Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Sweet Side of Dates!

One of my favorite things about joining the plant-based world has been discovering dates! Yes, those flaky, dried fruits that no one pays attention to in the raisin section and that happen to look like bugs at a quick glance.

They're versatile, full of fiber and vitamins, and don't have their own strong taste, making them a perfect sugar substitute for just about anything you're used to tasting yummy.

I've found good use for their natural, unrefined sweetness in some of these places:
- Granola bars
- Oatmeal
- Smoothies (combined with a ripe banana, that's all the sweetness you'll need!)
- Baking
- Fruit crisp topping

They can also be used to enhance beverages, sauces, and salad dressings.

Date paste:
Making date paste as a substitute for refined sugar is a cinch! Simply grab some dried dates (I eyeball what I'm needing based on the recipes' measurements: 2-3 tablespoons? Let's try 2-3 dates! There are more precise measurements, though. See below!) and soften them in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Mix them them up in a strong blender or food processor (with S-blade) until a smooth paste forms.

I've also reversed the process to make "instant date paste" in the interest of time. Instead of soaking first, which some sites recommend doing for 1-2 hours if you use them dry, I blend the dates in my Cuisinart chopper cup until a sticky ball forms. I then add some hot water to the mixture and it quickly softens into a paste that way. It probably doesn't come as smooth or uniform as it should, but it works when I'm short on time.

I only make as much as I need for my recipe, but if you make a bigger batch (i.e. 1 cup dates and 10 tbs water) you can store it in your fridge for a week.

Not mine.

For more detailed advice about the benefits of substituting fruit sugar for refined and more information on dates, check this article at Miss Organic's Kitchen!

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