empowering your family one bite at a time

Fall Foods: Dates

I love dates. They're 'nature's candy' and so versatile. Right before we left Las Vegas, we went to China Date Ranch with home school friends and my enthusiastic neighbor Fred. Fred told us about the ranch and endured the van ride out there with us. Bring a lunch and be prepared to get sticky dirty. Love it!!

I thought they were hanging out their laundry. Nope, they are protecting the dates from the birds.

Many types and thousands of dates are sorted by two knowledgeable and enthusiastic men.

Date facts:

*Grows on the date palm tree and is believed to originate in the lands on the banks of Nile and Euphrates Rivers of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

*Like most foods, it's history is steeped in a story. It's botanical name, Phoenix dactylifera, refers to myth. The phoenix, of course, is the legendary bird, inhabitant of Arabia, of which only one was said to exist. The seed itself can lie dormant for decades.

*In the US, the date palm is in season in the deserts of Southern Nevada, California, and Arizona.

*Dates ripen and dry on the tree; the hot sun crystallizes the dates' natural sugars, making them the only 'fresh' dried fruit.

*There are over 20 known types of dates. Our common grocery date is the Medjool.

*One Medjool date has only 60 calories, FULL of antioxidants, fiber and potassium.

*Dates are considered life saving in many Eastern, desert climates due to their portability, they don't spoil in the dry climate and it's full of nutrition.

Pop a couple into your smoothie for a sweeter taste and more nutrition than honey. Take them with you on the trail for a burst of energy. (I like them better than energy blocks or gels-I like to chew when I hike or run) Chop them up and use them as sweetener in baked goods. Don't eat fruit cakes, those are nasty.

Power to the family!

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