Have you ever noticed that some people feel cold in the hands and feet and look pale all the time in the winter, even though they bundle themselves under several layers of clothing, wear thick socks or wrap themselves in a blanket? Perhaps what they’re missing is nutritional therapy, which is another way to keep the body warm during cold weather. Traditional Chinese medicine says someone with balanced qi and blood circulation in their body is typically seen as outwardly healthy and energetic, and that a healthy glow in the cheeks indicates good body temperature regulation.
In this issue of Channel 823, we share the differences between three jujubes – red dates, candied dates and southern dates – and walk you through a popular and healthy dessert recipe for Lunar New Year: the delicious southern date and walnut cake!
In Hong Kong, there’s a well-known saying about the health and beauty benefits of the three jujubes: “Eating jujubes three times a day keeps your skin glowing away.” The three jujubes here refer to red dates, candied dates and southern dates. Known as a natural vitamin supplement, these three jujubes have different therapeutic effects due to different origins and varieties.
As a common ingredient in everyday cooking, red dates grow well in the northern provinces of China, and so they are commonly known as “northern dates”. They are the ripe fruit of the jujube tree, dried naturally in the sun to become an ingredient for traditional Chinese medicine or soup. Many women often brew red dates with water to use as a tonic to replenish their qi and improve blood circulation.
Candied dates are generally processed from green jujubes. The jujube fruit is boiled with sugar and then baked to achieve a golden colour, sweet taste and silky texture. While it is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, the candied date is generally regarded as an ingredient for cooking rather than a medicinal ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and is often used to enhance the natural sweetness of soups.
Most southern dates grow in China’s Zhejiang province. In ancient times, they were also called “gong jujubes” and were considered treasures given in tribute to the emperor. Since the production process of southern dates is more complicated than that of red dates, there is a price gap between the two. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners recommend red dates as a regular supplement for replenishing qi, while southern dates can be used when more restorative care is needed to nourish the blood.
With the approach of the Lunar New Year, we’re all looking forward to reuniting with family and friends to enjoy the festivities, exchange gifts and enjoy the food. Healthy eating can be quite a challenge at this time of year with all the choices available, but this recipe for southern date and walnut cake makes for a tasty sweet treat that has the positive health benefits of nourishing the spleen and stomach, replenish qi and improving blood circulation. It also makes the perfect gift, as in ancient times it was exclusively enjoyed by the empress in the royal palace!
600 g southern dates
270 ml water
30 g cane sugar/brown sugar
200 g maltose
25 g vegetable oil
20 g corn flour
250 g–300 g walnuts
A pinch of sesame seeds
Whenever you’re looking for a homemade healthy sweet treat that is absolutely delicious, try this recipe!
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