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Oh Honey! 5 Fresh Recipes to Sweeten Your Summer Menu

Photos by © Chris Gramly / iStock
Photo by Chris Gramly / iStock

It’s hard to imagine summer without the cheerful soundtrack of buzzing bees—these busy winged workers visit flowers here, there, and everywhere to gather the nectar needed for making that tasty toast topper and smoothie sweetener: honey. The bees themselves are essentially mini honey manufacturing plants (more on that later), and the blooms they visit to gather nectar—from clover and orange blossoms to blueberry and avocado flowers—have a direct impact on the honey’s color and flavor.

This natural wonder isn’t just for tea, yogurt, and your kiddo’s cough—here are five fresh ways to sweeten your summer menu with honey:

1. Ants on a Slip ’n Slide

Fill celery with peanut or almond butter and then drizzle with honey before adding the raisin “ants.” You can also substitute apple or banana slices for celery, cream cheese for nut butter, and fresh blueberries for raisins.

2. Honey-Glazed Carrots

Is your tot a touch averse to veggies? Try Sunny Anderson’s super simple and subtly sweet honey-glazed carrots—they’ll be a hit with kiddos and grown-ups alike. The recipe calls for baby carrots, but you can also use sliced regular carrots.

3. Honey Ricotta Fondue

What toddler doesn’t love playing with his food? This fun idea from Canadian Family lets little ones dunk their favorite fruits (strawberries, grapes, apple slices—the possibilities are endless!) in a calcium-rich ricotta dip sweetened with apple cider, cinnamon, and a touch of honey.

4. Peanut Butter Granola

Only five ingredients are required to whip up Table For Two’s virtually foolproof homemade peanut butter and honey granola, and even better, prep time is five minutes or less. We love the idea of adding dried cherries or dried bananas for a fruity twist!

5. Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad

This summery salad from Southern Living makes a great accompaniment to pork tenderloin or chicken breast—or you can add some hearty grains (quinoa, barley, couscous) or crusty wheat bread and serve it as a pretty vegetarian entrée. With fruit (plums or heirloom tomatoes can be subbed in peaches), cheese, and a honey-sweetened dressing, it’s definitely kid-friendly—just save the tequila-spiked version for your next grown-ups-only dinner party.

Wonder how honey gets made? Check out this easy 1-2-3 explanation and share it with your own curious little love bug:

  1. Worker bees (all girls!) fly out into the world and use their straw-like tongues to sip a sweet, watery substance called nectar from their favorite flowers. A bee can collect her own weight in nectar in just one trip, which may require sucking on up to 1,500 flowers—phew
  2. Bees store the nectar in one of their two tummies—they have one for eating and one for the sole purpose of transporting nectar back to the hive while also processing it for eating.
  3. The bees transfer the processed nectar into the hive’s honeycomb cells and vigorously fan it with their wings to dry it out, turning the watery nectar into the thick, gooey deliciousness we call honey. Then, the bees seal the cells with wax caps and presto—they’ve got meals stored for the long winter!

Get out a teaspoon and show it to your tot: It takes a team of 12 bees their entire lives to make just one spoonful of honey. Fortunately, a hive can easily produce at least 80 more pounds of honey than they need to live (that’s a lot of bees working together!), which is what beekeepers harvest for us.

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