DATES: Why we love them and why we use them
We know refined sugar does our bodies a great deal of harm, but sometimes sugar seems unavoidable, especially when it sneaks into many innocent items like spaghetti sauce and burger buns.
Hence why I’m here to introduce you to our friend, the humble date. This little guy is as sweet as can be. He’s jam-packed full of nutrients and allows you to keep a bit of flavour in your life while still helping you reap some awesome health benefits. He’s not new to the party, he’s been hiding away in fruit cakes for centuries and he’s been a staple food in places like the Middle East for thousands of years.
See, the date is 100% a whole fruit. Think of it as nature’s candy. While they’re high in natural sugar, they’re a great swap for refined sugars. The reason for this is that they’re generous in their fibre content. The fibre helps slow down our digestion so our body can gradually break down the sugars. This means your body gets a slow release of energy instead of an immediate rush which peaks and crashes within a short period. So although dates are sweet, your body doesn’t respond to them like it would if you were eating a piece of cake.
More than the bonus of a tantalising sensation on your palette, dates offer a whole host of benefits for our bodies.
They’re high in magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamins (especially of the B variety). They’ve got more potassium than bananas and more antioxidants than blackberries and figs. They’re healthy, filling, a quick energizing source, religiously ordained in some cultures, and are even used for facials to keep the skin looking beautiful. And, for all you pregnant ladies out there, they’ve been proven to speed up childbirth and kickstart natural labour.
As the old Emirati saying goes, “al tamr mesmar al rukba” — the date is the nail of the knee. Or in other words, they’re good for your joints.
Dates are delicious on their own, but there are so many ways to get creative with them and to incorporate them into your meals. Add them to your smoothies, bake with them, even do as the Moroccans and throw a couple in when you cook your beans.
At Kitz, we choose to use dates as the backbone for some of our bars and chunks. First we turn them into a sticky, caramelly goo by mincing them quickly to retain all their goodness. Then we mix them with our activated nuts and seeds and flavour them with all sorts of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. They’re the healthiest natural sweetener we’ve found and they act as a great glue to bring everything together.
And let me remind you, we don’t have a chronic disease epidemic because of fruit. We have an epidemic because of all the man-made ingredients and ultra-processed foods that are far from their wholesome, natural state. Dates are literally packed with fibre, which slows down the absorbtion of sugars into the bloodstream. This means that you are more likely to get a 'sugar spike' or 'sugar rush' from processed/refined sugar but not from dates.
So trust me when I say, there’s no need to pin the date as the bad guy. He comes straight from the tree and he’s just around for a sweet, nourishing time.