The natural sweetness of dates makes them an excellent sweetener in desserts, cakes and chutneys. Here they are cooked until smooth and pulpy with apple and aromatic spices to create a dip to serve with fruit and vegetable pieces. Alternatively, use this as an unusual topping for toast, scones or sweet crostini made with fruited bread.
To make a date, apple and orange dip, omit the ricotta cheese and instead beat in the grated zest and juice of 1 large orange. Pile into a bowl and serve surrounded with chunky wedges of apple and pear, and sticks of celery and carrot. * Use as a cake or pancake filling.
Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from the whey drained off when making cheeses such as mozzarella. It has a high moisture content, which makes it lower in fat and calories than many other soft, creamy cheeses. * In common with all cheeses, ricotta is a good source of calcium, and it contains vitamins A and D. Less of these vitamins are present in low-fat cheeses such as ricotta – vitamin D is fat-soluble, so the less fat in the cheese, the less vitamin D – but the amounts are still useful. * The apple and dried dates provide useful amounts of fibre. * Both cinnamon and cardamom are spices that can help to relieve indigestion. Also, cinnamon acts as a nasal decongestant.
Useful source of calcium, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C.