March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
3 cups whole-wheat flour
¼ cup semolina
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon ground fennel
2 tablespoon ground anise
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon rose water
1 cup 1-percent milk, at room temperature
1 ½ package pressed dates (Can be found in Middle Eastern ethnic stores. If you can't find those, use soft pitted dates and press/knead with your hands.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
To make the dough, mix all dry ingredients (up to the anise seeds) in a medium size bowl. Add the egg and the vanilla and try to incorporate. You might want to use your fingertips to do that.
Add the oil and rose water and continue to incorporate with your fingertips. Pour in the milk and knead until you have a uniform dough ball. Divide in half.
To prepare the filling, place the pressed dates in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle the cinnamon. Microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until soft. Then knead until all three ingredients are well blended together.
Brush a 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil. Take one half of the dough and flatten it on your kitchen counter until it's big enough to cover the dish. Now flatten all of the dates and place on top of the dough. Repeat with the second half of the dough and place on top of the date layer. Use a roller and parchment paper, especially for the dates or else they will stick on your counter.
Cut the bars. I cut them diagonally, but you can do any other size/shape you prefer.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Broil on low for a few minutes until golden.
Serve hot, warm or cold. Yum!
Serving size: 1 bar
Calories: 220; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Trans Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 60mg; Total Carbohydrate: 38g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugars: 21g; Protein 4g; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 6%; Iron: 8%.