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Harissa is a hot chili sauce that’s common in North Africa, made from tomatoes, paprika, and red hot chili peppers. Yes, it’s got a fiery bite, but as Chef Jeannette points out, it’s really a complex flavor, not at all like straight-up peppers. The lemon and honey calm its fiery edge in this true “tray meal.”
For those of you—like me—who are new to the term “tray meal,” it refers to a simple meal that you broil or roast on one tray in a short period of time. In other words, simplicity itself, which is always a good thing in a recipe.
It’s worth noting that asparagus is packed with protein and light on calories. A cup contains a mere 40 calories, but over 4 grams of protein—not to mention 1.5 mg of iron and more than 400 mg of heart-healthy potassium (take that, bananas!). —Dr. Jonny
Featured ingredient: Honey
“Honey” can mean two very different things. Most of us are familiar with the stuff that comes in the little plastic bear at the supermarket, which is the honey version of junk food. It’s been pasteurized, heated, purified, and processed so thoroughly that nothing of value (enzymes, probiotics) remains. It’s about as nutritious a food as Honey Corn Chips.
But “honey” can also mean the raw, unfiltered, unprocessed stuff you get at farmers’ markets—and that’s an important distinction. Think of the difference between factory-farmed and grass-fed meat, or between wild salmon and farmed. That’s the basic difference between processed and unprocessed honey, when it comes to good health.
The type of plants bees forage on determines the color of the honey, the level of nutrients, the fragrance, and the taste. Honey from extremely cold regions is lighter in color than honey from the tropics.
Raw honey doesn’t spoil. The nectar that the bees bring to the hive is about 60 percent water, and the bees “cure” it to about 18–19 percent water. At this level of water, and with a pH of 3 or 4, the honey is very stable and can last for centuries—unspoiled honey has actually been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Despite all of its health benefits, honey is still sugar, so if you have blood sugar issues, proceed with caution. However, because it’s a real food and contains a wealth of nutrients, it’s one of the healthiest sweeteners around, provided you use it judiciously. And one study did show that natural honey actually lowered blood sugar in healthy people and diabetics.
Notes from The Clean Food Coach
Harissa paste is a very pungent chili paste—a little goes a long way! It contains several spices, including garlic, and has a distinctive, complex flavor. Look for it in tubes in Middle Eastern markets and gourmet grocers. If you have a hard time finding it, you can substitute one tablespoon of the more-readily-available Sriracha.