Medjool Dates – A Sweet Treat

I have a major sweet tooth, but being a dietitian I know I need to keep it in check. One way I’ve been satisfying my sweet tooth lately is with medjool dates. Dates are thought to be the oldest cultivated fruit in the world. Ancient cultures call the date palm the “tree of life”. There are 100’s of varieties of dates, 12 of which are grown in the US. 95% of dates grown in the US can be found in the Coachella Valley of California.

Medjool dates have been referred to as the “fruit for kings”. They are substantially larger than other varieties of dates and have a sweeter flavor. They are softer and more moist than other date varieties.

Not only do they taste delicious, but medjool dates have several health benefits.

~ Medjool dates have naturally occurring polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and prevent oxidation damage in our bodies.

~ They have a low to low/medium glycemic index (GI). Choosing snacks with a lower GI has been shown to keep your blood sugar stable, helping you maintain a healthy weight and sustained energy.

~ They are high in potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Diets high in potassium have been linked to improved blood pressure control and decreased risk for kidney stones. Magnesium plays a key role in bone metabolism, and energy production. A deficiency in magnesium can results in bone loss and fatigue. Magnesium has also been shown to improve blood sugar control.

~ Medjool dates are high in fiber. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Diets high in fiber are associated with reduced the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, and constipation.

Amount of fiber in dates compared to other fruits

2 large dates contain approximately 140calories, 200mg potassium, 36g carbohydrate, 3g fiber and 1g protein.

For a well-balanced snack I like to have a few dates with 1 Tbsp of peanut or almond butter for extra protein.

I’ve also been experimenting with some recipes. Lara Bars are a tasty snack with the main ingredient being dates, but can be expensive so I decided to try making my own.
Lara Bar...made of dates, nuts and other fruits

By making my own I can also alter the portion size. For the ones I made last night I decided to roll them into little “energy balls”. They’re quite simple to make as long as you have a food processor or high powdered blender. I made mine in my Ninja. I got my recipe ideas from http://rawified.blogspot.ca/2012/05/raw-larabars.html

The two varieties I made (seen below) were “Apple Pie” and “Banana Bread”
Energy Bites

“Apple Pie”
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup mix of raisins and dried apple
1Tbsp cinnamon

“Banana Bread”
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 dried banana

Both recipes make ~12 bites

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