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How we feel determines what we eat and, in turn, what we eat affects how we feel. We want to feel good, so we should eat food that gives us the emotional response we want. Honey is one of those foods. It satisfies any sweet cravings we may have and also provides several health benefits.

"There is belief that consuming local, unprocessed honey may improve seasonal allergies," says Danielle Townsend, registered dietitian with Primary Health Care. Although some people swear by it, there simply isn't enough scientific evidence to prove this theory, she says. "But honey still does have other nutritional benefits, like fighting inflammation and helping as a cough suppressant."

Honey is one of those rare foods that lasts a lifetime and beyond. In fact, traces of honey have been found in pots more than 5,000 years old. I don't know if I'd want it slathered over a biscuit, but it just proves honey's remarkable shelf life.

Nutritionally speaking, the less processed the honey, the better. And just as with any food you consume, checking the ingredients list is a good idea.

"You can usually get an idea of how processed something is by how many ingredients are listed," Townsend says. "Choosing a good- tasting honey is in the hands of the person eating it. The overall flavor of the honey will depend on the flower from which the nectar was extracted."

In the Southeast, the majority of honey comes from wildflowers and clover as well as the flowers of Southern sourwood trees. Neither provides more health benefits than the other.

Honey in its raw state retains most of its beneficial nutrients. Most grocery stores sell processed honey that has undergone a number of processing procedures that rob honey of a good bit of its antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, however.

"The amounts of each nutrient and the overall composition of the honey will still depend on the variety you purchase," Townsend notes.

If you are aiming for less-processed honey, look no further than your local farmers market. The honey will be better for you, and your purchase will help support our local beekeepers.

This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, makes for a healthful, delicious entree that even the kids will love with its sticky-sweet marinade, thanks, in part, to honey.

 

Honey-Ginger Salmon

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 (1 1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil; lightly coat foil with cooking spray.

Combine honey, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat; simmer 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool marinade to room temperature.

Place fillets in an 8-inch square baking dish. Pour cooled marinade over fillets, turning to thoroughly coat each. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

Transfer fillets to the prepared jelly-roll pan. Strain marinade into a small saucepan; discard solids. Bring the marinade to a simmer over medium heat; cook 5 minutes. Reserve 2 tablespoons marinade in a small bowl and 3 tablespoons in a separate small bowl. Discard any remaining marinade.

Roast fillets at 400 degrees for 5 minutes; remove pan from oven, and heat broiler to high.

Brush fillets with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade; broil 1 to 2 minutes or until fillets are done and glazed on top.

Drizzle fillets with remaining 3 tablespoons marinade. Serve over brown rice, if desired.

 

VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER

There's still time to sign up and shop for ingredients for the Performing Arts League's virtual fundraiser set for 6-8 p.m. Thursday. For Bon Appetit: A Culinary Evening at Home, chef Andrea Nelson Varnell will lead you through the preparation of a three-course meal, with wine pairings selected by Imbibe's Brian Leutwiler. The main dish is stuffed chicken, but it can be adapted for vegetarians.

Tickets are $50 (not including ingredients) and may be purchased through the PAL website, https://www.palchattanooga.org/bon-appetit.html. You'll be emailed a Zoom link to access the program.

The virtual dinner will help PAL fund scholarships for school-age performers in the Chattanooga area as well as grants to several area organizations that support their talents. PAL previously has provided funds for private instrumental music lessons, attendance at summer dance institutes and tuition to participate in choral intensives and youth theater workshops.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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