During Covid confinement I have been doing a lot of baking. Something I never really took a liking too. I love cooking but baking wasn’t in my repertoire. Eating sweets and pastries is not in keeping with a healthy diet. But there are ways to enjoy the odd sweet treat while avoiding all of the ingredients we should not be eating if we want to remain as healthy as possible.
Using Dates as a sweetener is a wonderful addition to baking. Using dates allows us to enjoy some really tasty and wholesome treats.
Dates are rich in fiber and minerals and bring many nutritional benefits with them.
- Dates are good for your digestion. Being high in fiber, dates help to regulate bowel movements so are very helpful with constipation problems. If you want to use dates for bowel health it is a good idea to soak them overnight in fresh water making them softer and easier to digest. Enjoy them the next day on their own or in recipes such as baking, smoothies, salads etc.
- Dates provide energy to the body. Containing fructose and dextrose they are an instant energizer, but they don’t spike your blood sugar the way other sweeteners do.
- Dates are high in potassium which helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate. So dates are beneficial to a healthy heart.
- The iron in dates helps your body keep a good supply of red blood cells.
- Dates contain vitamin A which is beneficial to eye health. The vitamin A also contributes to lung health and oral health. The antioxidant properties of dates are good for keeping the body protected from free radicals which, if left unchecked, can lead to many chronic illnesses, worst of all cancer.
- Dates contain Vitamin K which is very good for bone health.
- Dates are rich in vitamin B’s such as riboflavin and niacin which help your metabolism break down carbs, fats and proteins.
Approximately 4 pitted Medjool dates equal 100 grams. This represents approximately 300 calories but they are calories that matter, containing fiber, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Iron, B12 and other B vitamins. There is no fat in a date until you mix it into a recipe. Using healthy fats in baking with dates ups the nutrition quotient.
GLUTEN FREE VEGAN DATE SQUARES
Crumble: 1 cup oat flour
1 cup gluten free oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp good cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tbsp Xylitol sweetener (any sweetener will do….I prefer Xylitol)
Filling: 1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of Himalayan salt
Preheat oven to 350.
Put pitted dates into a pot on the stovetop with half of the water. Bring to a boil and then turn to low heat. Mash dates, adding more water as needed until the dates have turned into a paste. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, mix together flour, oats, baking powder, Himalayan salt, cinnamon, cardamom and Xylitol or sweetener of choice. You don’t even have to add any sweetener as the dates are sweet on their own.
In a food processor, combine coconut oil, almond butter and dry mixture and pulse until you end up with a crumbly texture.
Line a 8” square baking dish with parchment paper. Press 2/3 of the crumble into the baking dish. Spread the date paste on top of the crumble. Then sprinkle the remaining crumble on top of the date paste. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool completely. Then slice into squares. Enjoy.