Once a month we are going to switch from talking about nutrition as such, and instead focus on some of the most wonderful and delicious foods and their amazing properties.
Lets begin with honey, which I consider to be a nature's miracle. Historically, honey has been one of the most thought after foods and reliable folk remedies: Egyptians perceived it as the God's food, the Romans used it on wounds and the body of Alexander the Great was preserved and embalmed with honey.
I remember having a jar of it at home at all times - it was one of the staples in a typical Russian household, something that was bought annually and enjoyed in a variety of ways. As a kid I was mesmerise by the appearance of honey: for the first few month the liquid would resemble a melted amber and then, slowly, turned thick and buttery, often so firm that we could slice it.
Linden was the most common variety since the linden trees grew in abundance in our region, but we also favoured the wild forest and clover honeys - though as a kid I was never too keen on their caramel colour and found the flavour a little too strong for my taste.
The appearance of honey will depend on its source. Acacia, linden, raspberry and sweet clover are very light. Clover and sage will have an "antique gold" hue. Sunflower, pumpkin and mustard are bright yellow. Buckwheat, chestnut, forest and heath honeys resemble light caramel and the cherry and citrus ones - the dark.
I remember my grandma explaining to me that, when it comes to choosing the one, it is important to bear in mind that honey isn't just a sweet treat or something pretty to look at, but also a very powerful natural medicine, and has to be respected and understood.
What is the most fascinating about honey is it's antibacterial properties and nutritional content. The lighter the honey, the most inhibiting agents it will contain - not only they keep the content fresh for years (even centuries!) by killing bacteria, the enzymes also take care of our health when we add a little honey to the daily diet.
Nutritionally, 40% of honey is fructose, 40% - glucose, 18% - water and 2% vitamins and minerals including vitamins group B, A, C, D, E and K, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, calcium, chlorine, potassium, iodine, sodium, copper, manganese, zinc, boron and silica.
The balance of minerals in honey is very similar to the one of the blood plasma, thus good for maintaining levels of haemoglobin.
The fructose and glucose also make it a wonderful source of concentrated energy to support the body during physically-challenging tasks.
Most honeys will help to maintain healthy digestive, nervous and cardiovascular systems, deal with insomnia and, thanks to the enzymes, will support natural liver detoxification and regeneration.
It is also a natural tonic that supports protein and fat metabolism as well as absorption of magnesium and calcium (think healthy bones and sense of tranquility and calm)
Majoran, thyme, linden and acacia honeys are good for lung problems and colds. Melissa and thyme will relief digestive issues, especially when combined with the priobiotic-constaining foods like natural yoghurt or kefir. Your heart will appreciate lavender and mint, whilst the kidneys will enjoy some chestnut or clover ones.
Although this hasn't been fully supported by research, some find that consuming local honey can eliminate or relieve the hay fever symptoms.
Old philosophers believed that everyone after the age of 45 should eat a few teaspoons of honey combined with raw nuts to live longer and look younger. Cleopatra also used it in a bath, combined with goats milk, to make her skin soft and velvety.
* The practice of beekeeping dates back to at least 700 BC. It was found in the Egyptian pyramids and was still edible - just another proof of its amazing antibacterial qualities!
* When buying honey, stick with the local ones as much as possible. Apple and cherry blossoms are common in the UK, lime blossom - in china, orange blossom - France and Spain, eucalyptus and borage - New Zealand, thyme, lavender and rosemary - France, clover, buckwheat and linden - Eastern Europe.
* Always, always, always ensure that you buy raw honey - the stuff sold in supermarkets and even some health food shops is often processed, mixed and heated, turning the good stuff into a sugary sweet syrup taking away all of its benefits (and in fact, it can affect your health by raising blood sugar and lipids). If unsure, go for Manuka honey - it is always raw - 5+ or 10+ for general health or higher - if you need extra support.
* Always choose honey in glass jars - plastic is just nasty both in its appearance and its toxic effects on your health and reproductive system.
* Honey stays runny for several months, until about october of the year during which it was collected.
* Do not give honey to babies under 12 months.
* Honey is highly concentrated, so you don't need much to experience its goodness - 1-2 tsp per day is enough. Don't eat it on its own to maintain healthy blood sugar levels - always remember to add protein (say, nuts) or consume within an hour after a meal.
* Use it as a beauty treatment, too. Add to your bath, DIY a body scrub, apply a little on your lips when they are dry and need a bit of TLC, use as a face mask (however if you have sensitive skin, rosacea or excess facial hair, you may need to be careful) or mix with coconut oil, eggs+cognac or olive oil for a nourishing hair treatment (let me know if you would like me to share my favourite beauty recipes).
Photo source: Raquel Zimmermann in Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2013 campaign (photography: David Sims, make-up: Lisa Butler)