Dates are pretty incredible. We’re talking about the sweet and sticky kind, not the dinner and a movie kind. Sure, those can be nice too, but it’s safe to say you’ll have more consistent success with the ones that grow on trees.
Eat Them Fresh or Dried
Those trees are the date palm, and they grow in various warm, dry regions of the world. They’re especially prolific in the middle east, where they have cultural, historical, and religious significance. Dates have been a staple of the middle eastern diet for thousands of years, but the rest of the world has caught on, and in the US you can find date farms in California, Arizona, and Florida.
The fruit can be eaten fresh or dried, and while you’ll occasionally spot fresh dates at specialty markets in the western world, you’re probably more familiar with the dried ones — those chewy, brown, wrinkly guys with that distinct, rich, caramel-y flavor.
Dates Are Versatile
Dates are a perfect snack eaten just as they are, but you can also work them into tons of recipes. Toss them in a smoothie, make a date paste to spread on bread, swirl into oatmeal, or add date syrup to sweeten your coffee. Bake them into cakes, use them in place of sugar in homemade ice cream, or stuff them with tahini. And because of their sticky texture, they make a great binding agent for homemade granola bars or energy balls.
Have we convinced you that these guys are insanely versatile yet? However you take your dates, they are an excellent, unprocessed way to satisfy that sweet tooth. Nature’s candy indeed.
Dates Are Nutrient-Rich
But not only are they versatile and delicious, they’re also packed with nutritional goodness. Dates are high in potassium, and contain magnesium and iron, as well as C, A1, K and B vitamins. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich, they’re potentially helpful in reducing blood pressure, boosting metabolism, and keeping you satiated longer. These sweet nuggets are also high in fiber, your digestive system’s best friend, so snacking on a few can prevent constipation and keep things moving smoothly.
Dates Have a Low Glycemic Index
And dates (like coconut sugar, another sweetener we love) have a low glycemic index, which makes them a great sugar substitute that won’t throw your blood sugar out of whack.
Wow, listing all their merits has us understanding why this study considered dates “an almost deal food.” (Oh, but just a quick note from folks who may have woken up with a date hangover once or twice: these guys are incredibly easy to eat, so just be mindful as you would be with any treat. While they’re very nutritious, they’re also pretty high in calories.)
Dates Stay Fresh
One more bonus of these little powerhouses is that dried dates will stay fresh for a really long time. Out of the fridge, they’ll last for up to 6 months, and if refrigerated in an airtight container they’ll be good for up to a year. Pop them in the freezer and they’ll stay moist and tasty for up to five years!
Here are Maxine’s Heavenly, we love dates for all these reasons, but especially because they keep our cookies naturally delicious, sweet, and soft.
Yup, we got lucky. For us, this date has lead to love.