Sunday, May 8, 2011

Whole Wheat Date Walnut Bread!

I love dates.
Gooey and sweet, they make for a perfect bite when combined with salty almond butter or when wrapped in smokey bacon.

But more importantly, I love baking with them! They provide a natural sweetness so you can cut down on the sugar and, of course, they have the added benefit of fiber along with other nutrients.

So when I saw this recipe from Healthy Food for Living for an "Autumn Date and Walnut Bread" I was ALL over it. The thing I loved most about this date bread was that it wasn't skimping on the dates! Surprisingly, the majority of "date" bread recipes I see will have a mere quarter cup or so of dates and still call themselves a date bread! That would be bread with dates, not date bread, in my opinion.

It's a gorgeous bread, inside and out.
Here's Lauren's recipe, with a few minor adaptions-
Autumn Date and Walnut Bread
Adapted from Healthy Food for Living
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 oz) chopped pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure maple extract (if you have it, I didn't)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with canola oil cooking spray.
  2. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add roughly chopped dates and let the water come back to a boil. Take the pan off of the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Test the temperature to make sure the water/date mixture isn't too hot before proceeding: to the water and dates, add the applesauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, egg, and both extracts. Stir until well-mixed.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours through salt) and whisk until combined.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into wet just until moistened. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer bread to a cooling rack and let cool before slicing.
 This bread is absolutely TO DIE FOR. The gooey dates practically melt into the bread and give it the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor. The occasional crunch of the toasted walnuts adds contrast to the soft nature of the dates while the bread itself has good structure and won't fall apart when you try to slice it.

The combination of the maple syrup, cinnamon, dates, and walnuts, with that molasses undertone makes for a FABULOUS autumn-themed bread! 

This bread not only tastes good but is good for you since it only has a small amount of added sugar, while also being low in fat and high in fiber. (:
I love that I got the pretty crack down the middle-
I couldn't decide which topping I was going to go with, so I just went with a half and half combo of dark chocolate almond butter and Brummel & Brown buttery spread-
This bread is so flavorful and delicious that adding an intensely flavored topping is so unnecessary. It was honestly best plain or with a dab of Brummel & Brown!

The only slight problem I had was that the ends were a bit on the dry side (the middle was perfect, though) so I might try baking at 350 and then lowering the temperature to 325 after it has developed its shell so that the inside doesn't dry out.

There is really no other additions or alterations I would make to this bread because it is really that perfect :D

And in other news, have you ever heard of Fruit Pearls?
 They are similar to Dippin' Dots in concept; a pearl shaped frozen treat. But they differ in what those pearls are made out of! As you could probably infer, Fruit Pearls are made of fruit instead of the normal ice cream fare.

This particular flavor also has the addition of yogurt to act as the "cream" component. They have other flavors, but this particular one caught my eye when I saw it (on sale!) at Sprouts.

The ingredient list isn't short by any means; but the ingredients look innocent! Each flavor has slightly varying nutritional information, but this one is 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and only 8 grams of sugar! That's pretty good for a sweet treat.
I opened it up and was slightly surprised at what I saw-
I was confused what those little yellowish oval-shaped "dots" where, but it turns out those are actually just real pieces of tangerine! I took a bite and was (again) surprised at how good it tasted. The red pearls where like tiny bites of berry sorbet while the white dots added creaminess and the citrus finished it off with a little tang. I like!

These cups are only a little over 3 ounces big, so I didn't think it would satisfy my sweet tooth and that I would probably gobble it up in seconds. This actually took me a good 10 minutes to eat! It was definitely a worthy product to try. (This is not a paid advertisement)

The only thing that would keep me from stocking up on these as a freezer staple is the price! They're over $7 for a pack of 4 which is just a little too much. I got them on sale for $3.99 which is a price I think is much more adequate.

It was fun to try it out though; I'm definitely going to stock up on another box before they raise the price!

Now I'm off to prepare my mom the dinner she requested!
What are you doing for mother's day?

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