These muffins are perfection when it comes to banana bread! Wonderfully moist and delicious, with ooey-gooey chocolate and dates throughout, this is a most delicious comfort treat for the cold season! The cinnamon and spice paired with the sweetness of dates and bananas is a […]
This is one rich and chocolatey shake, and I am happy to say my kids absolutely love it! This is an all powerful, nutrient dense, plant based protein shake that is nothing but delicious. It tastes like dessert and has zero chalky protein powders added. […]
What a beautiful occasion to celebrate! My sweet sister in law and long time BFF is having a baby boy, and we were so excited to finally prepare for a boy-themed shower (the last 4 babies have all been little princesses!). To go along with the jungle themed nursery, we incorporated the monkeys and the color scheme was blue and green. With a gorgeously delicious candy buffet, we set the scene with pops of vibrant blue and green and accents of brown. All this beautiful candy was from a fresh and Kosher candy distributor, Ohnuts.com.
Since we spent a lot on the candy, we saved on the cake pops. We were smart and got the delicious cake pops from Starbucks and spray painted the white ones with food grade spray paint from Wilton’s to match our color scheme. Everyone just loved the cake pops, and at a fraction of the cost of custom bakeries, we loved them too!
I got my hands on some of the best macarons you will taste from Pierrot Gourmet at the The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago and had them make some custom colors for me (just give them a week’s notice) in their signature flavors of chocolate coconut (the blue ones), mint chocolate (the green), and salted caramel (the gold). They did mess up my order unfortunately, and it was too bad because I was so excited to bring what I consider to be the best macarons I have ever tasted to my Michigan friends and family. They didn’t make them in mint chocolate (it was only peppermint with a plain buttercream filling), nor did they do chocolate coconut (it was also a plain buttercream filling). Additionally, the coconut shells were all hollow! So I am not sure I would go with Pierrot Gourmet again for a large party event. But they were beautiful, and these do taste amazing when you buy them fresh at the shop. Just look at these beauties.
To go along with our candy buffet, we requested the bakery to assemble half of our macarons on lollipop sticks. How cute do these look presented in a tray of green jelly beans!? Note that the macarons with a buttercream filling did not hold up well, and slid right through the stick. If the macarons have a thicker filling like ganache or caramel, it will hold perfectly. The gold macarons have a thick caramel filling and help up nicely the entire time.
One of the most stunning displays at this amazing shower was this fruit display made from tropical fruits. The mother-to-be’s BFF is a talented culinary artist and mastered this feat when I (jokingly) suggested we include this glorious fruit display! They needed to use a metal rod to slide through the pineapples, and a heavily weighted container as the base to keep this from toppling over. The monkeys were made with a papaya as the body, oranges for the head, lemons and slices for the mouth and ears, and black grapes for the eyes. You will need several metal or bamboo skewers for this design; as you can imagine, the fruit is heavy.
Oh yes, this is the infamous banana pudding from Magnolia’s bakery. Perfect for our monkeys who love bananas, and a HUGE hit with everyone! Have you tried this stuff yet?
Our centerpieces were a simple edible pineapple, surrounded by bananas, and some topped with plush monkeys. My adorable mother-in law set these up! The water bottles were personalized with a monkey-themed label from Etsy!
Dessert was decadent, with an adorable and delicious chocolate and banana-cream tiered cake topped with a baby monkey. I described the design and the baker and cake designers at Paradise Cakes of West Bloomfield, MI executed beautifully! That’s a rice krispie treat monkey covered with fondant!
And how about these adorable and easy DIY cupcakes made by my other sister in law. She baked cupcakes, frosted on green leaves and used these perfect little monkey toppers, also from Amazon!
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The shower event and baby arrival are both in the winter, so we thought a moisturizing coconut or mango lip balm from Burt’s Bees wrapped in a beautiful gold box and blue ribbon would make for the perfect and functional party favor!
I made a diaper cake and wrapped the tiers in my favorite soft blue receiving blankets by SwaddleDesigns (these are a generous size and there is a step-by-step drawing of how to swaddle attached right on the tag) and wrapped the “cake” with blue ribbon. A dainty pair of wing-tipped infant shoes and a cuddly monkey hugging the side tied the diaper cake into our theme nicely. We also gave baby’s nursery library a head start with a collection of some classic favorite monkey themed books such as Caps for Sale, Five Little Monkeys, If I were a Monkey, an adorable Little Monkey finger puppet book, and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. Children’s books always make for nice functional decor and double as a gift for baby!
Last but not least, we had an impressive and delicious spread of food catered from La Saj, located in Sterling Heights, Mi. This food was DELICIOUS. The stuffed grape leaves, the lentils, the chicken, and the tabbouli were all to die for. I am drooling as I think about it!
We really enjoyed pretending to be at a beach laying out and sipping our Tropical Paradise smoothies we went for it again. I got some lovely fragrant passion fruits from Whole Foods (they are ripe when starting to wrinkle) and juicy starfruit. Passionfruit is a very […]
This banana date smoothie is a sweet and energizing drink to replenish your body with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as a good dose of protein. For this reason, this drink is perfect for Ramadan fasts. My father concocted this delicious drink one Ramadan, long ago, before smoothies were even a fad, although the addition of frozen strawberries is my own.
It’s no secret in the Muslim world that dates are a superfood with numerous health benefits. It is no wonder that Muslims ritually start their fast and break their fasts with a date, as was the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) many centuries ago.
Once an oddly shaped dried fruit seeming that only my family and I would consume in our Egyptian and Islamic traditions, here in the Midwest, dates are quickly becoming common place in grocery stores, and for good reason.
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which grows in warm, dry regions such as the Middle East and parts of California. Dates are high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol, improves digestion, satiates the appetite, and fight heart disease and obesity. They are also high in Vitamin B, A, and K. B vitamins are the most prominent vitamin store in dates which include B6 and B9 (folic acid), which helps improve metabolism and produce new red blood cells. Dates are also very high in minerals including potassium, copper, calcium, iron, phosphate, magnesium, and manganese.
Although dates are such a sweet treat and thought to be high in sugars, they actually have a high nutritional ratio to the calories as well as a low glycemic index so they absorb into the body much more slowly giving steady releases of energy and several other sustained benefits. Thus, in moderation dates are an excellent sweetener to use in place of cane sugar or other sweet temptations. Whenever I try to cut out dessert and refined sugar from my weekly diet, I rely on these gems to satiate my cravings and give my body a sweet boost.
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This brings me to this deliciously satisfying and filling energy smoothie! This drink is a concoction of my father’s, which he whipped up one Ramadan long ago. During Ramadan, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sundown, and dates are in high demand! The benefits of a smoothie are obvious as you can squeeze in a lot more nutrition and whole foods into a smooth drink and gulp it all down quickly in the wee hours before dawn when preparing for a day’s fast.
I use organic milk, however you could use coconut milk, oat milk, or almond milk as non-dairy substitutes that will still taste fantastic. Simply toss in 4-6 pitted dates, a whole ripe banana (or a frozen ripe banana), and a couple of frozen strawberries or ice cubes to make this shake that will keep your appetite satisfied and body well nourished for hours! I enjoy this after a workout or before I run out of the house for the day running errands.
- 3 cups cold milk
- 4-6 medjool dates, pits removed
- 1 ripe banana
- 4 frozen strawberries (optional) OR 1/2 cup ice cubes
- Remove the pit from the dates by slicing down the center, vertically along the length of the date.
- Combine all the ingredients into a blender and pulse to chop and distribute, then increase to the highest speed for 1 minute until smooth and frothy.