At a time of year when sneezes and sniffles can be hard to avoid, the Maori magic of manuka is quickly becoming a mainstay of many people’s winter wellness regimes.
As well as its sought-after skincare superpowers, many swear by manuka honey’s methylglyoxal content for winter wellness.
So, if you’ve got your hands on some, how are you using it?
Whilst you could get that instant measure of manuka by gulping it straight from a spoon — and who could blame you? — there are many creative ways to use your honey and attain its highly-regarded wellness status.
Here’s some inspiration for awesome uses for manuka honey during those winter months when your immune system is usually working at its hardest.
Ways to use manuka honey for winter wellness
1. Stir it into your tea, coffee or herbal infusion
It’s that simple: swap the refined sugar or syrup for a teaspoon of manuka honey in your coffee, tea or warm drink of choice.
A soothing manuka honey and lemon warm tea could be just the ticket for keeping a tickly sore throat at bay — as well as adding a subtle sweetness to your brew. For the ultimate winter warmer when winding down on those frosty nights, a manuka honey and lemon hot toddy might hit the spot.
Honey has a long history of use — Stone Age paintings dating back over 8,000 years appear to show the treatment of all manner of things with bee products. It’s only recently, however, that scientists and clinical practitioners are getting serious about the benefits of manuka.
Make sure to choose a manuka honey product with an MGO of at least 250 (equivalent to a UMF of 10+). This means that the honey contains at least 250mg of the soothing methylglyoxal per kilogram of honey — a good minimum strength to start at. The greater the MGO content, the greater the wellness benefits!
2. Create a honey mustard glaze for your root veggies
Here’s a simple winter wellness idea: blend the health benefits of your 5-a-day with those of manuka honey by using it to coat your vegetables!
Mix two tablespoons of your finest manuka honey, two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of dijon mustard in a jam jar (or similar container) to create a sumptuous, sweet honey mustard glaze.
Cook some parsnips (peeled and chopped) and carrots (chopped) on a baking tray for around 30 minutes, then drizzle your manuka honey mustard glaze over them and cook for a further 15 minutes. Et voilà — a healthy, manuka-infused side dish to accompany your favourite winter warmer!
3. Work manuka honey into your baked treats
Homemade bread, gingerbread cookies, banana bread — it wouldn’t be wintertime without some indulgent baked goodies. Add in a small amount of manuka honey for a wellness kick.
Or, if you’ve already got some finished treats — freshly-baked muffins or a nice sponge — slightly warm up a little manuka honey and use the back of a teaspoon to glaze the top.
Compared to your regular honey, most people say manuka honey has a stronger, earthier and slightly more medicinal taste. All that goodness typically gives it a heavier flavour and stickier texture, scaling up with the product’s strength.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t work amazingly for baking. Because it’s a natural sweetener, you can use manuka honey as a sugar alternative for pretty much any baked sweet treat. But remember, a little goes a long way.
- Because of its superior sweetness, a good guide is to switch the sugar for a half measure of manuka honey.
- Relatively viscous and sweet, many people prefer not to rely on manuka honey as the primary sweetener — you may find your baked treats to be slightly too dense and sticky.
- When baking, turn the oven down by around 15°C. Honey can caramelise faster than sugar; a relatively cooler environment prevents this excess browning.
- Since honey’s acidity can sometimes cause your bake to go flat, consider adding a little bit of baking soda to give it that rise.
- Unlike sugar, manuka honey adds to the liquid content of your recipe. You may want to compensate by lightening up on liquids elsewhere.
4. Fashion a manuka face mask
Why not give your winter-weary skin a spot of honey-based TLC? As we all know, the dry air at this time of year can cause the upper layers of our skin to lose their moisture.
That’s right — wonders of manuka honey don’t have to be consumed. For a moisturising, reinvigorating treatment, apply an even layer of manuka honey directly to your skin, making sure to spread it with your fingertips. Leave it to soak into your pores and work its magic for around half an hour before gently rinsing.
You don’t have to go for pure manuka, of course: feel free to work it into your own DIY face mask. One popular recipe combines a tablespoon of honey with a teaspoon of turmeric (for its antioxidant active ingredient, curcumin) and some yoghurt (to help mix the ingredients).
The higher the MGO rating of the manuka honey product you purchase, the more wellness you pack in. Look out for a manuka honey product with an MGO rating of 250+ when stocking up on winter essentials.
5. Use in your breakfast as a natural sweetener
Where you may currently have sugar, syrup or standard honey, bring in a drizzle of manuka magic for a true wintertime breakfast winner. As a sweetener, manuka honey is all natural — nothing artificial here.
Mix it with porridge, wheat biscuits, fruit or stir it into some natural yoghurt or even use it as a sweetener in a smoothie or protein shake. Nothing else quite provides that sense of warmth and wholesome satisfaction like a stack of fresh pancakes or waffles drizzled with a teaspoon or two of manuka.
Essentially, see manuka honey is a health-inducing sugar alternative to accompany your breakfast!
As ever, because of its sumptuous natural sweetness, consider reducing the number of berries on top of your pancake stack, or the volume of yoghurt in your bowl or glass.
6. Create a manuka honey vinaigrette or chilli jam
For a manuka-filled winter brunch solution, take two minutes to create a vinaigrette that’s bursting with goodness.
Grab a jar and toss in a tablespoon of manuka honey, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, 150ml of olive oil, 50ml of apple cider vinegar and some lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good shake and you’ve got a delicious manuka honey mixture — ideal as a marinade or salad dressing.
For an even more indulgent use of your manuka honey, work it into a chilli jam recipe which can then be smeared, dolloped and spread over your favourite meats, cheese, fishes, sandwiches and wraps — or even used for making pizzas.
Keen to try some of these winter wellness hacks courtesy of manuka’s Maori magic? If so, head over and explore the full product range offered by Mānuka Health!
Whilst you’re here, make sure to explore The Hive, a hub of expert insights, information and resources about manuka honey.