Health Benefits of Dates
Dates, although high in calories, are also dense in nutrients that you can’t get in other foods. You’ll begin to see them in abundance in groceries at this time of year, and can be used in a variety of ways.
Dates are high in dietary fiber, which assists in keeping LDL cholesterol in line and the digestive tract active and healthy. They contain flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins which possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory properties.
Dates are also full of B-carotene, lutein, and zea-xaanthin; all antioxidants that help protect cell structure from the harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals. It is believed that eating dates offer some protection from colon, prostrate, breast, endometrial, lunch and pancreatic cancers. (Source: Nurtition And You.com.)
They have moderate amounts of vitamin-A, are a good source of iron, an excellent source of potassium and include minerals like calcium, manganese, copper and magnesium.
The Oatmeal Date Bar recipe below is an easy-to-prepare sweet treat that is low in calories, and good for you. It’s a perfect snack-bar for a holiday get-together or to take to work for the annual carry-in lunch.
1 cup cinnamon applesauce
1 cup chopped dates
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray the bottom on a 10 x 7” baking dish with non-fat cooking spray
To prepare filling: In a small non-stick saucepan, combine all of the filling ingredients – except for vanilla extract. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until thickened, stirring and mashing occasionally with a heatproof spatula. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
To prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Place the mixture on a sheet of waxed paper. In the same bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and sour cream with an electric mixer on high speed for one minute. Stir in the oat mixture with a wooden spoon until combined.
Set aside 1 cup of the dough. Put it in an airtight container and place it in the freezer while assembling the bars. Drop the remaining dough by spoonfuls into the baking dish. Press dough into an even layer with the back of a wooden spoon.
Drop the filling by spoonfuls over the dough and spread in an even layer. Crumble the chilled dough evenly over the filling.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely. Cut into 18 squares. Bars can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container or the freezer for up to two months.
Calories – 120.5; Fat 2.6 g, Saturated Fat 1.4 g, Cholesterol 6 mg, Sodium 117.9 mg, Carbohydrates 23.7 g, Total sugars 15.6 g, Dietary Fiber 1.8 g, Protein 1.8 g
Dates Are Versatile.
Dates are available in the supermarket throughout the year, but are most popular during the holidays. They can be eaten alone as a snack, stuffed with a variety of delicious fillings, and chopped up and used in salads.
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