Discover the versatility and just-plain sweet goodness of dates…plus, a quick and easy matcha recipe for you to try.
This is the time of year when we begin to be bombarded with treats and sweets of all shape and variety. The holidays have a way of taking everyday temptation and turning it up to 11. Through the combination of stress, family gatherings (and the stress caused by family gatherings), parties and potlucks, we often find ourselves fighting an uphill battle to stay calm, cool and collected while we field offers of desserts of all variety. I’m not saying sweets should be avoided entirely, but maintaining balance can be difficult anytime of year, especially at the onset of the holiday season. Along with using digestive bitters to curb cravings, choosing a whole food alternative, when available, is a great way to satisfy the desire for something sweet while providing your body with essential nutrients at the same time (then save that craving for the treats you really, truly love!). A few years ago, I discovered the goodness of fresh Medjool dates, and now they’ve become my favorite sweet treat. Dipped into peanut butter, slathered with coconut oil, or simply plain and straight from the jar, dates satisfy the desire for sugar while delivering a host of benefits. Read on to learn why you might want to give them a second glance!
What are dates?
Dates, also known as Phoenix dactylifera (date palm) are a species of the palm family. Cultivated worldwide in tropical locales, it’s believed that dates are originally from the area now known as Iraq, where they have been a staple in cuisine for thousands of years. Symbolically, dates hold significance in a wide range of cultures, symbolizing victory, power, faith and abundance, depending on the region and religion. More recently, dates have gained popularity for their sweet and satisfying taste and texture, and for their use as an alternative to processed white sugar.
Benefits of dates:
While their natural sugar content shouldn’t be ignored – like any fruit, fresh or dried, the natural sugar content is relatively high – dates are unique in that they also boast high levels of fibre, both insoluble and soluble, making dates excellent for the digestive system and colon health. Dates are also a great source of magnesium, which could support the cardiovascular system and potentially lower blood pressure (thanks also in part to dates’ potassium content). Magnesium could also prove to be anti-inflammatory. Dates contain high levels of vitamin B6, which could support cognitive function and memory.
How to use dates:
Dates are delicious all on their own and surprisingly versatile as a sweetener, too! Dates’ sweetness pairs well with a salty balance – try topping them off with nut butter or a pinch of Himalayan salt with coconut butter. Dates work well as a sweetener blended into smoothies, lattes, and elixirs. I recommend softening them in warm water before blending. The same technique can be used to utilize dates in energy balls, granolas, and other desserts and foods that need a touch of sweetness. Dates can also be soaked and rendered down into date syrup and date sugar (there’s a huge number of DIYs available online for both). I love using a date to lightly sweeten a golden latte or my morning matcha. Try the recipe below for a lightly sweetened matcha elixir:
Date-Sweetened Matcha latte
1 large Medjool date, pitted
4 oz filtered water
4 oz nut or hemp milk
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Combine water and nut milk in a small pot and add pitted date. Heat on stovetop until hot but not boiling. Place the warmed water/nut milk combination and date in a blender and add remaining ingredients. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until date is liquified and mixture is frothed. Pour into a mug and enjoy!
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