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Medjool Dates-Healthy Sugar Alternative

Medjool Dates-Healthy Sugar Alternative

It’s widely known that fruits provide many health benefits, so when something is referred to as “nature’s power fruit” it SHOULD get our attention, right?  Well, Medjool dates are referred to as just that–NATURE’S POWER FRUIT!

Packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, the health benefits are remarkable. These edible sweet fruits of the date palm tree make great natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives, but they’re not just delicious. They’ve also been proven to decrease cholesterol and boost bone health and who doesn’t want that?

What exactly are Medjool dates, and what makes them so beneficial?  Read on to find out.

What Are Medjool Dates?

There are many varieties of dates available worldwide, but the Medjool date is one of two of the most commercially produced varieties within the U.S. The other most commonly produced is the Deglet Noor (or Nour) date, but Medjools are larger, softer and sweeter. Medjool dates can be consumed fresh or dried, and it’s common for them to be dried, which lengthens their life span and prevents early spoilage.

Medjool dates have a deep brown skin color with a flavor that can be described as caramel-like. When holding a dried Medjool date in your hand, you first feel its firm yet wrinkled texture, but don’t make any quick judgments because, upon biting into a Medjool date, you will see that the inside is actually moist and meaty.

Medjool dates vary greatly in size, and at present there are no industry standards for size. You will sometimes see Medjool dates described as “large,” “jumbo” or “super,” which is a general reference to their length as well as their circumference.

Once you get a hang of how to incorporate Medjool dates into your daily diet and recipes (see below for some great recipes on this site!), they will quickly become one of your favorite raw food kitchen staples!

6 Health Benefits of Medjool Dates

1. Decrease Cholesterol
Medjool dates are a wise choice when it comes to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. When you eat them, you increase your insoluble and soluble fiber intake, which in turn can significantly lower cholesterol naturally, particularly LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. As we know, LDL cholesterol is a major contributing factor to heart attacks, heart disease and stroke, making these tasty dates a great heart-healthy option.

2. Prevent & Relieve Constipation
If you’re reading a list of top foods for constipation relief, don’t be surprised if you see dates on the list. The high fiber content of Medjool dates make them a smart choice when it comes to keeping yourself regular.  Dates have high levels of soluble fiber, which keep bowel movements regular by adding bulk to stool and helping it move faster through the intestines. Next time you’re looking for a natural constipation relief remedy, try having a few Medjool dates.  

3. Boost Energy
Need a new go-to for your pre-workout snack or a healthy post-workout option? Try Medjool dates!  Once you try a Medjool date, you won’t be surprised to learn that dates are higher in sugar than many other fruits. However, dates are high in natural sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are easily processed and utilized by the body for energy.

Consuming a few Medjool dates or including them in a snack is an excellent idea when you’re looking for a healthy surge of energy. Worldwide, dates are used for an afternoon pick-me-up to ward off tiredness. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, try a smoothie recipe that includes some Medjool dates! (See link below for Coconut Banana Date Shake.)

4. Reduce Triglyceride Levels
Medjool dates can give your heart a healthy boost. A  study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found Medjool dates are high in antioxidative properties in vitro. Ten healthy subjects consumed 100 grams daily of either Medjool or Hallawi dates for four weeks. According to the study, the consumption of Medjool dates reduced blood triglyceride levels by 8 percent among the participants.

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. Having a high level of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease so it’s important to keep your triglycerides at a normal level (less than 150 milligrams per deciliter).

5. Sweeten Naturally
If nature had an actual candy store, Medjool dates would be front and center. When you eat a Medjool date, it can be hard to process that it really is a piece of fruit because it has such candy-like qualities.

Medjool dates are undeniably sweet, but in a completely unprocessed sort of way—so, as long as you don’t overdo it, there is no guilt associated with these caramel-like gems.

Research has shown that there is a direct link between increased sugar consumption in food and increased diabetes rates. We all should aim to keep our sugar intake down and be mindful of our sources of sugar. A delicious fruit, like a Medjool date, provides a truly satisfying alternative to eating those refined sugar treats.

6. Boost Bone Health
The significant amounts of key minerals found in Medjool dates make them superstars when it comes to strengthening bones and fighting off painful and debilitating bone diseases like osteoporosis. Dates are high in calcium and phosphorus, which work closely together to build strong bones and teeth.  Phosphorus is also required to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, and zinc. Calcium also keeps the heart, nerves, muscles and other body systems working properly.  As people begin to age and their bones start to become weaker, maintaining a diet high in both calcium and phosphorus can ward off unpleasant bone degradation. Eating Medjool dates regularly is one way that you can up your intake of calcium and phosphorus.

