Most of us have a taste for sweet things, some of us more than others. But it’s how we give in to that desire that can lead us to trouble. I have studied nutrition both formally and on my own and one important thing that I have learned is that the body prefers whole, unprocessed food over refined and processed. Period. Unprocessed food is generally more alkalizing/less acid-forming to our cells and less disruptive to our natural processes. This is also true in the sweetener department. Even though more “natural” substitutes for sugar still probably fuel your taste for (and possibly addiction to) sweets, I still think there are much better and more healthful alternatives to processed and refined sugars, which are worse than just being “empty calories.”
Can we chat about dried dates for a minute? Love them! I am positively obsessed with dates and they’re back in season right now. So excited! I have been buying a container each week at the farmer’s market from Bautista Family Dates. Although in California you can find fresh dates right now, I love the sticky caramel sweetness of a dried date. They are a whole, unprocessed food and quite rich in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Dates are also very high in potassium (important for helping to control heart rate and blood pressure) and iron (part of the blood and helps deliver oxygen to the body.) To tell you the truth, dates a have a lot going for them, including antioxidants, phytonutrients and minerals. Yes, they are also very high in fructose which means you need to control yourself and only eat a few in one sitting and not a hundred. Deal?
Here’s how I use them:
- in smoothies, blended drinks and acai bowls instead of adding sugar or liquid sweeteners. Try this faux iced blended mocha.
- have you tried making homemade almond milk yet? incredibly easy! sweeten with dates;
- to satisfy an intense sugar craving — remove the pit and stick chopped pecans or almonds in the date. I do this all the time and it’s crazy delicious.
- made into a paste with warm water, it adds moistness and richness to muffins and quick breads. You can cut back on both fat and sugar in the recipe. See this trick in this banana bread recipe, but also use it in pumpkin muffins.
- chopped up and added to salads and or grain-based side dishes (the same way you would use raisins); quick tip — dates are sticky so they’re easier to slice when they’re cold.
- pureed into a soup;
- chopped up and sprinkled on top of oatmeal or porridge.
If you’ve got a favorite way to eat dates, I need to know about it! Please share.