Getting Healthy

Date-Sugar Sugar Cookies

Now that we know that date sugar is a healthy sweetener alternative for diabetics than standard granulated sugar…where do we find it?…how do we make it ourselves?…how do we use it in a recipe?

What are the benefits of using date sugar instead of regular granulated sugar?

  • Antioxidants…Dates contain the highest concentration of antioxidants of any dried fruits.
  • Caloric Content…Date sugar contains 288 calories per half-cup, as opposed to regular white refined sugar which has 387 calories per half-cup.
  • Energy Boost…Dates contain 29 grams of natural sugars—such as glucose, sucrose and fructose—and are one of the best snacks that you could eat to help you have more energy.
  • Intestinal Health…Dates helps increase the amount of “good” bacteria found is in the intestines and as a result help to keep you “regular” and prevent constipation.
  • Nutritional Value…Date sugar is loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium; where white sugar does not.
  • Potassium Content…Date sugar actually has more potassium per serving size than bananas do.
  • Weight Control…Date sugar is loaded with fiber, protein and carbs which make you feel full much longer. This can help to curb hunger and help prevent weight gain.

Where do we find it?

Commercial date sugar made from unsulfured, organically grown dates is typically hard to find in actual local grocery stores and even health food stores. Your best bet is to buy your date sugar online from such sources as Thrive Market, Bob’s Red Mill, and Amazon.

How do we make it ourselves?

The problem with date sugar, however, especially organic types, is that they can be very expensive.

But it is possible to save money by making your own date sugar.

Making your own date sugar is actually quite simple. Simply buy inexpensive fresh or dried dates in bulk…It is not even important that the dates that you choose to make your date sugar are  the richest, sweetest, moist varieties. Just any old date will do.

Pit and slice them, and dry them using a food dehydrator or a very low-temperature oven. Once your date slices are fully dry, pulverize them in a food processor.

How do we use it in a recipe?!

Commercial or homemade date sugar can be substituted measure for measure for both granulated white sugar and brown sugar…but many people claim that this makes their baked goods taste too sweet, and reduce the amount of date sugar to only 2/3C date sugar for every cup of sugar called for in the original recipe.

Date sugar is particularly good when baking nut or fruit breads that will also contain whole pieces or chunks of another type of fruit or nut….such as banana-nut bread or an apple-walnut bread.

Date Sugar and Liquids…Remember that date sugar does not dissolve when stirred into water or liquids. Many chefs try dissolving the date sugar in boiling water before adding to the batter. This might work if water is already an ingredient in the given recipe. I personally hate changing ratios and proportions, and leave all this to the people who actually passed college algebra the first time that they took it.

Otherwise, just be aware that date sugar may show up as distinct, sweet flecks in cake, pancake or waffle batters.

Storing Your Date Sugar

Date sugar, just like brown sugar, tends to clump together…because they both are naturally “hygroscopic”…new word of the day, simply meaning “able to readily absorbs and retains moisture.”

So be sure to store your date sugar in an airtight jar or other container…probably in your pantry with perfectly-alphabetically-lined Mason jars containing brown sugar, coconut sugar, and now date sugar…

If you want to store your date sugar in a shaker, place a saltine cracker or two in the container to absorb any moisture.

Date-Sugar Cookies

Date Filling:

  • 2C chopped dates
    1C sugar
    1C water
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pound chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine chopped dates, sugar and water in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer ten minutes. Add lemon juice and salt. Cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dough

  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1C butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 1/2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground cloves
    1Tbsp baking soda
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Cream together vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, and butter until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.

Add to creamed mixture.

Cover dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours for easier handling.

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut with floured 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter.

Cut out and remove 1″ round hole from center of half of the cookies. Return dough centers to remaining dough for rerolling.

Place the whole cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.

Spoon 1tsp cooled filling onto center of each whole cookie.

Top with dough ring. Press the edges of each filled cookie together with the tip of a fork to seal.

Bake for ten minutes. Let cool on pans two minutes. Remove from pans. Let cool completely.

Let cool. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar.

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Adding This to My Grocery List—Avocados

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I have three reasons that I am especially interested in adding these “good” fats to my daily diet…

First of all, a diet that includes these “good” fats helps you to keep your cardiovascular system healthy–decreasing glucose and insuin concentrations, promoting healthy blood lipid profiles, mediating blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, controlling cholesterol levels, and regulating glucose levels.

Next, a diet that includes these “good” fats helps lower depression, anxiety and other mental disorder risks. Pretty important to me since my husband suffers from PTSD, members of my family have been diagnosed as being bipolar, and being a fifty year old raising a “resident four year old” could make almost anyone feel like they are going completely insane at times.

Finally, a diet that includes these “good” fats is best at helping you lose and maintain a healthy weight because these foods are very willing and allow you to wait longer between meals without getting hungry.

So I get it… instead of attempting to remove all sources of “fat” from our diets, we should be careful to choose foods that contain “good” fat and not “bad” fat.

