Dates are tasty, nutritious and high in natural sugars, making them a healthy sugar substitute for meals and desserts. If you want to cut down on refined sugar but still want sweetness in your recipes, cooking with dates is a great option. Not only do the natural sugars give you a nice energy boost, dates are also full of minerals, antioxidants and fibre, offering plenty of health benefits too. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 40 healthy date recipes you’re going to love!
5 Health Benefits of Dates
1. Healthy Digestion
One of the things dates are best known for is their assistance in healthy digestion, especially constipation relief. They’re high in soluble fibre, which promotes comfortable digestion and helps make your digestive tract run more smoothly. If you’re suffering from constipation, make sure to add dates to your diet, along with lots of water.
2. High in Natural Sugar
Dates are high in natural sugar. Since they’re a fresh fruit (no water is removed), dates are whole and unprocessed, meaning their sugar content is naturally occurring. This is great for a few reasons. First off, they can give you a natural energy boost so you don’t have to reach for your second (or third) cup of coffee. Second, if you use dates to sweeten a meal or recipe, you aren’t adding any “added sugar”, only natural sugar. Added sugar is the type we should limit due to its link to heart disease and obesity.
3. Full of Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals, which can lead to diseases and cancers. Dates are full of various antioxidants including flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid. Flavonoids reduce inflammation and have been linked to decrease risk of diabetes, Alzheimers disease and certain types of cancer. Carotenoids promote heart health and phenolic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that can lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
4. Bone Strength
Dates are rich in several minerals that have been linked to bone strength, including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Keeping your bones healthy is so important, especially as you age, so whether you’re looking to fight osteoporosis or trying to improve your bone health, dates should be an essential part of your diet.
5. Promote Natural Labour
Eating dates throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy can help promote and ease natural labour. They have also been found to be helpful in reducing labour time and reduce your likelihood of being induced. Dates have been shown to lessen the need for oxytocin, the medication used to start or speed up labour. Dates also contain tannins, which have been shown to help ease contractions. Dates are also a great source of natural sugar, which helps keep your energy up during labour.
3 Tips for Baking & Cooking with Dates
1. Use Fresh Soft Dates
Dates will bake best when they’re fresh and soft, so do your best to use dates of this variety. If the dates you’re using are a bit dry, place them in a bowl of water and heat them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds. You can also heat them on the stovetop with a few tablespoons of water to soften them.
2. Chopping Dates
Dates are sticky, especially when they’re chopped up. Instead of chopping them with a knife, snip them with scissors for less mess and stick. To prevent sticking even further, dip the blades into warm water or flour periodically.
3. Make a Date Paste or Syrup
One of the easiest ways to cook with dates is by simmering them or blending them to make a date paste or syrup. Both of these make swapping dates for sugar so much easier and will make your meals that much healthier. Making date paste or syrup only takes a few minutes and will last up to two weeks in the fridge if stored properly. Use it as a natural sweetener for meat dishes, in desserts or add it to your morning chia pudding.
20 Healthy Date Recipes for Lunch and Dinner
1. Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates | Food 52
2. Roasted Cauliflower with Dates, Pine Nuts and Rosemary | Wandering Spice
3. Celery, Date and Almond Butter Toasts | Bon Appetit
4. Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds | The New York Times
5. Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates | The Spruce Eats
6. One Pot Chicken with Dates and Lemon | This is How I Cook
7. Roasted Spiced Rhubarb with Dates and Yogurt | Bon Appetit
8. Pear, Date and Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese | Cookie and Kate
9. Roasted Carrots with Dates, Lemon and Tahini Sauce | Sunday Kitchen Table
10. Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Pilaf with Olives and Dates | Well Fed Soul
11. Honey and Date Quinoa Salad | Feed My Sole
12. Squash, Date and Lemon Compote | Bon Appetit
13. Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds and Citrus Dressing | The Kitchn
14. Baked Sweet Date and Lemon Chicken | Life is But a Dish
15. Savoury Roasted Stuffed Dates | Food 52
16. Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish | Bon Appetit
17. Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices | Epicurious
18. Caramelized Medjool Date Pizza | The Kitchen Whisperer
19. Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Medjool Dates | Vegan Heritage Press
20. Chicken with Dates, Olives and Cinnamon | My Recipes
20 Healthy Date Recipes for Dessert
1. Date Sweetened Zucchini Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting | Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
2. Chocolate Coconut Date Bars | Bon Apetit
3. Healthy Cookie Dough Bars | Untrained Housewife
4. Tahini Date Slated Caramels | Kitchn
5. Naturally Sweetened Chocolate Cranberry Wreath | Elemental Custard
6. Healthy Chocolate Milkshake | A Couple Cooks
7. Cinnamon Date Buns | Bon Appetit
8. Sticky Date and Halva Puddings with Tahini Caramel | The Kitchn
9. Date Squares with Oat Crust | The Spruce Eats
10. Chocolate Hazelnut Stuffed Dates | Feeding the Frasers
11. Healthy Date Carrot Muffins | Monday Sunday Kitchen
12. Goat’s Cheese Stuffed Dates with Pistachios and Pomegranate | Taste and Tipple
13. Date Drop Cookies | The Spruce Eats
14. Date Squares | Ricardo
15. Vegan Tiramisu | This Rawsome Vegan Life
16. Yogurt Cardamom Tart | Food 52
17. Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding | Minimalist Baker
18. Pomegranate Molasses and Date Ice Cream | Food 52
19. Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Dates and Pecans | The Spruce Eats
20. Date Pudding Cobbler | Taste of Home
Cooking with dates is sweet and satisfying and makes for healthier, guilt-free meals and desserts!