Dates are a delicious, healthy food and have even garnered a mention in the Quran. It is believed that dates are the world’s oldest fruit to be cultivated. They are even known as the ‘bread of the desert’. Since they are high in natural sugar, dates make an ideal post workout snack for quick energy. The same reason also makes them an ideal ingredient in smoothies and protein shakes. Experts believe that eating a single date per day can do wonders to your health and well-being. Here are some delicious, easy and healthy ways to eat dates, raw or processed.
1. Enjoy them raw
Raw dates are sweet, delicious and healthy. Refrigerated dates can be a bit hard-so store them in an air tight container to keep them soft at room temperature. Raw dates kept outside the refrigerator could attract ants- so be careful! If needed, soak the dates in some water or orange juice before enjoying them. You can enjoy dates at any time of the day. Soaking dates overnight in water softens them-eat soaked dates in the morning on an empty stomach to jump start digestion, prevent constipation and get a quick energy fix if you are trying to give up coffee! Dates also freeze well so you can enjoy them all year round.
2. Banana and date muffins
Banana and dates make a delicious, sweet and super healthy combo. Dates contain nearly 7 different vitamins and minerals while bananas are loaded with potassium, tryptophan and biotin. Here is a great recipe for banana-date muffins which vegans will love!
- Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a muffin pan.
- Process the following wet ingredients in a food processor: 1 ½ cups mashed bananas, ¼ cup dates, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water and ½ tsp lemon zest.
- In a bowl, take the following dry ingredients and mix well to combine-1/2 cup each of gluten free flour, rolled oats and dried unsweetened coconut. Add 1 tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/8th tsp each nutmeg, salt and cardamom powder. Mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter in muffin cups.
- Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.
3. How to eat dried dates
Dried dates are very nutritious but they can be hard on the teeth. Raw dried dates can be powdered and added to milk, protein shakes and smoothies for extra nutrition. You can also add powdered dried dates to porridge and oatmeal. Sprinkle slivers of dried dates on your morning oatmeal for a delicious and healthy twist. Dogs can also enjoy dried dates as it is good for their teeth and gums and keeps tartar at bay. Dried date powder can be added to your protein bars and dry fruit rolls for extra nutrition.
4. Use date syrup
Date syrup is another great way to eat Mejdool or other variety dates. It is rich in iron and other minerals and best way to enjoy dates during pregnancy. Add date syrup to milk or coffee instead of sugar to sweeten these drinks.
5. Try different date varieties
There are many varieties of dates available-the popular ones are Mejdool which are softest, largest and sweetest. In the Middle East, you can purchase nearly 20 different varieties of dates! Deglet Noor dates are lighter and less soft-they need more soaking if you need to blend them for your recipes. Zahidi dates are also like Deglet Noor-not as soft and moist like Mejdool but tasty nevertheless. Chop them up and add them to your fruit bowl or oatmeal, shakes etc. Khadrawy dates are the gooiest and sweetest. Light brown dates are the Thoory-they are not readily available. Halawi dates have caramel like flavor and you can use them in recipes that call for caramel.
6. Date paste
Soak seedless dates in water overnight and blend it the next morning to make a thick paste. Spread the paste on buttered toast instead of jam. Alternatively: enjoy it with yogurt or milk. The paste is very nutritious for old and young and especially for people recovering from illness.
7. Mejdool dates stuffed with nut butters
This is a sweet and satisfying way to enjoy a quick fix of protein when you are hungry and tired after a workout. It is also a great way how to eat dates during pregnancy.
- 12 tsp nut butter
- Cocoa powder for sprinkling on top
- 12 Mejdool dates pitted
Stuff each Mejdool date (where the pit was) with nut butter of your choice. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top and close the date halves. Refrigerate for an hour. Enjoy chilled!
Variation: Stuff the dates with anything you like-cream cheese, coconut, melted chocolate, and roll it in some powdered sugar!
8. Sprinkle them on top of anything!
Enjoy slivered, chopped dates on ice cream, fruit cups, puddings, cereals (hot or cold), salads etc any time of the day!
Roll pie crust thin, and cut into pieces 3”x 1-1/4”.Stuff dates with nuts. Wrap the dates with the pastry and brush each strip with cream. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450 F. Frost if desired. Roll the dates in chopped nuts. Serve with toothpicks inserted through.
10. Dry fruit and date protein balls
This is a super delicious recipe which is easy and health way to enjoy raw dates.
- 2 cups seedless chopped dates
- ¼ cup each chopped almonds, cashewnuts and pistachios/pecans
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Clarified butter/ghee -2 tsp
- Powdered cardamom ¼ tsp
- Nutmeg powder –one pinch
- Grind the chopped nuts and dates in a blend or a food processor. Do not grind too much-keep the mixture coarse and sticky.
- In the pan, melt some ghee. Add the poppy seeds and fry till lightly brown.
- Add the sticky date and nut mixture. Mix all ingredients.
- Flavor with cardamom and nutmeg powders.
- Take the date nut mixture in a plate and cool a bit.
- Roll or shape the mixture in any shape you like.