Last summer I decided I needed to make some big changes in my life. Another birthday had come, another season was approaching, another health related moment that made me stop and take a good hard look at where my days had taken me, where I wanted to be and what was up ahead. I got tired of wishing for different and decide to stop waiting for someday – time to make it happen in one giant leap forward.
Diet is one of those areas. I have been a vegetarian since 1993 and never looked back for one second. It was an easy choice for me when, while sitting in a restaurant, I watched someone at the table literally rip apart a lobster and devour it like a National Geographic documentary on the food chain in the wild. I was done there and then. These days I have questioned more and more about the very few remaining aspects of my vegetarian diet that have held me back from being vegan, both on a health and spirit front, and have begun to remove those areas – starting with the last bit of dairy and eggs. But another popped up on the radar pretty quickly.
Not long ago, I came home from picking up my son one night and turned on the television to have the ending segments of Shark Tank come up on the screen. I absolutely love that show, with their constant cycle of dreamers and believers putting their ideas out there and going for the gold. So how incredible that while in the middle of detoxing from cheese and ice cream, the two women in the Tank were talking about Bee Free Honee, their line of plant based honey. No bees, just apples – and organic apples at that!
I sat and watched how excited and passionate the creator Katie Sanchez and her business partner Melissa Elms are about what they have brought to the food industry, and I couldn’t look away. Now, I’ve been a big lover of apples and honey ever since I was little, so someone who has developed a honey alternative that combines the taste of one from the base of the other, while being vegan, was not something I was going to let pass by. I went to their website and read about the company and their story and ordered a sample four pack right away. I couldn’t wait to try them all!
When the box came, I felt like a kid in a candy store and literally displayed all four bottles on my counter along with the note both Katie and Melissa wrote on the card inside – such a beautiful personal touch to do for their customers. So of course it was taste test time, and I wasn’t going to wait too long for that. I took out a spoon, pulled up a chair and started to squeeze out the golden glows one bottle at a time. My kids got in on the action too of course.
The four flavors we tried were:
The Original – This instantly brought me back to being little and sitting at the table dipping apples into honey over and over. The sweet taste is so incredible that it makes any honey substitute need simple to imagine. This by far is my daughter’s favorite.
Mint – I have to admit I was slightly hesitant wondering how the two would taste together, but then thought it would be like putting honey into a cup of tea. That is exactly what it is. The mint taste is on the stronger side and it even reminded me of that gusher gum we loved as kids, but the combination is delicious. And my son, who loves mint jelly, had wide eyes over it as soon as the taste hit his tongue.
Slippery Elm – This is an ingredient I wasn’t familiar with on its own, outside of being combined in teas, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But one taste and I was brought back to my days of sitting all cozied up alongside my woodstove inside my Vermont home with a cup of tea. It could be that part of living there was taking trips to the food co-op to mix up my own batches of herbal teas on a pretty regular basis, so the taste brought me right back to familiar, peaceful ground.
Chile – Ok so I figured with the chile image on the label, out of the three of us my son would love this one the most by far. I have to admit, I didn’t tell my daughter what was in the mix and only gave her a small taste just in case it was strong for her. But it wasn’t. It has a really nice, easy flavor with an added boost to its sweetness.
So with all four varieties on the thumbs up side, I decided next I needed to try out the recipes on their website BeeFreeHonee.com and see how they do inside of recipes. Their sites has two treats to try out – Rice Krispee Treats and Fig Newtons. Double score!!!
Being gluten free for a few years now, I have had to be more aware of labels than ever before. So lots of things I used to love to snack on have had to be omitted or discovered through companies who are trying to bring those lost loves back to this growing community of people with sensitivities and diagnoses of Celiac Disease. I had a bag of cereal similar to Rice Krispees in my cabinet along with a bag of Gluten Free/Vegan marshmallows so I had my first journey ready to go. Super easy and in using the Original Bee Free Honee variety the sweetness was just the right touch to keep the taste just like all of the years growing up making these with friends as often as possible. It’s funny, to this day, every time I make these I feel like I am in my childhood friend Jodie’s kitchen scraping at the edges of the bowl so not to miss a single morsel. All of these years later, I still scrape away and smiled more this time feeling that though she passed away recently, she was there with me enjoying the fun.
Next came the Fig Newtons. This recipe took quite a bit longer but worth every second. The kitchen was quite a scene but I had so much fun from start to finish. And in the end, minus the few that came out of the oven a little crispier than others because of rolling out the dough too thin, my daughter smiled at her bite and my son wanted to make sure I left some for him to take to school the next day. Clearly he knows my sweet tooth and how quickly cookies can disappear in our home. For the next few days, he was coming home letting me know all of the friends he was giving them to on a daily basis and how much they loved them too.
So what’s on the list next? I stocked up from the store, and we are going to make new batches of Fig Newtons with other filling varieties including blending Gluten Free flour with the Almond Meal and see how that alters the taste and appearance. And in general, I have to keep reminding myself to read labels thoroughly as there are times I have missed an ingredient on the list that made it not vegan. But it is all a learning experience, and I am feeling happier and healthier because of it. Also, as a side note, I wasn’t compensated for reviewing Bee Free Honee – I’m just having fun with new finds and wanting to pass along what I am enjoying. MayBEE you will enjoy them too. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!)