Medjool Dates Nutrition Facts

One Medjool date contains 66 calories, 15.95 grams of sugar and 0 trans fats. Since dates are naturally rich in carbohydrates (17.99 milligrams in a single date), they are an excellent source of energy. Medjool dates are also loaded with many vitamins and minerals.

One serving (100 grams) of Medjool dates contains:

  • 6.7 grams fiber (26.8 percent DV)
  • 696 milligrams potassium (19.9 percent DV)
  • 54 milligrams magnesium (13.5 percent DV)
  • 0.25 milligrams vitamin B6 (12.5 percent DV)
  • 1.61 milligrams niacin (8 percent DV)
  • 64 milligrams calcium (6.4 percent DV)
  • 62 milligrams phosphorus (6.2 percent DV)
  • 0.06 milligrams riboflavin (3.5 percent DV)
  • 0.05 milligrams thiamine (3.3 percent DV)
  • 149 IU vitamin A (3 percent DV)
  • 0.44 milligrams zinc (2.9 percent DV)

Where to Find & How to Use Medjool Dates

Medjool dates can be found in your local grocery store in the fresh and/or dried fruit aisle. Dried Medjool dates are also likely to be found at your nearest health store, often in the bulk section, which will give you the greatest amount of dried dates for the lowest price.

Medjool dates come with the pit inside of them because the fruit is too soft to put in a mechanical pitter. While having to deal with pits is not ideal, the pit can be removed very easily. Simply make a small, lengthwise slice into the date with a knife, pull out the pit and that’s it you have a delicious Medjool date ready for consumption! It’s also extremely easy to remove the pit with your fingers.

Last but not least, when Medjool dates are made into a paste, they become an awesome, nutrient-dense sugar substitute. Date paste can be used one-to-one in most recipes, unlike stevia, and it adds bulk for baking.

How to make date paste:
1. Soak Medjool dates in hot water until soft. If the water reaches room temperature and the dates aren’t soft enough, soak in hot water again.
2. Reserve the soaking liquid, as it’s integral to making a good paste!
3. Add the soaked dates to your food processor, along with one tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. Add more water as needed to create a thick rich paste.

You’re looking for the consistency of peanut butter. Use the paste in your favorite cookie or cake recipe to cut out refined sugar and boost the nutrients.

Possible Side Effects of Medjool Dates

As with any fruit, it’s important not to overdo it when consuming Medjool dates due to their high natural sugar content. Pay attention to serving sizes, and monitor your blood sugar if you are a diabetic. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a half cup of dried fruit like Medjool dates equals one serving of fruit. A half cup of Medjool dates is a very satisfying serving whether you consume them alone or within a recipe. 

It’s possible to have a food allergy to Medjool dates. If you experience any symptoms of a food allergy such as a runny nose, tongue swelling, itchy eyes or facial redness, then discontinue consumption of Medjool dates and seek medical attention.

RECIPES USING MEDJOOL DATES

PECAN COCONUT BALLS

APPLE CRISP

COCONUT BANANA DATE SHAKE

ALMOND DATE TRUFFLES

COCONUT CREAM FRUIT TARTS

SHAVED PARSNIP SIDE SALAD

COCONUT DATE BITES

 

Building a Better Smoothie

Building a Better Smoothie

Keeping up with your Fueled for God 40-Day Challenge can be a well…challenging…especially if you are one of our members that is dashing off to work, kids in tow, trying to keep up with nursing a baby, and yada, yada, yada! YES! We have several of our members doing some of that OR all of that!!! Lord, bless them, please:)

Creativity in meal prepping is critical, not only to these ladies, but to ALL of our members! It’s paramount to staying engaged and avoiding boredom, and thus possibly quitting your commitment on a potentially life-changing journey. One way to switch up your breakfast AND/OR include healthy snacks, is to dabble in smoothie mastery.

Your FIRST STEP is to follow the graphic in proper “layering” of smoothie contents, so be sure and take a look at that. There are endless combinations of milks, vegetables, nut and seed butters, fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds, along with collagen/protein (follow the link for a challenge-worthy brand) powders, that you can combine to make a hearty smoothie that will keep you satisfied for hours.

Your SECOND STEP is to refer to Page 22 in your CONFIDENT HOPE WORKBOOK for those “Tricky Names for Sugar.”  Read those labels AND ingredient lists on your nut milks and coconut milks to check for any additional sugars. That extra sugar sneaks into all kinds of foods you’d never expect! If you would like to include a bit of stevia in your smoothies, Sweat Leaf is an excellent brand because it is pure. You can get it on Amazon on at HEB, locally.