 

But here’s the problem…

I refuse to become one of those obnoxious people standing in the grocery aisle with her reading glasses on trying to decode a given package’s nutrition label.I want to be able to simply grab what I need when I go shop for groceries, not have to read more than I ever did in all four years of high school English combined.

First of all, I shouldn’t be standing in those center aisles in the first place because I’m eliminating most of the processed food items found on those shelves and replacing those foods with fresher and healthier ingredients found along the perimeter of the store…right?!

Also, one of my goals is to create my own list of pantry staples and foods to always keep on hand. Soon I will start working on that post…starting with the best foods for helping with insomnia that we have previously talked about in this article.

After including this list of optimal midnight snacks…sorry, Blue Bell, our midnight rendezvous are over, at least for now…the next item on my grocery list will be avocados…

 

Avocados?!…Why avocado?! 

 

Avocados are possibly the single best food source of the “good” fats that our bodies actually do need. In fact,  avocados have a much higher fat content than most other fruit. One-third of a medium-sized avocado contains roughly six grams of  “good” fat.

Most of the fat that an avocado does contain is monounsaturated fat….(on average avocados are about 71% monounsaturated, 13% polyunsaturated, and 16% saturated).

As my family begins to start depending less and less on the fatty foods that once were staples in our family menu plans—such as high-fat meats, fish, and dairy products—I plan to start using more and more avocados. So let’s learn more and finally start sharing some recipes…

Getting Healthy

When life gives you lemons, drink them

  
 

August is also National Water Quality Month.

Being dehydrated can negatively impact everything from your mental focus to energy and metabolism. 

  
One of the most important purchases you can make when creating a more healthy home and lifestyle is a water filter. 

The type of filter that you should buy depends on just how clean your tap water is to begin with.Checking water quality can be done either by checking your municipality’s mandatory Consumer Confidence Reports, an annual water quality summary that’s released each year by July 1st, or using a test kit from the local hardware store. 

NSF International is a trusted organization that sets certain standards for judging water purity. Filters are tested by adding specific contaminants to the water and then determining how much of each impurity remains after going through the filter.

  • NSF Standard 42...This means that the filter passes for “aesthetic effects,” like making the water taste and smell better. 
  • NSF Standard 53...This means that the filter removes a given list of dangerous impurities, like lead and giardia.
  • NSF Standard 401…This means that the filter also removes trace amounts of prescription drugs and pesticides. 

To see how your current water filter rates, check the NSF website.

Water filters range from personal on-the-go filters to pitcher filters, faucet-mounted filters, refrigerator filters, and countertop filters…and also vary as to price, filtration method, and size.

  • Aquacristal 
  •  Aquasana
  • Big Berkey 
  • Brita Everyday Water Pitcher
  • Full Circle Home Wherever Lemon Water Bottle
  • Soma Pitcher

      

     
    A few health benefits of fruits most commonly used in infused water, for example are…

    • Cucumbers…Cucumbers contain 95% water and are actually more nutritious than plain water. Cucumbers help keep you hydrated and also help flush out toxins from the body.
    • Ginger…Ginger helps calm your GI tract.
    • Lemons…Lemons are full of Vitamin C which can help boost your immune system. 
    • Limes…Limes contain citric acid, which is an excellent fat burner and are also full of antioxidants.
    • Mint Leaves…Min leaves can help you lose weight because the leaves stimulate the digestion of fat and help eliminate toxins from the body.

    Fruit infuser water bottles make infused water that much easier to make and keep you from having to deal with fruit and leaves touching your lips every time that you take a drink.

    Colorful infused water full of fresh fruit-such as blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry-will also help you lose weight.

    Water can also be a good way to “cleanse” your system, instead of spending a bunch of money on expensive store-bought cleansing programs.

    A “cleanse” differs from a “detox.” 

    A cleanse flushes out any unneeded bad junk inside your body..

    A “detox” involves cutting the “junk” out of your diet, and perhaps even your home and lifestyle, that are just “dirtying up” your system, making you sick, and causing fatigue, gas, bloating, and water retention. This will naturally feel more alert and awake with much less mental fog. 

    Before you begin a cleanse or detox, be sure cut out all the carb-loaded drinks. alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, sugary foods, and saturated fats at least a week before starting.This will help reduce any withdrawal symptoms and allow you to benefit more from your cleanse or detox.

    Be sure to eat more foods that are high in the healthy fats, such as avocados, raw nuts, and seeds.

    1.  Lemon Cucumber Mint Fat Flush Water... Cut the cucumber into very thing slices and add about a half a lemon and squeeze the juice in. Add as much mint as you like.

    2.  Orange-Kiwi Infused Water..
    ..Combine 2C water or sparkling water, 2 ice, 1 slicedorange, 2 peeled and sliced kiwis.

    3.  Strawberry Infused Vitamin Detox…
    Slightly mush up 1C strawberries in a bowl with 2 sprigs fresh rosemary. Add 2C cubed watermelon. Pour filtered water over the fruit. Chill.