Friday, September 19, 2014

The Buzz on Honey

Sticky, sweet, golden, and pure- who doesn't love honey? It's one of the most wholesome and amazing substances you can put into your body, and unlike refined sugar, it's full of a plethora of health properties– just as one might expect from something made by bees straight from plants. Honey is revered for being both antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory; as a result, it’s an amazing treatment for wounds. It also contains flavonoids, which are the antioxidants that help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, and ironically enough, it can help regulate blood sugar because of its balance of glucose and fructose. Honey also can boost your immune system because of its vast wealth of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Lastly, if you have annual allergies, consuming local honey can help clear up your symptoms.

But buyer beware! We all want to take part in the natural benefits of this amazing wonder, but not all honey available on the market is who it says it is. In a study conducted by Food Safety News in 2011, it was discovered that more than three quarters of the honey sold in grocery stores was not real honey. Instead, the pollen had been filtered out; without the pollen, these products would fail most worldwide quality standards, and the FDA has stated that an ultra-filtered product without pollen isn’t considered honey. What’s more, this filtering process heats the honey to high temperatures, killing the enzymes that make it so good for you. Here are some of the findings of the study:

•76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.
•100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.
•77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
•100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.
•Every one of the samples bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen
• Out of seven samples labeled “organic”, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen

The bottom line? If you want to benefit from all of the amazing medicinal properties of honey, make sure that you are buying pure, raw honey. The best way to do so is to get local honey, straight from beekeepers in your area. In this way, you can support small scale beekeepers, ensure that you're ingesting pure natural honey with all of its incredible benefits, and even help with your seasonal allergies. Now that's something to buzz home about.

Rossi Anastopoulo 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bread-y For Fall!

Oat-Wheat Bread

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Nothing says fall like warm bread fresh from the oven. Also, pumpkin flavored things help. At our last Sonder workshop meeting we were discussing all of the different possibilities of produce and value added goods that we could incorporate into our menu for this coming fall (obviously, pumpkin flavored things were a popular topic, so get ready for that!). We also talked quite a bit about local involvement, and in the future reaching out to other cooperatives who are doing great things with food, sustainability, accessibility, and, of course, love for the local community. An awesome cooperative which we talked about is Bread Uprising, a community bakery self-identified as being "rooted in queer, people of color, and working class communities" of Durham. After learning little bit more about the cooperative from their website, we were inspired...and so, we baked.

Oat-Wheat Bread:

1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup of rolled oats
1 package of dry active yeast
3-4 tablespoons of honey (we used local wildflower)
1 1/2 teaspoons oil (olive, vegetable, grapeseed, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix together 1-1/4 cups of the all-purpose flour, the 1/3 cup oats, the yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the water, honey, and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining all purpose flour and the wheat flour.

On a lightly floured surface knead the dough until a moderately stiff, smooth, and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Grease a large bowl with a bit of oil. Place dough in bowl; turn once. Cover and let it rise until it has doubled in size (about an hour). Punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

Grease your loaf/bread pan. Shape and place the dough into the pan. Cover the dough and let it rise again until nearly double (about half of an hour). Sprinkle lightly with additional oats.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack. 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon black-strap molasses
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/3 cup oil (we used coconut oil)
1/3 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease a loaf/bread pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, milk, flax and sugars until smooth. Pour the dry mixture into the wet and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans.

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and enjoy:)!

Jen Myers

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mark Your Calendars

One of the reasons we love being in the Triangle is the amount of local food awareness that exists here. From farms that are only a short drive away to restaurants committed to highlighting the beauty of seasonal local produce, there is always something new and exciting in the world of food around these parts. That's why The Amazing Pepper Fest is being held here in Chapel Hill on October 5th, and boy does it look to be a pretty bonkers awesome event.

The Pepper Fest is an annual event presented by Abundance NC that celebrates sustainable agriculture, farmers, and the creativity of the Piedmont’s chefs, brewers and artisans. 24 of the best chefs in the surrounding region will be on hand to offer samples of the dishes they have created using locally grown peppers (there's even pepper ice cream!). The event will also feature live music by local talents, a cash bar, and sustainability workshops and education booths. All in all, it looks to be a fantastic celebration of local talent and produce that will hopefully inspire people to see the beauty and creativity that exists in abundance all around them.

If you are interested in attending the Pepper Fest, it is being held on October 5th in Great Meadow Park at Briar Chapel in Chapel Hill. Tickets are $25 before Sept. 26th, $30 before Oct. 4th, and $35 at the gate (so get on it!). And let us know how that pepper ice cream tastes ;) 

Rossi Anastopoulo