Why on earth has it taken us so long to start cluing in on the superpowers 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.

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So, now is the time to get clued up and fall in love with your dates!

Date Square Cookies

Source: Date Square Cookies

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.

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2. Stuff Them

Dates have pits in the center, which, when removed, make perfect pockets for stuffing. Classic stuffers are cream cheese, nuts, cacao nibs, or candied items, like oranges or ginger.

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!

Slow Cooker Apple Date Butter

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Source: Slow Cooker Apple Date Butter

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.

No-Bake Superfood Energy Bars

Source: No-Bake Superfood Energy Bars

8. Super-ize Them

Superfoods are the fashion, and dates are certainly worthy of a place at the table, a great medium to which superpowers — hemp, almonds, coconut, cacao, ginger — love to adhere.

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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.

Raw Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge

Source: Raw Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge

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.

Chocolate and Salted Date Caramel Cups With Pecans

Source: 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.

Raw Vegetable and Chickpea Stew With Spicy Orange Cauliflower Couscous

Source: Raw Vegetable and Chickpea Stew With Spicy Orange Cauliflower Couscous

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.

Raw Chocolate Mousse

Source: Raw Chocolate Mousse

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.
Vanilla Caramel Smoothie

Source: Vanilla Caramel Smoothie

Choosing the Best Dates:

Be sure when you purchase dates that you purchase non-sulfured dried fruit, since sulfured varieties contain chemicals to create a perfect color that doesn’t change over time, 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 almost 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

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