Why on earth has it taken us so long to start cluing in on the super powers of dates? Sure, it’s easy enough to cite the health benefits: fiber, antioxidants, minerals (iron, calcium, manganese, and potassium), and so on. And, of course, being a dried fruit, they tend to have a long shelf life, which makes them convenient to keep in stock. But, what’s really amazing is just how awesome they are as an ingredient.
While dates may not be a regular feature in many of our pantries (or, maybe the same package has been stuffed in the corner of the cabinet for ages), that’s definitely one thing to consider changing. Be it the star of the show or part of the supporting cast, dates can do some serious lifting in the raw and vegan worlds, respectively, and especially with regards to desserts and naturally sweetening things.
So, now is the time to get clued up and fall in love with your dates!
1. Eat As Is
Sometimes food just works really well as it comes. Dates are one of these foods. They are sweet and soft, and for those of us not so into refined sugars, work perfectly as an indulgent snack. With a sweet taste like caramel, being so high in natural sugar, they satisfy the sweet tooth for less without the need to reach in the cookie jar.
2. Stuff Them
3. Toss Them
Dates are an excellent addition to fruit salads, especially combined with apples and walnuts, maybe some coconut shavings, oranges … a perfect player with wintery fruits.
4. Energize Them
Yes, dates have some natural sugar, and they also have a wonderful sticky quality that makes them ideal for including in recipes for energy bars and balls. Eat before a workout (or during) to replenish those glucose stores and get going again!
5. Butter Them
Dates combine wonderfully with apples, and together they can make a fantastic slow-cooked apple date butter, which has no process vegetable oil, margarine or actual butter, but does funk up a biscuit.
6. Pour Them
Lots of us are looking for an alternative to sugar, and date syrup is a viable one. Soak pitted, dried dates in water for a day, and they dissolve to make a raw, vegan syrup.
7. Blend Them
Many great raw food desserts call on blended dates for their exceptional binding qualities and natural sweetness. Check Raw Vegan Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cake then go from there.
8. Super-ize Them
Super foods are the fashion, and dates are certainly worthy of a place at the table, a great medium to which super powers — hemp, almonds, coconut, cacao, ginger — love to adhere.
9. Fudge Them
Nothing says decadence quite like fudge, but imagine if it could be done with redeeming, healthful qualities, ones that could be defended. Ah, dates, raw cacao and nuts.
10. Marinate Them
A great way to combine crazily good flavors, this tempeh, date and olive Marbella—soaked together overnight—will get the mind sizzling with possibilities.
11. Cup Them
There are so many possibilities for dates and the sweet tooth, and this is how to kick up peanut butter cups into something new. Consider Chocolate and Salted Date Caramel Cups with Pecans.
12. Bar Them
We all love to carry around a snack, and the snack bar seems to be an accepted means of doing so. Well, it’s easy do make your own with dates: Date-cherry-ginger-orange-coconut bars with cacao and chia.
13. Drizzle Them
By now we know that dates are sweet, and we even know that they can be used to make a raw syrup, so this banana fig cake with date-coconut drizzle should come as no surprise. They can drizzle well, too.
14. Square Them
Everybody loves a good cookie every now and again, and why not—if dates are going to be the star—go ahead and finish off the insanity by making them square instead of round.
15. Liquidize Them
Dates are fantastic for creating that smooth, sticky sweetness so well suited for so many desserts. Pudding is yet another way to utilize all the tasty aspects of dates.
16. Stew Them
A long-standing staple in the Middle East, dates have worked their way far beyond the dessert table, and they are fantastic for a little surprising zip in stuff like Moroccan Vegetable and Chickpea Stew.
17. Set Them
For all those great raw cookies and cakes, we mustn’t overlook the opportunity for crusts. Dates will help to bind fantastic crusts, that once set, things like raw chocolate mousse can perch comfortably upon.
18. Tart Them Up
While things are getting crusty, they might as well get tarty. Again, dates are deliciously sweet, delightful sticky and willing to mingle with all sorts, even lemons: No Bake Lemon Tart.
19. Caramelize Them
If we can make syrup, if we can make drizzles, why then why can’t we make some date caramel? Answer: Yes, we can. Apple Sandwiches with Date Caramel and Almond Butter sound good?
20. Smooth Them
And, of course, any fruit is a possible victim for the blender. Dates will do just fine in a smoothie, especially when something sweet and a bit a naughty is on the menu.
Choosing the Best Dates:
Be sure when you purchase dates that you purchase non-sulphured dried fruit, since sulphered varieties contain chemicals to create a perfect color that doesn’t change overtime, but that can also cause a negative reaction and don’t taste as fresh. Always go with organic when possible, no matter which date variety you choose. These are usually available cheapest in the produce department or the bulk department instead of on the aisles with other dried fruits. Typically, Medjool dates tend to be the most popular since they’re large, plump and soft, and will work well in most any recipe you choose.
Did we miss something here? What do you like to do with dates (the fruit of course!)?
Lead Image Source: Raw Amazing Vegan Ginger Energy Bites