Who wants a date?

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By: Leanne Ely

 

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Today’s Focus is on: DATES

Sure you can get a sugar fix and an energy boost from a candy bar, but if you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, perhaps going for a date might be a better idea.

No, not that kind of date. The fruit!

Dates grow on palm trees (date palms to be exact) and they’ve been enjoyed by folks in the Middle East for the past, oh, 8000 odd years-since roughly 6000 BC.

Dates can be enjoyed fresh or dried. You’ll find them classified according to the amount of moisture in their flesh. There are soft dates, semi-dry dates and dry dates.

Dried date palm fruits or kurma, ramadan food which eaten in fasting month. Pile of fresh dried date fruits in bamboo basket.

The date I most often enjoy is a soft one – the medjool date-one of the most common varieties and surely the most prized. If you can find them pitted, bonus, but it’s fairly simple to remove the pit on your own, so if you can’t find them pitted, don’t despair.

Medjool dates are large and sweet and the flesh of the fruit almost melts in your mouth. And they are oh-so-sweet!

The average medjool date contains only 66 calories and lots of potassium, fiber, copper, magnesium and manganese. All varieties of dates have plenty of natural sugars so eat them sparingly, but a date may be just the thing to cure your sweet tooth.

As a crowd-pleasing appetizer, try stuffing dates with goat cheese and wrapping them in bacon. Dice them and add them to cereal. Slice them into a salad. Or just snack on them out of the container when you’re craving something sweet.

Fresh dates are a little harder to come by than dried dates. If you happen to come across these little wonders, they’ll likely be yellow or reddish in color. They will be attached to a short branch and they will have the consistency of an apple. If you eat a date just like this, it will be crunchy and slightly sweet. But if you let it ripen until it becomes soft and dark, it will be like biting into honey.

Now that we’re all sitting here with our mouths watering, it’s time for your Trick:

Dip a pair of kitchen shears in hot water before cutting your dates.

Your Tip:

Ripen fresh dates by leaving them alone on the counter for a few days. When they’re soft to the touch and they are no longer yellow, you can eat them. Store them in the fridge to slow down any further ripening.

And your Recipe:

Moroccan-Style Bison Stew
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds bison stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped dates
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, optional

INSTRUCTIONS:
Melt the coconut oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Place cumin through black pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Place the bison in a zipper-topped plastic bag, and pour the spice blend into the bag, shaking well to coat. Transfer seasoned bison to the stock pot. Increase heat to medium-high, stirring frequently, until bison is browned. Add garlic, stir for a few seconds, then carefully stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, dates and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. After 1 1/2 hours, remove cover and allow sauce to reduce until thickened, and bison becomes fork tender, about another half hour. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley, if desired.

 

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PS–Just a reminder that there are only a few days left in Crock-Tober, which means time is running out on my fabulous Crock-Tober sale!  Click here to get yours, before its too late!

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