April 22, 2004 at 1:17 p.m.
Dates are one of the oldest fruits grown by man, with legends and myths about this romantic fruit dating back to ancient times. Referred to as the “tree of life” in Genesis, the date palm was believed to be created from earth left over after the creation of Adam. Dates served as a food staple for nomadic desert tribes whose diets consisted of dates, milk and honey. These migrant tribes spread the date palm to the deserts of Arabia and North Africa and eventually to Spain and the New World. It was also believed that dates were a delicacy served by monarchs and royal families offering magical powers of virility and strength.
The healthy aspects of dates make them fit for people on low fat or high fiber diets. I know, they’re a little spendy, but then we’re worth it, aren’t we? They are good for people who lead an active lifestyle as they are a natural source of energy. They are also a good source of potassium and qualify as one our “5-a-day” fruits. Now, put dates on your shopping list as a special treat for yourself. Keep in mind, one 8 oz. package equals one cup.
We are going to do quick breads and bars today. Let’s start with . . .
APPLE DATE BREAD
1/2 c butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 c. peeled, chopped apple
1/2 c. chopped dates
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. sour milk (put 1/2 t. vinegar into measuring cup. Add milk to make 1/2 c. Let sit a few minutes.)
In mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and blend until smooth. Stir in fruit and nuts. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with the sour milk. Place in greased 9x5 baking pan. Let stand 10 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Are you often on the run when it comes to breakfast time? This is good for school age children, too.
ALMOND DATE BARS
1 c. quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. salt
2 c. finely chopped dates
1/2 c. finely chopped slivered almonds
1 c. milk
3 large egg whites
2 T. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients. Stir in next three ingredients.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks. Beat in sugar (1 T. at a time) until the whites form stiff peaks; beat in vanilla.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold whites into the oat mixture, then spread batter evenly into a greased 9x9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until top is brown. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool. Cut into 12 bars.
NOTE: The bars may be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap and frozen. Take one out before you go to bed for an easy, quick, nutritious portable breakfast.
Are you wanting “less fat” in your diet? Try these.
CLASSIC DATE BARS
WITH HALF THE FAT
1 c. chopped dates
1/2 c. water
2 t. vanilla
1-1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
1-1/2 c. flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
5 T. butter or margarine
1/2 c. nonfat or light sour cream
1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Spray a 9x9 baking pan with non-stick spray; set aside.
Combine dates and water in a medium pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, just a few minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and set aside.
In medium bowl, combine next five ingredients; mix well with pastry blender. Melt butter in saucepan and remove from heat. Immediately stir in sour cream; mixing until evenly blended.
Drizzle over top of oat mixture and blend with pastry blender (use a fork if you don’t have a blender).
Spread 2 cups of oat mixture in bottom of pan, pressing firmly. Spread filling on top. Mix nuts with rest of oat mixture, then pat firmly onto filling. Bake in center of oven 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool. Makes 25 bars.
Thought for the day: A “Bible belter” is someone who, if you don’t agree with him, picks up the Bible and belts you with a quote from it.