Who doesn’t enjoy something sweet once in a while? Not just sweet like strawberries or another berry but something sweet that also has a chocolate touch to it. Sounds good, doesn’t it? You can have this by using dates for the sweetness which will also provide you with some fiber and other good things, all the while giving you that sweet treat that you are looking for.
So what are dates, and do they contain any nutrients that are beneficial? For this article whenever I refer to dates I’m referring to medjool dates. Dates, native to Morocco, are also referred to as the fruit of kings. They have a sweet caramel taste with a chewy texture and are high in vitamins and nutrients. Here is the vitamin and mineral profile from 3 pitted medjool dates:
A good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and some B vitamins amongst other minerals and vitamins.
Now, keep in mind that dates are high in calories and naturally occurring sugars so enjoy them in moderation. But, here is a funny thing. Although dates contain about 80% sugar, sugar levels much higher than sugared cereals such as Fruit Loops which has 40% sugar, the sugar doesn’t adversely affect your body such as processed sugar does. And of course, we should have concerns about eating high sugar foods as they can raise our blood sugar, raise our triglycerides, oxidatively stress our bodies, and make us fat. So are dates bad for us? Does the high sugar level cancel out the high vitamin and mineral levels, and the fiber content?
Dates are great. No adverse effects on blood sugar or weight, and beneficial improvements in triglycerides and antioxidant stress levels. In a study carried out, ten healthy subjects consumed for a period of 4 weeks 100 g/day of either Medjool or Hallawi dates. So what happened? Did their blood sugar levels rise? Not at all. Their BMI, serum total cholesterol, fasting serum glucose and triacylglycerol levels were not increased after consumption of either date variety, and serum triacylglycerol levels even significantly (p < 0.05) decreased, by 8 or 15% after Medjool or Hallawi date consumption, respectively. And here’s more. Check out the title of this review on PubMed, “…possible best food?”. This study also concludes: “In many ways, dates may be considered as an almost ideal food, providing a wide range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits.”
There you have it. A fantastic alternative to sugar, artificial sweeteners, or whatever you might be using. Now, don’t go around with a bag of dates in your pocket snacking all day on them. All good things in moderation.
So, back to the beginning. Want a sweet chocolatey snack that has many good things in it? Try this out and feel free to substitute the nuts or nut butter to what you have on hand or prefer:
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1 1/3 cups dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup raw almond butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup crushed raw pecans
Grind walnuts and dates in a food processor until finely ground. Add the almond butter and process until well mixed. Add the cocoa powder and pulse to mix well. Transfer to a pan of appropriate size and press down firmly using your finger, spoon or whatever flattening implement you have. Sprinkle the top with the crushed pecans, cover and put in the fridge for a while, about an hour. After the hour, cut into squares and enjoy.
As I said earlier you can use whatever nuts you like. I’ve done this recipe with pumpkin, sunflower seeds and also with almonds. If you want to lighten up the sweetness try using one cup instead of the additional third cup of dates. It’s up to you.
And with that, you have a natural way to sweeten your dessert, or snack of choice.
Lastly, don’t forget all the plant nutrients you are getting, the phytonutrients that only occur in plants and are a natural disease fighter.
Yours in health,