Dates can be found on the grocery shelves all year round but fall is the time of year when they are in season and ready for harvest. If you have been following me and seen all my other recipes you know that I love dates. I use them for so many different recipes and they are one of my favorite natural sweeteners.
The date fruit is one of the oldest cultivated tree crops, and has been grown for thousands of years. The history of date cultivation can be traced back to ancient Egyptians. They used to prepare wine from date fruits as well as eating them fresh. The date fruits are formed in clusters that develop underneath the leaves. When the unripe date fruit is left on the trees they naturally sun ripen into the soft, gooey, sweet fruit that we know and love. The medjool is one of the most popular varieties of dates but there are many different varieties that come in different sizes and colors.
Many Muslims break their fast by eating dates. Breaking the fast by eating dates helps avoid overeating. They believe that when the body begins to absorb the nutrients of dates, feelings of hunger disappear. I have been told that Muslim women diet buy eating 6 dates per day because they believe that the high nutrient value is enough to keep them full.
Dates have a high levels of soluble fiber, which is essential in preventing constipation. Just one large date may supply 6% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. The significant amount of minerals found in dates are beneficial for many health conditions. The selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium helps keep bones healthy. The high levels of iron can help treat and prevent anemia. Potassium is great for promoting a healthy nervous system and reducing your risk for heart disease. The B vitamins in dates help with the metabolism of food and the formation of new blood cells. Dessert that is good for you…yes please.
Dates are high in natural sugars and are a perfect snack for an immediate burst of energy. Forget the processed, store bought energy bars and make these brownies when you are feeling lethargic, sluggish, or need a boost. While dates contain high amounts of natural sugars, they are actually a low-glycemic index food and may not significantly raise your blood sugar levels when eaten in small amounts. What is your favorite way to use dates? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
- German Chocolate Topping:
- ½ Cup Shredded Coconut, unsweetened
- ½ Cup Pecans, chopped (soaked and dehydrated preferred)
- 15 Large Dates, pitted (more or less depending on how soft or dry they are)
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Tbsp Water (more or less)
- Date Brownies:
- 2 Cups Walnuts, any combination of hard nuts will work (soaked and dehydrated preferred)
- ¾ Cup Raw Cocoa Powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
- 15 Dates, pitted
- 3 Tbsp Water (more or less)
- Make the german chocolate topping first so you do not have to clean the food processor in between.
- In a food processor add 15 dates and blend for one minute until the dates form a thick paste.
- Add the vanilla and pulse a couple of times.
- With the processor running add the water 1 tsp at a time until the mixture is soft and pureed. You may need more or less water. (you want it to be thick but thin enough to mix in the other ingredients).
- Add the chopped pecans and coconut in a separate bowl and fold in the date mixture until well combined.
- Set aside.
- In the same food processor bowl and the walnuts and pulse until chopped.
- Add the cocoa, vanilla, and salt and pulse until combined.
- With the processor running at the dates one at a time until well combined. The mixture should stay together when you press it with your fingers.
- Add water 1 Tbsp at a time until you have a thick batter. (you may need more or less water).
- In at 8 x 8 pan lined with unbleached parchment paper put the brownie mixture and press into the bottom of the pan. (wet your fingers a little so it doesn't stick)
- Then press the German chocolate mixture on top of the brownie mixture.
- Let set up in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Cut into squares and serve.