Dates are an ancient food prized in many parts of the world for their delicate, sweet flavor and, according to NPR, they have been consumed by humans since at least 5,000-6,000 BC and were formally cultivated in the Middle East for around 6,000 years.
In the early 1900s, Walter Swingle, at the behest of the U.S. government, was scouring the world to find exotic foods to bring back to American growers. In 1927, he brought back several Medjool date offshoots from Morocco to California’s Coachella Valley, as it most closely resembled their original growing climate. This variety was often reserved for Moroccan royalty due to their complex and labor-intensive cultivation process, but can now be enjoyed throughout the world.
For a change of pace from the typical energy bar available in stores, here is a recipe featuring those Medjool dates and other natural ingredients from Detoxinista.com
Medjool Date Bites
2 cups of walnuts, or any other
nut/seed of choice
1 cup of shredded, unsweetened
2 cups of soft Medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1. In a large food processor or blender, process the nuts and shredded coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt and process again until it is sticky and uniform.
2. Scoop or use your hands to gather enough of the mixture to roll into a ball, square, or shape of your choice. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and put them in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving.
3. The balls will be good in a sealed, refrigerated container for up to a week or in the freezer for longer.
Makes 24 servings. Each bite has about 133 calories.
Top food trends to look out for in 2019
The best chefs are always innovating. Here are just a few of the trends that will be popping up in eateries around the country this year.
• Plant-based dining. Meat alternatives that were once relegated to a few specialized restaurants are now taking center stage in a variety of dining establishments. Expect to see vegetables and proteins like tofu, lentils and quinoa become the star of your plate.
• Meals in bowls. Pretty enough for your Instagram feed and healthy to boot, meals in a bowl are more popular than ever. From smoothie bowls at breakfast to Asian inspired noodle bowls for dinner, there’s one for every meal.
• Upscale comfort food. The burgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese once reserved for the kids’ menu have been given a makeover. Restaurants that specialize in upscale comfort food are now offering childhood favorites made with premium ingredients.
• Insect protein. People have been eating insects for thousands of years. Now, thanks to the high amounts of protein in insects and the sustainability of insect farming, chefs in North America are boldly exploring ways to use this ingredient.
This year, try local restaurants featuring these and other food trends. You may even find a new favorite spot to eat.
Update your bedroom with new curtains and bedding
Does your bedroom need an upgrade? Change the look of the room with new curtains and sheets. Here’s how to choose the perfect new linens for your room.
When selecting curtains, think about the look you want in the room and then find a fabric that corresponds. Linen and cotton blends are more casual and cheerful, while silk and velvet are refined and regal.
Next, think about the color and pattern you’d like. You can match your curtains to the color of the wall and use pattern and texture to make them stand out. Alternatively, you could hang a multi-colored pattern and make them a focal point.
You don’t need to match your bedding to your curtain, but they should coordinate. You can pull a color from the pattern on your curtains or use a contrasting colors. If you’d like to use different patterns for your curtains and bedding, stay in the same color palette.
When buying your sheets, invest in high-quality, natural fabrics. Egyptian cotton is classic and comfortable, while silk feels luxurious and has the added bonus of being gentle on your hair and skin.
By changing the linens in your bedroom, you’ll wake up feeling like you’re somewhere new.
Red Pepper Falafel
Falafel is an interesting blend of chickpeas, vegetables, and spices that are chopped up together, rolled into balls, and deep fried in vegetable oil. When asked today, people from many countries such as a Palestine, Yemen, Lebanon, and Israel would probably tell you that they are responsible for inventing falafel.
According to History Today, however, Egypt is the likely origin of the falafel that people are familiar with now and it might not be as old as you think. It was first mentioned in Egyptian literature as early as 1882 and seems to be linked to the British occupation of that time. As the troops had found a taste for fried vegetable croquettes in India, it is likely that their search for a replacement led to the locally-sourced chickpea falafel.
