With Spring (& allergy season!) right around the corner, today I wanted to delve into a topic I get A LOT of questions about: bee pollen and honey. So many of you have reached out to me via Instagram wondering if bee pollen or honey are vegan, what bee pollen even is, how do you eat it, and why I sprinkle it on almost all of my breakfasts.
Let me begin by emphasizing that although In My Bowl is a ‘vegan’ website, my mission is not to convert people to veganism, but to provide holistic, natural and primarily plant based food and lifestyle options to give everyone the opportunity to incorporate a few more plants into their lives as well as find more natural alternatives to their everyday go-to’s (examples here would include: granola bars, sweeteners, cereals, salad toppings, etc.). Although many don’t consider honey or bee pollen to be vegan (they come from bees and bees are a living thing), I will be honest in saying I do consume raw honey, and for me, bee pollen has been an absolute savior come allergy season.
What is bee pollen?
Bee pollen is granulated pollen gathered by bees; it is 40% protein and contains almost every essential element we need to survive. It’s packed with folic acid, vitamins, and nucleic acids, and studies have shown that regular consumption of bee pollen reduces your risk for chronic disease and cancer. Similarly, honey is rich in amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and vitamins B, C, D, and E. Raw and unfiltered honey retains its bee pollen (so you get the delicious and unrefined sweetness + the pollen benefits). During allergy season I make sure to stock up on locally sourced bee pollen and have about 1-2 teaspoons/day. Exposing my body to the bee pollen is like giving myself a natural vaccine, allowing my body to build up the antibodies it needs so my allergy symptoms aren’t as extreme- a much better alternative than popping a pill 2x/day (ick!).
How do I eat bee pollen?
I sprinkle bee pollen on everything- smoothies, granola, salads, oatmeal! Although bee pollen is very sweet, like honey, it does take some time to get used to; I recommend starting with ½ a teaspoon/day and gradually incorporating more into your diet. One of my favorite bee pollen smoothies is my PBee & Banana Smoothie, an insanely rich, creamy, and protein packed smoothie made with ripe banana and avocado, lots of kale, creamy creamy peanut butter, and of course, bee pollen! Because this smoothie is so thick, I usually serve it in a bowl and top it with my favorite granola or sliced bananas. In the spirit of honey, I recently came across a delicious gluten free granola company, Udi’s Gluten Free, that not only makes their granolas with certified gluten free oats (which are definitely easier on my stomach!), but sweetens all of their products with wildflower honey- so YUM!
PBee & Banana Smoothie [makes 1 smoothie]
1 large banana, frozen
¼ ripe avocado, peel removed
1 heaping tablespoon peanut (or almond) butter
1 large handful raw kale or spinach
1 heaping teaspoon bee pollen (+ more for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup filtered water
There isn’t much to do for this recipe, but blend and enjoy! Place all of the ingredients in a high speed blender. I use a VitaMix because it is so thorough at blending, but any blender will do. Blend for about 45 seconds, or until desired consistency is reached. Pour the smoothie into your favorite glass.
Nutritional Information [per smoothie= 2 cups]
290 Calories, 39g Carbohydrates, 13.5g Fat, 7.2g Protein, 7.2g Fiber, 15.4g Sugar