Your THIRD STEP is to check out the smoothie recipes either utilizing the RECIPE INDEX located on the green bar at the top of this website or simply do a recipe search, located in the sidebar to the right. Search under “course” for “smoothie.” Also, it’s best to eat the bulk of your fruit for breakfast and as an afternoon snack. Dinner and after-dinner fruit intake should be kept to a minimum.

TIPS FOR FREEZING

MAKE AHEAD FREEZER SMOOTHIE PACKS
1. Place your liquid ingredients in ice trays and freeze. You can also add your protein powder before freezing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. After the liquid ingredients have frozen, begin making your smoothie packs. Start by placing 1 serving size of each of your ingredients per recipe into a Ziplock freezer (not storage) bag, along with four of the frozen liquid ingredient cubes. Seal each bag and place into your freezer until ready to use. You can either thaw out a pack the night before, then just place in your blender for breakfast the next morning. OR Place in your blender frozen (if you have a high-powered blender) and blend it up straight from the freezer!

Refueling Our Tanks!

As women, we all possess two areas–two tanks–that can run on empty.

First, we have that get-up-and-go area–our oomph, if you will–our energy level.

Second, there’s that more out-of-sight area–you know, the veiled one—the one we try to keep hidden from others–our emotional level.

Of course, both of these areas ebb and flow.
Our energy “tanks” become low through illness, lack of sleep, not eating the proper foods, not exercising, etc.  On the other hand, our emotional “tanks” deplete themselves in sneaky, less noticeable ways. You are excited about moving into a new home, you have a sister who is getting married, a child having a baby, family visiting for the holidays. All happy life-events, right? Yes, and all life-stressing events.  Down goes that emotional tank. We don’t even need to mention the unhappy events that will deplete our emotional tanks, do we? Those are not sneaky at all!!!

How about filling UP those tanks?
Those energy tanks can be filled back up fairly easily. We’re ill so we go to the doctor and get better. Lost some sleep? Take a nap and catch up. Been eating poorly?  Start a new diet and begin to watch what we eat.

However, those emotional tanks are a bit trickier to refresh. We can be energetic on the outside, but almost completely sapped and emotionally drained on the inside. We don’t even know we are on the edge until something pops up and throws us a curve—it can be the tiniest of things once you get to the point of emotionally running on empty. Your feelings get hurt over the smallest infraction on someone’s part. You begin to over analyze everything and want to control all of life’s events.

We need to learn how to refuel our emotional tanks BEFORE we reach that empty point! Our emotional tanks don’t empty out all at once, so we don’t notice how empty we’ve become until it’s almost too late to refuel!!

So, how can we do that? We need to be refueling WHILE things are depleting us not AFTER. Using the analogy of our car gas tanks–we don’t wait until they are totally empty before refueling. Same thing here–we can’t run on empty! It takes time to refill your emotional tank, so don’t wait too long to begin the process.

Let’s look at some examples of how we can refuel before running on empty.

  • Spend time with the Lord, reading the Bible, praying (these activities always tend to take a back seat when life gets hectic)
  • Make yourself a priority (everyone suffers when we are not at our best, so don’t feel like you are being selfish when you put yourself first and take care of yourself)
  • Make a date with yourself for some pampering time (pedicure, manicure, “me day”)
  • Exercise (this is also one of those things that takes a back seat when life gets busy)
  • Keep your diet clean (when we don’t eat the foods that “fuel” our bodies, every other area suffers)
  • Spend time being creative (activities you enjoy, such as gardening, crocheting, painting, reading, etc.)
  • Make a gratitude journal (it’s hard to stay down when you are being thankful)

You’ll be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, etc., when you are NOT running on an empty emotional tank and when your energy tank is full!! The people in your life deserve to have you at your best.

When your energy and emotional tanks are full you are refreshed, both in body and spirit. Your outlook is renewed. You are refocused on those things you hold dearest.

I will be filled with joy because of You.
I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.

Psalm 9:2

Breaking the Sugar Habit

Why is it so difficult to break the sugar habit? Studies have shown that sugar may help curb stress, which keeps us coming back for more…and more…and more. This hormonal effect of sugar is what creates a craving for sugary “comfort” foods when we are stressed out.

In its natural state, sugar is a relatively harmless (even necessary) carbohydrate that our bodies need to function. It is found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy as a compound known as fructose or lactose. The problem comes when sugar is added to foods during processing for added flavor, texture, or color. This is more common than you may realize–you don’t have to be in the candy aisle to be surrounded by added sugar!