8 ounces dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
1/2 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2.5 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 8 cups)
1. Take the soaked chickpeas and pulse them in a food processor, scraping as necessary. After about one minute, they should resemble finely chopped nuts. Scrape everything into a large bowl.
2. Pulse the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in the food processor, until coarsely chopped, about one minute.
3. Add the chopped mixture to the chickpeas and then mix in chickpea flour, cumin, salt, coriander, smoked paprika, Hungarian sweet paprika, and baking powder. Mold mixture into ping-pong-sized balls.
4. Pour oil into a large pot – to at least three inches in depth. Heat the oil up to 330 degrees. Cook the falafel in small batches, turning occasionally, until deep brown and crispy. It will take about five minutes.
5. Transfer the finished falafel to a paper towel to drain.
These are great served alongside a bright cabbage slaw, tahini sauce, and pita bread!
The misunderstood Brussels sprout
Don’t you love it when the kids find out you are serving Brussels sprouts for dinner and they run to the table and demand a big helping?
Nah. That doesn’t happen.
Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation for being bitter, mushy little veggies.
But, according to the gourmets and foodies, this is all because they are cooked incorrectly. If they are boiled too long or otherwise overcooked, you get the mushy foul-smelling gunk that everyone hates.
But if they are cooked properly, the cute little cabbage buds turn bright green and slightly crisp with a nutty and sweet flavor.
You can lightly steam them whole for five minutes. Or they turn out well when cut in half and oven-roasted with butter and garlic at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. For a pan saute, halve the sprouts and, over moderate heat, cook for 15 minutes with butter and garlic until lightly brown.
Sprouts are members of the cabbage, broccoli and kale family, but don’t hold that against them. Brussels sprouts have been the little heroes of European civilization. Okay, that might be a bit strong, but they were frequently the last greens available during winter for the Romans in the 12th century and the Belgians and Germanic peoples in the 13th century and later. And since they are loaded with Vitamins C, K, and A, they deliver excellent nutrition,.
Sprouts actually grow as little buds on a cabbage-type plant stalk. They have a long growing season of about 100 days and they are extremely frost tolerant.
Last, but not least, they are an excellent choice for a low-carb diet. They have about 9 carbs per cup, but 5 carbs is all fiber, bringing the net carb total to 4 per cup.
Start the new year with this light, nutritious sprout salad
Change gears from the traditionally sweet and heavy holiday cooking with this fresh and bright Brussels sprout slaw.
According to the Food Network, these tiny cabbage buds get their name from their supposed cultivation in Belgium as early as the 13th century. They bring a nutty or earthy flavor to a variety of dishes whether they are cooked or raw. Rich in vitamins A, K, C, and B6, be sure to add Brussels sprouts to as many dishes as possible before they go out of season at the end of March.
Here is a delicious recipe by Martha Stewart:
Brussels Sprout Slaw
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (or 1/4 cup scallions)
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1 small head of radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, honey, vinegar, sunflower seeds, and oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
2. Add shredded sprouts and sliced radicchio to the mixture.
3. Finely chop chives and add to the mixture.
4. Mix thoroughly with tongs and enjoy immediately or place in fridge to let the flavors marinate for an even better experience!
Discover the benefits of veganism
Strict vegans often have ethical or environmental motivations to avoid consuming, wearing or otherwise procuring animal products. But studies show that a plant-based vegan diet also has many health benefits including the following:
- It provides more nutrients. A vegan diet includes eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and soy products. People following a healthy vegan diet have to eat a larger variety of foods to acquire the recommended daily caloric intake. This translates to consuming more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
- It prevents disease. When you adopt a plant-based diet, you lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and many types of cancer. You’ll also likely lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
- It encourages weight loss. Going vegan will help you lose weight and avoid gaining it back. You’ll lower your body mass index and have more energy. In addition, your skin and hair will look healthier.
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to adopt a vegan lifestyle. If you’re thinking about going for it, make sure you eat a varied diet to guarantee you get the right amount and kinds of protein, vitamins and minerals. Ask you doctor for guidance when making the change.