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Khoshaf (Dried fruit salad) خشاف

apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, and almonds

 

This is a common starter in Egyptian homes during the months of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, which during these long summer days is over 16 hours long! When we break our fast, it is the tradition of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) to break the fast on a date and water. This dried fruit compote reflects that tradition, but it also combines other highly nutritional dried fruits and nuts. Dates are well utilized in the Muslim world as they are recognized for their high mineral content: calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, and zinc are all packed into this tiny superfood. Dates are also a supreme source of fiber and energy, and their sugars are low glycemic, releasing slowly and steadily into your body (which is a great thing for sustaining energy while fasting!). Dried apricots are also a super star in this fruit compote; they are packed with carotenoids, iron, potassium and fiber. This fruit salad compote is not only a very refreshing and nutritious way to break your fast (or start it). It is a delicious and sweet juice cocktail to enjoy, but you will need a spoon! The juice taste like an apricot drink scented with almonds and dates. I like to add extra apricot juice to the water to boost the color and flavor, but this is not necessarily traditional to the recipe. Apricot juice however, is another very popular drink enjoyed in the Middle East during Ramadan, but that is another recipe post! The dried fruits in khoshaf get very plump and juicy because they reconstitute themselves as they soak in water for a few hours before serving. 

The ingredients are very basic and easy to find; I collect them all on the same shelf at the grocery store where the dried fruits are, except for the dates. I do not recommend using chopped dates or already pitted dates, because they seem to be drier for some reason. They ar not as fresh either. We use organic Medjool dates that are very plump and sweet (Whole Foods and Costco have some of the best ones I have found). You should always slice the date open first to make sure it is clean, and also to remove the pit!

pitted dates

 

khoshaf ingredients

First, you will add boiling water to the apricots, raisins, and prunes. You could also add dried figs if you like, but I do not because I personally do not prefer the texture of figs and their seeds in this compote. 

khoshaf

Once the water and dried fruit mixture cools, you can add the chopped dates and stir in cold sugar water and sliced almonds. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled. As I mentioned, this is a great drink or fruit salad to break your fast on because the dates and other dried fruits will replenish the body with several nutrients and minerals. This compote is hailed to be more nourishing and hydrating than water alone. So give it a try if you have been fasting, or if you simply need to replenish your body after a workout or marathon!

khoshaf

Khoshaf: Dried Fruit Salad
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c sliced, pitted dates
  2. 1/2 c golden raisins
  3. 3/4 c dried apricots
  4. 3/4 c prunes
  5. 1/2 peeled and slivered almonds
  6. 2-3 cups of boiling water
  7. 1 cup cold water
  8. 1/4 c sugar
  9. 1 cup apricot juice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash the dried fruits.
  2. Place the apricots, prunes, and raisins in a large serving bowl or pitcher.
  3. Pour boiling water over the fruits so that they are covered in water. There should be an inch of water above the level of the fruit.
  4. Once the water has cooled, dissolve the sugar with cold water and pour over the fruit mixture and stir. Add the dates, almonds, and apricot juice.
  5. Serve chilled in a large serving bowl and ladle, or in individual dessert cups or bowls. Drink with a spoon!
Notes
  1. You may also add figs to the dried fruits. Try adding other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts as well! This compote is very flexible to your personal tastes and preferences!
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Date Truffles

These are the perfect excuse to indulge in a rich fudgy treat; packed with nutritional carbohydrates, minimal fat, no added sugars, and 7 natural whole ingredients this is the perfect snack to pop in for an energy boost! Try these before starting your Ramadan fast to have some lasting energy:) Or if you are like me and about to start an exhausting day running errands with two screaming kids with no time to eat; then these are perfect for that too!

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I love it when dessert can also be good for you. This recipe offers one delectably sweet treat, but it is oh so full of goodness and nutrition. These are also naturally vegan and gluten free so can be enjoyed by a variety of diets. These cute little truffles are delicious, fudgy, energy bites consisting of pureed dates, a dash of almond butter, vanilla extract, crushed nuts, coconut, or dried cherries (your choice!) and dark chocolate. I add some oats and flax meal for extra nutrition. Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber and have been shown to decrease inflammation, reduce risks for cancer, and modestly decrease blood sugar levels in diabetics. Whole flax seeds however, usually pass through your body undigested, so it is necessary to consume it ground.

For the month of Ramadan, when Muslims traditionally and ritually consume dates before starting and after breaking the fast, these make an excellent variation to just plain dates. Muslims start the day before fasting with a date or two in suhoor , so these come in handy with the added fiber and flavor. The sustained energy release, numerous nutrients, and outstanding health benefits of dates are all a reason to pop one (or a few!) of these into your mouth when you are running low on fuel! Check out my post on the date smoothie to try another energy boosting and natural treat and to read more about the health benefits of dates. But just to give you an idea, dates are a superfood rich in B vitamins which help you metabolize food and develop new blood cells. They are also rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Dates are packed with fiber, mostly insoluble fiber, which sticks to that nasty cholesterol and fat in your body and escorts it OUT of your body (by obvious means). Of course, as you may tell from its ultra sweet flavor, dates are also high in natural sugars, making them the perfect natural sweetener in desserts and smoothies and an excellent source of natural carbohydrates because they have a low glycemic index.