Eating too many of these empty calories has many health effects, the most obvious being major weight gain. Added sugar drives your insulin levels up, messes with your metabolism, and causes those calories to turn right into belly fat. YIKES! And while losing weight is well and good, that’s just the beginning of the health benefits of cutting back on the sweet stuff.

Here are just a few other legit reasons to fight the sugar habit:

  • It may lower your blood pressure
  • It may lower your bad cholesterol
  • It may decrease your heart attack risk
  • It may keep your brain sharper
  • You’ll be less likely to have Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • You’ll be less likely to suffer from depression
  • You’ll break your addiction to the sweet stuff
  • Your skin will look younger and more clear
  • You’ll lower your risk of diabetes
  • It may help prevent fatty liver disease
  • It may help reduce your risk of certain cancers

NOW, FOR THE GOOD NEWS! You CAN overcome your addiction to sugar. Below are a few tips to get those cravings under control.

KEEP YOUR BLOOD SUGAR IN BALANCE
Research studies say that low blood sugar levels are associated with LOWER overall blood flow to the brain, which means more BAD decisions. So, it makes sense that cutting out sugar will help keep your blood sugar stable and your brain functioning at a higher capacity. Keep your blood sugar in balance by:
EATING A NUTRITIOUS BREAKFAST
Protein like eggs, protein shakes, or nut butters are excellent choices. Studies repeatedly show that eating a healthy breakfast helps people maintain weight loss.
EATING SMALLER MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Eat every 3-4 hours and have some protein with each snack or meal (lean animal protein, nuts, seeds, and beans).
ELIMINATING SUGARS AND ARTIFICIAL SUGARS
Go cold turkey. This will help your brain to reset. Eliminate refined sugars, sodas, fruit juices, and artificial sweeteners (Stevia acceptable substitute) from your diet. These are all drugs that will fuel cravings.
TRY TO GET SEVEN TO EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP EACH NIGHT

Research shows that lack of sleep increases cravings.
AVOID EATING TWO TO THREE HOURS BEFORE GOING TO BED

PRAISE Bible Study Method

PRAISE Method

PRAISE Bible Study Method

Introducing the PRAISE Method of Studying the Bible.Here’s how it works.

P – The P stands for PRAY. First, confess any sin God reveals to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding of the truths you will be reading and for a fresh hunger for His Word. Pray the passage over your own life or someone you love. Ask God to help you live out your applications.

R – The R stands for READ. Read chapter or verses for the day. Then choose 1-2 verses and write or type them out word for word. Say the passage aloud.

A – The A stands for APPLY. Personalize the verses. What is God saying to you? How can you apply them to your life? Are there any changes you need to make or any action you should take? Ask yourself the question…”How will I be different today because of what I have read?”  So much of Scripture application is about the “today-ness” of it. That’s why we need to come to the Word on a daily basis to get a “word” from the Lord.

I – The I stands for INVESTIGATE. Dig a little deeper. Look at cross-references or commentaries regarding your daily reading. Highlight, underline or place a mark in the margin of your Bible next to any one Scripture that stands out. Identify the characters, the setting, the circumstances surrounding this passage. Break the verse down, line by line. Dissect it, word for word, asking the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding. Make a list of the thoughts, questions and ideas that come to you while you read this passage.

S – The S stands for SUBMIT. Submit to any changes the Holy Spirit is prompting you to make in your life.

E – The E stands for ENGRAVE. Engrave God’s word on your heart by memorizing a chosen verse from your reading.

As you read each day, end your time with a few moments of pure PRAISE. Thank the Lord for ALL He has done for you. The Psalms are a great place to go to for praise prompts. Read God’s Word back to Him OR get a hymnal and sing/say the words of your favorite hymns back to Him! Two great ways to end your time in His word with a time of PRAISE.

Almost Always

I almost always love fresh starts and new beginnings. I almost always look back at the year gone by and think…”Whew! I made it through another one without any major health issues, deaths in the family, etc.” While last year was still a blessing as far as health, that death in the family thing…well, I didn’t get through the year without that issue. I lost my biggest cheerleader, my most faithful pray-er and intercessor, my best friend…I lost my Mom.  She went to be with our Lord a few months ago. 

In January, when my inbox overflowed with emails telling me to—“Begin this year…say yes to a fresh start now…change your life“…yada, yada, yada…this almost always girl wasn’t ready yet. I wasn’t feeling it. I felt left behind. Grief does funny things to your personality. So, here I am in almost February wanting to say “Happy New Year!” I’m ready now. Joy and anticipation have come forward and grief has taken its proper place at the back of my mind. 

