I just finished up a 3-part series on natural sweeteners, but I forgot one of the most important ones. Today we’re going to talk a bit about dates because they are so delicious, and they’re probably the healthiest sweetener available. I’ve just started using them, so I don’t have many dessert recipes just yet, but they’ll be coming.
My favorite variety of dates are Medjool because they’re richer and moister than the other types of dates that I’ve tried. They’re also very sweet, so they make a great sweetener, especially for raw desserts. They’re also ideal to add to baked goods for extra sweetness. I usually chop them up into pieces about the size of a big raisin, and add them to whatever I’m making. For instance, Easiest Banana Nut Cake is really good with date pieces added in. They also make a great ‘syrup’ for fruit sauces like my 5 Minutes Raspberry Sauce.
Dates are really nutritious and they make a great snack all on their own, or with a handful of nuts. On our latest Adventure in Canada, we took a couple pounds of dates along with some Curried Cashews. Dates are a great source of potassium, fiber, protein, healthy sugars, and lots of vitamins and trace minerals. The naturally occurring fruit sugars are accompanied by a good amount of fiber which helps to release the sugar slowly into your bloodstream. This all makes them a great post-workout refuel, and I love to pack a few up the mountain with us for a nutrient dense snack when we get to the top.
How to use dates:
First, you need to remove the seeds. Then, there are several different ways you can use dates.
1. Chop the dates into bite sized pieces and add them to your baked goods.
2. Use them in place of honey or maple syrup in raw nut crusts, such as Chocolate Tart. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water, depending on the moisture content of your dates.
3. Make a date paste by puréeing your seeded dates in a food processor with enough water to make a paste similar in viscosity to honey. You can store this paste in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, and use it like you would honey.
A few more recipes that use dates:
What’s your favorite way to use dates? One of my favorites is this recipe for Bacon Wrapped Chorizo Stuffed Dates.