What's all the fuss about eating dates during pregnancy? A study conducted in 2011 by the Jordan University of Science and Technology discovered some fascinating effects that consuming six dates a day during pregnancy weeks 36-40 had on a group of mothers' labor outcomes. The study concluded that the group of women who consumed the dates had higher cervical dilation rates and were more likely to have in-tact membranes upon hospital admission. They also found that the mothers who consumed dates had higher rates of spontaneous labor, fewer inductions, had lower rates of Pitocin augmented labor, and in general had a shorter first stage of labor (1). Now that mamas is pretty exciting stuff! Oddly enough, the exact science behind why dates have a positive effect on labor outcome is still unknown.
Some individuals, like my roommate in college, love eating dates in their raw form. For myself, and many of my doula clients, the crusty exterior and the sugar-saturated taste of dates is a little overwhelming. Not to mention their uncanny resemblance to the delightful, home-invading cockroach. So for those of you who fall into this category, I have compiled two easy, tasty ways to prepare dates for yourself and make the experience all the more pleasant.
Stuffed Dates Recipe
Peanut or Almond Butter
Directions: Make length-wise slits on the top of the dates, widen them slightly with fingers. Scoop the nut butter of your choice with a teaspoon and stuff the date with the slit you made on the top.
*Note: Credit for this recipe goes out to my deceased Irish grandfather. He would stuff dates with peanut butter after our Christmas Eve dinner and then roll them in sugar and distribute to the family. I always thought this was the oddest Christmas tradition, particularly for an Irish family. If you're Irish and your family does this too- I'd love to chat and figure out where this comes from!
Date Truffles Recipe
2 cups of dates
1 cup of nuts (I prefer cashews or almonds)
1-2 TBSPs softened coconut oil
1 cup shredded coconut (sweet or unsweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Prep a cookie sheet by covering with sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil.
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend till evenly mixed. Test the mixture to see if it easily collects into a ball. If it falls apart add another spoon of coconut oil and blend. (I recommend starting off the recipe with 1 TBSP of coconut oil...then adding a 2nd or 3rd if the mixture isn't staying together).
Form mixture into truffle sized balls. Refrigerate for a few hours then serve. Keep refrigerated for best consistency and taste.
*Note: I acquired a similar recipe from my dear friend Jen in Alabama. After making it a few times I edited and substituted things. Makes quite the lovely dessert!
Happy date-ing and birthing!
(1) Al-Kuran, Al-Mehaisen, Bawadi H, Beitawi S, Amarin Z. "The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Labor and Delivery." Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: The Journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaocology, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989.