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Mar 09

Health Foods A-Z: Dates

This post is part of my health foods series. So far, I have explored Avocado, Broccoli and Cauliflower.

Dates are a nutrition packed fruit, that grows on palm trees and has its origin in ancient Egypt. Some of the best-known varieties of dates include Medjool, Saidy, Khadrawy, Amir hajj etc. Dates are composed of simple fructose, which releases instant energy. It is known for its high fibre content and acts as a natural laxative.

It is also a great source of antioxidants, that help preventing infections, and have anti-inflammatory properties.  Antioxidants also help prevent breast, lung, oral, pancreatic; and prostrate cancer.

It also contains vitamin A, which aids in healthy vision and skin. Dates are rich in iron, which assist in the formation of red blood cells, that help circulating oxygen in the blood. They are an excellent source of potassium, which is a very important component of body fluid, which controls heart rate and blood pressure, thus helping against strokes and other heart diseases.

Dates are very rich in calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. Calcium, as we all know, is essential for strong bones and teeth. It also helps in blood clotting and speedy recovery for injuries by preventing blood loss. Copper aids in the production of red blood cells and magnesium assists in strong bones.

Dates are also known to be rich in vitamin B complex, vitamin K and niacin. Dates are easy to store and have a long shelf life. They should be stored in airtight containers and can last for weeks this way. They are usually eaten out of hand but can also be stuffed with almonds and walnuts. Allergy to dates is very rare and they are safe to be consumed by infants and pregnant women.

The best way to have dates is, of course, raw. That way, you can get all of its nutrients without the risk of losing them while cooking. They make for a great snack after any meal, and are great for someone with a sweet tooth.

However, if you would like to use dates in your meal, there are plenty of date preparations that can come handy. Since dates are sweet, I have a preference to use them only at the sweet end of the meal. Here is a recipe for Date pudding or Khajur Halwa. Its a dessert, and can be made without any external sweeteners, since the dates are so sweet themselves. Its a great way to have all those nutrients as part of your meal-and healthier than a lot of desserts since there is no sugar added, and the sweeteners are only natural sugar.

 

Ingredients

1.5 cups dates (any soft and dark skinned variant will do)

2 cups full fat milk

1 tbsp ghee

2-3 tbsp condensed milk

2 cardamoms, crushed

A few saffron threads

 

Method

Prefer to use pitted dates, else pit the dates and crush them. Heat the ghee in a pan. Add dates and toast them for a while till they become slightly dark. Add milk, saffron and cardamom and mix well. Wait for the mixture to thicken. Add condensed milk to adjust sweetness. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool. It will thicken even more as it cools down. Once cool, keep it in the fridge to set for at least 45 minutes. The halwa is now ready to serve. Garnish with nuts if you prefer.

You can make this recipe healthier by using low fat milk (don’t use fat free milk since the consistency is too liquidy) and avoid the condensed milk so that the sweetness of the pudding is entirely from the dates. That should work quite well and retain the taste.

Coming up:Eggs

4 pings

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