Dates are fruits commonly grown in the Middle East, dry regions of Africa, and parts of Asia. People have been eating dates for thousands of years, and today still, it’s somewhat of a superfood. At first glance, they appear to be high in sugar. But look a little closer, and you will see that these little guys are packed with nutrients! Read on to see why you should eat more dates and learn about exciting ways in which you can use them.

Plus, the sweet, caramelized flavor makes them the perfect candy substitute – something you can snack on guilt-free! (Always remember that moderation is the key, though!). Aside from making treats (and affordable), they are quite versatile when baking or baking.

Fillings

Chopped dates make a great addition in both sweet and savory dishes. Their flavor matches well with goat’s cheese, nuts, chocolate, and herbs. Some classic combinations to use with dates include:

Blue cheese and gorgonzola

Apples and pecans

Feta cheese and walnuts

You can even stuff the dates themselves with cheese (like goat’s cheese) and nuts (pistachio or pecans).

Smoothies

peanut-butter

When you add dates to milkshakes or smoothies, there’s no need for any other sweetener. Not only do they sweeten the drink, but also lend a caramel flavor. Make a delicious drink with bananas, peanut butter, dates (pitted), milk, and a pinch of cinnamon.

Salad dressing

Did you know you can use dates to make a sweet salad dressing (it’s healthy too!). Process 4 Medjool dates until completely broken down. Add ½ cup Dijon mustard, 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, ½ tsp garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup olive oil and process until well combined. Add more water if needed. You can also use balsamic vinegar instead of Dijon mustard.

Brownies and bars

If you’re looking for an alternative to refined sugar, use dates! Make your own healthy brownies with dates, chickpeas, oats, and dark chocolate.

Sweetener

Make your own natural sweetener – date paste! Pack pitted dates in a glass jar, pour ¾ cup water over it, and allow to soak overnight. Microwave for 2 min and add to the food processor. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, and process until smooth and creamy. It keeps in the fridge for about 3 months.