Monday, April 29, 2013

Date Paste

We are all looking for healthy alternatives to include in our diet.  I stopped drinking diet soda when I learned that it actually makes people hungrier and makes belly fat.  Who knew!  The artificial sweetener in the soda is part of the problem.  I guess the carbonation isn't great for you either, but the artificial sweetener is the biggest problem.  Real sugar is actually a better choice but the calories add up and so that causes weight gain as well.  I read other peoples' blogs.  Recently I read a post by chicagohealthygirl.  Here is her page if you want to read the entire post

She explained the benefits of using date paste for a sweetener.  It is not a chemical, it has 25 calories per teaspoon and it's full of nutrition.  I thought I would try making some.  I have heard that Trader Joe's has excellent dates, but I don't have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's within 80 miles.  I found these at the Farm & Fleet store.  They are whole dates from California, not the pieces coated with sugar.  I'm sure if you are diabetic, you will have to consider the carbs and sugars.  There is a lot of information online about using raisins and dates for diabetics.  I read they are acceptable in small amounts and better than chemical sweeteners.

Date paste is very easy to make.  You just blend equal amounts of dates and water.  It is hard to measure whole dates so either cut them up a little or cut the amount of water.  Some recipes say to soak the dates for 20 minutes and then use the soaking water for the liquid.  The date paste can be as thick or thin as you like.  I made homemade ketchup with the date paste which means no high fructose corn syrup.  My daughter sweetens her tea with it.  I have even sweetened rice krispies and it dissolved in the milk perfectly.

I found this list of health benefits from this website.

Health benefits of dates

  • Wonderfully delicious, dates are one of the most popular fruits packed with an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are required for normal growth, development and overall well-being.
  • Fresh dates compose of soft, easily digestible flesh and simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. When eaten, they replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. For these qualities, they are being used to break the fast during Ramadan month since ancient times.
  • The fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. Additionally, the fiber works as a bulk laxative. It, thus, helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
  • They contain health benefiting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy bleeding tendencies) properties.
  • They are moderate sources of vitamin-A (contains 149 IU per 100 g), which is known to have antioxidant properties and essential for vision. Additionally, it is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • They compose antioxidant flavonoids such as ß-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. These antioxidants found to have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals. Thus, eating dates found to offer some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
  • Zea-xanthin is an important dietary carotenoid that selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. It thus offers protection against age-related macular degeneration, especially in elderly populations.
  • Dates are an excellent source of iron, contains 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
  • Further, they are very good in potassium. 100 g contains 696 mg or 16% of daily-recommended levels of this electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help controlling heart rate and blood pressure. They, thus, offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
  • They are also rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth, and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is essential for bone growth.
  • Further, the fruit has adequate levels of B-complex group of vitamins as well as vitamin K. It contains very good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Vitamin K is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood as well as in bone metabolism.

I believe making this paste is worth a try.  It is inexpensive and as you can see is much more nutritionally loaded than white sugar and artificial sweeteners.  If you try it, let me know what you think.  I Love It!

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