Food facts: Dates - Fish

Facts and quirky pieces of information about the food we eat always interest me, both from an historical and a nutritional point of view.

Did you know that people who eat a fair amount of fish have lower chances of depression? Or that Australians on average eat 8 - 9 times more salt per day than is required by our bodies.

Up until just over 100 years ago Americans didn't eat tomatoes - they thought they were poisonous! I'm including lots of these food facts on each of the recipe pages on this web site. More are listed here on this page:



Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits with some records showing they were available as far back as 50,000 BC. They grow on date palms and are clustered together under the green leaves of the tree. Dates are very sweet and soft and can be blended until smooth and used as a natural sweetener. They contain potassium and soluble fibre. Fresh or dried dates can be eaten as is or they can be stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, citrus peel and cream cheese.


Dill is a herb used for flavouring food and is also used as a medicine. It has fine feathery leaves and also edible seeds. The dried leaves are often called dill weed. Dill seed is regarded as a spice and is used to flavour pickled foods. The leaves are used in egg and fish dishes and as a flavouring for dressings. It is a mild flavoured herb - a little like aniseed - and the chopped leaves should be added to cooked meals towards the end of the cooking process so it doesn't lose too much of its delicate flavour. Medicinally dill is good for the digestive system relieving wind. It is given to babies as gripe water to help relieve wind and colic.

Eggplant (Aubergine)

The aubergine gets its nickname - eggplant - from an American variety which is an ivory white colour and shaped like an egg. In Australia we generally see the large purple aubergines that have shiny skins. Aubergines are often used in casseroles and in tomato flavoured dishes although they are also tasty grilled or baked. Aubergines are full of vitamin C and they also have substantial amounts of iron, calcium, potassium and the B group of vitamins. We eat them as a vegetable but they are actually fruits.


Eggs are one of the most versatile forms of nourishment available. Nutritionists recommend we eat a maximum of four eggs per week, although a study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that there is no significant link between eating eggs and developing cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals. However, the important Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study have found that people with existing heart and diabetes problems should probably not eat more than 3 eggs per week. Most eggs sold today are infertile because there are no roosters housed with the laying hens. There are no nutritional differences between fertile and infertile eggs. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein food. An egg shell has as many as seventeen thousand pores. Apparently hens turn over their eggs as many as fifty times daily; the purpose of this being that the yolk then doesn't adhere to the inside of the shell. A fresh egg will sink in water, but a stale one will float.


Fennel is a herb which has yellow flowers and feathery leaves. Its bulb, leaves and it's seeds are used in cooking. It has an aniseed taste. The bulb part can be used roasted, sauteed, grilled or steamed as a vegetable and the leafy fronds can be used in salads. The bulb can also be sliced very finely and used in a salad. The leafy fronds taste milder than the bulb. Fennel is very popular in Italian cuisine. The seeds are used in Italian sausages and meatballs. Fennel is also found in rye breads in the northern European countries. Fennel is said to be useful for those suffering coughs and other conditions caused by excess mucous because it loosens up the mucous membranes. Likewise, it is considered effective for those suffering bronchitis and asthma. It is an anti-fungal and inhibits yeast growth so it is useful for those suffering Candid Albicans.  Fennel possesses mild hormonal effects so quantities such as would be in  a herbal supplement are advised against for women who are pregnant or those who have estrogen related disorders. Fennel is good at repelling fleas and is used in kennels and stables for this purpose.


Fenugreek is a plant that grows about 50 cm high.  It has light green leaves, yellow flowers and pointed pods. It is commonly found growing in Mediterranean areas, the Indian sub continent and in Ethiopia and in neighbouring countries.

Fenugreek is used in four culinary ways – as a spice, as a herb, as a vegetable and as a tea.  As a spice, the seeds are used.  As a herb the leaves are used in either their fresh or dried form.  As a vegetable the seeds can be sprouted and used in salads or the leaves themselves can be eaten fresh. A refreshing tea can be made by using a large teaspoon of the seeds in a mug of boiling water.  Let it seep for 5 minutes or more. The seeds can be re-used several times during the course of the day and they still produce a decent cup of tea.  The tea has a mild nutty, celery taste and is quite delicious, in my opinion.

This plant has Oestrogen-like properties so it is considered beneficial to those wishing to increase their libido. It is frequently used to decrease menopausal symptoms.  This herb is known to markedly increase milk production in lactating women.  Pregnant women should avoid Fenugreek because it can stimulate uterine contractions and therefore induce labour.  In China and India it is also used to treat arthritis and asthma, digestive upsets, to heal wounds and to ease sore throats.  Recent studies have shown Fenugreek is capable of significantly decreasing cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It acts as a mild laxative and also decreases mucous in the nose and throat.



We think of figs as being purely a fruit but they are really the flowers of the fig tree. The flower and the seeds grow together as one mass. The wood of the fig tree is often soft. It was used to make mummy caskets in ancient Egypt. Fig trees are sacred trees of Islam and have important religious significance in Buddhism and Hinduism. Figs can be eaten raw, poached or baked. They contain calcium and are useful as a laxative.


Seafood contains all nine essential amino acids. The protein in seafood is more readily broken down and absorbed than the protein in red meats and poultry. Most nutrition researchers now say that eating seafood once or twice a week may be beneficial in preventing coronary heart disease. Fish is full of protein but low in calories and low in fat, particularly saturated fat.



Read other interesting food facts (in alphabetical order):

Allspice - Avocados
Allspice, almonds,amaranth, apples, apricots, asparagus, aubergines, avocados

Bananas - Buckwheat
Bananas, barley, basil, bay leaves, beans, beetroot, black berries, black currants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat

Cabbage - Chestnuts
Cabbage, capsicum, caraway, cardamom, carrots, cashews, cauliflower, cayenne, celeriac, celery, cheese, cherries, chestnuts

Chicken - Cumin
Chicken, chickpeas, chicory, chilies, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coriander, corn, couscous, cucumbers, cumin

Dates - Fish
Dates, dill, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fenugreek, figs, fish

Galangal - Green Beans
Galangal, garlic, ginger, globe artichokes, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, green beans

Hazelnuts - Limes
Hazel nuts, honey, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kafir lime leaves, kale, leeks, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemons, lentils, lettuce, limes

Macadamia Nuts - Mustard
Macadamia nuts, mace, mandarins, mangoes, maple syrup, marjoram, mar ow, melons, milk, millet, mint, miso, molasses, mushrooms, mustard

Nectarines - Oregano
Nectarines, nutmeg, oats, olive oil, onions, oranges, oregano

Papayas - Pumpkin
Papayas, paprika, parsley, parsnips, peaches, peanuts, pears, peas, pecans, pineapples, pine nuts, plums, potatoes, pumpkin

Quince - Rye
Quinces, quinoa, radishes, raspberries, rice, rosemary, rye

Sage - Sweet Corn
Sage, sea vegetables, seeds, silver beet, soy sauce, sprouted seeds, squash, strawberries, swede, sweet corn

Tamari - Zucchini
Tamari, tarragon, tempeh, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, triticale, turkey, turmeric, turnips, vanilla, walnuts, wheat, zucchini