Ah the date fruit. A humble fruit that keeps itself to itself, not making much of a fuss in life and perhaps getting forgotten about in the process. It always seems to me that the date fruit is treated as the poor relation of the dried fruits family and truthfully, that’s just not fair.
As a child at Christmas I remember we always had a long oval box of dates wrapped in cellophane which sat sadly on the counter and watched longingly as one by one all the other exciting festive foods were devoured. Then, at some point near New Year, the dates and a few stray nuts from the mixed bag that always required the brut force of a Sumo Wrestler to crack would look pitifully at one another wondering who would be Last Man Standing. Much like the poor soul at school who never got picked for the sports team, the dates in our house were only ever poked and prodded with mild curiosity when there was nothing else left to choose from.
Well today, I fly the flag for all dates past and present who have wrongfully be thrown out in mid January or bought on a whim only for them to sit in the fruit bowl and be ignored forevermore. And I tell thee this, DATES ARE GREAT.
Dates are not only nutritious, they are also an adaptable food that work well in many recipes from the first course through to mains or a dessert. Dates are very sweet and one or two is all that you need to satisfy a sugar craving. Which is just as well since they contain a significant amount of calories. In fact, if you are trying to gain weight, snacking on dates would be a handy tip for you to remember. But don’t let the calorific content of dates scare those of you not wishing to gain weight away from experimenting and using them in your cooking and baking, a little goes a long way.
Dates can help with your night vision, calm intestinal complaints, soak up last nights alcohol consumption (better than any nasty, greasy fry up ever could) and they are also believed to have some what of an aphrodisiac property too; as well as helping to cure abdominal cancer. They are brilliant during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding and regular consumption during the third trimester may ensure an easier birth with fewer difficulties dilating the uterus. They are also a super source of energy whilst nursing baby.
But what to do with them. That is the question. There was a reason why the dates always got left at Christmas; because unless you were an 85-year-old granny sat in the corner watching the Queen make her speech, they were, well pretty rubbish to eat out of the box unaccompanied by any other food. But, fear not my healthy eaters as Emma is on hand to show you the light and guide you to a new and wonderous world full of dates (not that kind, I’m not Cilla you know). Well, I’ll get you started with a couple of suggestions anyway, and watch out for some scrummy recipes coming soon too. Dates work great in flapjacks, much like sultanas. Chop them up nice and small and mix in before popping into the oven. They also go really well with lamb and chicken, especially in a tagine. And finally, for today at least, chop them and toss them into a bowl of couscous salad. Delicious!
Love Emma xFruit