July’s Food-of-the-Month: To the Land of Milk and Honey, Part Two

Posted on Jul 31, 2012 in Food and Fitness | 69 comments

Last month, after the wildfires here in Colorado Springs, we escaped to “a land flowing with milk and honey,” focusing on the comfort and strength of milk and other dairy products (Exodus 3:8).  This month, after another tragedy in Colorado–the senseless shootings at a movie theater–we shall again find solace in the Promised Land, this time focusing on the goodness and sweetness of honey… and on one of the most meaningful revelations I’ve ever received from God.

When I visited the Holy Land in 2010, I was surprised to see palm trees with something different from coconuts hanging on them.  Pointing my finger at the masses of little brown “balls” high above me, I asked our guide, “What are THOSE?”  “Dates,” she said.  It was a DATE palm tree.  Soon after, I learned honey in Israel is made from dates… also called date syrup.  And let me tell you date honey is DELICIOUS–tasting a bit like molasses.  I bought a jar in Bethlehem and still enjoy it from time to time as a special treat.

My natural curiosity of food–especially healthy, biblical foods–led me to research honey.  Was the honey in “a land flowing with milk and honey” that of bees or dates, I wondered?  In my research (then and now) I’ve learned there are valid reasons to believe both.  It’s easy to imagine “a land flowing with milk and honey” fertile and lush, filled with flowering fruit trees.  Where flowers are, there are bees, and where there are bees, there is honey.

Bees’ honey is mentioned several times in the Bible:  Samson, Jonathan and John the Baptist all ate it, deriving renewed strength (Judges 14:8-9, 1 Samuel 14:27, Matthew 3:4).  Indeed, honey is a great natural source of carbohydrates (or sugars) known to provide an instant boost of energy and help reduce muscle fatigue.  The glucose is absorbed by the body quickly, giving immediate strength, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly, providing sustained energy.

Bees‘ honey also has powerful antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.  It contains “at least 181 known substances” which make it an impressive immune system booster, digestive system helper and overall disease fighter (SuperFoods HealthStyle, Steven Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews).  “The key point to remember with honey is that the antioxidant ability can vary widely depending on the floral source of the honey….” (Pratt and Matthews).  Simply put, like February’s Food-of-the-Month chocolate, the darker the honey, the more antioxidants from which we may benefit.

Bees’ honey is also considered “one of the oldest medicines known to man” because of its ability to treat numerous ailments such as sore throats, skin ulcers, wounds, urinary and gastrointestinal diseases, eczema and dandruff, to name a few (Pratt and Matthews).  Because honey is a humectant–meaning it attracts and retains moisture–it’s a sweet treat for the skin.  At the end of this post I’ve included a recipe for a “Green Honey Glow Mask,” which I personally can’t wait to try!

So, what about date honey?  Going back to my time in Israel, I couldn’t help but notice in gift stores, on tile mosaics and random brochures that date honey is one of the “Seven Species of the Holy Land” (Food at the Time of the Bible, Miriam Feinberg Vamosh).  “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land… a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey….” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8).  Wondering why God would choose THESE seven foods to be the ones perfectly fulfilling and satisfying for His people, I pondered and prayed.  That was a year and a half ago; today I am STILL inspired from what God revealed!

Wheat and barley need to be ground to make bread; grapes on vines need to be crushed to make wine or dehydrated to make raisins; figs need to be stung by a unique fig wasp in order to become edible fruit; pomegranates need to be cut or crushed to find the fruit and juice; olives must be pressed to make oil; and dates must be squeezed in order to create honey.  All seven foods have to endure a “crushing” transformation to become the new creation God intends.  Isn’t this often the case with us?

If you are undergoing trials–if your hopes and dreams have been crushed, if you’ve been stung by the thoughtless words of another, if you’re being “squeezed” more tightly than you think you can bear–think of the date.  Goodness and sweetness–your very own Promised Land–may be right around the corner.  Even more, think of JESUS who “was crushed for our iniquities….” and of prophecy fulfilled:  “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:5, 11).  Resurrection comes after crucifixion, so keep the faith!  In a personal relationship with Jesus, the “light of life” is always ahead.

Enjoy your bees’ honey/date syrup/agave nectar in multiple ways!  On fruit and nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, with almond butter and whole wheat bread, on Grape Nuts cereal with nonfat milk, in tea for a sore throat, or symbolically as new life ahead!  “How sweet are your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Green Honey Glow Mask – makes two treatments

4 cups fresh spinach

1 cup fresh mint

3 Tbsp. honey

1 piece (1-inch ginger)

1 ripe banana

2 egg whites

Rinse spinach thoroughly.  Cut and peel ginger, set aside.  In food processor or blender combine spinach, mint and ginger.  Blend on low setting.  Add honey and banana and blend until liquid consistency.  Add egg whites, blend until all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.  Transfer to porcelain bowl or glass dish.  On clean skin apply a small amount of Green Honey Glow to entire face and neck.  Apply using a fan brush or fingertips.  Allow to remain on skin for 15-20 minutes.  Rinse and apply appropriate moisturizer.  Store covered in refrigerator for up to one week.  (From “honey.com”)

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