I used to think my favorite food was butter.
As a small child, I vividly remember sitting in front of an open refrigerator with my hand in the Land O’ Lakes, scooping palm full after palm full into my open mouth. And you wonder how I became a husky 5th grader.
It’s true though. Sweet and salty and creamy all at once, butter was the perfect food, and I melted it onto everything from the age of two forward: cinnamon toast, air-popped popcorn, microwaved mushrooms, spoons. I was a regular Andy Dwyer.
But now that I’m a grown-up with some concept of nutrition and caloric intake, I can proudly say that my culinary tastes have evolved. Although I will always have a soft spot for it in my heart — a soft spot that it undoubtedly helped cause — butter is no longer my favorite food. (Don’t worry, folks, I’m not going to jump on the 2013 hipster bandwagon and tell you my favorite food is kale, although roasted, sea-salted kale IS freaking delicious.)
I know, I know, not the nutritional powerhouse you were expecting, considering honey is at first glance little more than glorified table sugar. But it’s so much more than that. As far as sweeteners go, it’s the least processed one, and unlike white sugar, it contains trace minerals and antibiotic properties. (Take that, Domino!). More importantly for this seasonal sufferer, honey made from local bees can reportedly help fight allergies, which is one major perk of purchasing at the farmers’ market instead of the grocery store.
About 75 percent of my honey intake comes in the form of food: drizzled over yogurt or stirred into herbal tea or whisked into salad dressings, and let’s not forget honey-filled baklava, which I clearly didn’t eat enough of this month in Greece.
But many people don’t realize honey also has non-food uses. Because of those antibiotic properties, it also makes an effective on-the-spot face cream, according to a(n arguably hippy) dermatologist I saw earlier this year who suggested Manuka honey face masks for particularly problematic skin. It sounded like wacky advice, but swapping out harsh chemicals for antibiotic-rich Manuka honey (available at vitamin and specialty stories) has weirdly made a difference in my skin. Between that and the coconut oil I used to wash it off, and my face routine is the most delicious concoction out there.
With honey such an integral part of my nutritional as well as beauty routine, it only seems right to integrate it into my running as well. So when I went to JackRabbit Sports to purchase some new mid-run nutrition last week ahead of my planned 17 miler and stumbled upon Honey Stinger sports waffles (yes, you heard me right, Leslie Knope), I leapt with joy. Instead of throwing back energy gels of corn syrup or whatever other processed sugars they must be filled with to maintain by carbohydrates during marathon training, why not swallow ounces of the golden nectar itself?
So I bought a honey waffle and brought it with me on my last long run, and while it was delicious, it wasn’t the easiest-to-consume mid-run snack I’ve ever carried. It was essentially two thin cookies held together by honey, and as I tried to throw it back halfway up the West Side Highway after having carried it for the better part of two hours, I lost at least 1/6 of my crumbled snack to the pull of gravity. Still, I like the concept, and I’m planning on going back to try some of the brand’s other honey-filled, less awkward to consume products. I’ll report back.
Until then, I’ll keep doing my part to keep the world’s bee population (and diabetes doctors) in paychecks. Thanks, honey!
What’s your favorite food? Rare steak, caesar salad and peach cobbler are also appropriate answers, since, let’s be honest, they all tie with honey for me. [But you can’t eat a steak during a marathon. Or can you? Calling Ron Swanson! P.S. I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Rec, if you can’t tell.]