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I made some of these topped with crushed peanuts and no almond butter because my husband is allergic to all tree nuts and we have a tree-nut free household. BORING, I know. He is really missing out, I often tell him. Oh, and in case you are wondering, NO, peanuts are NOT a nut. They are a legume, or little seeds that grow in the ground. So although peanuts are a common allergy, they are not the same as a tree-nut allergy. (We often have to explain this to waiters who are very hesitant to give us desserts or foods with peanut ingredients when we warn them about the severe nut allergy). Anyway, I would LOVE to make these with crushed walnuts or pecans! Try it out, you will love it!

My favorite flavor is the coconut. Just add some coconut to the mixture and then roll the truffles in some shredded coconut.

To get the dates into a workable paste, you will need to remove the pit, slice in half, then soak the dates in warm water to soften them up. This is as technical as this recipe will get! Easy, right? Then you are ready to blend! Blend the dates with liquid vanilla extract and a spoon of almond butter to break up the dates into a paste.  Then add the cocoa, cinnamon, and other ingredients until incorporated. When cocoa is one of your main ingredients, it really needs to be the good stuff. Buy a fresh batch of high quality cocoa like Valrhona or Ghirardhelli. I use my Vitamix, which works great, but a powerful food processor should do the trick as well. I added oats and flax meal to the batch, and dried cherries, crushed nuts, or shredded coconut to divided parts of the mixture to make some different flavors. Then, after rolling into a ball, roll the truffle into some shredded coconut, crushed nuts, or some cocoa powder! The possibilities are endless!

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Date Truffles
Yields 8
A fudgy and delicious treat made with dates, cocoa powder, and nuts is packed with fiber and energy!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 Medjool dates (pit removed, sliced in half), about 1 cup
  2. 1/4 c oats
  3. 1 tbsp almond butter
  4. 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  5. 2 tsp vanilla extract (liquid so that it breaks up the dates in blender)
  6. 3/4 c cocoa powder (Valrhona or Ghirardhelli)
  7. 1 tsp flax meal (whole seeds do not get absorbed by the body as readily)
  8. 1/4 c shredded coconut, crushed nuts, or chopped dried cherries (plus some extra to roll the truffles in)
Instructions
  1. Soak the chopped dates in hot water for about 5 minutes until softened. Drain and place slices into a blender or food processor.
  2. Add the vanilla and almond butter, and cinnamon, if using. Pulse until the dates are pureed into a thick paste.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and flax meal and pulse until you achieve a rich, fudgy mixture.
  4. Add the oats and chopped nuts, coconut, or cherries. If you choose to have a variety of flavors, divide the chocolate puree into portions and add different ingredients to each batch.
  5. Roll the mixture into balls, then roll the truffles in coconut, cocoa powder, or crushed nuts.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes
  1. You can substitute the almond butter with peanut butter, but the peanut butter will tend to dominate the chocolate flavor. You may also completely omit the nut butter for a really thick and fudgy mixture (but you really need a powerful processor to break up the dates into a paste!)
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Date Smoothie

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It’s no secret in the Muslim world that dates are a superfood with numerous health benefits. It is no wonder that Muslims ritually start their fast and break their fasts with a date, as was the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) many centuries ago.  

But you do not need to be Muslim to know about the countless benefits of eating dates. Any nutritionist could attest to the nutritional value of this superfood. Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which grows in warm, dry regions such as the Middle East and parts of California. Dates are high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol, improves digestion, satiates the appetite, and fight heart disease and obesity. They are also high in Vitamin B, A, and K. B vitamins are the most prominent vitamin store in dates which include B6 and B9 (folic acid), which helps improve metabolism and produce new red blood cells. Dates are also very high in minerals including potassium, copper, calcium, iron, phosphate, magnesium, and manganese. Although dates are such a sweet treat and thought to be high in sugars, they actually have a high nutritional ratio to the calories as well as a low glycemic index so they absorb into the body much more slowly giving steady releases of energy and several other sustained benefits. Thus, in moderation dates are an excellent sweetener to use in place of cane sugar or other sweet desires. 

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This brings me to this deliciously satisfying and filling energy smoothie! This drink is a concoction of my father’s, which he whipped up one Ramadan long ago. During Ramadan, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sundown, and dates are in high demand! The benefits of a smoothie are obvious as you can puree a lot more nutrition and whole foods into a fine consistency which makes it easy to consume a lot more in the easy and convenient gulp of a milkshake. I use organic milk, usually whole because I believe in all the benefits of drinking wholesome vitamin D milk in its natural state. However you could use coconut milk, almond milk, or some ice and water if you have other dietary preferences. 4-6 pitted dates, a whole ripe banana, and a couple of frozen strawberries or ice cubes make this a nice refreshing shake that will keep your appetite satisfied and body well nourished for hours! If you have a powerful blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec you will have no issues throwing the dates in whole. No need to soften or puree them first. I enjoy this after a workout or before I run out of the house for the day running errands. You other moms out there know what a hassle it is to find time to sit down and eat when running around with kids and carseats/strollers all day! 

Enjoy!

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Date Smoothie
Serves 2
A refreshing and energy boosting milkshake that will keep you full and energized thorough your day!
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups cold milk
  2. 4-6 medjool dates, pits removed
  3. 1 ripe banana
  4. 4 frozen strawberries (optional) OR 1/2 cup ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Remove the pit from the dates by slicing down the center, vertically along the length of the date.
  2. Combine all the ingredients into a blender and pulse to chop and distribute, then increase to the highest speed for 1 minute until smooth and frothy.
  3. Enjoy!
Adapted from My father 🙂
Adapted from My father 🙂
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/