Bread Pudding with Dates and Orange Whiskey Sauce

by in Healthy Recipes, February 10, 2016

Imagine velvety whisky sauce drizzling down the sides of rich bread pudding. What could be more indulgent? Don’t worry, it’s a healthy indulgence!

In this month for lovers, we are happy to smother our loved ones with the sweetest of sweets. Plus, it’s chilly outside. So this is a good time to turn on the oven and bake something (super easy) to share. Whether you serve this creamy bread pudding on a fancy tray for breakfast in bed or put it on the menu for a cozy brunch with friends, please share this sweet treat that’s made with simple, healthy ingredients.

First on the ingredients list is whole-grain bread. The benefit of using this as the base is twofold: It contains whole grains, which we all need to eat a bit more often, and darker breads actually caramelize better in the oven. And that means the top of this pudding gets a nice caramel crust.

A second healthful ingredient is dates. A 1/4-cup serving of dates (about two large Medjool dates) contains:

•  16 vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, copper and vitamin B6
•  3 grams of fiber
•  About 130 calories, mostly carbohydrate/sugar, which can be used to naturally sweeten recipes and decrease the amount of added sugar

Rounding out the simple list of ingredients in this “bressert” (breakfast and dessert!) are cardamom and orange. Both are used in Scandinavian cooking — and our Nordic friends are experts in keeping warm during their long, beautiful winters. If you’ve never tried cardamom, you’re in for a treat; it’s peppery and warm and sweet all at the same time. It’s a complement to the tart, sweet orange flavors (as is cinnamon, if you can’t find cardamom).

But don’t skip the Orange Whiskey Sauce — it’s the crowning glory. Plus, it comes together in only about 10 minutes. The recipe calls for whole milk, but we also tested it with reduced-fat (1 percent) milk and found it was still creamy and delicious. And with that splash of whiskey that’s added at the end, it will warm your insides almost as much as snuggling up with tons of blankets.

So turn on the oven — right now. Someone special would surely like to share a piece or two of healthy indulgence with you.

Bread Pudding with Dates and Orange Whiskey Sauce
Yield: About 8 servings

4 cups whole-grain bread cubes (from about 4 to 5 pieces of sandwich bread)
4 large eggs, beaten
2 1/4 cups reduced-fat (1 percent) milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped dates

Orange Whiskey Sauce
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
5 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

To dry bread cubes, place on a large baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes, stirring twice. Cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, orange peel and cardamom. Add dry bread cubes and dates; toss to coat bread with egg mixture.

Pour egg mixture into a greased 2-quart square baking dish and let set for 10 minutes (for bread to soak up egg mixture). Using a flat spatula, press bread down into egg mixture and place in a heated 350 degree F oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

For Orange Whiskey Sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine milk and brown sugar. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, orange juice and 3 tablespoons whiskey; whisk together with a fork until combined. Pour into milk mixture in pan, scraping bowl to get all of the cornstarch. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons of whiskey. Serve over warm bread pudding.

Per serving (1/8th of recipe): Calories 282; Fat 7 g (Saturated 3 g); Sodium 219 mg; Carbohydrate 41 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 34 g; Protein 9 g

Serena Ball, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at, sharing tips and tricks to help readers find cooking shortcuts for making healthy, homemade meals. Her recipes are created with families in mind.

6 Kitchen Hacks for Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

by in Healthy Recipes, February 10, 2016

Calling all chocoholics! Discover why there’s way more to antioxidant-rich unsweetened cocoa powder than candy with these kitchen hacks.

Read more

The Healthy Breakfast You Can Make from Leftovers

by in Healthy Recipes, February 9, 2016

Oatmeal is a great way to get heart-healthy whole grains into your breakfast, but it’s not the only way. With a little prep work, you can turn lots of whole grains into a morning meal — from quinoa and brown rice to millet and polenta. Try this easy, versatile, DIY recipe to make a healthy, hot breakfast in minutes.

This recipe uses leftover cooked grains from your fridge. If you don’t have any… get on that! Keeping a big batch of cooked whole grains in the fridge is a timesaving step for lots of healthy meals.

