fiji Beekeepers Association, Fijians can enjoy some of the best organic and raw honey of anywhere in the world. But it not only tastes good and great in cooking, it is also a very old and ancient medicine.
Just as virgin coconut oil contains all the nutrients that nature intended compared with copra coconut oil, raw honey that has not been heated, pasteurized or processed contains natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants and other important nutrients. Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and promotes body and digestive health, as well as being a powerful antioxidant and strengthens the immune system. Raw honey's benefits don't stop there.
It has been used since ancient times to heal skin wounds and rashes, balance sugar levels, relieve pain, calm nerves, and it has been used to treat ulcers.
Research by the University of the South Pacific's School of Biological, Chemical and Environmental Sciences department has looked into the use of the local honey to treat diabetic foot ulcers, which have failed to heal by conventional methods, and most often lead to gangrene and eventual amputation. The 2009 study took samples of 32 different Fijian honey samples from across the island and concluded that "the beneficial effects of honey, and its lack of adverse effects on wounds, indicate that Fijian honeys can be regarded as a possible treatment option for diabetic foot ulcers".
That study was funded by the London Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) with the help of the CWM Hospital, Microbiology Department and the Ministry of Agriculture Fiji.
Raw Honey is also an effective natural remedy for a variety of conditions including acne and its antibiotic properties are effective in treating colds and sore throats. Raw honey coats the throat and reduces irritation. For blocked sinuses, mix a teaspoon of honey in a pot of hot water, put a towel over your head, and just inhale the steam.
I've been using the Fijian raw honey in many of my dishes, as the natural sweetener is perfect for roasting, Asian stir fries and in my cakes. I even add honey to one of the most popular curry dishes in my restaurant, Butter Chicken. Most of the honey previously imported into Fiji was high processed and not as healthy, but with the expansion and encouragement of more bee keeping training and facilities, Fijians can now enjoy the benefits of this ancient superfood whilst continuing to develop another sustainable food export opportunity.
Today I share a few different ways to enjoy honey at home, and combined with the peppery wild ginger that grows in Fiji, is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy this country's organic food source as medicine.
nLance Seeto is an International Food & Travel Writer, Author and Executive Chef based at Castaway Island, Fiji. Follow his culinary adventures on his Facebook page, Fijian Food Safari.
FIJIAN HONEY & GINGER SPICE CAKE
2 ½ cup Bakers flour
1 cup Brown or raw sugar
1 cup Rewa sour cream
1 cup Fijian raw honey
2 only Eggs
2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Baking soda
½ teaspoon Fresh ginger, finely grated
¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Ground allspice or cloves
1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 165°C.
2. Coat a cake tin with non-stick cooking spray or melted butter
3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and beat until well blended.
4. Pour the batter into the cake tin
5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely.
HONEY, SOY and GINGER MARINADE
Use this mixture in Asian stir fry dishes or as a marinade for meats, but be careful not to burn the honey on too high heat
½ cup Fijian raw honey
4 Tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fijian wild ginger, finely grated
1 Tablespoon Chinese oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon Chinese sesame oil
1 teaspoon Black pepper, ground
CORIANDER & HONEY GLAZE FOR PORK RIBS
½ cup Fijian raw honey; 2 Tablespoon BBQ Sauce; 2 TablespoonTomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon HP Sauce; 1 Tablespoon Fijian wild ginger, finely grated;
2 Tablespoon Coriander roots, chopped fine