Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Date (Or A Few) With Banana-Oat Smoothies

As the fasting month of Ramadan approached, dates began appearing at supermarkets and selected stores. After seeing a recipe for an oat, banana and date "shake" online, I was itching to try making a version of it.

Banana-oat-nut smoothie, starting out as a batch of overnight oats.
The banana can go into the jar, or not.

Dates are incredibly sweet. According to Wikipedia, dates are 80 per cent sugar(!), but also loaded with other vital minerals. Most dates sold here are dried ripe ones, but the folks at the chain fruit stall MBG brought in fresh dates at one time.

The ripe fresh fruit is crunchy and sweet but leaves the mouth dry and with a slightly astringent-bitter aftertaste, like after drinking teh kosong kaw. Dried dates are sticky, chewy in texture, sweet, smoky or woody, but mostly SWEET - eighty per cent sugar, okay?

With a flavour and nutrient profile that's more complex than plain white sugar, sweetening smoothies with dates seemed natural. If your blender is weak, however, be prepared to chew chunks of sticky dates instead of drinking a nice glass, cup or mug of rich and thick oat and banana smoothie.

I didn't use too much milk in the overnight soaking process, so the
batch turned out extra goopy.

For some preparations, dates are better sweeteners than honey. And I think I'm getting addicted to date-sweetened oat smoothies.

Dried dates are already chewy at room temperature; refrigerating these and taking them out later will mean waiting for it to soften, lengthening preparation times.

I partly solved this sticky date problem by leaving the dates at room temperature for 15 minutes or so before pitting and cutting them into small pieces. I soaked the pieces in hot water for about 15 minutes and mashed them into a paste - too much trouble for something one would prepare on the go.

To add more body to the smoothie, throw in several of your favourite nuts and seeds: walnut, cashew, almond, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and maybe chia. Maybe even swirl in peanut butter or any nut butter, or even a healthy vegetable oil - not palm oil, please, because it's in everything, even stuff you don't eat.

Round and round it goes, with a drizzle of olive oil

My combo, apart from oat, banana and date, includes sunflower seeds, cashews, additional oat bran, soaked-in-water chia seeds and olive oil. I prefer to soak the chia seeds in water until they turn into a jelly-like mass first. Dry chia seeds are likely to be tossed out of the mixture by the blades and stick to the pitcher.

No time in the morning to deal with dates? Make a batch a la overnight oats, minus the banana (you can add the banana if you want - and eat it instead of drink it the next day). Soak the seeds, nuts, oats and dates with milk in a jar overnight or six hours, at least; everything will soften enough to be blended with a banana. You can also eat this straight out of the jar, but I find it more fun to smoothify the mix.

Don't use too much of each ingredient. Chia seeds, in particular, are rich in fibre and you don't want your smoothie so thick that the spoon can't move. You might want to chase this mix down with an equal portion of water, as you would when eating fibre-rich stuff.

Save for a few lumps of cashew nut, the smoothie was great. Depending
on the amount of oats, etc., this should keep one full till lunch.

One portion of this was enough to keep me full until past lunchtime. No surprise, with all the carbs and fats that went into it.

It's a little late into the fasting month to post tips, but this is one you can make any time.


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