Walnut Stuffed Red Dates is one of the popular snacks in China. They are very easy to make with two ingredients only, which are dried red dates and walnuts. All you need to do is to toast the walnuts, stuff them into split red dates, and bake until they stick together. Easy right?
I found out about the existence of these delicious snacks during my family vacation in China three months ago. They are sold at gift shops in several tourist destinations I visited. My mom bought them as souvenirs for her friends. However, they ended up in my family’s stomach because of how tasty they are. More importantly, they are healthy and guilt-free for daily snacking.
As you know, walnuts are sometimes bitter, at least compared with some other nuts. Some people may find the bitterness unpleasant, but I could not find any bitterness in these Walnut Stuffed Red Dates. As you take the bite, you get to taste the sweet and chewy red dates at first before you reach the crunchy and nutty walnuts. I do not taste the bitterness at all. It is out of my expectation that the combination of these two simple ingredients can boost each other in terms of flavor and texture very well.
About Red Dates
Red dates or jujube are one of the most popular health food in China. Once dried, red dates are wrinkled and changed into maroon-colored fruits. They are soft on the outside with a sweet smell and moist inside. These plump red fruits are called a date because of their similar texture and size to the Middle Eastern brown date. They have been regarded as one of the most nutritional ingredients even during ancient times. Chinese people treat red dates not only as food but also as a health tonic. Moreover, people also enjoy adding red dates to dishes and drinks as sweeteners, reaping their natural health benefits.
According to the values of Chinese traditional medicine, red dates help to nourish the yin (cold) and replenish the yang (heat) in the body to balance the qi. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, organic acids, as well as a trace of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. They are said to boost the production of white blood cells which helps to improve the body’s immune system to fend off sickness. Therefore, they are believed to suppress cancer cells and protect the body when consuming harsher herbal medication. They are also very popular among women as they contain a great source of antioxidants and have anti-aging properties, as well as aiding the skin to be rosier, smoother, and fairer.
Walnuts are the wrinkly dried, ripe nut that is the fruit of the walnut tree. They grow in a hard shell, which when opened reveals the brain-like-shaped walnut. They contain vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Like all nuts, walnuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, whereas walnuts have higher omega-3 fatty acids. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but they also deliver some big health benefits.
After thousands of years of observation and recorded experience as Chinese herbal medicines, walnuts have been shown to have very specific therapeutic effects on the human body. Walnuts are associated with the lung, large intestine, and kidney meridians, and have sweet and warm properties. They have tonifying and harmonizing properties, as well as great ingredients used for treating cold conditions. Therefore, they are great to tonify the kidneys, nourish the blood, warm the lungs, and moisten the intestines. Typically, walnuts are used to treat impotence, sexual dysfunctions, infertility, back and leg pain, constipation, and asthma.
Walnuts are also known as the top nut for brain health. It is no coincidence that these brain-shaped nuts can provide optimal brain benefits. The omega-3 fatty acid in walnuts has been shown to improve cognitive performance in adults and prevent age-related cognitive decline. Recent evidence suggests that walnuts may play a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing the incidence of some forms of heart disease.
How to Make Walnuts Stuffed Red Dates
Making these delicious Walnut Stuffed Red Dates is very simple. Let me guide you step-by-step on how to make them.
1. Remove the date pits
I usually choose the biggest dried red dates I can find because bigger dates are much easier to handle. Using a small sharp knife, slice down lengthwise into the center of the date. Be careful not to cut all the way through the date. Only cut deep enough so you can expose the pit. The pit is the hard seed in the center of the date. Cut the flesh around the pit with a knife to ease the process of pit removal. Use your fingers to part open the date at the cut. Pull it out by tugging on it with your fingers. Repeat this step with the remaining dates. With enough practice, you should be able to remove the pits more efficiently.
2. Toast the walnuts
Toasting nuts bring out their earthiness and minimize any bitterness found in raw nuts. It takes only a few minutes, they will go from pale to golden brown with a delicious aroma that adds a whole new level of flavor. Preheat oven to 350F / 175°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mats for easy cleanup. Toast the walnuts until they just start to brown and smell toasted for about 8-10 minutes.
3. Stuff the walnuts inside the red dates
After the walnuts are golden brown, remove them from the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 300F/150°C. Let the walnuts cool for a few minutes before stuffing them inside the red dates. Put the flat part of walnuts into the inside of pitted red dates.
4. Bake again
After stuffing the walnuts into the red dates, put them back on the baking pan and bake for 5 minutes. The baking process will make sure they stick together perfectly.
More Chinese Snacks
While you are here, don’t forget to check out these delicious recipes!