Ooey-gooey, caramel like, and luscious, the date has existed nearly 50 million years and may have been the first tree cultivated for fruit. While the date is a staple food in the Middle East, it also grows in many other parts of the world, including: Australia, North Africa, India, China, the United States, and the Dominican Republic. The date palm is mentioned in both the Bible and the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, the date palm is said to have been created by God immediately after Man, and is part of the Garden of Paradise. There are hundreds of types of dates, but the dates I most regularly come across are Medjool, Bahri, Deglet Noor, and Khadrawy dates. They don’t look like much, and are usually dried, and varying shades of brown with a long seed in the middle.
Dates are a fantastic source of potassium and fiber, keeping your digestive system in working order. A single date contains 5% of your daily potassium needs! They also contain iron, B vitamins, copper, and magnesium. Just one date provides 3% of your daily vitamin B6, which is crucial for producing red blood cells (energy) and lowering your stress levels by promoting neurotransmitter production. Did I mention they taste like candy, and they’re incredibly good for you? There’s nothing to dislike about them! What I really love is their versatility and shelf life (though they never last long before they’re devoured). You can take dates and add natural, fibrous sugar to any dish, such as tomato sauces or homemade nut milks. My favorite thing to make is ultra sweet, creamy, and energizing datorade smoothie, using at least 20 dates, 2 liters of water, and usually some vanilla flavoring. It’s like a frothy fat free milkshake that makes you feel awesome due to the high vitamin and mineral content, not to mention a natural boost from the sugars in dates. Dates are fairly high in calories–4 dates are about 230 calories, so they’re extremely filling.
You can find dates in most grocery stores, but raw dates will be the most nutritious and flavorful so it’s optimal to buy them from your local health food store.
Raw Date Rolls
About 10 dates
Dried shaved coconut for coating
1. Blend or use a food processor to turn your dates into a doughy paste.
2. Use your hands to create bite sized balls of date paste, rolling them between your palms.
3. Spread coconut shavings on a plate and roll the date balls on it, covering the date in the coconut.
Enjoy! These are a great treat for dessert and even make good snacks for when you’re on the road 🙂
Photo: Jessica Ferguson