Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A Duo of Date Recipes

Whole-Wheat Date Bread
Growing up, my mom often made a date-nut bread that she served with soft cream cheese. We ate this in a variety of settings — as a mid-morning snack, an after-school treat, or sometimes as a simple dessert after dinner. The way I enjoyed it most was as a sandwich - two small slices of the bread smeared with the cream cheese (always Philadelphia!). 

Somehow I forgot about this bread, that is perfect for any occasion. It is made with dates, nuts, and other healthy ingredients, and it is sure to become a favorite among your friends and family. The recipe I used recently is from the NY Times Cooking site and developed by Melissa Clark. It’s made with whole wheat and all-purpose flours, yogurt or buttermilk (I used buttermilk), and EVOO. I added chopped walnuts because I love crunch, and a bit of grated orange zest to brighten it up.

Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

On the other end of the date spectrum, is a terrific, little energy ball from Virginia Willis. This couldn’t be easier and is a wonderful addition to your healthy routine. Virginia’s original recipe calls for the addition of 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips, but as I am not a chocolaholic, I left them out of the second batch. Most people will probably want to keep the chocolate chips in the recipe. And for anyone following a Weight Watchers plan, these tasty little treats are only three points. I keep them in the fridge so they are nice and chill. These would be great to bring along on a hike or a picnic, or add them to a lunch box. You can’t go wrong with these!

From Medical News Today, here are some of the benefits of dates:

In addition to tasting great, dates contain protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are also:

  1. High in polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds that can protect the body from inflammation. Dates contain more polyphenols than most other fruits and vegetables.
  2. Alternative to empty-calorie sweets. Dates can satisfy a person’s sweet tooth while also providing essential nutrients, such as vitamin B-6 and iron.
  3. High in fiber. Just ¼ of a cup of dates provides 12 percent of a person’s daily fiber requirement. Fiber helps a person feel fuller for longer.
  4. High in potassium. Dates are high in potassium, which is an electrolyte the body needs for good heart health. Potassium also helps to build muscle and proteins in the body.
  5. Great for substitutions. People can replace the sugar, chocolate chips, or candies in baking recipes with dates to ensure they are eating natural sugars instead of refined sugars.

Chocolate Chip Energy Bites (Virginia Willis)

To a food processor, add 1/2 cup dates, 3/4 cup pecans, a pinch of salt, a dash of cinnamon, and a few drops of vanilla. Pulse these ingredients, then remove mixture from processor and transfer to a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds, 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips and stir to combine. Use your hands or a small scoop to form the balls. Makes about 12 energy bites.

Monday, March 6, 2023

My Favorite Irish Soda Bread!

No need to reinvent the wheel, as they say! They also say, when you've got a good thing, go with it, so I am re-upping this post from 2021 with my favorite Irish Soda Bread recipe.