Dates have become more popular in the last few years as a great way to sweetened a dish. Most dates you will find in the store are dried with a wrinkly skin, chewy texture and sweet taste. They can often be found with the other dried fruits in a center isle. Oh yeah, that whole shop the perimeter thing….. not a thing. There are many nutrient dense, fantastic food options in those center isles. Okay, but back to dates.
Like any other fruit, dates are filled with complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Dates have been specifically studied for their fiber content and in a small study, were found to help increase GI regulairty with just 7 dates a day. This fiber also means, that although sweet, dates have a low Glycemic index, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugars the same why a teaspoon of honey would.
Dates also are rich in phytonutrients including flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid. Flavonoids are antioxidants that have been shown to decrease inflammation and potentially decrease your risk of certain disease like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Carotenoids are important for your eyes and heart. Phenolic acid is also anti-inflammatory and might lower your risk fo cancer and heart disease.
Fun Fact: Dates have also been studied for their potential to promote labor. In some small studies women who ate dates 4 weeks prior to delivery had increased dilation, labored faster, and were less likely to be induced. Now these studies are far from conclusive, but if you are pregnant and craving something sweet, dates might be a great option for energy, steady blood sugars, extra phytonutrients, and potentially improved labor.
There are many ways to use dates, here are a few of my favorites.
Date and Coconut Granola Bars
- ¼ cup olive oil can substitute coconut oil if you want that flavor
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- ¼ cup flax meal
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup dates pitted and chopped
- 1 cup coconut shredded
- Add the wet ingredients to a large bowl or stand mixer and mix.¼ cup olive oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp almond extract
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thick dough forms.¼ cup flax meal, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 cup oats, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, 1 cup dates, 1 cup coconut
- Press into a greased 7"x11" pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
- Cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!
Date and Almond Oatmeal
- 4 dates pitted, chopped
- ⅔ cup milk
- ⅔ cup oats
- 1 Tbsp almond butter
- sprinkle cinnamon
- roasted almonds optional
- Mix together dates, milk, and oats.4 dates, ⅔ cup milk, ⅔ cup oats
- Cook on stove top or microwave for 1:30-2:00 min until oats are soft and milk is mostly absorbed.
- Mix in the almond butter and top with almonds if desired.1 Tbsp almond butter, roasted almonds
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy warm!sprinkle cinnamon
Date Energy Bites
- 1 cup dates pitted
- 1 cup oats
- ¾ cup almond butter
- ¼ tsp cardamom more or less to taste
- ¼ tsp cinnamon more or less to taste
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp water
- sprinkle salt
- Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until a crumbly dough forms.
- Roll into bites. Depending on the size you choose, how many this makes can vary a lot. We made about 25 bites.