Dates. What do I know about dates? Absolutely nothing, except that I have always thought of them as large, less-wrinkly raisins. The one thing I do know is that nothing about their appearance has ever tempted me to want to use them in a recipe, let alone eat them whole!
We’re only into week four and so far, three out of the four foods in our curriculum are foods that I have very little or no experience with. I am not sure how to feel about this, after all, Eating Through the Alphabet is designed to help children learn about fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. The key word here being “children”, but I’m an adult and learning a lot, too!
The first week, I learned that Brussels sprouts are delicious no matter how you cook them, and if you steam them, they make a super simple and very nutritious snack. Then there were the cranberries. I remember cranberry sauce as an ever-present dish on the Thanksgiving table. Sometimes it was the canned variety, wobbly like jello, still shaped like the can with the rings around it. Other times it was a homemade cranberry sauce
that graced the table. Problem was I never actually saw anyone eating it. Or I just never paid any attention. After making it this year I realized I didn’t really know what to do with it. I ate a teaspoon or two; it was good but still tart. But then it happened, I saw someone putting cranberry sauce on their turkey. Who would have thought? Then I put cranberry sauce on my turkey. And, I loved it! It is just the perfect almost indescribable mix of textures and tastes. It will now forever have a place at my Thanksgiving table and on my plate!
That brings me back to this week: dates. Dates are a fruit that grow on palm trees. They are high in potassium and antioxidants, and their natural sugar content makes them a natural sweetener. If you want to reduce the amount of
processed sugar you are eating on a daily basis, several recipes and ideas can be found online that substitute dates for sugar or other processed sweeteners.
This week I decided to try not one, but two recipes: date bars and bacon wrapped dates. After making these delicious treats, I’ve come to realize that dates just might be my new favorite fruit!
Try the date recipe below and you’ll see exactly what I mean!
- 12 dates
- 6 teaspoons cheese of your choice (ricotta, goat, cream cheese, cheddar, or blue cheese are all delicious)
- 12 toasted pecans or walnut halves (to toast nuts, put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven until they are fragrant and look a shade darker, about 5 minutes)
- bacon (optional, for wrapping)
- Cut a slit in each date and remove the stone if the dates are not already pitted.
- Fill the cavity with the cheese and top the cheese with a pecan or walnut half. Squeeze shut the opening. (If using bacon, bake in a 375 degree oven until bacon is cooked through).
- Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate up to overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before opening.