Dates – A Super Snack

medjool datesDates – A Super Snack

Dates have quickly become a part of our daily diet not only because of how delicious they are, but their versatility also makes them an easy favorite in our house! It’s funny, I don’t remember eating dates much as a child or even as a grown up until I had kids. I’m not sure why…I think they are quite understated. These little sweet fruits are packed with nutritional benefits and are just plain yummy.

Before I dive into the eating part, I want to tell you a little about the benefits of dates so you can feel even better about pigging out on these little guys. Dates are old. Really old. And are from the palm tree family, like coconuts! They are packed with vitamins and minerals and are even considered medicinal in many cultures. (Read about some of the emerging medicinal research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22214443/)  Dates are a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium and potassium. Which means they can be cancer-fighting and good for heart health. As a source of soluble fiber, they are also good for digestive health. As an added bonus these characteristics also make them a healing food for those who suffer from adrenal fatigue.

Wow, dates are awesome! But…how do I eat them? Ok, I’m sure most of you know how to eat them. Grab a handful and put in your mouth. Chew. OR cut some up for a salad topping. If you’ve exhausted these methods though, here are just 5 of my favorite – quick and easy – ways to add them into our daily routine! *as always, be mindful of what you’re buying- you want to make sure your dates have nothing added, and are ideally organic. We buy ours from nuts.com.

1) Stuffed Dates. It is what it sounds like. First take the pits out (unless you’re lazy like me and buy them pitted). Then stuff them with almonds, almond butter, or coconut butter.

2) Date Rolls. Roll your pitted dates in coconut. Better yet, stuff them and then roll them in coconut!

3) Homemade Lara Bars. Try this: 1c each of pitted dates, nuts of choice, other dried fruit; dash of cinnamon; pinch of salt. Combine in food processor until sticky. Add more of any of the above ingredients, if needed, until sticks between your fingers. (Can also add chocolate chips). Press into square baking dish and refrigerate. Cut into squares.

4) Date Balls. I like to make these for a sweet snack “for the kids” (or…maybe for us!):
– 2c pitted organic dates
– 1c coconut butter
– 1/4c unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1T coconut oil
– 1tsp cinnamon
Combine in food processor until sticky enough to form balls. Place 1-in balls on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in fridge until a little hard (or eat right away – no judgment!)

5) SMOOTHIES! Dates make the perfect sweetener for smoothies! Here’s a rough recipe that I use every morning, as a guaranteed hit with the kids! Add to blender in this order:
– 3 c water (or water kefir or coconut milk)
– 1 bunch of kale
– 2c frozen fruit of choice
– 1c pitted organic dates
Blend until smooth.  Bonus: can also pour leftovers into Popsicle molds for later!

Enjoy your dates! What’s your favorite way to eat them?

-Suzanne

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