So…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

If you have had an almost always kind of beginning to your new year, please join me in a symbolic flip of the calendar to 2015 today. Be encouraged. Be joyful. Be ready. Be renewed. This is the day the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

We were made by God—for God. HE is our biggest cheerleaderHE is our most faithful pray-er/intercessorHE is our best friend.  I may have lost my Mom, but I will always have Him! May we all be reminded of that today!

Prove It!

A simple wedding reception. That’s how it all started. Over three decades ago. Surrounded by hope, joy, and anticipation. I felt only despair, sorrow, and dread. My marriage was over. Didn’t they know how it would all end up? Part of me wanted to charge forward and frantically warn them…“It’s not what you think. This won’t end well.” Fortunately, I kept my thoughts to myself. I had enough going on just trying to cover the big “D” plastered on my forehead. On the way home, I blurted it out–“I want what they have.” There. I said it. It was out of my mouth. I looked at my Mom and admitted it. Yes, I wanted what “those people” all had. There was a common, obvious thread among them. What was it? One simple, life-changing answer. They had God in their lives and it showed. They looked good. They even smelled good. More importantly, they loved good. I was treated like “one of them” (even though we all knew I wasn’t). They were living proof. Walking and breathing testimonies.

They made me want to be like them. They made me want what they had. They made me want God. “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16, NLT)

More than 30 years later, I know. I know God uses His people to call others to Himself. I know God uses His people to show His love. I know God uses His people to repair broken lives. I know…because they proved it. I know…because God was faithful to do it. “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” (Matthew 3:8, NLT)

We were put on this earth for only one reason—to glorify God. We are here to show who HE IS, not who WE ARE. “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.” (Psalm 23:3, NLT)

So, today, let’s honor His name by our lives. Let’s honor His name by our love. Lord, may we be a people to cause others to say…“I want what they have.”

The LORD is my portion…

Portion control.  OY!  For this ONE or TEN girl (I have no FIVE), this is a huge issue.  I have always told people….”I do much better practicing total abstinence.  I can’t just eat one donut, so I have to go without!”

Hmmm…. actually, this adage has always just been my excuse for a lack of control and discipline.  I don’t think I am alone.

This way of eating keeps us in a perpetual state of roller coaster dieting.  Bad for your body, bad for your brain, and really bad for your confidence and self-esteem.  Way too much time is spent beating yourself up for over-indulging and patting yourself on the back for a job well done. Personally, I am more bruised from the beatings than the pats! This inconsistent living gives Satan a foothold in our lives.

While researching “portion control” for this post, I ran across more than a few websites touting their “small plate systems” for losing weight.  They actually sell plates or plate systems (for $99) that will prevent us from overindulging.  Wow!  I was shocked.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, I did come away feeling like I shouldn’t need to be tricked into eating a healthy diet.  Time to buck up and buckle down.  No more excuses…and no purchasing $99 plate systems.

The Lord did not create our bodies to be treated like a teeter totter.  He created us with balance.  We are His masterpiece.  Created by the Master.

So, this year, I have deemed my
“YEAR OF LIVING IN THE 5-ZONE.”   No more extremes. Time to exercise some self-control and self-discipline. (1Thess. 4:4)  Time to exercise some moderation. (Phil. 4:5)  Time to live a holy and honorable life for God.

The Lord is my portion…

Want help honoring God and controlling portions?  Click HERE for some guidance.

Ready–Set–Go!

I love new beginnings! What a blessing to ring in the new year with you!  I always look back and think…”Whew!  I made it through another one without any major health issues, deaths in the family, etc.”  I know.  Sounds like it’s all about me, right?  Sorry about that.  Actually, it’s all about HIM!  What a joy to anticipate all of God’s goodness, mercy, and faithfulness ahead.  We can be confident that God’s decisions and ways are greater and wiser than ours and that we will see His glory in 2014 and beyond!  (Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! Rom. 11:33)

Let’s not just blindly flip our calendars. Let’s enter into this new year with excitement and new hearts and minds.

Let’s not just wander from month-to-month. Let’s enter each month searching for ways to be more obedient, kind, faithful, joyful, and active in others’ lives.

Let’s not just live from day-to-day with no direction.  Let’s run at life equipped with our Bibles, our faith, and our God.

Let’s press on and run to win (1Cor. 9:24).
Let’s be finishers–not just starters. (Phil. 3:14).
Let’s release those things in life that are slowing us down and keeping us from a mighty pursuit of God (Heb. 12:1).
Let’s remain faithful to the end (2 Tim. 4:7).

He is worth it and, as children of God, our lives are worth it.

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