Cooking #GlutenFree & #Vegan with Dates: Tips and Tricks

Whether you live in the United States or have been reading the news from afar, last week's Presidential Election has been triggered plenty of surprises and conflict. Though I don't talk politics on my blog - and I don't plan on starting now - I thought we all needed a little sweet to counter the sour mood hanging over some areas of America.

So, of course, I thought about my favorite - refined sugar free - baking ingredient: dates.

casey the college celiac

For those who have yet to bite into this chewy treat, dates are fruits that have been cultivated since 6000 B.C. and can be eaten fresh or dried. However you eat them, though, you're enjoy plenty of nutritional benefits along with their sweet taste. Besides being packed with fiber, dates also offer high doses of potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium and Vitamin B6. Because of these nutrients, dates have been shown to reduce blood pressure, boost heart health, aid with digestion, lower stroke risk, and improve brain performance. Although people watching their sugar intake probably shouldn't pop dates like tic tacs, these are some of the healthiest "sweets" you can eat!

So what's a girl to do with an (edible) date? Get busy in the kitchen of course - especially when making breakfast, snacks and dessert.

casey the college celiac
One of the simplest ways to incorporate dates into your diet is as toppings. Do you keep forgetting to "chew" your smoothies? Torn pieces of dates add a chewy component to any smoothie, which can especially complement veggie-packed nana ice cream. (Pro Tip: if your dates don't feel soft, try soaking them in water for about thirty minutes. They'll emerge extra plump and ready for eating!) Dates also make a delicious topping for (oatless) oatmeal, especially if you mash the dates beforehand and combine the "jam" with warmed berries. The perfect fall breakfast? I think so!

This fruit can also be the perfect "date" for an afternoon slump. As long as you don't have issues with high sugar or fodmap foods (which dates are), you can snack on them straight - especially before a workout for easily digestive carbs and energy. If you want to enjoy dates in smaller doses, though, bliss balls are the perfect solution. Mix pureed dates with some banana, coconut flour and all the add-in's your taste buds desire, from superfood powders to sunflower seeds. You can even experiment with unexpected flavor my salty and sweet Chewy Pumpkin Popcorn Balls. Your palette and pantry are the only limits!

casey the college celiac
Are granola selfies a thing?
As my fellow granola addicts have probably discovered, dates are also secret weapons in dessert - like homemade granola packed with crunchy and chewy textures. By adding chopped dates to ingredients like buckwheat groats, rice flakes, rice cakes and seeds, you end up with mostly crunchy bites with the rare "goldmine" of shredded date.

But what if you're craving something a little more...sophisticated? You can even turn dates into an upscale truffle (again featuring one of my favorite surprise ingredients: popcorn)! You don't have to worry about making too many truffles to eat either - and not just because they're addictive. Truffles (or bliss balls) featuring a high ratio of dates to other ingredients don't freeze solid when stored in the freezer. This means you can keep date-packed treats in the freezer for months at a time. When your sweet tooth hits, just let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes and devour!

casey the college celiac
A plate of deliciousness!
Still looking for the perfect "date" for your taste buds? Check out these recipes from around the blogosphere!
  • Raw Date Syrup: because why over complicate dates when they taste delicious as they are?!? Maple syrup, there's some new competition in town!
  • Zucchini Date Bread: because the only thing better than homemade date bread would be one with zucchini too! Heaven...
  • Velvety Butternut Cinnamon Date Smoothie: this list couldn't be complete without a recipe from Oh She Glows. Dates are directly in (instead of on) this smoothie, and it even boasts some majorly festive hidden veggies. 
  • Date Squares: if I could tolerate oats, I know I would be all over these bars, which remind me of homemade fig newtons. Nadia always knows how to throw a party (in your mouth, at least).
  • Chocomole: dates AND avocado? Talk about an explosion of creamy, chewy and sweet.

Maybe your life isn't as sweet as you would like right now - or maybe others' doubts, anger or stress are rubbing off on you. All I know is that there is never a bad time for comfort food...and sometimes, focusing on adding a little sweet into our lives - whether from dates, Netflix marathons or long walks with friends - can make all of the difference.

*Also found at Inspiration Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, Turn it Up Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Wine'd Down Wednesday, What''s Cookin Wednesday, Allergy Free Thursdays, VegetarianMama and Totally Terrific Tuesday!*

What's your favorite way to eat dates? How do you "add sweetness" to your life? Tell me below!


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