Hello fellow dessertees! Do you like dates? No, I’m not talking about that social (sometimes awkward) thing people do, no, I’m talking about the fruit. To be specific, I am talking about the medjool date…my most favorite of the date family. The medjool date is larger and softer than other dates and can be used in a variety of ways. I like to refer to the medjool date as ‘the mother of all healthy dessert ingredients’ as it is so widely used as an ingredient in many raw or cooked healthy dessert recipes from vegan, and gluten free, to paleo or ketogenic lifestyles.
Aside from its rich sweet taste and diversity, it comes loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Some of the health benefits of eating dates include:
Digestive health – the soluble and insoluble fiber promote healthy gastrointestinal activity which can reduce risks of colitis, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids.
Rich in magnesium – magnesium is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body…need I say more? Magnesium has a natural “relaxing” effect which relieves constipation and regulates the nervous system. To learn more about magnesium I recommend picking up a copy of The Magnesium Miracle – Dr. Carolyn Dean
Source of potassium – maintains blood pressure, reduces anxiety and stroke, regulates metabolism, enhances muscle strength.
Other benefits include:
- Antioxidant properties
- Brain health
- Reduces impotence
- Energy boost
- Heart health
- Pregnancy delivery
- Provides satiety
- Combats arteriosclerosis
- Phytonutrient profile
- Nerve function
Where is the dessert already?? I know, I’m getting there. I am just highlighting the benefits of this sweet little shriveled up miracle!
Because of its diversity, you can use dates in just about any dessert as it can be used as a sweetener, or as the base of a pie or cake.
Dates as a Sweetener
This is a very simple concept:
Take a bunch of pitted medjool dates and soak in filtered water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
Pour dates with 1/3 of the soak water into a blender or food processor and puree for a couple of minutes until smooth. Add more soak water if needed, but consistency should be thick.
Refrigerate for up to a week or you can freeze in ice cube trays for later use.
Date syrup can be substituted 1/1 in place of sugar in recipes. It is not overly sweet so depending on your sweetness preference, you may need to add another sugar sub such as unrefined cane sugar or coconut palm sugar.
For the fitness gurus, take a tbsp. of date syrup before your workout for a quick energy boost.
Dates as a Crust
Dates can be used when forming a base for raw or baked pie crusts, squares, or cakes. Formulating a base for your dessert can be the most exciting part of the recipe as you get to let your creativity run rampant!
First step: choose your fruit aka binder. For this blog, we are going with pitted medjool dates, but any dried fruit will do.
Second step: choose your nut or seed aka base. Many options here including walnut, almond, pecan, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, pistachio, macadamia, brazil and hazelnut. Choose 1, 2, or a combination of all if you don’t want to discriminate.
Third step (optional): choose your add-ons. Again, options are almost limitless including cacao powder, cacao nibs, carob powder, shredded coconut, citrus zest, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and extracts such as vanilla. You can really go off the deep end and add a drop of food grade essential oil, such as lavender, to add therapeutic properties.
Tips: Just remember, you need a balance of binder and base. If your binder is too moist you may have to add a touch of base. Conversely, if your mix just isn’t sticking together, add a touch of binder and a drop of water to assist with cohesion.
Don’t forget to add a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to help extract your flavours.
Simple pie crust recipe:
Yield: 9-10” crust
- 1 1/2 cup base (single or combination…its up to you!)
- 1/2 cup binder (can also be a combination)
- 1 – 2 tsp add on (keep extracts to 1 tsp, and essential oils to 1 drop as they can overpower)
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until a crumble forms and sticks together.
- Remove the mixture from the processor and press and mold into your base of choice (pie pan, springform pan). Use your fingertips at first, keeping them dampened with water to prevent sticking. Once molded, I like to use a shot glass as a “steamroller” to ensure the crust has been patted evenly. Again, keep the glass dampened to avoid sticking.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow crust to firm up.
- Add filling/toppings and enjoy! It is recommended to add your fillings/toppings just prior to consuming to avoid the crust from becoming too soggy.
Tip – here’s a little “anti-sog” trick you can try with your raw desserts: melt some chocolate or cacao butter and add a very thin coat to your crust just before refrigerating. The chocolate/cacao butter will solidify and create a somewhat waterproof barrier. Of course, your filling/toppings would have to be cold, or the coating will melt.
Well that’s all! Hope you enjoyed our date and feel free to post your success or your ‘not so good’ on our facebook page.
Life is short, eat dessert first.