SWEET TOOTH SATURDAYS- COCONUT COVERED DATES
Happy Saturday folks!
Today's sweet treat is the date (not who you're going to the movies with tonight..LOL!) I'm talking about the type of dates you can buy at the store and eat. I was at the health food store yesterday and picked up some coconut covered dates to have on hand in the fridge as a treat. I've also seen these at Trader Joe's and you can make your own at home! Let's look a little closer at this petite treat and find out its worth!
The date is a product of the date palm which is a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East but it is also cultivated in other parts of the world. When selecting dates, they should be plump and evenly colored. Dates have a single long seed, but range in shape from oblong to round. Dates should not look dry or withered, and no crystals should appear on the exterior. Fresh dates last for up to two weeks in the fridge and preserved dates can last much longer, depending on how they are preserved.
"According to a study by Al-Shahib and Marshall, in many ways, "dates may be considered as an almost ideal food, providing a wide range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits." Dates are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc."
Dates are commonly used in Middle Eastern desserts. Below is a recipe I found on mideastfood.about.com for you to venture out and make your own! I included a few notes of my own in parenthesis.
2 lbs. pitted dates
2 cups coconut shavings
1/4 cup unsalted butter- (substitute with earth balance to make vegan)
1 lb. toasted almonds- (this can be optional, the ones I bought don't have almonds)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
Toast the almonds and set aside (if you're using).
In a medium saute pan, melt butter and add sugar. Add water and place dates in mixture over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Take each date and form into rectangular, finger shapes. Place an almond in the center of the date, then proceed to roll in coconut shavings. Repeat with remaining dates.
Makes 15-20 coconut dates. Serve immediately, or cover and store on counter top for up to 3 days.
So, whether you choose to buy 'em or make 'em, you are officially equipped to make it a date night! :-)
SOURCES: mideastfood.about.com, wikipedia.org, wisegeek.com