Food and Drink, pregnancy, Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Date Nut Bread

Last week, I talked about how I’m trying to eat dates every day to help potentially help with childbirth. Well, as soon as I heard that dates were good for pregnancy women, I immediately thought about one of my favorite childhood snacks: date nut bread with cream cheese and strawberries. When I was a kid, my mother used to have tea parties with me for my afternoon snack. It not only instilled in me a deep love of tea, but also helped me learn how to behave at the table in polite society. One of our favorite tea-time treats were little sandwiches of thinly sliced date nut bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with thin slices of strawberry.

We got our date nut bread from the grocery store, where it was sold in dense, dark brown, round loaves in the bakery section. I haven’t seen it in years, though, and I knew I would want to make it from scratch anyway, so I could know how many dates were in each slice. So I went looking for a recipe and tinkered around until I came up with the recipe below. Now, the recipe I based this on calls for coffee and explains that the acidity of the coffee is important for the leavening, so I used decaf coffee. Personally, I feel like I do in fact taste the coffee, though I don’t dislike it. This recipe yields the same firm, dense, dark loaf that I remember as a child. If you let it cool completely, it will easily slice into very thin slices and hold up under the application of cream cheese. Strawberries are massively out of season right now, but I will definitely have to make this again in the summer. I divide this loaf into 8 portions, which can be further divided into two thin slices and each of which has about 1 oz. or 28g of dates in it.

Old-Fashioned Date Nut Bread

(based on this recipe)

Ingredients:

8 oz. pitted dates, finely chopped
1/2 cup of sucanat
1/2 stick of softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of hot brewed coffee
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup of einkorn all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 8.5″x4.5″ loaf pan and line it with parchment.
  2. Combine the first six ingredients and stir until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes (this will also soften your dates).
  3. Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixture and mix well. Add in the flours and baking powder and stir to combine. Fold in the walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Tent with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning. Test for doneness by taking the internal temperature, which should be about 200F. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove and cool completely on a rack before slicing. Keeps for about a week at room temperature in an air-tight container, or freeze for longer storage. I get about 8 servings out of this.

Recipe Notes:

Dates are sticky and do not chop in the food processor. I tried for too long, but ultimately had to chop them by hand. This will take longer than it takes for the oven to preheat (longer still if you don’t get pitted dates).

The original recipe calls for 2/3-3/4 cup of brown sugar. I used sucanat, which is an unrefined sugar with a pronounced molasses flavor, and I cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup. I still find the finished bread quite sweet, so I think this should be plenty of sugar for most people, but if you really like sweets, maybe try it with 2/3 cup brown sugar.

I used einkorn and sprouted spelt flours to keep it healthier, but feel free to use all-purpose flour for the whole thing, or mix all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.

I chopped my walnuts a bit more finely (I used the food processor for this since I’d already gotten it out to fruitlessly chop dates, pun intended) because I don’t like large chunks of walnut in my breads, and it makes it easier to slice a bit more thinly.

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pregnancy, Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

As I mentioned earlier this week, there is some evidence that eating dates just before childbirth can make things go more easily. This comes from studies that followed women who were either encouraged to eat a certain amount of dates in the last four weeks of pregnancy, versus those who were asked not to eat any dates. This post is a good overview of the research, but the upshot is that eating 60-80g of dates per day could be helpful.

I’ve decided to try to eat around 75g of dates per day. But, unlike my husband, I’ve never actually eaten plain dates. I find them a bit sweet, plus they look a little bit like a cockroach and an olive had a baby. So I’m consuming my date in recipes. Of course, a Larabar will give me about 20-25g of dates, but I can only eat so many Larabars before I get utterly sick of them and start to worry about the cost. I did get a few cases of them from Vitacost, though, during their recent promo, to keep on hand for snacks.

But I thought I’d share some recipes I’ve been enjoying that use dates. The first is an easy breakfast that is an absolutely delicious way to enjoy some autumn flavors, especially since fresh cranberries are readily available in the grocery store right now! I haven’t tried it with any other kind of cranberries, but it might also work with frozen.

Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fresh cranberries
25g pitted dates, chopped fine
1 cups water
1/2 cup rolled oats
pinch of salt, cardamom, and ginger
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

  1. Combine the water, cranberries, dates, salt, and spices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes, until the cranberries start to burst.
  2. Add the oats to the simmering water and stir. Cook, stirring constantly, until the porridge is thickened.
  3. Serve topped with pumpkin seeds.

Makes one serving

Note: Can also be made in the microwave by combining everything except the pumpkin seeds in a microwave-safe dish, microwaving until cooked, and topping with pumpkin seeds.

Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Delicious Sorta-Healthy Belgian Waffles

Last week, I posted about my craving for waffles. Now, I anticipated this craving and stocked my freezer with some toaster waffles. And then I promptly forgot I had them when in the midst of a craving. I woke up one morning, decided I needed to make Belgian waffles. I told my husband I wanted waffles for breakfast and wandered downstairs while he was showering. When he came down, he saw that I’d taken up pretty much every available surface in the kitchen with my culinary endeavor. He stopped, momentarily struck speechless by how quickly I’d spread out, and then said “You had toaster waffles. Why did you make so many dishes?” I shrugged and said I wanted “real” waffles, but really, I’d completely forgotten about the waffles in the freezer.

The good news is that now I have “real” waffles in the freezer because I made an entire batch of Belgian waffles so that I could eat one for breakfast (and maybe one an hour or so later when I was hungry again because pregnancy). So for the next couple of cravings, I can probably just heat up a waffle I made previously instead of making more dishes again. Assuming I remember I have them.

Now, if I was going to make waffles from scratch, I decided I wanted them to be sorta-healthy. So I pulled out my trusty Alton Brown waffle recipe, which uses a half-and-half mixture of whole wheat and white flours to increase the nutrition level a bit. Then, I used sprouted wheat flour as the wheat flour and high-extraction einkorn flour for the white flour because supposedly their healthier. Also, I have them in the pantry because I used them in a muffin recipe recently and actually they’re probably the freshest flours I own right now. Anyway, what resulted were delicious, light and crispy waffles. Here’s how I made them:

Sorta-Healthy Belgian Waffles

Ingredients:

1 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 cup einkorn all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 6-oz. container plain, whole-milk yogurt, mixed with enough almond milk to make 2 cups total (see note)
3 eggs
1/2 stick of butter, melted

  1. Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In another container, mix the yogurt, almond milk, eggs, and butter.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together.
  4. Heat your waffle iron and spoon the batter into the iron, cooking according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  5. Keep waffles warm in a 200F oven while you cook them all, or cool them on a wire rack and freeze leftovers.
  6. Serve with butter and syrup, or fruit and whipped cream, or whatever your heart desires.

Makes about 4-5 Belgian-sized waffles.

Note: I used New Barn Original Almond Milk, which is higher in fat than other brands of almond milk, and is lightly sweetened with maple syrup. If you use unsweetened almond milk, you may want to add a teaspoon or so of maple syrup to your batter.