Real foods are generally better quality foods, because they are packaged in a more nutritious wrapper than their highly processed counterparts. Take dates for example. Dates are really high in sugar, which makes them a good candidate for raising blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can cause the sugar crash leading to fatigue, headaches, irritability, lack of concentration and a craving for more sugar. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and diabetes-related complications.
Dates are high in sugar, but yet they don’t seem to cause the same crash as regular old table sugar. The big reason why is because what they are packaged in….fiber. Dates are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is only found in plants and it is the part of the plant that is not digested. Dates are mostly an insoluble fiber that is not digested and help keeps you regular. They also are digested slower, so don’t cause that rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Translation, they do not cause the sugar crash! Plus, they are high in carbohydrates that provide energy for active teens.
A popular type of date among teens (the fruit of course) is the Medjool date. Medjool’s (pronounced med-jewel) are Middle Eastern treats. They are very sweet, have an almost caramel-like taste and are sticky to the touch. They are considered the “king of dates”, because they are the best quality dates. I like to look for dates without their giant seeds, as they are easier to eat.
Teachers can educate students about the value of dates by having them make a simple recipe (below). If you have limited time (10-20 minutes) and limited equipment, this is an easy recipe to make. I will usually bring in a couple of different ingredients so that students can make it their own. Or if you are a culinary or family and consumer science teacher and are lucky enough to have a kitchen and the time, you can make the longer version recipe.
4 dates = 1 serving
Teaching tip: Explain to students that dates are one of the all-time best finger foods, so they can carry and eat them pretty much anywhere. They can pack some of them in their backpack and enjoy them as an after-school snack before activities.
Stuffed Dates – Simple Recipe
Purchase enough Medjool dates so that every student can make at least two of them.
|Nuts (purchase a few different kinds):
|Creamy foods (purchase a few different kinds):
Kite hill cheese (vegan)
|Flavor ingredients (purchase a few different kinds):
Shredded dark chocolate
Orange essential oil
- Cut dates in half and remove seeds (if applicable).
- Mix together a creamy food with a flavor ingredient.
- Spread on ½ of date.
- Top with a nut(s).
- Do the same with the 2nd ½ of the date.
- Serve on a napkin or plate.