Read more

Should You Be Drinking Milk? (And If So, What Kind?)

by in Food News, February 8, 2016

There’s a debate raging around dairy, with some people advocating its consumption for a variety of health reasons, and others shunning it based on their own digestive or ethical concerns. But the newly released dietary guidelines are clear: They continue to recommend three servings per day of dairy as the best way to meet the requirements for calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A and magnesium. “The guidelines say that dairy is crucial, because for most Americans it is the primary source of those nutrients that many come up short on,” says Isabel Maples, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics.

But many Americans experience symptoms of lactose intolerance that make consuming dairy products particularly unpleasant. The gas, bloating and diarrhea are caused by an inability to digest lactose — the sugar that naturally occurs in cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Recently, however, science has started to tease out another possible explanation for many people’s post-dairy discomfort. “Researchers looked into why people who thought they were lactose-intolerant could drink goat’s milk without issue, even though it has as much lactose as cow’s milk,” says Bonnie Johnson, M.S., R.D., nutrition director, a2 Milk Company.

Read more

Trending! Sweet Heat for Your Sweetheart

by in Food News, February 7, 2016

Move over, sweet and salty; hello, sweet heat. This flavor combo that gives a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) burn to sweet foods has been steadily gaining traction. And it’s moving far beyond chile chocolate and jalapeno margaritas. This Valentine’s Day, check out some of the latest offerings to sport the sweet-hot flavor combo.

Here’s where we’ve spotted it:
Read more

How National Grocery Chains Are Healthifying Options

by in Grocery Shopping, February 6, 2016

Most of us shop for food at supermarkets. And while it’s possible to get healthy food there (hint: shop the perimeter), sometimes it feels like we’re being thwarted in our efforts to buy healthy food (we’re looking at you, checkout lane). So it’s refreshing to hear that several of the nation’s grocery stores are taking steps to make it easier for us to buy and eat healthier.

Read more

News Feed: Genetically Modified Salmon, Sugar Limit, Frozen Produce

by in Food News, February 5, 2016

New hurdle for genetically modified salmon

Looks like it’s going to be an upstream battle for purveyors of genetically modified salmon. A scant two months after U.S. authorities deemed it safe for human consumption, the FDA has issued a ban on the import and sale of genetically engineered salmon until the agency sets forth guidelines as to how it should be labeled — a step that, the Washington Post notes, could take years. The ban was issued in response to a bill recently passed by Congress. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, who had pushed for labeling, called it “a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish,’” adding that she believes “mandatory labeling guidelines must be put in place as soon as possible so consumers know what it is they are purchasing.” Read more

Trend Watch: It’s Raining Purple

by in Food News, February 5, 2016

Purple lovers, unite! We’ve spied (and tasted) a bunch of products made from antioxidant-packed purple corn and are happy to report much of it is really good!

Read more

5 Lower-Fat Dips for Game Day — Comfort Food Feast

by in Healthy Recipes, February 4, 2016

If there’s any day of the year to indulge your most-hedonistic dip fantasies, it’s Game Day — a national event so synonymous with chips and dip that there are actually NFL-brand serving trays made to enhance the ubiquitous snack food’s visual appeal and ease of consumption, all in the name of football. But why choose an oil-laden dip when you can dig into creamy, comforting creations for less than 10 grams of fat per serving? If you’re hosting a viewing party this year, you’ll definitely want to skip the sad jarred nacho cheese in favor of these homemade recipes.

Read more

Lentil-and-Couscous-Stuffed Peppers

by in Healthy Recipes, February 4, 2016

When I think of stuffed peppers, I’m reminded of the cheesy, tomato-and-beef-filled versions my mom made when I was a child. I didn’t fall in love with bell peppers until much later in life, so I used to dread those dinners. I would sprinkle on extra cheese and eat only the filling, leaving as much baked pepper behind as possible. Thankfully, my taste buds have matured and I now love bell peppers, especially the slightly smoky taste of roasted ones.

Read more